Saturday, September 24, 2022

Masters Athletes Put It All on the Line at the 12 Km National Championships on the Jersey Shore-Part I--Overall and Age Divisions-Women

 September 23, 2022 Another participation record was set on Sunday, September 18th at Highlands, NJ. Last year there were 279 finishers, this year 299! The weather this past Sunday at the race was great for spectators but made for slower times than were anticipated. As one of my colleagues who has experienced running conditions in the South mentioned, this kind of weather is deceptive. People think, well it is only in the mid 70's and it's not that humid, also low to mid 70's, and then, with the strong breeze, it does not feel that hot. But those are the conditions where hydration is very important and the risk of heat-related problems is real. One of the top M50-54 runners actually collapsed due to heat problems and had to be taken to a local hospital for observation. Two Women in their 50's suffered from dehydration. Both had to jog it in; one of those two was also taken to a nearby hospital for observation. Many runners mentioned to me that after the first 5 miles, they basically cut their pace way back. There were, no doubt, others who suffered from dehydration and had to jog it in. But you know Masters runners! Challenging weather may slow them down, but they still compete! There were so many thrilling races on Sunday and races within races. Let us get right to them!

Credit for All Photos: Jason Timochko


MEN Everyone knew the Men's field was one of the strongest in years. Riley Cook South Weber, UT and Benjamin Bruce HOKA Naz Elite  were the headliners, having just moved up from the Open Elite ranks this year. Cook had a feather in his cap already from winning the USATF Masters Ten Mile Championships at Sacramento. He came in ahead of Sergio Reyes who moved into the masters ranks earlier in the year and had won the Masters Championship race at Cross Country Nationals at San Diego in January. This would be the baptism of fire for Bruce. And Jesse Davis Indiana Elite, who had won the Club Cross, Half Marathon and 10 Km Masters National Championships already this year, was going after his third win! He won the Masters Half Marathon Championship with a 1:09:45 over a hilly course in Syracuse. The following are some of the athletes who might press those three for the podium. David Angell Roanoke Valley VA has won multiple overall Masters National Championships in the years from 2017-2019 but rehabbed a heel injury after last fall. This was his first National Championship of 2022, but he had three fine outings earlier in the year including a 33:38 10K at Clarksburg, WV.  Darryl Brown Greater Philadelphia ran a sterling 2:19:26 at the Houston Marathon just before Covid restrictions started and showed he had weathered the pandemic with a fine 52:46 at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler. Aged 39 then, his time was faster than the winning Masters time. Fabian Daza Garden /State clocked 1:10:31 at the Dick's Pittsburgh Marathon HM; Dickson Mercer Pacers Running-Greater Washington DC finished 5th overall at this race last year and won the 40-44 division at the Cherry Blossom Run in 54:07. John Poray Indiana Elite ran 33:05 to capture 2nd place at the USATF Masters 10 Km Championships in late April.

Davis's modus operandi so far has been to 'drive the bus' from the front of the race and dare all rivals to stay with him until they could not anymore. This would be his first race where he was not necessarily the presumptive favorite. Would he follow the same strategy? At Sacramento, Cook had gone out hard, let the leader, Reyes, go after a few miles and then swept past him in the last third of the race. 

On Sunday, as soon as the gun sounded, Cook went out hard, with Bruce and Davis right with him. They crossed the mile mark at 4:54, 4:55, and 4:56. 

Masters Lead Pack One Mile Into USATF 2022 Masters 12 Km Championships- From Right Benjamin Bruce #321 Riley Cook #335 Jesse Davis #346 (with 2 Open-NJ athletes in tow) 

Brown, Daza, Mercer and Poray were in a chase pack 70 meters back from the trio and, after another 25

Chase Pack- One Mile into USATF 2022 Masters 12 Km Championships - From Left: 1st row Dickson Mercer #404 Darryl Brown #320 2nd row Fabian Eduardo Daza black&yellow singlet John Poray black singlet

meters, Angell and then 15 meters further, Zeha. 

Chase Pack #2 - 1 Mile into USATF 2022 Masters 12 Km Championships - From Right 1st Row David Angell #305 Aaron Totten-Lancaster #261 2nd row Mike Cole black singlet Jerry Snider #439 (along with an Open NJ athlete)

Cook kept the pedal down through the 2nd mile, hitting it in 9:48, and Bruce was the only one to stay with him. Davis realized he had pushed too hard on a warm day and eased back slightly, falling 40 meters behind by the 2-mile mark. That was probably a good decision, but the result was that he was in 'no man's land' running alone for the next 5 miles. Mercer and Brown were running in tandem 90 meters behind Davis. It was six more seconds back to Daza and Poray, and another 5 back to Angell, with Zeha keeping everyone in sight another six seconds back.

Cook was able to cover the next two miles in 10:06. They were out of the historical military housing part of the course where they turned back on the long grind back to the start. Cook may have sensed that Bruce wasn't breathing on his neck quite as much as earlier. He sure as heck was not looking around to check. They were flying, Cook a few meters ahead of Bruce! All the leaders were spread out into single file now. Davis was almost 200 meters behind the two leaders. It was another hundred meters back to Brown and another 40 to Mercer. Daza was 40 meters back from Mercer, with Poray and Angell together 15 meters back. And Zeha had inched closer, now just 25 meters behind those two. When they passed the final water station with a mile and a half to go, Cook was starting to look like the eventual winner. Bruce was still trying to stay with him, but the gap was a bit larger. Davis was still in third, 250 meters back, and 70 meters ahead of Brown. Mercer now trailed Brown by a hundred meters, with Daza still lingering 40 meters back from Mercer. Zeha's moderate early pace was now working in his favor as he was able to close on and then pass Poray and Angell, moving into 7th, 60 meters behind Daza, and 5 meters ahead of Poray, with ten meters back to Angell. They surged past the water station, turned left and faced the long straightaway mile to the finish. Cook was energized, and pushed the pace again, widening the gap back to Bruce.  Bruce was not threatened for first but no longer had much hope of the win. Cook took care of business, crossing the finish line first in 38:20. it was not the time he was expecting to run but it was the time that got the job done on a difficult day at the office! 

Riley Cook approaches the Finish Line and the Overall Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km National Championships

Bruce took second in 38:38. 

Ben Bruce Claims the Silver Medal at his first Masters National Championship

On this day, Brown's strategy worked out well. He pulled back 9 seconds on Davis in mile 7 and then flew over the last 0.45 miles in 2:32, the fastest of anyone in the field. That carried him past Davis and into third in 39:43, a podium finish at his first National Masters Championship! 

Darryl Brown Takes Third Place at the 2022 USATF Masters National 12 Km Championships

Davis gritted his teeth and hung on to 4th place, despite the early pace. No one else was close. It was a half-minute before the next runner finished. Daza claimed 5th in 40:27, with Mercer holding on for 6th in 40:43. Angell closed strongly but Zeha was able to keep him at bay, taking 7th in 40:57 with Angell 8th in 41 minutes flat. Poray was ten seconds back in 9th place. Mark Andrews Genesee Valley Harriers, Greater Rochester, NY was the sole 50+ athlete to crack the top 10, with a superb 41:26. It was his best performance at a Masters National Championship since he claimed third Overall at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta in 2019.

