Friday, October 21, 2022

2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships-Preview-Challenging Course-Loaded Fields

 October 20, 2022. The race is this Saturday, October 22nd; the Women’s Championship commences at 1 PM, with the Men ‘s start at 2 PM at the Viele Lake/Harlow Platts Community Park in Boulder, CO. 

They are pouring out of the Canyons and down from the Mountaintops. Road Runners, Track Athletes, Trail Runners, Triathletes, Marathoners and Ultra-Marathoners, the strongest cross country runners from the Mountain West and across the country, are headed to Boulder to compete for a national championship. Competitors at the USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships look to enjoy a gorgeous sunny day, with temperatures in the low 70’s and moderate winds. And that is good, because athletes will have plenty to handle without having to worry about the weather! 

Jacques Sallberg gloves and Gregory Mitchell sunglasses tow the lead pack across one of the few level areas at 2016 Cross Nationals in Bend OR

Grace Padilla leading Marisa Sutera Strange up and around the middle field. Footing was very tricky because the snow was melting onto the course--2017 Cross Nationals at Bend OR

This could be the most challenging National Championship course since Masters athletes encountered the Max King-designed course at Bend, Oregon. Lee Troop and his team have designed a classic cross country course. After starting across a large, undulating field there is a 30-meter hill to traverse at an angle, rising about 4 meters. You then swing around Viele Lake and back towards a one-lane footbridge over the middle of the lake. After navigating that you are on flat ground but with some exposed tree roots to worry over. You wind back around the lake and take a shorter way down to the lower field but hug the edge of the field toiling up a 100-meter hill. The first short hill tops out at close to 14% grade. This has a longer steep section, with the middle from 9 to 12% grade, but one section rising to 16%.  Then, of course you have to descend back down to the bottom of the field and around behind the Start. After running up around another field with a technical bit where harriers exit the field, they have completed the first loop. Runners then do another loop just like that one except that when arriving in the field next to the Start for the 2nd time, they circumnavigate that field and do a U-turn to finish. It is not a complicated course, and it will be well-marked, with plenty of course marshals pointing the runners in the right way. But the athletes will know they have run a cross country course!

Note: I continue my practice of picking a podium but feel I am often out of my reckoning with Cross Country races. Every course is different, and even the same course is different under different weather conditions. Strong runners come in with a focus on 5k-10K races and equally strong runners from Marathons, Ultra Marathons, Trail Runs, Mountain Runs and Triathlons.


Both fields are rich with talent. 


Janet Cherobon-Bawcom will be going for her first national Masters LDR title as a member of Team Run Flagstaff. Cherobon-Bawcom finished 12th for Team USA in the 2012 Olympic 10,000 meters and won the 2014 Ten Mile national championship on the roads at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run. As a newly minted Masters athlete she took the Women's title at the Sprouts Mesa-Phoenix Marathon in 2:42:18 and finished mid-pack at the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta in 2:49:13. Already a public health nurse at Grand Canyon National Park, Cherobon-Bawcom was testing community residents for Covid during the pandemic. Luckily, she did not contract Covid despite that exposure. Cherobon-Bawcom has no Athlinks results since 2020 so she may have withdrawn from competition; this event may be a way for her to ease back into competition. Nonetheless, her talent, experience, and training know-how, make her a definite contender.

She will enjoy plenty of competition. Jessica Hruska, the current leader in the Women’s 40-44 Masters National Grand Prix, looks to close out the 2022 season with some strong points from Boulder. She finished 7th at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships but has been a podium regular since then at the 5 Km, 10 Km and Half Marathon Championships. Hruska only need finish in the top 13 to assure herself of the Grand Prix title, but she wants to end the Grand Prix season on a high note. Melody Fairchild, at age 49, focused more on coaching than competing these days, had impressive accomplishments as a Mountain runner for Team USA, finishing 8th at the 2012 World Mountain Running Championships. The Boulder native took the 2017 Masters Cross Country title at Bend, OR after taking the Silver medal in both 2015 and 2016 when the Championships were in Boulder. 

Caiomhe Kilroy and Jessica Hruska pushing across the top field at the end of the first loop--2022 Club Cross at Tallahassee FL


Sara Girotto broke onto the National scene in a big way this year. She has taken 45-49 division wins at the 5 Km, 10Km and 12 Km Championships. She had her best finish at the 12 Km Championships where she finished on the Overall podium. This will be Girotto's first appearance at a National Masters Cross Country Championship. Another local runner, Shelley McDonald, who clocked 1:20:58 to finish 3rd overall at the Equinox Half Marathon in Fort Collins last month, will also make a bid for the podium. In addition to half marathon credentials, her 18:34 at the Valley 5K in August shows she has the speed necessary to do well in this race.

Ann Kirkpatrick was a late entrant to the Championships but should be considered a prime favorite. She ran Tallahassee last year as an Open athlete, finishing 27th in a time that was 20 seconds faster than the winning time in the Masters race. She also raced in the Olympic Trials Marathon, finishing in 2:44:59.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order: 

Janet Cherobon-Bawcom     Ann Kirkpatrick     Shelley McDonald


Fernando Cabada will also be going for his first national Masters LDR title. Cabada took national titles at 25 Km and the Marathon during a stellar Open career. He will try to emulate the examples of nationally prominent Open competitors, Sergio Reyes and Riley Cooper, who took their first titles as Masters runners earlier this year. Cabada is definitely on his game. He won the RiNo 5K in Denver on July 23rd in 15:07 and followed that with a 1:06:14 Half Marathon win at the First Energy Akron Marathon in late September. Nothing comes easy, though. Neville Davey took the Club Cross Country title at Lexington, KY in 2017. He has not competed in a Cross Country Championship since the 2019 Club Cross Championships at Lehigh. Most likely he is running for team, not individual goals, but Davey cannot be ignored. 

