Saturday, July 30, 2022

Masters LDR Athletes Race Non Stadia Events at World Athletics Championships in Tampere, Finland-Medals Galore!

This report focuses on the Non-Stadia LDR events at the 2022 World Masters Athletics Championships.  The Non-Stadia LDR Events include a Cross Country Race over either 6 Km or 8 Km, a 10 km and a Half Marathon Road Race.

Cross Country It was uncharacteristically warm in Finland for the Cross Country races. Runners who faced a start time of 10:30 AM on the 30th of June would normally have had low 60’s, ideal for LDR. This year it was already 77 at 10:30, with temperatures rising up into the low 80’s for the afternoon races. It helped that the course was partially shaded.  The first races were for 70+ runners of both sexes over 6 Km. 

Six Kilometer XC Races

In M70-74, Robert Qualls, Jerry Learned, and John Hirschberger were running for Team USATF. In the race for an individual medal, it was Qualls who contended.  Qualls laid off the lead in 4th for the first loop, moved up to third and then kicked away for a 13 second win over Yassine Belaabed, an Australian runner, gaining the GOLD Medal, in 21:59. 

In the M70-74 Team contest, Qualls, Learned 23:43, and Hirschberger 24:24 teamed up to take the SILVER Medal in 1:10:07 behind Great Britain 1:08:26 and ahead of the team from Australia 1:11:18. 

In M75-79, Dave GlassGary Patton, and Ross Bolding ran for Team USATF. In the individual race, Glass and Patton led the way for the first two loops, but Wolfgang Ahrens, a German athlete, accelerated in the 3rd loop to take the win. Glass held on for SILVER, just edging Patton, who earned the BRONZE, both with the same 24:03 time. 

The Gold Medal winning M75 Team and the Silver Medal winning M70 Team assembled after their successful Cross Country efforts over the 6 Km Course at Tampere Finland- From Left: Gary Patton, Jerry Learned, John Hirschberger, Ross Bolding, Dave Glass, Robert Qualls photo download from Facebook

Although the individual Gold eluded the M75 runners, Glass and Patton combined with Ross Bolding 26:11 to take the M75 TEAM GOLD in 1:14:19. They left the other contenders far behind. Finland took 2nd in 1:22:12, followed by France in 1:24:47. 

In W70-74 Jeanette Groesz 28:11, and Suzanne Ray 29:02, Red Lizard teammates from Oregon who finished 5th and 7th individually, joined up with Rene Sprattling 50:47 to claim the TEAM BRONZE medal in 1:48:01, 2 and a half minutes ahead of Latvia in 4th 

Jeanette Groesz, leading in W70 at the 2021 Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo by Mike Scott

In W75-79 Lynne Hurrell and Tami Graf dropped down from W85 to make up a W75 team with Kathleen Frable 43:11 and claimed the TEAM BRONZE Medal behind Germany and Finland.

In W85Lynne Hurrell and Tami Graf were the only entrants. They took individual GOLD and SILVER respectively in 50:47 and 53:40. They lacked the third runner they would have needed for a Team medal. As noted above, they dropped down in age divisions to make up a W75 team that claimed the TEAM BRONZE medal.

Tami Graf, competing on the Track at Tampere Photo Posted by USATF Masters

In the 6 Km XC races, TEAM USATF harvested a Gold, a Silver and a Bronze medal for individuals, as well as one TEAM GOLD, one TEAM SILVER and three TEAM BRONZE medals.

Eight Kilometer XC Races

In the 8 Km races, the top Individual results were in M60, where Dan King and Rick Lee led from the front. They had a 20 second lead on the third-place runner from Portugal, which they held all the way to the finish, with Lee pulling away to take GOLD in 26:44, and King taking SILVER 2 seconds later. 

Unlike USATF, WMA includes 35-39 in their LDR Championships. April Lund took the GOLD Medal in W35, in 27:43, leading the whole way. 

Mary Swan just missed a medal in W60, taking 4th, twenty seconds behind the bronze medal finisher in 33:05.  

In Team Medals in the 8 Km Cross Country, Team USA took TEAM GOLD in M60, with Tim Riccardi 30:18 joining Lee and King to record an 11 second win over Finland, 1:23:48 to 1:23:59, with Ireland and Spain following. 

Dan King on his way to M60+ Victory at the 2022 USATF Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL

Euleen Josiah-Tanner 29:25 dropped down from W45 to join Lund and Tessa Monzelowsky 34:34 to take W35 Team GOLD in 1:31:42, 8 minutes ahead of Finland.

In the 8 Km XC races, TEAM USATF harvested 2 Golds and a Silver for individuals, as well as two TEAM GOLDs.

Ten Kilometer Road Race This was run in two sections on July 8th with Men starting at 4:30 PM and Women starting at 5 pm. Temperatures were much more reasonable, in the upper 60’s under fair skies, but with 10 mph winds from the west. 