Riley Cook 38:20     Benjamin Bruce 38:38     Darryl Brown 39:43 

WOMEN The Women's race was more interesting for its age distribution. The top seven finishers in the men's race were all either 40 or 41. In the Women's race the top 7 included two athletes in their 50's and one in the 45-49 division, not to mentions a 59-year-old who finished 9th! Top contenders included Fiona Bayly 55 New York, NY, Jacqueline Cooke 44 Impala Racing-SF Bay Area, Abby Dean 51 Greater Philadelphia, Karen Dos Santos 41 Shore AC-NJ, Sara Girotto 46 Philadelphia Masters, Kristen Prendergast 41 Shore AC, and Jeannie Sullivan Clarendon Hills IL. The gun sounded and the runners were off, the women starting alongside the men. Once things settled down, it was Girotto leading the way through the 1 Mile mark, just before the righthand turn and the first Water Station. 

Early Leaders for Women's Race at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships-1 Mile In--From Right: Sara Girotto #368 Michelle Rohl #428 Fiona Bayly Orange Visor

She was followed by Bayly and Michelle Rohl 56 Greater Philadelphia, running side-by-side, with Dean and Ingrid Walters 50 Janes Elite Santa Monica CA, a couple of strides back. 

Early Chase Pack for Women's Race at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships-1 Mile In--From Right: Abby Dean blue singlet Ingrid Walters #448 Kristen Prendergast #221

Right behind them was Prendergast, with Cooke about 30 meters back from her, and Sullivan another 15, 

Jacqueline Cooke - 1 Mile into Women's Race at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships

followed by Dos Santos and Alison Schwalm.

From Left: Karen Dos Santos and Alison Schwalm

By the time they were heading into the historical military housing portion of the park, it was Girotto and Bayly exchanging the lead from time to time. There was a gap back to Dean and Prendergast. Dean had hit her first mile in 5:52, her second in 6:06. Her third mile was 6:16. Rohl, and perhaps Walters, were having trouble with the heat and had slowed their paces. On the long grind back toward the finish line, Girotto moved in front of Bayly by a couple of strides. Prendergast and Dean started to move up; Dean matched her third mile pace in each of the following four miles, while others were struggling. Prendergast passed Bayly between Miles 5 and 6 and then moved past Girotto into the lead. Dean passed Bayly just before the last water stop at Mile 6 and then moved past Girotto into 2nd somewhere in the 7th mile. Prendergast held it together and crossed the finish line in 1st with a fine 46:07. 

Kristen Prendergast Claims the Overall Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

Dean finished a half minute later, claiming 2nd with a 46:44, just 7 seconds ahead of Girotto. It was Prendergast's first victory at a National Masters Championship. Dean had her best overall National Championship finish since 2014 when she finished 2nd in the 10 Km Masters Championships. 
Abby Dean speeds to the Finish Line and Second Place Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

And Girotto continues the upward climb she began a year ago. She ran two minutes faster this year and finished 8 places higher! She finished 9th overall in Atlanta at the 5 Km National Championships and 14th at the Half Marathon. She almost made the podium at Rochester, finishing 4th overall. Girotto nailed it this time, her first podium at a Masters National Championship! 

Sara Girotto Kicks in To Finish Third Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

Bayly held it together, finishing 4th in 47:39, just three seconds ahead of Dos Santos, who had just 5 seconds on a fast-closing Sullivan. 

Fiona Bayly keeps Karen Dos Santos at Bay With a Finishing Kick-Bayly 4th and Dos Santos 5th Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ 

A 6th place at a National Championship must have made Sullivan's trip back to Chicago highly enjoyable. 

Jeannie Sullivan captures 6th Place Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ  

Cooke took 7th a minute after Sullivan in 48:35. Not only did she finish 7th overall, Cooke also led her Impala 40+ team to an important podium finish. 

Jacqueline Cooke takes 7th Place Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ   

Euleen Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. Track-Georgia capped off a year where she moved from the Track to the Cross Country turf and then the roads, gaining fitness with her training and confidence with each outing. Her 8th place finish this year was ten places higher than she could achieve last year. 

Euleen Josiah-Tanner finishes 8th Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ  

Rohl was in the lead pack until the heat got to her; she had to stop by the side of the road and recover for a bit. She found she could jog, so jogged into the finish so her team could benefit from her finishing position.

Dean summed up the feelings of many athletes, noting that, "I love the competition at the Masters National Championships; I am definitely planning on competing at next year's events as long as I can stay healthy."

Kristen Prendergast 46:07     Abby Dean 46:44     Sara Girotto 46:51


WOMEN 40-44 This division was covered in the Overall recap. Prendergast, Dos Santos, Sullivan and Cooke went 1-2-3-4. In addition, Lauren Jackson Shore AC claimed 5th in 50:26.

45-49 Sara Girotto was leading the race overall until she was passed in the last 2 kilometers. She was way ahead of others in her 45-49 division and had no trouble coming home with the win. Her 46:51 effort left her winning the division by well over 600 meters. It was quite a race for the remaining podium spots. Jody Buyyounouski Impala Racing finished 4th in 45-49 here last year, with a 50:07, and also finished 4th at the Masters 10-Mile Championships in Sacramento in early April. Susanne Cranz-Mileva Raritan Valley-NJ finished 9th last year in 51:47. Patricia Heppelmann Greater Philadelphia did not compete here last year, but her 1:06:50 at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run proved that she would be competitive. Euleen Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. Track-Georgia finished 6th last year in 50:45. That was impressive, considering it was her first long road race at a Masters National Championship. Subsequently she was able to finish 6th at the Masters Ten-Mile Championships in Sacramento. Those efforts gave her the confidence to register for the Half Marathon at the WMA Championships. Her 1:26:09 performance there suggested she would definitely be a factor in this race. Not only was Josiah-Tanner a factor, she handled the warm conditions better than anyone other than Girotto. Perhaps training in Georgia helped?! She took 2nd in 49:48, finishing over a minute ahead of Cranz-Mileva. 

Suzanne Cranz-Mileva closes fast to take 3rd in the 45-49 Division at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ  

Heppelmann edged Buyyounouski by 12 seconds for 4th place, clocking 51:58. Buyyounouski would have loved to finish higher, but was happy that she helped put her Impala team on the 40+ podium. 

Sara Girotto 46:51     Euleen Josiah-Tanner 49:48     Susanne Cranz-Mileva 50:54

50-54 Abby Dean finished 2nd Overall out of this division, taking the Division Championship at the same time. Kimberly Aspholm Garden State-NJ finished 3rd here last year in 49:57. Samantha Forde Impala Racing- SF Bay Area ran a 32:26 8K in San Jose CA on April 24th, age grade equivalent to a 49:58. Her 38:54 in the Wharf to Wharf 6 Miler was even better. And she finished 4th in 50-54 at Atlanta in the Masters 5 Km Championships in 20:22. Mary King Ft Worth TX area finished 2nd in the Road Mile Championships in Rochester, clocking 5:40. She apparently ran a 20:25 5 Km in March. It is hard to project a 12 Km performance from a Mile and a 5K, but King has distance runner speed for sure! Ingrid Walters finished 3rd in the Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, clocking a nifty 18:53 in hilly Atlanta. She followed that with a 4th in the Masters Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento in 1:04:26.

Dean, with hopes of making the Overall podium, wasted no time once the gun sounded. But Walters who was eager for a strong showing herself, went with her. That may have proven to be a mistake. Forde, who went out at a more moderate pace, was able to finish strong, clocking 50:22 and generating an 80-meter gap back to the 3rd place finisher. 