Neville Davey, driving the bus at the end of Loop 2, with from L to R John Howell red singlet, David Angell #1635 and John Gardiner #1470 in tow--2017 Club Cross-Lexington KY

Clint Wells, a sub 28-minute 10,000 meter runner in his day, and three-time member of tTeam USA at World cross Country Championships, is among those trying to deny Cabada the win. After a strong Open career, Wells entered his first year as a Masters athlete in 2015 with impressive performances. He took the Masters National Marathon title at the Twin Cities in 2:24:00, and finished top 5 in the Masters race at the Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco. He was the fastest Masters athlete at Boston and Chicago the following year. Like Fairchild, his focus is now more on Coaching than competing. Ultra-runner, Galen Burrell, who took the Masters title at Grandma’s Marathon in 2021 with a 2:32:35, should also contend. The one doubt is that he ran the Aspen Gold leaf Half Marathon in a slow 1:32:41 this September. On the other hand, he was not pushed for the Overall win, and may have been approaching it as just a training run. Anthony Bruns has a more consistent record this year. He finished on the Overall podium at the Denver Colfax Marathon this spring in 2:32:48 and clocked 1:08:43 to take 4th Overall at the Equinox Half Marathon in September. It seems to go against stereotypes but Masters Marathoners have often done well at Cross Country Championships. Keep an eye, too, on Ultra Trail Runner, Christopher Copenhaver, who was 1st Master and 15th Overall at the 2021 Pike's Peak Ascent and Marathon in 4:25:23. That is a fine time; had he run that time this year he would have been in the top 10 overall. Another who could surprise is Adam Rich, who has been turning in some fast 5K times at altitude this summer, averaging under 5 minutes per mile in a couple of them.

Note: I learned after this was composed that Cabada had to withdraw because of work commitments. I substitute Burrell in the list of podium picks below.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Anthony Bruns     Fernando Cabada     Christopher Copenhaver


National Champions are crowned in each 5-year age division as well as Overall Masters Champions.


40-44 The athletes identified as likely to contend for the overall win, with the exception of Davey and Wells, will also compete for top honors in the 40-44 division. The favorites for the Overall championship are, by necessity, the picks for 40-44.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Anthony Bruns     Fernando Cabada     Christopher Copenhaver

45-49 Neville Davey and Clint Wells were identified as contenders for the Overall win. Davey, 47, and Wells, 49, are top contenders for this division's win. Four years ago, Wells ran a 32:43 10K at altitude. It will be interesting to see where his fitness is now. I find no recent results in Athlinks. Like Wells, Davey has been less active on the national scene in recent years. As noted, he won the 2017 Masters race at Club Cross in Lexington, finished top 5 at Spokane and then just outside the top 10 at Lehigh in 2019. Davey has raced on the roads from time to time. He clocked 16:18 at the Newport-Mesa Spirit Run in March of 2020 and showed in early September of this year that he had not lost anything. He ran 16:23 in a local race where the 2nd place runner was over a minute behind him. Because of the recent results, I have more confidence that Davey is prepped to do well. Presumably Wells is prepped enough for this division, at least, if not for overall contention. Todd Rose deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those two. At the Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee last December, Rose finished 10th overall and won the 45-49 division. 

Todd Rose leading his teammate, Mark Yuen and several chasers including Gregory Mitchell red singlet, Chris Magill yellow singlet and John Gardiner green singlet--2019 Club Cross-Lehigh course at Bethlehem PA

He came in 15 seconds ahead of Davey at Lehigh, finishing 5th in the division. He also finished 4th in 45-49 at the Ten Mile National Masters championships at Sacramento.

Many other athletes enter with strong credentials. Chaiwat Engtrakul, a Boulder Track Club teammate of Wells's, ran 2:37:44 at Chicago in 2021 and ran 7 seconds faster at Boston this year. He clocked 37:46 at the Bolder Boulder 10K and 1:17:27 at the Boulderthon HM. Michael Kraus, who stayed closer to home, had faster times: a 2:36:15 at the Colorado Marathon, a 36:25 10K at the Yeti Chase, and a 1:16:44 at the Equinox Half Marathon. A Silver Medalist overall at a 2019 Masters National Championship, Michael Madsen deserves a mention. He took 2nd Overall at the 2019 USATF 1 Mile (Road) Championships in Flint MI. If Madsen has the same love of Cross Country that most accomplished middle-distance runners have, he is probably looking at this primarily as a chance to help his team. This is not a goal race for him. There is no reason to expect him to be a top contender for the podium here. Jerry Snider has barely missed the 45-49 podium at the 5 Km and 1 Mile national masters championships this year, finishing 4th in both. It will be interesting to see if he can accomplish on the turf what has eluded him on the roads, a national podium finish. Marty Stevens, another Boulder Track Club harrier, possesses a 2:37:45 CIM time from last December, as well as a 36:42 at the Bolder Boulder this spring. It is hard to evaluate Jason Troxler's 3:36:13 Trail Marathon Masters win in July, with almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Add to that a winning 34:16 in the Northland Hospice 10K in Flagstaff and you have an impressive combination. 

