Friday, December 9, 2022

Individual Masters at Club Cross in SF-Overall, Age Grade, and Age Division Championships

December 7, 2022. The earlier posts focused on the team races. Now I switch to the individual contests. There are three races:

9 AM   Women    6 Km

9:45 AM   Men 60+   8 Km

10:45 AM    Men 40+   10 Km

The forecast, as of Tuesday evening, December 6th: 

9 am Saturday Dec 10....54 degrees...94% humidity....winds SW 22 mph, diminishing to 18 mph by 11 am....96% chance of rain...about an inch over the 24-hour period from midnight before the race to midnight after the race. This is the worst the forecast has been. perhaps it will change again between now and race day?

In any case, it looks like Irene Herman's guarantee of green grass at the start of the race will hold up!

I covered teams in order-Women, Men 60+, Men 40+; I will do the Overall Races in reverse order.

OVERALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Men 40+ 10K Each year at Clubs, a few individuals come in under the radar. The following24 individuals are definitely ON the radar, due to outstanding performances, either in the recent past at Cross Country or other Championships or over the past year on the turf and/or on the roads. David Angell Roanoke Valley Elite. Angell has won several National Masters Overall Championships on the roads from 5 km to 10 Km. He was on the podium at Club Cross in Spokane and won the 5 Km Masters XC at Buffalo in 2018. Eric Blake Boston Athletic AssociationBlake finished 3rd Overall at Club Cross in Tallahassee last year over 10 K in 33:14and 2nd at Cross Nationals in San Diego in January 2020. He was first Masters Athlete at the Mayors Cup in Boston this year over an 8 km XC course. He ran a 2:30:17 Marathon at Boston in October of '21. Peter Bromka Bowerman Track Club. Bromka finished 9th Overall at Tallahassee last year in 34:12 and clocked 2:31:30 at Grandma's Marathon this past June. Ben Bruce HOKA Naz Elite. Bruce is in the first year of transitioning from an Open to a Masters athlete. Assistant Coach and Pacer for the HOKA Naz Elite group out of Flagstaff, Bruce ran a 1:11:06 at the UA NYC half marathon earlier this year and clocked a 2:27:34 at Boston in April. 

Riley Cook #335 and Ben Bruce #321 with Jesse Davis largely out of sight behind Cook 2022 USATF Masters 12K Photo courtesy of Jason Timochko


In September, Bruce finished 2nd to Riley Cook at the Masters 12 Km National Championships in Highlands NJ with a 38:37. He followed by claiming the 1st Masters prize with a 14:55 at the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K on October 23rd. In January of this year, Bruce ran in the Open division at Cross Nationals in San Diego, clocking 33:04 over 10 Km. That is age grade equivalent to a 26:22 which compares favorably to the 26:37 Reyes (see below) clocked to win the Overall Masters race, over the 8 km course, without any pressure. Roosevelt Cook Cal Coast Track Club. Cook was just off the podium at Tallahassee last year, finishing 4th overall in 33:36. This past January he finished 2nd to Sergio Reyes at San Diego Cross Nationals in 27:31. He ran 15:08 at Carlsbad and clocked 51:27 to take 3rd Overall at the 10 Mile Masters National Championships in Sacramento in April. Neville Davey West Valley. A Middle-Distance speedster, Davey still holds the Road Mile US Record for 40+, from a 2018 race, at 4:22! Davey also has plenty of 'cred' on the turf. He won the 20017 edition of Club Cross in Lexington KY and followed that with a 4th place at Spokane the following year. off his game in 2019, he finished 16th at Lehigh. He did not compete at Tallahassee. A 16:23 5K this September is a good indicator of fitness. But, to be honest, Davey may be even better on the turf. At Boulder, he ran just ahead of Todd Rose, who finished 10th at Tallahassee. 

From right: Sergio Reyes, Roosevelt Cook, Jacques Sallberg & Wesley Reutimann - 1st Loop- Mission Bay USATF Masters 8K Race at 2022 Cross Nationals in San Diego For this photo and all others unless otherwise specified, courtesy of Michael Scott


Jesse Davis Indiana Elite Athletics Club. Last year, Davis drove the bus at Tallahassee. Gilmore and Blake stayed with him as long as they could, but he pulled away on the final 2 Km loop to win the Overall Championship in 32:56. Davis also claimed Masters National Championships in the Half Marathon and 10 Km this year. His most recent effort was a 2:27:03 at the Indiana Monumental Marathon in November. Peter Gilmore West Valley Track Club. Gilmore finished 2nd at Club Cross at Lehigh in 2019 with a 33:00 and followed that with a 2nd place, edging Blake by just 2 seconds in 33:13. One of the little-known facts about Lehigh is that Gilmore came back and ran in the Open Race for West Valley as well, proving himself an 'Iron man' clocking 34:46 for his second tour over the sloppy course at Lehigh that day. He is back to try again for a victory. He ran 2:23:22 at Grandma's Marathon this June but was off his best at the 10 Mile Masters Championships where he finished 17th overall in 52:46. 