Samantha Forde motors to the Finish Line and 2nd Place in 50-54 at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ   

King claimed her 2nd consecutive podium finish at a Masters National Championship. Aspholm finished 4th in 51:54, with Walters in 5th. I learned after the Championships that Walters had suffered from dehydration and jogged in the last mile so that her team would benefit from her time; she was the third runner to score for the Janes! That's toughness for you!

Abby Dean 46:44     Samantha Forde 50:22     Mary King 50:45

55-59 Fiona Bayly, who finished 4th Overall, took this division with over 600 meters to spare. It was a much tighter race for the rest of the podium; runners 2 through 6 came across the finish line within a two-minute span. Mimi Fallon HFC Striders - Greater Boston , one of the few runners from New England to make the trip without her team, finished 5th here last year in 51:11. Her 42:43 at the Beach to Beacon 10K in August showed that her fitness was good heading into this Championship. Tania Fischer Janes Elite-So Cal came with her team across country to compete for this Championship and National Grand Prix points! Known nationally for her 5 km sped and her prowess on the XC turf, Fischer turned a few heads when she finished 3rd in this division at the Masters Ten-Mile Championships in Sacramento. Her time of 1:07:52 suggested that she would contend for the podium here as well. Lori Kingsley Willow Street AC-Greater Albany showed her endurance credentials with a 1:06:59 at the Stockade-a-thon 15K last November, and her speed with a 25:26 4-mile effort on the 4th of July. Suzanne La Burt Shore AC-NJ took 2nd in the division here last year in 49:38, matched that 2nd place at the Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse, and bettered them both with a win at the Masters 10 Km Championships in Dedham with a sparkling 40:06. Mary Lynch Janes Elite-So Cal was in New Jersey primarily to provide depth for her team; any individual glory would be frosting on the cake! Her 41:46 10K last October and her 6th place division finish at Club Cross in Tallahassee shows Lynch has to be taken seriously as a podium threat.

After the gun sounded and Bayly took off with the leaders, the others sorted themselves and settled into an early pace that had La Burt leading at the 1 Mile mark, but with the two Janes Elite teammates, Lynch and Fischer, tucked in behind her. There was a considerable gap back to Kingsley and another large gap back to Fallon. With the warm conditions affecting different runners differently, the first mile was not necessarily a good guide to final position. In this case, though, the early positioning held up, at least for La Burt. Ahead of all but Bayly at the 1 Mile, that was also true at the 12 Km mark. La Burt crossed the finish line in 50:13, nailing 2nd place with almost a minute to spare. 

Suzanne La Burt flies to the finish, claiming 2nd in the 55-59 division at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ   

Lynch was not able to stick with Fischer, who claimed 3rd with a 100-meter margin. Fallon worked her way up through the field, taking 4th in 51:33. Kingsley had more left than Lynch at the end, edging her for 5th by just 13 seconds!

Fiona Bayly 47:39     Suzanne La Burt 50:13     Tania Fischer 51:06

60-64 Going into this race, I figured it would be a possible1-2-3 for the Greater Philadelphia juggernaut of Lorraine JasperDoreen McCoubrie, and Mary Swan New York. It would not be their first; that is the way they finished in Syracuse at the Half Marathon Championships. And except for the Impala's Stella Gibbs, who upset the 10 Km applecart in Dedham leaving them as 2-3-4, it would have been a second sweep. Jasper has led the way at 10 Km and below this year, with McCoubrie taking over once we get beyond 10 Km. McCoubrie and Jasper finished 3-4 in the 55-59 division last year in 50:57 and 51:03. If they could get close to those times, it did not seem anyone else could stay with them. Both Jasper who ran faster than the existing 60-64 American Record, and McCoubrie, who was not far off, ran really well at Rochester. McCoubrie did her usual triple win at the Outdoor Championships at Ames IA, winning at the 800M, 1500M, and 5000M. Jasper only competed in the 400M there and finished 2nd, by a fraction of a second, but that is probably not her strongest distance. That tells you something about Jasper's prowess when you can describe her being the 2nd fastest in the country at a distance showing it was not her strong suit. Traveling all the way to Ames, IA and then running only the 400 Meters does raise the question of a possible injury. Swan finished 5th last year, but at 53:35 it seemed as if either Mary Cass Greater Boston or Lauren Leslie Rhode Island from the Liberty AC might stay with her. Swan also ran well at Dedham and Rochester and, in addition, had a fine outing at the Utica Boilermaker 15K in August, clocking 1:06:55. Swan also ran well at the WMA's just missing a medal in the Cross Country. Cass and Leslie would be worthy rivals though. Cass had finished just 17 seconds behind Swan at Dedham and she and Leslie had finished 6th and 7th at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta that Swan skipped.  

McCoubrie wasted no time moving to the front. By the time they hit the 1 Mile mark, she had a clear lead. Leslie came next, after a gap, and the there was another gap back to her teammate, Cass. Swan was right behind Cass, and then a gap back to Mimi Newcomer F&M Track-Southeastern PA with another small gap to Jasper. Anyone watching at this point would realize something was not right with Jasper. She would typically be well ahead of Swan, right with McCoubrie. Apparently, Jasper was 'taking one for the team' at a time when she was nursing an injury.

McCoubrie ran into no problems and kept it going, claiming the win with more than 80 meters to spare.

Doreen McCoubrie keeps the Hammer Down to Capture the 60-64 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ    

Cass moved up with her teammate, Leslie, but at some point, Leslie had to let Cass go. Cass claimed 2nd in 51:56, with 160 meters back to Leslie in third. Swan held her position, claiming 4th in 53:46. She enjoyed a gap of over 400 meters to the closest pursuer. Newcomer took 5th in 55:56. Jasper finished two minutes later in 6th, helping her team toward their goal.

Doreen McCoubrie 51:35     Mary Cass 51:56     Lauren Leslie 52:39

65-69 Nora Cary Shore AC- NJ set the American 65-69 Record here last year when she ran 51:09. Cary apparently ran into some injury difficulties earlier this year. Her times at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham and at the Falmouth Road Race were very good, but not quite up to her standard. That seemed to extend into her recent 5 Km outings. But there was nothing to suggest she would have any trouble putting distance between her and her rivals. Kitty Musante Shore AC-FL won the 5Km Championship in Atlanta in 22:20, which is competitive with Cary's recent 5K times. But a 5 Km is not a 12 Km. Musante's time at the Gate River Run in March, over 15 Km, was a more modest 1:14:24. That is equivalent to a sub-1-hour 12 Km, but not a sub-55 minute one. Alda Cossi Liberty AC-Greater Boston came to run for her team, but she was also a contender. She took the Silver medal at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham in 49:32. That time suggests running a 12 Km in around an hour, if conditions are similar, would be possible. Should any those three be off their game, either Susan Stirrat Shore AC-NJ, who finished 3rd in this division here last year in 1:07:22, or Antoinette Marmora Clifton Road Runners-NJ would be right there to take the spot. Stirrat finished over half a minute ahead of Marmora in the Tom Fleming Sunset Classic 5 Mile run in late June, so I guess that gives her a slight edge.

Cary left no doubts about who was going for the win! By the 1 Mile Mark she already had a big gap on Musante, with a smaller gap from Musante back to Cossi. Marmora and Stirrat were well back from Cossi and the entire field was spread out. The order did not change during the race. Apparently, everyone in this division made the right allowance for the weather and the risk of dehydration. Cary won with a margin of over 600 meters. 

Nora Cary Captures her Second Consecutive 65-69 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ     

Musante took 2nd when Cossi still had over a kilometer to run. Cossi was happy to score for her team; the Bronze medal was frosting! This was Marmora's day; she took 4th in 1:09:25, three minutes ahead of Stirrat who was, no doubt, happy to survive a tough day on the roads.