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Neville Davey     Todd Rose     Jason Troxler

50-54 Mark Yuen was the main man for this division last Winter. He took the title at Tallahassee in December by 27 seconds and a month later at Cross Nationals in San Diego, was breaking across the finish line 37 seconds ahead of the next 50-54 runner. His teammate, Ivan Lieben, took 3rd at Tallahassee and second at San Diego. The 2nd place runner at Lehigh is not entered here and Cushing-Murray, who finished 3rd, is now in 55-59. Nine months can make a difference, but will it? Yuen took his talents to the World's in Finland last July, hitting the podium with a Bronze Medal in the 1500M with a snappy 4:20.7, and a Silver in 5000M at 16:02! No doubt he is fit. His team, West Valley, has come to win and he is a key part of their plan. Lieben, unlike his teammate, has been almost a regular at Masters LDR Championships this year. In addition to his two Cross Country division podiums to start the Grand Prix year, he added 3rds at the 10 Mile and 12 Km Championships. His lone trip without a podium finish was to Dedham, where he was one place off in 4th. The fellow he is chasing in the Grand Prix, Gregory Putnam, is entered here. Lieben has a slim chance to reverse their 1-2 GP standing. Lieben must win and Putnam must finish no better than 4th. Putnam was 16 seconds behind Lieben at Tallahassee but has since beaten him at both the 10 Km and 12 Km races. That will be a race within the race to watch for! One thing nine months does is to bring new competitors into the age division. Two runners who did not compete in San Diego in January are now in this division. John Gardiner competed in the 2020 edition of the Mission Bay race as a 45-49 year old, as did Chokri Dhaouadi. Their times, with Dhaouadi edging Gardiner for 4th Overall, were 28:07 and 28:24. Those times compare favorably with Yuen's winning 2022 time of 28:47. But, of course, they were not in a race together. Yuen will bring confidence from Lehigh where they were in the same race and Yuen bested Gardiner by 19 seconds. Of course, every course has different effects on different runners and the same may be said of the weather. Again, this will be another battle to watch. Dhaouadi apparently races sparingly. I can find no Athlinks results in the past eight years. In 2010 he was running Half marathons in the 1:02-1:06 range. By 2014 he was winning 5K's in the low 16's. What will he be running in this race? Mark Callon has had his days this year, a division win at the National Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse and a 2nd at the Ten Mile in Sacramento. Saturday is probably a day he will be focused on running solidly for his team and not worrying much about individual results. Chris Grauch is another wild card. Except for Max King, he was the first Masters runner to finish at the USATF Mountain Running Championships over 10 Km in 44:33. To keep some perspective it is important to note that King finished 2nd overall while Grauch finished 27th, 4 minutes later. But that gives you an idea of the kind of competition there was in the race. Yuen seems strong. Gardiner broke 16 at Carlsbad this spring to win the 45-49 division and competed well at Dipsea. Without more evidence to go on, I will leave Dhouadi and Grauch out of the picture and let them surprise me.  Between Lieben and Putnam, it is tough to say. We will see if Putnam can stretch his winning streak over Lieben to 3 or whether Lieben can reverse the tables again and start his own streak.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

John Gardiner     Gregory Putnam     Mark Yuen

55-59 West Valley's David White took the honors at San Diego in January, besting Nat Larson by three seconds. Larson is now in 60-64 and unless he enters at the last minute, will not be in Boulder. White took 2nd in Tallahassee behind the B.A.A.'s Peter Hammer, but he is not entered here. It appears that White joined his teammate, Yuen, at the World's in Tampere, Finland, taking 7th in both the1500M and the 5000M in 7th place, with times of 4:30 and 17:07. At first glance, White looks like the man to beat. But there is new blood in the division. Craig Godwin raced in 50-54 at Tallahassee, finishing 23 seconds ahead of White who was racing in 55-59. Godwin appears to be fit, taking 1st in 50-59 at the Bowerman 5K in mid-September in 16:30. Christian Cushing-Murray has also aged into the division. In the past year he has not been able to keep pace with Godwin or White on the turf when they have met. He was a half-minute behind White at San Diego and well behind both Godwin and White at Tallahassee. But he has done well on the roads this year and appears to be fit. One of the highlights of his last year in the 50-54 division was winning the 5 Km National title in Atlanta and a division win at Carlsbad, and top 10 overall, must have been sweet as well. He has Cross Country and 5K outings under his belt this summer and, apparently, a comfortably sub-5 50-54 podium finish at the Fifth avenue Mile in NYC. Michael Mallon, running for the Boulder Road Runners, could be in the mix as well. He has recent Half Marathons in the 1:18-1:19 range and captured the 55-59 division title at the challenging Quad City Bix (7 miler) in 40:56. There are plenty of other strong runners in the field but those four appear to have the best shot at the podium.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Christian Cushing-Murray     Craig Godwin     David White