In M45 the first half of the race involved a tight race between USA’s Justin Freeman and a German runner. Freeman was able to pull away in the second half of the race, taking the GOLD in 31:41, with a 26-second margin of victory. 

M60 was highlighted by two battles, one between USA’s Nat Larson and Spain’s Francisco Garcia for the Gold medal and another between USA’s Rick Lee and Britain’s Stephen Watmough for 3rd. The Spanish runner had a 2 second lead on Larson, 17:42 to 17:44 at the halfway point; 40 meters behind them Watmough had a 2 second lead on Lee, 17:52 to 17:54. In the end, the Spanish runner prevailed as Larson earned SILVER in 35:21, just 8 seconds out of first. 

Nat Larson claiming the M55 Gold Medal at the 2022 USATF Masters 10 Km National Championships at the James Joyce Ramble in April Photo by Michael Scott

Lee was able to pass and then pull away from the British runner, taking the BRONZE in 35:47 to give USA SILVER and BRONZE medals. 

In M70, it was a 3-runner race between USA’s Robert Qualls and runners from Australia and the Netherlands. At the halfway point it looked like Qualls would have to settle for bronze. The Australian led the Dutch runner by 3 seconds and Qualls was nearly a hundred meters behind that duo. He was over 500 meters ahead of the rest of the field, so he was likely to medal in the event. Qualls ran the second half of the race 15 seconds faster than his first half. That enabled Qualls to pass the Dutch runner and pull away to take the SILVER medal in 39:44, with a 17 second margin of victory, over 70 meters. 

In M75, a pair of German runners dominated the race, pulling out to a minute lead over the first half of the race. But that did not dismay Dave Glass who stuck to his pace crossing the 5-kilometer mark in 22:50, three seconds ahead of a Latvian runner. Glass pulled away in the second half of the race, claiming the BRONZE medal in 45:30. 

Dave Glass sprinting for the Finish and a Gold medal at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships in March Photo courtesy of Syracuse Half Marathon

Gary Patton, who had multiple medals already from his exploits on the turf and in the middle distances on the track, finished 4th in 46:12. 

Gary Patton winning one of his many Medals in the 800 Meter Run on the track at Tampere Photo by Doug 'Shaggy' Smith

In the Women’s section, USA’s Christine Kennedy led wire to wire in W65, building a 150-meter lead in the first half of the race over two Finnish athletes, and cruising to victory, and the GOLD medal, in 44:04 with a minute and a half to spare. 

In W45, Melissa Gacek battled two Finnish runners and one Irish athlete, but had to settle for 4th, just off the podium in 40:14. 

Team Medals were not awarded in the 10 Km race.

In the 10 Km Road Race, TEAM USATF earned 2 Golds, 2 Silver, and two Bronze medals.

Half Marathon Road Race Run in a single section for all competitors of all age divisions, the weather was good, with temperatures in the low to mid 60’s under partly cloudy skies, with moderate winds. The course included three long loops (6.5, 6.4, and 6.5 Km, with a short 1.7 Km loop to finish.

 Three Americans took Individual Golds. Rick Lee bided his time in M60 for the first 6.5 km loop, sitting in 3rd, 12 seconds behind an Argentine and Irish runner who took it out hard. By the end of the second loop, Lee had passed those two and enjoyed an 11 second lead. The third loop was key as Lee pushed to increase his pace. The other two could not answer as Lee increased the gap to over a half minute. Lee took the GOLD in this race in 1:18:32, 46 seconds ahead of the two chasers. 

Rick Lee on his way to a Gold medal at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships in March Photo courtesy of Syracuse Half Marathon

April Lund, in contrast, went right to the front in W35, enjoying a 3-minute lead at the 6.5 Km mark. From there Lund pulled away steadily to take GOLD in 1:19:51, winning by over 9 minutes.

 It was the same for Christine Kennedy in W65.  She went right to the front, building a 3:21 lead on the first loop. Kennedy, the two-time USATF Masters LDR Runner of the Year, went from strength to strength, claiming the GOLD medal, with an 11-minute margin of victory, in 1:37:04.

Melissa Dock got off to a good start in W40, hitting the 6.5 Km mark in 1st, with a 20-second margin over a Finnish runner.  Dock built the lead to over 50 seconds by the end of the 2nd loop. Dock started to run into trouble in the 3rd loop as the Finnish runner cut the gap down to 5 seconds. Shortly after, Dock was passed, but hung on gamely to take the SILVER medal in 1:19:54, 5 minutes ahead of a Polish runner. 

In W70, Suzanne Ray bided her time over the first loop, sitting in third 16 seconds behind a British athlete and 13 behind a Finnish runner. The British athlete paid a price for her early exuberance as first the Finnish runner and then Ray passed her, building a gap of 43 seconds back to the 3rd place runner. Ray could not catch the leader but claimed the SILVER medal with a margin of more than 2 minutes in 1:45:50.