Nora Cary 54:10     Kitty Musante 57:40     Alda Cossi 1:04:26

70-74 Jeannie Rice, the 2019 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year, was the favorite coming into the race but scratched. I am not sure if she needed to focus all her attention on an upcoming Marathon or if there was a different reason. In her absence, Suzanne Ray Red Lizard-Oregon, who won the 65-69 Half Marathon Championship in Syracuse in 1:49:21, became the favorite. No stranger to the longer distances, Ray has multiple National podiums over the years, at distances from the 15Km to the Half Marathon. Her most recent Half Marathon was at the WMA Championships in Finland where she earned a Silver medal, clocking 1:45:50. JoAnn Coffee Raritan Valley-NJ finished 3rd here last year in 1:06:25. Her 57:14 at a 10K in April backs up her status as a podium contender. Ray's Red Lizard teammate, Jeanette Groesz Oregon, has won many titles on the Cross Country turf and on the roads at shorter distances. She finished 6th at the 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento in 1:28:13 and ran a 1:50:41 Half Marathon in Oregon in June. The third runner for Team Red Lizard, Cande Olsen NJ could wind up on the podium if she had a good day. Olsen finished 3rd in 70-74 at the Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee. Her most recent 10K was a 1:01:16 as part of a triathlon. Presumably she could run faster without the swimming and biking, but how much fasters?

Groesz, who is nothing if not game, went out as if she were competing for the 65-69 podium. One mile into the race, she had a 50-meter gap on her teammate, Ray. Coffee was over a hundred meters back from Groesz but over 100 meters ahead of Olsen. The only change was an important one. Ray caught up with and passed her teammate in the 5th mile and built the lead to over 400 meters by the finish. This was Ray's 2nd National Championship this season. 

Suzanne Ray takes first in the 70-74 Division at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ       

Groesz kept things going after Ray passed her and claimed 2nd place. When Groesz crossed the line, the third-place finisher, Coffee, still had 800 meters to race. Olsen completed the race in 4th, three minutes behind Coffee, giving Team Red Lizard the points they needed. 

Suzanne Ray 1:03:17     Jeanette Groesz 1:05:51     JoAnn Coffee 1:10:18

75-79 Barbara Donelik Shore AC NJ finished 2nd here last year in 1:05:01, 1:04:52 net. Her 5K's this summer were not as fast but her slowest 5K was 26:49 in June. Kohut, in contrast, did not run here last year, but her most recent 5K was a 31:16, also in June. Her 1:51:30 in the Parkway Classic Run over 10 miles also gave no hint that Kohut would be likely to break 1:20 in a 12 Km race. Did Kohut ever surprise me! Donelik was not up to her pace of last year, but she still broke 1:10. I would have thought that would win easily.  Kohut crossed the line in 1:07:33, less than a minute ahead of Donelik. That is Kohut's first win at a National Masters Championship. 

Cheryl Kohut heading to the Finish Line and the 75-79 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ    

Perhaps there will be more in her future!

Cheryl Kohut 1:07:33     Barbara Donelik 1:08:22

80-84 This division was likely to be one of the more closely contested ones. Heide Moebius won here last year in 1:17:38. Her recent efforts at the National Senior Games in May and a 52:40 5-Miler in June suggested she might be pushed to break 1:20. Sandra Folzer finished 2nd to Moebius last year in 1:20:49. Folzer's 1:43:26 at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run in May suggested she might even be able to break 1:20 on an equivalent 12 Km course. Later in August Folzer ran a 33:18 5K, which cast some doubt on her ability to break 1:25. Moebius started out cautiously, water bottle in hand. At the 1 Mile mark, she was 70 meters behind Folzer. Moebius continued her cautious approach, figuring, perhaps, that it was more important to survive and race another day than try for Gold over Silver on this day. Folzer took the win in 1:24:25; 

Sandra Folzer Strides Confidently to the Finish Line and the 80-84 Division Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 12 Km Championships at Highlands NJ     

Moebius was 400 meters back in 2nd place.

Sandra Folzer 1:24:25     Heide Moebius 1:28:33

85-89 Joyce Hodges-Hite was unopposed, taking the victory in 2:03:21.

That's it for the Races for the Overall Men's and Women's and the Women's Age Divisiion National 12 Km Championships. My Next (Second) Posted Article will cover the Men's Age Division Championships, the Age Grading and Team Championships!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Beach Blanket Boogie-12 Km Preview#2-Age Divisions, Age Grading and Teams

 September 17, 2022. We have 330 athletes registered to compete! The course is out and back, starting near Parking Lot E in Sandy Hook National Gateway Recreation Area at 3.7 meters above sea level, dropping at its lowest point, to sea level, and rising at its highest point to 7.3 meters above sea level. The forecast calls for sunny skies, 72 degrees and 75% humidity at the 9:30 AM start of the race, warmer than runners would like, but in the manageable range. There is not much shade. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! They are now forecasting winds in the 10-13 mph range, but we will hope the winds moderate. If not, we may see a bit more pack running as athletes try to tuck in for at least part of the time. For those who ran here last year, the temperatures are comparable, but the humidity will be less. As the previous post emphasized, there is some real speed at this year's Championship and American records are again likely. Most of the Age Division National Championship races will be highly contested.


WOMEN 40-44 The podium favorites in this division were already highlighted in the preview of the Overall Masters race in the previous post: Jacqueline Cooke, Karen dos Santos, Kristen Prendergast, Jeannie Sullivan and Shawanna White. To be consistent, I opt for Cooke, Prendergast and White to make up the 40-44 podium.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Jacqueline Cooke     Kristen Prendergast     Shawanna White

45-49 Sara Girotto was previewed as having potential for contesting for the Overall win. She is my pick for the 45-49 crown. Neither Jodi Buyyounouski nor Euleen Josiah-Tanner were mentioned in terms of the overall race. They both have credentials that are likely to put them on the division podium. Patricia Heppelmann could break onto the podium with a good day.

  • Buyyounouski  finished 4th in the division here last year in 50:07. This past April, she finished 5th in the division at the Masters 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento. Her time there, 1:08:40, is age grade equivalent to a 50:30 12 Km effort. 
  • Josiah-Tanner, who finished 7th at Sacramento in 1:11:48 and a much closer 6th here at Sandy Hook last year in 50:14, finished just back from Buyyounouski in both races..
  • Heppelmann's top credential is a 1:06:50 at the Blue Cross Broad Street (10 Mile) Run in Philadelphia in early May. That translates via age grading to a potential 49:08 12 Km effort. Tempering that optimism is her outing in June at the Rotary 8K in 33:49. That is equivalent to a 51:34. Somewhere between those two efforts puts her in a position to challenge both Buyyounouski and Josiah-Tanner.
It is too bad Melissa Gacek had to scratch. She would certainly have been in the podium mix and if she had a good day, might have pushed Girotto for the win. Girotto should be able to move up to the first spot in this division, with Josiah-Tanner trying to hang with Buyyounouski long enough to have a chance with a final kick. If Heppelmann can channel her Broad Street performance, she could break onto the podium.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Jodi Buyyounouski     Sara Girotto     Patricia Heppelmann

50-54 Kimberly Aspholm, Abby Dean, Samantha Forde, and Ingrid Walters are the favorites for the podium. 