60-64 Dan King, of Athletics Boulder, ruled the turf in this division last winter, taking first at Tallahassee with 45 seconds to spare and repeated the feat a month later at Mission Bay with a minute between Gold and Silver. King has had more challenges with his fitness this year but is a master at rehab. Despite a wonky knee, he just turned in a 37:55 10K at Boulderthon. Two of the guys who looked likely to challenge for the win, Nat Larson and Rick Lee, will not be here. After a tough outing at Chicago, Lee decided to focus all his energies on the upcoming NYC Marathon. Lee's new running partner with Shore AC, Henry Notaro, turned in a 2:53 marathon at London. He would be a formidable competitor but is rumored to be a scratch for Boulder. That means the three athletes most likely to challenge King for the title are his rivals from the Boulder Road Runners, Tim DeGrado, Roger Sayre, and Mark Tatum. Like Lee, DeGrado did not have as strong an outing at Chicago as he had hoped, clocking 2:58:52. Will that have a lingering effect on his chances this Saturday? Last December at Tallahassee, it was DeGrado, Sayre and Tatum finishing 2-3-7 to King's win. Sayre is in his last year in 60-64 but had a good outing at the 12 Km national championships taking 3rd in 46:17 and followed that with a nice 59:30 at the Hot Chocolate 15K in Denver on October 2nd. Tatum was almost a half minute behind DeGrado and Sayre at Tallahassee, but one might argue that this course at Boulder is marginally better suited to trail runners than the one at Tallahassee. If so, Tatum has the ability to move up in the order. He had another good outing at Dipsea this past year, although he couldn't repeat his 2021 win; he finished 8th in this age-related handicap trail race up over the Marin headlands in the San Francisco Bay area. Of course, that argument works in favor of DeGrado as well, an accomplished trail runner. If King's knee holds up, he could win again. Plenty of rivals are there if he is off a bit though.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Tim DeGrado     Dan King     Roger Sayre

65-69 A month ago I would have written that Boulder would be another chance to witness a battle between three-time Harrier of the Year, Rick Becker and Ken Youngers. They were going to meet on the roads at Highlands in the 12 Km Championships and then on the turf at Boulder. Unfortunately, a hamstring problem sent Youngers, the American 65-69 Record holder in the 12 Km, to the ground at Highlands. Becker developed first a calf issue, and then an Achilles issue, in the run-up to this race. It appears that neither will be competing on Saturday. Jacob Nur is competing as far as I know.  When he and Becker met on the turf at Spokane in 2018, Becker enjoyed a 20 second edge. In a rematch at Mission Bay in January, Nur reversed the tables, enjoying a 28-second win, with Becker 2nd. In the last year and a half, though, Nur has been on a tear! He now has pending American 65-69 records in the 10 Km, 35:42, the 10 Mile, 58:34, and the Half Marathon, 1:18:29! With both Becker and Youngers out, it appears he has no close rivals for the win on Saturday. 

Looking back at San Diego in January, Kyle Hubbart finished 4th in 65-69 in 36:41, but Brian Nelson and Stan McCormack, racing in 60-64 then, had faster times at 36:05 and 36:09. In late summer, Nelson clocked a 1:35:55 HM and a 42:42 10K. McCormack, enjoying his new age division, ran 19:46 to claim the Silver medal in the 65-69 5000M race at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships. None of the top 65-69 runners from Tallahassee are entered here. Reno Stirrat would ordinarily be a factor. He is entered but is rehabbing an injury and is under Doctor's advice not to run. Six years ago, at Club Cross in Tallahassee, Dan Spale was on the 60-64 podium. He has not run as strongly recently on the national circuit but could still factor into the podium race on Saturday. He turned in a 41:13 at Bolder Boulder in May and followed that with a 1:34:02 HM.

Nur looks like a lock for the win as long as he is healthy. After that it looks like a classic dustup between McCormack, Nelson and Spale, with Hubbart ready to pounce if any of those three is off even a little bit.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Brian Nelson     Jacob Nur     Dan Spale

70-74 Gene Dykes loves to run races. He especially loves to run Ultra trail races. He notes that he only trains for the Marathon; he just runs the trail races. In 2019 he ran a 200-Miler in Australia over 4 days. In the runup to this race, he ran a 100-Miler in Indiana in order to qualify for the Western States 100. He runs lots of road races too. He occasionally runs Cross Country too. He finished 2nd to Terry McCluskey at Lehigh in 2019 and won the 5 Km XC in Buffalo the year before. He was not at his strongest in 2019 and is not this time either. He was taking giant steps in recovery through the first half f this year, with division wins at the Half marathon Championships in 1:32:37 and the Ten-Mile Championships in 1:07:43. He won his division at Boston in 3:12:38. Then he ran into some problems. At the Outdoor Championships he was back to running a 51 minute + 10,000 meters. But even when not at his best, he is a terrific runner. He finished 2nd at the 12 Km Championships in Highlands to the 'new kid on the block', Robert Qualls. But then he ran an uncharacteristically slow, by his standards, London Marathon in 3:50:33. a few weeks ago. Then at the 100-Miler he fell a few times. Does that mean he will be at less than his best this weekend? I would assume so. Will he be strong enough to still make the podium? I imagine so. 