From Left: Jesse Davis pulling away from Eric Blake white singlet and Peter Gilmore black singlet--2022 Club Cross Masters 10K Championships-Tallahassee




Chris Gomez Team Run Flagstaff. Gomez, known primarily for his ultra-trail running exploits, surprised the Cross Country world by taking first at the Masters 5 km Championships in Boulder this October. His 16:35 resulted in a 3-second win over Anthony Bruns who had run a 2:33 marathon at altitude earlier in the year. It will be interesting to see how Gomez fares at sea level. John Howell Bowerman Track Club. Howell has been a rock for Bowerman at Club Cross. From 2013 through 2018, Howell never finished worse than 6th at Club Cross; his best was a 2nd place finish at Lexington in 2017. In his last two outings at Lehigh and Tallahassee, Howell played a supporting role. Joshua McAdams Boise Betties and Billies. McAdams enjoyed a 5th place finish at his first Clubs appearance last year at Tallahassee, clocking 33:38. He ran a 1:09:17 Half Marathon earlier this year in Boise. Neil McDonagh Square State Striders. McDonagh finished 12 seconds behind Gomez at Boulder this October, taking 4th in 16:50. McDonagh has shown good speed on the roads with a 15:46 5K and a 33:07 10K at altitude. Gregory Mitchell Bowerman Track Club. From 2013, when he finished 2nd overall to Lee Troop at Bend OR through 2016, Mitchell finished either 1st or 2nd at the Club Cross Masters Championships. He finished 2nd in San Francisco in 2015. He has had an important supporting role in the last two editions of Club Cross, finishing in the top 20 overall at Tallahassee. Chikara Omine Excelsior Running Club. Another newcomer, Omine finished well over a minute behind Reyes and Richards in the Masters race at the Pacific Association Cross Country Championships but finished 3rd, ahead of everyone else. If he is just learning the ropes on the turf, he may improve in his 2nd outing. He ran a 15:45 5K in November and a 1:08:59 at the Urban Cow HM in October. John Poray Indiana Athletics Club. Poray is a very strong runner. Because he is a teammate of Jesse Davis's he gets overshadowed. Poray finished 10th at Tallahassee last December and took 2nd at the Masters 10 Km National Championships in 33:05. Sergio Reyes HOKA Aggies Track Club. At Club Cross in Tallahassee, Reyes elected to run in the Open Race, finishing in 33:05. That is 9 seconds slower than Davis ran in winning the Masters race. They appear to be well matched. Reyes took the win at Cross Nationals in San Diego, winning easily over 8 km in 26:37. He took 1st Masters at many prominent races this year, with a 49:36 Masters win at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run (10 Miles) and a 1:06:45 at the Urban Cow HM in October. He finished 2nd to Riley Cook at the 10 Mile Masters Championships in Sacramento, clocking 50:35. Malcolm Richards West Valley Track Club. Richards was 39 when he ran 2:16:15 at Grandma's in June. He showed that he carries both speed and endurance into an early Masters career when he clocked a 14:47 5K as a 40-year-old this November. On the turf, he finished second to Reyes at the PA Cross Country Championships' losing by two seconds, as both were well over a minute clear of the field. As an Open runner last December in Tallahassee, Richards ran a minute and a half faster than Davis's winning Masters time. An athlete can sometimes run fast, swept along as part of a huge group of fast, Open athletes; it is another story to make a race at the front of a Masters race with just a few rivals. It will be interesting to see what strategy Richard pursues in his rematch with Reyes and first encounter with Blake, Davis, and Gilmore. Jacques Sallberg Cal Coast Track Club The last time they held Club Cross in San Francisco in 2015, Sallberg finished behind Mitchell and Davey. Sallberg owned the Masters races at Club Nationals though, winning the overall title in Boulder CO in early 2015, twice in Bend OR in 2016 and 2017. Unable to travel to Tallahassee, he missed Cross Nationals in 2018. The following year he was back at the head of the pack, netting another Masters win. Later that year he cracked the Club Cross nut open with a win at Lehigh, pulling away from Gilmore in the final kilometer. Last year he was off his game at Tallahassee, out of the mix for the win although still in the top dozen. At Mission Bay a month later he finished a minute behind Reyes in 3rd. Kevin Shirk Garden State Track Club. Shirk finished 7th at Tallahassee last year and, in May, outsprinted Sallberg to the finish line to take the 2022 USATF Masters Road Mile Championship by 2 seconds! 

That is a top twenty list. I expect to see all of them towards the front at the beginning. Once they separate into a lead pack and a chase pack, how is that likely to sort? Of those mentioned above, those most likely to be in the lead pack, or close, for a solid portion of the race are: Blake, Bruce, Cook, Davis, Gilmore, Gomez, Reyes, Richards, Sallberg. It will be interesting to see the race unfold. At Tallahassee, Davis moved to the front and set a steady pace, with Gilmore and Blake either next to him or falling in right behind. He kept applying the pressure until those two could not stay with him. At San Diego, Reyes bided his time at the front for the first loop, threw in a surge and then maintained a gap the rest of the way. At Highlands NJ, Riley Cook set the pace and Bruce stayed tight for most of the race before Cook pulled away for the win. Davis felt he made a mistake and paid the price for trying to stay with the 5 minute a mile pace as long as he did. At Sacramento in the Ten Mile Championships, Reyes pulled away from Cook mid-race only to be caught and passed later. I do not know how the Reyes-Richards race played out at Golden Gate Park for the PA Masters Championship. I just know that Reyes won by two seconds. 