  • Aspholm finished 3rd here last year in 49:57. She clocked 1:10:04 in the Garden State 10 Miler last spring, equivalent to a 51:29. She will need to match her sub-50 effort of last year as the other three contenders are all likely to break 50 minutes. 
  • Dean took the division crown at the Masters 10 Km Championships in Dedham MA in 38:01, a time that is equivalent on age grade terms with a 46:04. If she can match that on the Sandy Hook course, no one can stay with her. In late August she ran 45:46 at the iconic Falmouth Road Race over 7 Miles on Cape Cod. It was a warm day and that may explain why her time equates to a slower 48:54. It should be noted that she won her division and, were it not for 42-year-old Edna Kipligat, who is still a world-class road racer, Dean would have been among the top-3 Masters finishers.
  • Forde finished 4th in 45-49 at Atlanta, clocking 20:22 at the Masters 5 Km Championships, slower than Dean, Walters, and Aspholm. A 32:26 at the 8 Km in San Jose CA in April shows a bit more promise, equating to a 49:28. But her performance over 6 miles at the Santa Cruz Wharf-to-Wharf race in mid-July suggests either better capability at longer races or that her fitness is improving. Her 38:54 equates to a 48:52 which looks competitive for the podium.
  • Walters finished just ten seconds behind Dean in Atlanta. She is also accomplished at longer distances, finishing 4th in this division at the Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento, clocking 1:04:26, equivalent to a 47:21. Later in the spring, Walters clocked 1:26:00 at the OC Half Marathon in Newport Beach. That equates to a 48:03 12 Km effort. Walters is likely to crack 48 minutes on Sunday. That should be enough to come in ahead of anyone but Dean. Dean has faster times at both the Half Marathon and the Ten Mile Run this season. If Walters could defeat Dean over 7.45 miles, that would be a real feather in her cap!
Dean seems likely to take the win, followed by Walters. Aspholm and Forde should have quite a duel for third. Forde's times, especially at longer races give her an edge over Aspholm, but Aspholm may have extra confidence from having beaten Forde in Atlanta. It will be fascinating to find out how this matchup turns out.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Abby Dean     Samantha Forde     Ingrid Walters

55-59 The primary division podium contenders include: Fiona Bayly, Tania Fischer, Lori Kingsley, and Suzanne La Burt
  • It is a new Age Division for Bayly and she is ready to race! Bayly finished 2nd last year in the 50-54 division with a 48:17. Repeating that performance would probably be enough for the win. But there is reason to think she could run faster if necessary. In May she ran 1:24:27 in the Brooklyn HM, equivalent to a 47:06. The following month Bayly ripped off a 37:41 in the Mini 10K in Central Park, equating to a 45:41, and the following month ran a 38:58 at Peachtree, age grading at the level of a 47:13 12 Km run. Looking for a time from Bayly under 48 and, perhaps, under 47, does not seem out of the question.
  • Fischer has been a killer on the XC turf and at shorter races. This year she has also authored some nice races over longer distances. She finished 3rd in this division at the Masters 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento; her 1:07:52 equates to a 49:50 12K. Offsetting that, however, she ran 42:23 at the Santa Monica Classic 10K this past weekend, which equates to a 51:22. But that was just a race not a Championship; Fischer was the 6th woman to finish and won her age division. The 10 Mile result is probably a better guide to the likely outcome at this 12 Km.
  • Kingsley ran 1:06:59 last fall at the challenging 15K Stockade-a-thon, a time equivalent to a 52:53 12K. She improved on that with a 4 Mile effort on the 4th of July. She clocked 25:26 which is equivalent to a 48:42 12 Km. The 15K is probably a better indicator of ability in a 12 K than a 4-Miler is. But the faster relative time in the 4 mile suggests Kingsley might be able to crack 50 at this 12Km.
  • La Burt took second in this division last year in 49:38. She has had a very productive year, despite being in her last year in the Division. La Burt took 2nd in the Half Marathon Championships at Syracuse and 3rd at the 1 Mile in Rochester. She topped that with a Division win in the 10 Km Championships in Dedham with a nifty 40:06! She also ran a speedy race at the Garden State 10 Mile, clocking 1:06:21. When considering age grade equivalents, La Burt's HM time is comparable to what she ran last year in the 12 Km. But the other three are all relatively faster, suggesting a sub-49 is not out of the question.
Bayly should be able to win this with La Burt a strong second. Fischer's strong race in Sacramento convinces me to give her the nod for the podium over Kingsley.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Fiona Bayly     Tania Fischer     Suzanne La Burt

60-64 The thrilling threesome from the Greater Philadelphia Track Club, Lorraine Jasper, Doreen McCoubrie, and Mary Swan are the favorites for the podium. Mary Cass and Lauren Leslie, from the Liberty AC out of Greater Boston, will try to break up their party. Last year McCoubrie, Jasper and Swan finished 3-4-7 in 55-59. That was their last National Championship in that age division. Jasper and McCoubrie went 1-2 in Atlanta, followed by McCoubrie, Japser and Swan going 1-2-3 at the Half marathon. They did not get the win at Dedham but finished 2-3-4 with Jasper leading McCoubrie and Swan across the finish line. They also went 1-2-5 in the same order at the 1 Mile in Rochester. It is probably not very relevant for the 12 Km but illustrates their dominance over a range of distances. Cass and Leslie were able to come in just ahead of Swan at Rochester.  Cass finished behind all three of the GPTC crew in Dedham but was only 13 seconds back from Swan. Cass and Leslie finished behind Jasper and McCoubrie in Atlanta, but Swan did not compete there.  
Jasper and McCoubrie are likely to go 1-2 but in which order? Last year, McCoubrie took the honors at the 12 Km by 6 seconds. But at the 10 Km Championships this April, Jasper had the edge by 8 seconds. Jasper and McCoubrie should both crack 52 seconds. Swan ran 53:35 here last year, but her results in the 10K Championships and the Utica Boilermaker 15K, 1:06:55 suggests she could break 53 this year. She will need to if the three are to mount the podium. Cass and Leslie could both come home under 53:30 and sub-53's are not out of the question.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Lorraine Jasper     Doreen McCoubrie     Mary Swan

65-69 Nora Cary won this race last year in record-breaking time, 51:09! Her times this year at the 10 Km Championships, 44:09, and at the Falmouth Road Race, 55:16 over 7 miles, suggest she will have a hard time matching that performance. Luckily, she will not need that fast a time to win the division. She should be able to come in under 55 and that should give her an ample cushion. 
Kitty Musante took the division crown in Atlanta in 22:20. In fact, she came in about 15 seconds ahead of Cary. But a 5 Km is not a 12 Km and Cary was not at her best in February. Musante's time at the Gate River Run, at 15K a more comparable distance to the 12 Km, was 1:14:24, equivalent to a 58:52 12 Km effort. Her 5 Km time of 22:20 is equivalent to a 55:42 12 Km, but a 5 Km is a less reliable guide than a 15K. Still, it would not be surprising to see Musante crossing the finish line before 58 minutes is on the clock. Cary will have to be aware of her. Alda Cossi finished two minutes behind those two at the 5 Km and was further back from Cary at the 10 Km Championships. But she should have a lock on 3rd place. Her 49:32 at Dedham suggests she might well finish the race on Sunday right around an hour. Her two closest rivals for the final podium position are Antoinette Marmora and Susan Stirrat. Marmora has not contested any of the National Championships but her 44:43 at the Tom Fleming Sunset Classic 5-Miler suggest a 12 Km time of around 1:08. Stirrat ran 1:07:22 to finish 3rd here last year, so it will be very tough for her to run with Cossi. But she did beat Marmora by 45 seconds at that 5-Miler so 4th seems likely for Stirrat.