Qualls must be seen as the favorite. He won the 70-74 division Cross Country race over 6 Km at the World's in Finland this summer and, as noted, took the title at the 12 Km Championships in mid-September. Just to keep his head in the game, he won a local 5K in Reno NV in 20:52. Doug Bell is always in the mix, especially on the turf, and will be here this Saturday. He took 2nd in the division at the 5 km XC Championships in Boston a year ago and then won all the division marbles at Tallahassee. He took 3rd in Atlanta in 21:10. A little off his game, he ran 6:06 at Rochester to finish 5th. If any of those three, Bell, Dykes or Qualls has an off day, there are several poised to advance to the podium: Perry Forrester, Rick Katz, Jerry Learned, James Linn, Perry Linn, and Eugene Myers. Forrester was a threat for national podiums 5 years ago and ran a few 21:30 5K's this summer. Katz claimed the 5 Km XC title in San Diego in 2019 but then had injury problems. His comeback has been gradual since then, with a 7th place at Tallahassee and a 6th at Atlanta in the 5 Km Championships in 22:38. Learned always seems to be on or near the podium. He finished just 20 seconds back from Bell at the 5 Km XC in Boston and took 3rd at Cross Nationals at Mission Bay this past January. In 2021, J. Linn finished 6th in 65-69 at Highlands in the 12 Km Championships in 52:33, faster than Learned in the same race, and ran 45:34 at a 10K this past spring. P. Linn competed in a few National Masters Championships in 2018 and 2019. This summer he turned in a 21:04 5000M and 44:23 10,000M at the Outdoor TF Championships in Ames. Myers was still in 65-69 at Boston where he ran a few seconds faster than Bell. Myers clocked 55:15 at Highlands this September, finishing 4th behind Qualls and Dykes.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Doug Bell     Gene Dykes     Robert Qualls

75-79 You have to start this with Dave Glass. The 2022 Masters National Grand Prix title is his with one race left to go; he doesn't need this one. He is just here to run with his teammates. No one in the USA has beaten him at National Championships at 10 Km and above, and he has been at them all! And only two fellows at the Worlds were able to finish ahead of Glass's Bronze medal effort in the 10 Km Road Race. He is lethal on the roads, but he is also very competitive on the turf. he took the 75-79 title in Boston last fall over 5 Km and finished 2nd to Ron Wells in Tallahassee. He had an off day at Mission Bay but was still only 12 seconds away from the podium. At Worlds, he finished 2nd over 6 Km. Gary Ostwald is the one athlete in the field who has a win over Glass this year. He finished 12 seconds ahead of Glass at Mission Bay to take third place. But he was 40 seconds behind Glass in the 5 Km at Atlanta and the gaps got bigger as the distance increased. But we are back on the turf and Ostwald should have a chance on Saturday. It is hard to see anyone else running with those two. Jan Frisby has run strong on the turf. He finished 3rd in this division at Boston. But he has been removed from the Boulder Road Runner Team roster. I do not know if that means he is a scratch or is just stepping aside so one of the younger guys can compete on a team. If Bill Dunn were running the way he was before going down in a Start Line kerfuffle in Virginia Beach, he would definitely be in the mix. His last national championship before that was the 15 K at Tulsa where he was on the podium!  As is, he is glad to be back at the Show! Dave Dooley, of the Boulder Road Runners, could find his way onto the podium with a good outing. He ran 52:18 at the Bolder Boulder this spring. Jim May and Keith Yeates, both strong harriers, should have a good showing. May has generally finished ahead of Yeates, but that was reversed at Tallahassee. where Yeates had the better time by 16 seconds. May was rehabbing for wa while this year but came back strong at Rochester, finishing 3rd, well ahead of Yeates. What about Paul Carlin, your author? So far I have not turned the corner, and though I finished 4th in the 12 Km at Highlands, I was far back from being in contention. I had a good local 5K outing a couple of weeks ago but that may have been a short 3.1 Km. And the turf has not been my strong suit at the national level.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Dave Glass     Jim May     Gary Ostwald

80-84 Four runners are entered. it would have been 5, but a family commitment required the attention of John Elliott. Elliott won the division at Tallahassee but then had a fall in training in early February. He was feeling his oats again by Rochester, where he took 2nd place. In his absence, Stan Edelson, John Shenk, Andrew Sherwood, and Richard Zerbe will fight it out. Edelson is a clear favorite. He took the 5 Km XC title at Boston last year and his 29:23 took 2nd in the 5k at the Championships in Atlanta. He also won the division championship in the 1 Mile at Rochester. Sherwood finished well back from Edelson at Atlanta and Rochester, finishing 5th and 4th respectively in the division. Sherwood's 10:46 at the 1 Mile in Rochester suggests that he should be able to pull away from Shenk, who ran a 4:39 800M at the National Senior Games this summer. Sherwood's extensive experience at Cross Country may also come into play. Sherwood took 3rd at Club Cross in Tallahassee with a 57:55. Zerbe competed at the Outdooor Championships in the 1500M walk (11:37) this summer.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Stan Edelson     John Shenk      Andrew Sherwood


40-44 The favorites for the overall race are all from the 40-44 division, so they are also the favorites for this division.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order: 

Janet Cherobon-Bawcom     Ann Kirkpatrick     Shelley McDonald

45-49 Melody Fairchild and Sara Girotto were mentioned as contenders for the Overall Championship. At the same time, they are competing for a Divisional National Championship. Others who are likely to compete for the podium include Liz Gottlieb and Katherine McGee. Gottlieb finished 7th Overall at the 2018 5 Km XC Championships in Buffalo NY and 3rd in 40-44. 

Melody Fairchild captures the Masters title at the 2017 Cross Nationals in Bend OR

At Club Cross in Spokane, she finished 21st in 40-44. Gottlieb ran 1:32:36 at the Urban Cow HM last October. She has run 19:51 and 20:21 at two 5K's this summer. McGee ran a 1:24:31 HM in Phoenix last November and a 3:14:02 at Grandma's Marathon this June. Gabrielle Panepinto could also contend. She finished 5th in the division at Tallahassee. She ran 21:09 at the Asbury Park 5K in August.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order: 

Melody Fairchild     Sara Girotto     Katherine McGee

50-54 The headliners, in a sense, though neither may think of herself that way, are Jennifer Bayliss and Samantha Forde. Though neither competed in Tallahassee nor San Diego this past year, they both have impressive credentials. In 2018, just 4 years ago, Bayliss took the overall Masters win at both the Cross Nationals in Tallahassee and the 10 Km Championships in Dedham, where she clocked 37:19. 