Suzanne Ray on her way to the 65-69 Gold Medal at the 2018 USATF Masters Half Marathon, hosted by the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run Photo by

The Team competition allowed some of the runners who could not make the individual podium to contribute to a team medal.  

The athletes in M65, M75, W35 and W70 combined to earn M65 Team GOLD for Team USATF. In M65 Tomas Rodriguez 7th 1:28:50, John Mathews 8th 1:31:41, and John Hirschberger 13th 1:40:48 rolled to victory taking TEAM GOLD in 4:41:20, five minutes ahead of Great Britain, followed by Finland. Hirschberger dropped down from M70 to join his M65 teammates in the GOLD medal effort.  

Tomas Rodriguez #220 heading for a Bronze 65-69 Medal at the 2022 USATF Cross Country Championships at San Diego's Mission Bay course

The US was the only country to field a team in M75. Walt Herscher 4th 2:04:23, Drue Matthies 7th 2:56:58, and Jorge Birnbaum 8th 2:57:42 combined to win TEAM GOLD

Melissa Dock 2nd 1:19:54 dropped down from W40 to join April Lund 1st 1:19:51 and Tessa Monzelowsky 4th 1:41:42 in W35. No other country fielded a W35 team so Lund, Dock and Monzelowsky had no trouble taking TEAM GOLD in 4:21:28. 

The final TEAM GOLD medal was claimed in W70 under the same circumstances. Suzanne Ray 2nd 1:45:50, Sue Herscher 6th 2:05:07, and Jeanette Groesz 8th 2:11:32. It was a treat, no doubt, for Red Lizard teammates, Ray and Groesz, to run together to help take the GOLD for Team USATF. 

The Half Marathon also featured three TEAM Bronze Medal performances. Francis Burdett 8th 1:21:17 and his friendly rival, Dale Flanders 13th 1:26:25, dropped down from M55 to team up with Gregory Putnam 6th 1:16:14 for the M50 TEAM BRONZE

Team USATF captured the Team Bronze Medal in the Men's 50+ Division at the World Athletics Championships in Tampere Finland Photo courtesy of Gregory Putnam

That was a reversal of sorts for Burdett and Flanders compared to the Half Marathon event at the 2019 WMA Championships in Torun, Poland. In that event, Roger Sayre dropped down from 60-64 to join the pair in taking the Bronze Medal in M50. That is special; the versatile duo have HM Team Bronze Medals in each of the last two WMA Championships, and, in each case, with a mixed age division team. Putnam, Burdett, and Flanders combined for 4:03.57, to take the Bronze 4:47 ahead of Great Britain.

Dad-Son 'High Five' at the end of Gregory Putnam's successful Half Marathon Run, finishing 4th individually and contributing to a Team USATF Bronze Medal at the WMA Championships in Tampere Finland Photo courtesy of Gregory Putnam

Team USATF also earned the TEAM BRONZE MEDAL in M60 with Rick Lee 1st 1:18:32, James Smith 12th 1:30:07, and Martin Beene 18th 1:36:17. They combined for a time of 4:24:57, taking the BRONZE 9 minutes ahead of the host country, Finland.

Non-Stadia Team Manager, Mary Rosado, did a terrific job ensuring that the best possible teams were competing for Team USATF in the Non-Stadia events. In W45, runners from three different age divisions were involved in that effort. Euleen Josiah-Tanner 4th 1:26:09 was joined by W65’s Christine Kennedy 1st 1:37:04 and W55’s Tina Klein 8th 1:42:31. They combined for 4:45:45 to take TEAM BRONZE behind Finland and Ireland. 

Euleen Josiah-Tanner competing at the 2022 Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo by Michael Scott

In the Half Marathon Road Races, TEAM USATF tallied 3 Golds and 2 Silver medals for individuals, as well as four TEAM GOLDs and three TEAM BRONZE medals.

Rosado reports that Team USATF had their highest ever output of medals from the Half Marathon event. 

The Non-Stadia athletes were delighted to team up with their counterparts from Track and the Field. Based on a preliminary count, their combined efforts enabled Team USATF to finish 4th in Overall medal count at WMA behind the host country, Finland, with over 300 medals and Germany, with 175. Great Britain edged the USA for third, 163 medals to 162.

Condolences to those who got a Covid infection and were either unable to compete or unable to compete at their best. Congratulations to all who traveled to Finland, navigating difficult airline connections in Europe and the small surge in Covid. It was a great success!

ASSORTED GROUP & TEAM PHOTOS posted at usatf Masters FB page

Opening Ceremonies of 2022 WMA Championships--including Michelle Rohl, Mary Rosado, Perry Jenkins, Mary Swan, Jerry Bookin-Weiner, Phil Greenwald and others

Team USATF assembled at the Opening Ceremony at WMA Tampere

Team USATF Assembled at Tampere Stadium WMA 2022

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