It is possible that Musante could spring an upset, but Cary has been running more strongly again later with a few 5K's in the sub-22 range. Whatever was hindering her earlier this year seems to be in the past. Cossi is not quite up to their times but should come in 3rd with a good cushion.

Top contenders in Alphabetical Order

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

70-74 Jeannie Rice is strongly favored to break June Machala's 58:22 American Record. It would not be surprising to see her break it by a minute or two. Rice is the 2019 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year and holds 70-74 American records at the 1 Mile, Half Marathon and Marathon. Suzanne Ray is not quite at Rice's level but should take the Silver medal. Ray's 1:49:21 to win the 65-69 Half Marathon Championship was 7 minutes back from Roce's time. But she improved, lowering her half marathon time to 1:45:50 in Finland where she finished 2nd at the World Masters Athletics Championships. Joanne Coffee and Ray's teammate, Jeanette Groesz, will battle for the final podium spot. Coffee took 3rd here last year in 1:06:25 and ran 57:14 at the Essex County 10K on April 3rd. That is equivalent to a 1:09:34 12 Km effort. On that same day, Groesz ran 1:28:13 in the 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento, age grade equivalent to a 1:04:29. Groesz's 1:50:41 at the Redmond Half Marathon two months later signals even better, equating to a 1:01:08. If Groesz can run as she did on those two occasions, she should be a safe bet to take the final podium spot this year.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Jeanette Groesz     Jeannie Rice     Suzanne Ray

75-79 Barbara Donelik and Cheryl Kohut are the two runners entered. Donelik finished 2nd here last year in 1:05:01 (1:04:52 net). Two months later she ran a 43:14 5-Miler which is roughly comparable. Kohut ran a 1:51:23 10-Miler earlier this year and a 31:16 5K in June. She will be happy to run in the 1:20's and score points for her team. Kohut is primarily running for her Raritan team. Donelik should enjoy a comfortable win.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Barabara Donelik     Cheryl Kohut

80-84 Heide Moebius and Sandra Folzer went 1-2 here last year in 1:17:38 and 1:20:49. In May, Folzer ran 1:43:26 at the Blue Cross Broad Street 10-Miler; that equates to a 1:15:27 12 Km. The Broad Street Run is known to be a fast race with few turns and an overall drop. Still, that is impressive. If she can muster a similar effort on Sunday, it could be quite close. Moebius ran a 52:40 5-Miler in June, equivalent to a 1:21:34. Whether she has the fitness to break 1:20 this year or not is a question. Folzer could force the question. I will go with Moebius, who has had an illustrious career as a masters Runner. But Folzer will make her earn the win.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Sandra Folzer     Heide Moebius

85-89 Joyce Hodges-Hite took the 5 Km 80-84 Championship at Atlanta in 49:48. This time she will take home the 85-89 Division Championship as she continues racing into the 2nd half of her 80's!

Top Runner

Joyce Hodges-Hite

MEN 40-44 This division was previewed in terms of contenders for the Overall Championship in the September 15 post. Please see that for details. Ben Bruce, Riley Cook, and Jesse Davis are the favorites. Darryl Brown, Dickson Mercer, and John Poray are very strong runners who contribute to a superb field. They will make those three earn the podium.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Ben Bruce     Riley Cook     Jesse Davis

45-49 The Overall preview in Wednesday's post also covers this division. David Angell, Christopher Shaw, and Nicholas Thompson should all run in the low 40's or better, and that should put them on the podium. Shaw and Thompson went 1-2 in this division in 40:34 and 41:19 last year. Angell was off his game last year and still ran 41:31! His recent outings suggest he could run a bit faster this year. Mike Cole, who finished 2nd in the division at the 10K Championships in 33:55 is also in the hunt. That time equates to a 41:07 12 Km. His recent outings in a Sprint Triathlon and a local 5K raise some doubts about him  breaking 42 minutes. But Cole is a seasoned competitor who will be right there for his team and that could translate into a podium finish. Marco Cardoso, who finished 3rd in the division last year with a 44:03, will have to find more speed to make the podium this year.

This is a fascinating race to watch. Angell is the comeback kid. Is he fully healed? Has he lost any of his national race savvy from an 8-month absence? Shaw surprised everyone last year with his strong showing. His best credential since last year's stirring performance is a 34:33 10K in April, a time nearly a minute slower than Angell's 10K in mid-June. But perhaps Shaw is a runner who rises to a challenge and runs his best at National Championships?!  Thompson is primarily in training for the major Marathons; and Cole is a canny runner who is primarily competing to bring home a Championship and a Grand Prix title for his team. If Angell is fully healed, he could well win the division.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

David Angell     Christopher Shaw     Nicholas Thompson

50-54 Six runners stand out in this 12 Km field of 41 entries: Mark Andrews, Mark Callon, Christian Cushing-Murray, Richard Falcone, Ivan Lieben, and Gregory Putnam
  • Andrews finished 2nd in the Division in the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta this year in 16:53, and won the 10 Km Overall Championship in 2016. Despite those credentials it appears that Andrews has not run many races longer than 10 Km in recent years.
  • Callon won the Half Marathon Championship in Syracuse with a 1:15:43, which equates to a 41:56 12 Km. His 2nd place division showing at the 10 Mile run in 56:01 equates to a faster 41:06, although that may be partly due to terrain. Sactown is flat; Syracuse is hilly.
  • Cushing-Murray won the 5 Km in Atlanta, running 8 seconds faster than Andrews. But he has the additional credential this year of his 4th place finish in the ten-mile championships in Sacramento. That translates to a 41:46 12 Km.
  • Falcone's primary credential is his excellent 2nd place finish in the division at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham in 33:39, age grade equivalent to a 40:49. No doubt Falcone has the talent to make the podium. But it is troubling that I can find no race results for him since that 10 race in April.
  • Lieben is known more for his Cross Country prowess but he has competed in two of the Road Championships this year. He finished 3rd in the Ten-Mile Championships in Sacramento, running a half minute lower than Callon, his West Valley teammate. He finished 5th at Dedham in 34:25. Both outings suggest he should break 42 this Sunday.
  • Putnam will renew his rivalry with Callon. Putnam beat Callon at the 5 Km XC in Boston in the fall of 2021, and then picked up a 2nd place here at Highlands in 41:52. Callon pulled away to beat Putnam by half a minute at the Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse. Putnam came in 3rd at Dedham, sixteen seconds ahead of Lieben.
Callon seems to be the strongest at this distance, although Putnam may be closer at 12 Km than 13.1. Falcone has the best age graded performance at a comparable distance; he came in a half minute ahead of Putnam there.  I will include Falcone as a podium pick but am a little uneasy with it. I wish there was a fuller record for him, especially in the last few months.  If Falcone is off his best for any reason, Lieben could be in ahead of him, and Cushing-Murray as well. My guess is that Callon can beat Falcone at 12 Km regardless. We will find out on Sunday!