Jennifer Bayliss captures the win in front of Maggie Shearer and Sonja Friend-Uhl -- 2018 Cross Nationals at Tallahassee FL

A year later she was moving away from the intense training she had been committed to. She still finished 9th overall and 2nd in W45 at 2019 Cross Nationals in Tallahassee. She ran 1:31:03 at the Urban Cow HM this year and clocked 39:24 at the Wharf to Wharf 6 Miler, equivalent to a 40:51 10K. Forde took 2nd in the division at Highlands with a 50:19 12K. Her time at the same Wharf to Wharf race as Bayliss was a half-minute faster at 38:54.

Despite this being the Women's division with the most entrants, few of the top Masters runners from Tallahassee and San Diego are entered. The exceptions are Kimberly Aspholm and Marcy Cote. Aspholm finished 11th at Tallahassee, but has finished higher at Masters National Road Championships. In particular, Aspholm finished 4th at the 5 km Masters Championships in Atlanta in 20:04 and 4th at the 12 Km Championships in 51:51. She has carried that fitness through the summer, clocking a 20:21 and a 20:37 5K this summer. Cote finished 5th at San Diego in 28:29. A few months later, she clocked 1:36:19 at the Eugene Marathon HM in April, and then turned in a 45:56 at the Bolder Boulder 10K. Alyssia Puma raced at Tallahassee, dropping down in age to run in the Open race. The time she clocked, 2 minutes slower than Aspholm, would have earned a 9th place in the W45 division race she would have been competing in. Rochelle Person, who ran some low 20's 5K's in 2019 and was 2nd in Women's 50-54 at the Pittsburgh's Liberty Mile in 5:41, might also play a role in the podium battle.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order: 

Jennifer Bayliss     Samantha Forde     Kimberly Aspholm

55-59 Lisa Veneziano is a clear favorite. She set the American 55-59 Record for the 12K at Highlands NJ in September 2021. Four months later she took 2nd at 2022 Cross Nationals in San Diego. The only runner ahead of her was 4-time Olympian, Colleen De Reuck. For most of the season, she has been chasing multiple American Record holder on the track, Michelle Rohl. Veneziano finished 2nd 55-59 at Cross Nationals in San Diego behind Rohl, and then acquired 2nd at Atlanta with a 19:29 5K and at Rochester with a 5:40 road mile. With Rohl's attention elsewhere this Saturday, Veneziano has a clear path to the win. 

Lisa Veneziano leading Christy Peterson and Lorraine Jasper down a gentle slope at the Mission Bay course in San Diego--2022 Cross Nationals

Apart from the national championships Veneziano has taken Age Division wins at the Crim 10 Miler with a 1:01:42 and found time to run an 18:32 5K in September. It appears she is ready to roll. Three athletes stand out as the strongest challengers. Lydia Dissly was 6th at San Diego, finishing about 3 minutes behind Veneziano. She also has a 1:33:30 at the Revel Rockies HM and a 21:42 5K last December. Allyson Serrao took 1st 55-59 at the Bellaire Trolley 5K in Houston in April in 19:25 and took the division title at the Pearl Street Mile in 6:08. She clocked 1:06:50 at the Space City 10 Mile earlier this month. Lisa Valle took 3rd last year in the 1500M with a 5:08 at the USATF Outdoor Championships. That is 7 seconds faster than the 1500M time Veneziano turned in this summer. Because the times were from different races, I conclude they have roughly comparable speed at the distance. Valle also had a 33:23 8K outing in May. Perhaps her Spartan competitons are a signal of aptitude for Cross Country? These are formidable competitors, but I still see Veneziano as most likely to stand atop the podium. If it were a road race, Serrao probably stands as more likely for the Silver medal. But the Cross Country turf can be a great equalizer. It might be closer than it looks and Valle appears to have good closing speed if that makes a difference.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order: 

Allyson Serrao      Lisa Valle     Lisa Veneziano

60-64 Lorraine Jasper ruled this division in Cross Country last year, taking 1sts at Boston, Tallahassee and San Diego. The first was close, an 8 second win; the last two were by almost a half-minute and over a minute, respectively. She continued that dominance on the roads with wins at the 5Km in Atlanta (a close win over her teammate, Doreen McCoubrie, in 20:24, and in the 1 Mile at Rochester in 5:42. McCoubrie took the honors at the Half Marathon and Stella Gibbs at the 10 K. Otherwise Jasper appeared unbeatable. But something slowed her down over the summer. At the Outdoor Championships in Ames, she was only able to complete the 400M rather than her usual triple of 400, 800, and 1500. At Highlands, it appeared she was running for the team as she finished 6th in the division in 57:31, six minutes slower than her own time a year earlier. Jasper has had another month to recover. If that has gone well, she will likely compete for the podium. Jasper will not have an easy path to a win even if she is fully recovered. Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, already in the Masters Hall of Fame, is in the field. Cross Country may be her best discipline. She took 1st in this division at the 5 Km XC Championships in San Diego in 2019 and then captured the crown at Lehigh as well. Shee ran a 20:44 5K in Austin TX in March and finished 7th at the Worlds in Finland over 1500M in 5:54. Gibbs is in the field as well. Her victory over Jasper in the 10 Km was impressive. If Jasper is at her best, though, she appears to be stronger on the turf than Gibbs. At their two previous meetings at Boston and San Diego, Jasper finished well ahead of Gibbs. The two runners who finished behind Gibbs at San Diego in 3rd and 4th were Suzanne Cordes and Eileen Brennan-Erler, both of whom are in this field. Cordes also finished 3rd at Clubs in Tallahassee, a half minute behind Jasper.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Carmen Ayala-Troncoso      Stella Gibbs     Lorraine Jasper

65-69 If her road credentials are a good guide to her performance on the turf, Abbie Wade, could well be headed for 1st place in this division. She won the 65-69 crown in Boston last October with a 3:26:53 and followed that with a 1:42:10 at the Slacker Half Marathon this June. Cindy Williams cannot match Wade at those distances but has strong credentials on the turf. She finished 3rd in this division at Boston last October and 2nd at Tallahassee. She finished 4th in the division at Atlanta with a 25:28 5K. Mo Bartley had a faster 5K last November at 22:55. All I find for her this year is a 54:21 Trail Run over 5.8 Miles in May and a 2:27:27 Half marathon Trail Run in August. Those should be good preparation for a Cross Country outing. Bartley finished 6th at Clubs in Spokane 4 years ago and, further back, took the 60-64 division title at Clubs in Tallahassee in 2016. Sharon Vos ran the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in 50:46 and followed that with a 1:56:51 in the Boulderthon HM. If she can manage an effort like her 10K effort in Maine, she will definitely be in contention.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Mo Bartley     Abbie Wade     Cindy Williams

70-74 To say this division is loaded is an understatement. We have a USATF Masters Athlete of the Year, an American record holder over 15K, a WMA Silver Medalist in the Half Marathon, and the winner of this division at booth Tallahassee and San Diego. Sabra Harvey, the 2017 Masters Athlete of the Year, took a few years away from the USATF Masters circuit before joining up with Team Red Lizard to compete at the 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento. Her 1:23:57 there was good for the Division win, although she needed a strong final kick to defeat Kate Stewart. Harvey's most impressive feats have come on the track but she is also strong on the turf. She was named USATF Harrier of the Year in 2018. In a similar vein, it has been a few years since we have seen Edie Stevenson at a Masters LDR National Championship. At her last outing, in Tulsa in 2019, she set the new 70-74 record at 1:13:16! She has not competed on the turf in recent years but when Cross Nationals were in Boulder in 2014, she finished 2nd in the division behind Hall of Famer, Kathy Martin. On the other hand, the most recent result I find for Stevenson is a 23:57 5K last August. Suzanne Ray went over to Finland and finished 2nd in the 70-74 division with a 1:45:50 Half Marathon. Like many top road runners, Ray has found less success on the turf. In Ray's case, her teammate, Jeanette Groesz, has tended to outshine her in Cross Country. They were in different divisions in January but Groesz outran Ray at San Diego by over a minute and a half. Groesz also took the 70-74 title at Tallahassee and, three years earlier in Spokane. At Club Cross in Lexington in 2017, Harvey took the title and, to belie what I just wrote, Ray finished 12 seconds ahead of her teammate, Groesz, finishing 2nd and 3rd to Harvey. Furthermore, Ray did just come in 2 and a half minutes ahead of Groesz in the 12 Km at Highlands NJ.

Harvey must be considered the favorite. After Harvey it should be close between Groesz, Ray, and Stevenson.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Sabra Harvey     Suzanne Ray     Edie Stevenson     

75-79 Each athlete competing in this division, upon finishing, will be on the podium. The strongest of the three appears to be Irene Terronez, who took the 15K national title in this division at Tulsa in 2019 with a 1:43:57. More recently, she ran a 33:19 5K this February and a few weeks ago, claimed the 75-79 win at the Twin Cities Medtronic 10 Miler in 1:56. Linda Yarr has a 37:49 5K and a 1:17:41 in the Boulderthon 10K. Andrea McCarter finished 3rd 75-79 in Atlanta with a 36:46 5K and clocked a 1:21:48 10K at the Big Peach Sizzler in Georgia.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Andrea McCarter     Irene Terronez     Linda Yarr


Age-Grading contests aim to identify the athletes who run fastest for their age.  


Sabra Harvey, 73, the 2017 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year and 2018 Masters Harrier of the Year must be a prime contender. Hall of Famer, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, 63, will be pushing her. American 55-59 12-Km Record holder, and 2nd place age-grade finisher at Cross Nationals in San Diego, Lisa Veneziano, 58, will be in the mix. The 70-74 15-Km Record holder, Edie Stevenson, 73, has been on many national age-grading podiums. One that just eluded her in 2014 was the Cross Nationals in Boulder. With phenoms, Colleen De Reuck, Kathy Martin and Libby James in the field, 4th place was a rather lofty accomplishment. Ordinarily, Lorraine Jasper, 61, who took 2nd in Age Grading at Cross Nationals in January this year, would also be in the mix, but may not be at peak fitness.  Abbie Wade, 67, took the 65-69 title at the Boston Marathon in October 2021 in 3:26:53; a strong marathoner should never be ignored!