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Mark Callom     Richard Falcone     Gregory Putnam

55-59 The top contenders are: Michael Collins, Brian Crowley, Scott Grandfield, Keith Guilfoyle, and John McMahon

  • Collins has been a steady performer at the top of this age division now since the 15 Km Championships at Tulsa in 2019. when he took the M55 crown in 57:38. He finished 2nd in the 55-59 5K Championships in Atlanta, with a time that is age grade equivalent to a 43:06. He followed that up in July with a 37:01 10 Km that equates to a 44:54. And that does not consider his exploits on the track, where he has won multiple medals at 5000 and 10,000 meters.
  • Crowley won here last year in 42:06. His recent races suggest he should come home in less than 43 minutes; that should get him the win. His 58:36 at the Garden State 10 Miler in late March equates to a 42:58 12 km. A month later he recertified his sub-43 credentials with a 2nd place finish at the 10 Km Masters Championships in Dedham in April in 35:02. That translates to a 42:30. 
  • Grandfield is a runner who seems to come in under the radar but is always a threat for the podium. A prime example is the 10 Km Masters Championships in Dedham this year where he finished 3rd in the division in 36:19, which equates to a 44:03. Lest you think that was just a fluke, he clocked 28:58 in the Bobby Doyle 5 Mile Classic in mid- August. That translates to a 43:57. That puts him in the thick of the race for the podium!
  • Guilfoyle took 6th here last year in 50-54 in 44:33. He finished 2 minutes behind McMahon at the Half Marathon Championships in March. Guilfoyle ran 56:32 at the Utica Boilermaker 15K in early July, a time equivalent to a 44:40. Later that month, he clocked a 17:44 5K that translates to a 43:33.
  • McMahon's two Silver Medals at M55 National Championships demonstrates his range. He ran 5:00 flat at the Road Mile in Rochester and clocked 1:19:58 at the Half Marathon in Syracuse. The latter equates to a 44:16 12 Km effort. He also showed some speed in winning a 4-Miler in early July; his 22:18 equates to a 42:31.
Crowley should break 43 and come home the winner. After that, the crystal ball gets murkier. I will opt for McMahon and then Grandfield, but Collins and Guilfoyle will not be far back and if it is their day, either could finish on the podium. Francis Burdett deserves a mention as well. After working his way back from injury, he had two fine races this summer, a 37:03 10K at the TD Beach to Beacon, and a 1:21:17 at the WMA Half Marathon. Both are age grade equivalent to a few ticks under 45 minutes. If his momentum continues through to this race, perhaps he could break through onto his first road podium in a few years?

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order
Brian Crowley     Scott Grandfield     John McMahon     

60-64 Nat Larson is a strong favorite to take the division crown on Sunday. Mark Neff, Henry Notaro, and Roger Sayre are the top contenders for the rest of the podium. Two strong runners from this division, Tim De Grado and Rick Lee, are skipping the Championships to partake in the MUT excitement at Pike's Peak.
  • Larson aged up into this division earlier this year and ran for Team USATF at the WMA's 60-64 division. But as August passed into September and his name was still not on the entry list, I wondered if all was well. Apparently, the delay had more to do with his team than with Larson. Perhaps they were waiting to see if they could field a complete team? The Greater Springfield Harriers do not have a full team, but Larson entered as an individual in the last few days. That adds a little more heft to my mention of Larson as one of the potential record setters. I wonder if he would have made the trip were it not for the possibility of setting an American Record? He should, in any case, be a safe bet for the win! Even though he was still on the comeback trail at last year's Championship here, Larson ran 43:13. and no one else can touch that. His winning time at the 10 Km Championships, 34:20, translates to a sub-42-minute 12 K. Larson's 57:11 winning effort at the 10 Mile Championships also suggest a sub-42 is possible. As long as he comes home under 42:50, he gets the record!
  • The only National Championship Neff has contested this year is the Road Mile at Rochester, where he finished 4th in 5:13, six seconds behind Notaro. He has done well at longer distances though, namely the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in early April. Neff's 1:00:23 translates to a 44:15 12 Km equivalent. He ran a 17:52 5K in mid-August, equivalent to a 44:21. 
  • Notaro is new to the circuit; in his first National Championship at the Road Mile in Rochester, he landed on the podium! Notaro has plenty of speed and endurance. He ran 56:07 at the Gasparilla 15K in February, equivalent to a 44:18. Notaro followed that with a 36:55 at the Ridgewood 10K in May. That translates to a 44:48. In between those he found time to run a 2:55:51 Boston Marathon.
  • Sayre is in the last six months of his time in this division, but he is still a force to be reckoned with. A bit off the top of his game last year, he still ran a 45:49 to take 2nd in a mad dash to the finish, edging Joe Mora by a single second! In March, Sayre finished 2nd at the USATF Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse with a 1:21:42, equivalent to a 45:07. At the end of July, Sayre ran a 44:02 at the challenging Quad City Bix-7, a bucket-list race for many runners.
As noted, Larson is the favorite for the win. Notaro is a likely 2nd, with Neff perhaps edging Sayre for third.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Nat Larson     Henry Notaro     Mark Neff

65-69 Rick Becker and Ken Youngers are co-favorites for this division. Kevin Dollard and Robert Reynolds are the likeliest candidates for the third spot. Kevin Dollard, John Blaser and Scott Lucking will try to upset the applecart and surge onto the podium.
  • Becker's top performances have tended to come first on the Cross Country turf where he has been selected the USATF Masters Harrier of the Year three times. Earlier this year he finished 2nd in M65 to Jacob Nur, who has been breaking records left and right on the roads. In 2021, he set two M65 American Records on the track. This is probably his first road race since 2018 when he finished 2nd at the 15 Km Championships in Tulsa in 58:30 at the age of 63. It appears he has been running some trail races, one the Light at the End of the Tunnel Trail Marathon in 3:01:35. That race advertises itself as a fast course with a consistent 2.2% drop, so it is hard to evaluate.
  • The record of Youngers is largely on the roads, so we have clearer signals of fitness. Last year on this course, Youngers broke the American 55-59 Record with a time of 45:03. After a niggling injury over the winter, Youngers came back with a very strong 37:48 at the 10K Masters Championships, translating to a 45:54 12 Km time. He ran Peachtree this year, known for its Cardiac Hill and for its warmth and humidity. Nonetheless, Youngers clocked 38:21. Although the low 45's might be a stretch this year, breaking 46 seems very reachable for Youngers.
  • Dollard finished 5th here last year in 51:29. Since then he has run better. He took 2nd at the 10 Km Masters in Dedham with a 41:07. That is age grade equivalent to a 49:56. He also took 2nd at the Masters Half Marathon Championships at Syracuse, with a 1:32:43 over their hilly course. That, too, is a better age graded effort than his 2021 effort here. If Dollard carried his fitness well through the summer, he might run faster this year than his 51:29 in 2021.
  • Reynolds finished 7th in 60-64 here in 2021 in 48:56, coming in two and a half minutes ahead of Dollard. In May, he ran 1:06:26 in the Blue Cross Broad Street Ten Mile Run, equivalent to a 48:39. The faster equivalent is partly due to a fast Broad Street racecourse, but it serves to illustrate similar fitness for Reynolds. In order to place, it is likely that Blaser and/or Lucking would need to improve on their 10 Km performance at Dedham, where they both came in about a minute behind Dollard.
Youngers has been running well all year on the roads, I will pick him for the win, with Becker second. Reynolds probably has the fitness to come in ahead of Dollard so I will put him on the podium in his new age division.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Rick Becker     Robert Reynolds     Ken Youngers    

70-74 Gene Dykes and Robert Qualls are co-favorites for this division contest, with Eugene Myers a slight favorite for 3rd over Fernando Moura and Jerry Learned.

  • Dykes won the Masters 10 Mile Championship in Sacramento in 1:07:43. A few weeks later he ran even faster at the Blue Cross Broad Street 10 Miler in his hometown of Philadelphia. The Sactown time is equivalent in age grading to a 49:31 12 Km effort. He has had his ups and downs this year, with a fall or two on some challenging and technical trail Ultras. Nonetheless he has been ramping up his training recently to attack the upcoming Marathon season. He should be ready for a good race.
  • Qualls has returned to top fitness after a few years of struggle. He lost the M70 Road Mile Championship to Masters Track legend, Nolan Shaheed by a single second in May. More importantly, he followed that up with a Silver Medal at the WMA 10 Km Championship in Finland, clocking 39:44. That age graded at 89.97% for the 70-year-old Qualls, and is age grade equivalent to a 48:15.
  • Myers finished 8th in 65-69 here last year with a 53:29 effort. Seven months later, he ran even better at the 10 Km Championships where he took 6th in 65-69 with a 43:14. That translates to a 52:31 12 Km effort. A 10 Mile effort earlier this month was not quite up to those standards so Moura and learned may have a better shot at Myers than his earlier times suggest.
  • Moura has a 35:12 over 8K and a 35:59 over 5 Miles that suggests a 12 Km time a little over or a little under 54 minutes is within reach for Moura. of course, those are not National Championships, and they are not over 12 Km.
  • Learned ran 55:33 to take 2nd place in 70-74 here last year. Learned kicked it up a notch in April when he ran 44:30 at the 10 Km Championships, finishing 1:15 behind Myers.
It is probably unwise to pick against Gene Dykes in any race, but Qualls is the new kid on the block, and he has been running so well. I will go with Qualls for the win and Dykes a close 2nd, and a terrific workout for his upcoming Marathons! Myers should be able to claim 3rd, although Moura seems close and Learned is a very determined competitor.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Gene Dykes     Eugene Myers     Robert Qualls

75-79 Dave Glass is the favorite for the win. Gary Ostwald is the favorite for 2nd, with Ezequiel Garcia picked for third. Paul Carlin, your author, and Tom Jennings will try to chase them down! 
  • Glass has won every national road Championship this season at 10 Km and above and there is no reason to expect anything different. he has raced locally over shorter distances this summer, but he has raced well. He won this division last year in 56:15. Other relevant performances include his 44:42 10K win in Dedham, equivalent to a 54:22 and his 10 Mile win at Sactown in 1:16:38, equivalent to a 56:02.
  • Ostwald was able to beat Glass by 12 seconds on the turf over 8 Km at Cross Country Nationals last January. But it has been another story on the roads. Glass beat Ostwald by almost a minute over 5 Km in Atlanta and the margin rose to over three minutes in the ten Mile Run. But make no mistake, Ostwald is no slouch on the roads. No one else in the field can touch him if he runs like he did in Sacramento!
  • At his race last year, Garcia finished less than a minute behind Glass, clocking 56:59. Garcia continued to run within a minute or so of Glass in most races last fall and over the winter, but Garcia must have started struggling with an injury in late winter. At the Half Marathon championships in mid-March, he ran 1:52:17 at the Half marathon Championships in Syracuse, a good ten minutes behind Glass. And at the 10 Km it was not much better, as Garcia was probably running primarily for his team and struggled to a 50:01, finishing just a few seconds ahead of me. More recently he sems to have recovered somewhat. He ran 49:35 at the Ridgewood 10K in late May and 40:11 over 5 Miles in late June. Those are faster equivalents than his HM and 10 Km times. If Garcia's fitness has not improved, it looks like a time around 1:01 or a little better is reachable on Sunday. 
  • I [Carlin] had to skip this race last year because I aggravated an Achilles injury the Friday before the race. In all, I lost May to December last year to the injury. I finished 4th in the Half Marathon Championships in March but my time was not competitive, finishing 4 minutes behind Garcia.  By April though, my fitness had come around to almost being competitive at National races. My 50:02 was only good for 7th place but it was age grade equivalent to a 1:00:4, and just a few seconds out oof 5th. I also managed a 5th place at the 10 Mile Championships in 1:25:02, equivalent to a 1:02:08. My hope was to build base over the summer and come out with a good shot at making podiums this fall. Alas, I had some minor knee and heel problems that forced me to do more cross training than planned. That was probably good for me but the 10K times I have been able to run this summer were 1 to 3 minutes slower than the time I ran in Dedham.
  • Jennings ran 1:26:03 at the fast Broad Street (10 Mile) Run, equivalent to a 1:02:51 12 Km. In early August he ran a 26:56 5K but it is easy to make too much of summer 5K's in both directions. Jennings will likely run a strong race and finish somewhere under 1:05. Garcia and I will have to make sure we run closer to an hour, or we might be wathcing the Jennings 'M75' back bib pulling away from us over the latter portions of the race.
Unless the unexpected happens, it should be Glass-Ostwald-Garcia, with me and Jennings perhaps having a chance to reach the podium if everything falls in place.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

Dave Glass     Gary Ostwald     Ezequiel Garcia

80-84 George Gilder enters as the favorite, with John Elliott, Gary Cochrane and James Leitz doing battle for the other two podium positions. 
  • Gilder took the 80-84 title at the 10 Km Masters Championships with a smashing 58:03, age grade equivalent to a 1:10:40 12 Km. He is, perhaps, unlikely to hit that height on Sunday but his other efforts, like a 1:10:55 effort over 7 Miles, and a 50:55 5-Miler in August suggest he should be well under 1 :20 on Sunday, and probably under 1:15. 
  • Elliott has won his share of national titles over the years, but a fall just before the 5 Km Championships has thrown him off his form. At Dedham, he finished over 4 minutes behind Gilder in 1:02:35, equivalent to a 1:16;08 12 Km effort. Elliott has run some road miles since then, but it is hard to gauge 12 Km fitness from those races.
  • Cochrane's credentials include a 1:06:43 at Peachtree over 10 Km. That race, famous for its Cardiac Hill and its warmth and humidity, tends to be a test for Masters runners. Cochrane's time equates to a 1:21;09 12 Km or perhaps better, given its terrain and weather conditions. A month earlier he ran a 1:02:14 on an out and back course that is flat but certified. It is equivalent to a 1:15:42 12 Km.
  • Leitz finished 2nd in 80-84 here last year in 1:18:42. His recent 32:19 at the Asbury Park 5K suggests his fitness is not far off from last year's. A sub 1:20 is within his reach.
Gilder is my pick for the win, with Elliott 2nd, and Cochrane third. Leitz is definitely a threat though.

Podium Picks in Alphabetical Order

George Gilder     John Elliott     Gary Cochrane

85-89 Adrian Craven is the sole entrant. He ran 1:02:26 over 8 Km of turf at Tallahassee and won his division at the Road Mile in Rochester, clocking 10:40. The goal on Sunday is to finish the 12 Km race. This will be his longest race that I can find over the past few years. As long as he finishes the race, he wins. 

Pick for the win!

Adrian Craven

That finishes the preview. No pics this time, and no team predictions. No time left!

All the best to the folks whose main focus is the team competition. In terms of participation, Shore AC has the most runners here, followed by Clifton Road Runners and Raritan Valley Road Runners. 

National teams do not have as many athletes here but those Clubs with the most from outside the New Jersey association are the Greater Philadelphia Track Club, the Atlanta Track Club and the Genesee Valley Harriers.

Sunday should provide a terrific day of racing. It will be so interesting to see how the overall, and age division races come out!