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Carmen Ayala-Troncoso     Sabra Harvey     Lisa Veneziano


Jacob Nur, 67,who set a new 65-69 American record at the Masters Ten-Mile Championships this spring, Dan King, 63, who set American M60 Records at the Mile and 1500 meters a couple of years ago, Craig Godwin, 55, and Mark Yuen, 51, are top contenders for the Men’s title. Gene Dykes, 74, who holds American 70-74 Records at distances from the 10 Km to the 50 Km, can never be ignored, but is not quite at his best.

Podium Picks in alphabetical order:

Craig Godwin     Jacob Nur     Mark Yuen



40+ It is perilous, at best, to venture opinions on team outcomes. There are so many variables already and I am not that familiar with many of the runners. And the exact makeup oof each team is not certain as final Team Declarations are not in. But, based on paper, out of the many strong teams coming from the Mountain West, Team Run Flagstaff looks the strongest. They have a complete 9-man team, and plenty of fast runners, so there is room for someone having an off day or a surprisingly 'on' day! After them it looks like the Boulder Road Runners, Boulder Track Club, and the Dukes Track Club, out of Albuquerque are pretty evenly matched. The Dukes are coming with just 5 team members so everyone has to have a good day. The two Boulder teams are not that much better off. They have 6 team members listed each, with the 6th member appearing to represent a significant drop off in time. Fort Collins, the Square State Striders and the Sports Warriors of Albuquerque, do not appear to be hugely behind those others and could upset this prediction.

Podium Picks

Team Run Flagstaff       Boulder Road Runners     Boulder Track Club        

50+ This one looks like a hard-fought battle between the West Valley Track Club and the Boulder Road Runners, with West Valley having a bit more firepower. Boulder Road Runners B looks solid for third.

Podium Picks:

West Valley Track Club     Boulder Road Runners A     Boulder Road Runners B

60+ It looked initially like this division would feature a classic battle between Athletics Boulder, the Boulder Road Runners, and two challengers from other regions, the Atlanta Track Club, and the Shore Athletic Club out of New Jersey. But Atlanta's two strongest runners are likely scratches due to various injuries, and Shore is coming in with a thin team due to Marathon fatigue and/or injuries for key competitors. Atlanta will still have a very solid team but will have trouble matching the front runners of the two Boulder squads, Athletics Boulder, as at Tallahassee last year, needs all three of their runners to be at their best. The BRR has a little more leeway and appears to be the stronger squad at this time in addition to having more depth with a full 3-man team. The Genesee Valley Harriers are bringing in a very solid team. If their top runner has a good day and their next two stay close, they could be very close to BRR. The top runner for AB, Dan King, is a little off his best so will probably not dominate the race by as much as he did last at Club Cross and Cross Nationals. Their other two runners will have to be on their game if AB is to be on the podium again. They will need to come in ahead of two solid clubs, Cal Coast Track Club and the Kansas City Smoke. Those clubs lack star power but could wind up with a fairly tight 3-man pack that could cause trouble.

Podium Picks:

Boulder Road Runners     Genesee Valley Harriers     Athletics Boulder

70+ The Boulder Road Runners A team looks good for the win. They have a couple of strong runners who should be close to the front for the 70+ team competition and their depth is good. The Genesee Valley Harriers also have a solid squad. As long as all three of their runners have a good day, they should be able to claim 2nd. The Atlanta Track Club will fight it out with Boulder B for the final podium spot.

Podium Picks:

Boulder Road Runners A     Genesee Valley Harriers     Boulder Road Runners B


40+ Team Run Flagstaff looks too strong overall. If the Impala Racing team had brought more of their top 40+ runners, it might have been a closer match up. Impala will probably still take 2nd place but will have to watch out for the Fort Collins Running Club, which has a strong runner up front and two solid support runners.

 Podium Picks:

Team Run Flagstaff     Impala Racing     Fort Collins RC

50+ The Impalas are bringing a very solid 50's team. Their top 3 should all be close to the front of this division team competition. After that, it looks close between the Boulder Road Runners and the Greater Philadelphia Track Club, depending on how well their individual runners fare. It is hard for me to figure out Fort Collins. They may be stronger than they look. Two of their five runners move their results on Athlinks into their own account and make it private. From what I can see, Fort Collins is not quite competitive with those top three teams. 

 Podium Picks:

Impala Racing     Boulder Road Runners     Greater Philadelphia Track Club

60+ The Impala Racing team brings the strongest squad. Their top 3 runners went 2-3-4 in this division at Cross Nationals in San Diego and there is no reason to suppose they will do any worse here. And in this race, they have two other runners as insurance who are very solid. Next should be the Boulder Road Runners with a solid team and, like, the Impalas, two extra runners as insurance. With the teams as currently declared, it appears that Revolution Running Team B is next strongest, although that could change during Team Declaration period later today. The Atlanta team will compete hard but may find that the final Revolution Running A team keeps them off the podium.

 Podium Picks:

Impala Racing     Boulder Road Runners     Revolution Running

70+ Team Red Lizard should have the firepower to take home the win. With just three runners, every athlete has to have a reasonable day at least. Boulder looks good for 2nd and Atlanta will take 3rd as long as all three of their runners have a good day.

Podium Picks:

Team Red Lizard     Boulder Road Runners     Atlanta Track Club

There is lots to follow in individual and team races. It will be a thrilling day on the turf at the Harlow Platt Community Park in Boulder!

1 comment:

  1. Well, nicely done on predictions. It was a suffer fest for the flatlanders but the podiums sorted themselves mostly as predicted