And will there be someone else surprising me by running in the lead pack? No doubt! For top three contenders I will go with Davis who won Clubs last year, Reyes who won Cross Nationals and Richards who has the top times out there. I will leave it to Blake, Bruce, Sallberg and the rest to prove me wrong!

Top Three Contenders*

Jesse Davis     Sergio Reyes     Malcolm Richards

*Note: In alphabetical order in this and all other races covered here.

****************************************************

Men 60+ 8K There are 117 entries in Men 40-44; there are 115 entries in M60-64. The winners of the two races almost always come out of those age divisions. The names that rise to the top include some of the top runners from last December, some new to Club Cross and some 'old' 50's guys coming back now that they are 60 and ready to roll. The big names from last year are Dan King, Nat Larson, Rick Lee, and Roger Sayre. Lee probably went out too fast last year at his first Club Cross ever, at least on that warm a day. King passed him before the 2 km mark, which probably would have happened anyway. But he was also passed by six others, including Sayre, Ostenberg and Tatum (see below) before the halfway point. King ran free and easy, taking the win in 29:56, with 47 seconds to spare. Sayre took 3rd in 30:43, right behind his Boulder Road Runners teammate, Tim DeGrado (not entered). Kevin Ostenberg, HOKA Aggies, was 5th at 31:13, with Mark Tatum 7th at 31:15. Larson, 59, was tracking the eventual M55 winner, Peter Hammer (entered in 50+)  55, at least through 7000 meters. At that point, his 7000-meter time in his 10,000-meter race was a minute faster than King's in his 8 Km race. But then the warmth, the humidity, and the exertion sapped Larson's strength and he was not able to go out with an M55 win as he had hoped. Larson had taken the top M55 spot at the previous 3 races, in Lexington, Spokane and at Lehigh in 2019. 

Dan King opening up a bid lead on a downslope--2nd loop of 2022 USATF Masters 8 Km Cross Country Championships at Tallahassee FL 


Larson is, no doubt, the favorite. He has the younger legs and has again returned to the top of his form. A couple of weeks ago, at the Ashenfelter 8K, he took the 8 km American record down with a 27:35. He can add that to the 1 Mile and 5 Km American Records for 55-59 that he still holds. His 8 km AR was eclipsed last year by Sean Wade (not entered). But King has 4 straight wins in M60+ XC: 2021Masters 5 Km XC in Boston; 2021 Club Cross in Tallahassee; 2022 Cross Nationals in San Diego; and 2022 Masters 5 Km XC in Boulder. His predecessor, Joe Sheeran (not entered) , had 5 straight M60 wins, from Spokane in 2018 through 2020 Cross Nationals in San Diego. If he wins this one, King gets a tie, and could go for the tie-breaker in Richmond VA. After winning everything in sight and breaking Records left and right on the track and on the roads at the Mile and 1500 Meters, King did have some ups and downs in 2022. A masters at rehab, King always bounced back. He was in the middle of a downswing at the WMA Championships in Finland. Lee was able to beat him by 2 seconds at the XC Championships there, taking Gold to King's silver. But by late October, King was back on top of his game and running on his hometown turf in Boulder. He took the win there easily, taking the win by a minute ahead of Tim DeGrado (not entered) and Mark Tatum, Bouder Road Runner teammates, who took 2nd and 7th at Tallahassee.

Nat Larson captures the M60-64 Title -2022 USATF Masters 12K Photo courtesy of Jason Timochko 


Who else might factor in? Cal Coast teammates, Pete Magill and David Olds, comparatively new to the M60 division, were tearing up the M50 division ten years ago. In St Louis in 2012, Olds took 2nd and Magill 5th. Olds took 2nd again the following year in Bend OR; Magill did not compete. Six years ago, when Clubs were in Tallahassee, Magill took the win in M55. At Bend in 2017, on the side of a cinder cone, with snow melting onto the turf and making for much mud, Magill took the M55 title again, ahead of Sheeran and Mike Blackmore. Magill and Olds took prolonged breaks--It is good to see them back. And they are rounding into shape. Olds took 8th M60 in Cross Nationals at Mission Bay this past January. Since then, I cannot find any race results for Olds. Magill, on the other hand, althugh he has not taken to the turf that I can find, clocked a useful 18:18 5K in June and laid down a 17:22 5k at the South Pasadena Tiger Run-Smoking fast! Magill, as most folks know, wrote the book on running fast, Fast 5K! And it looks like he is taking up the pastime again. Tony Young, who took 2nd to Larson's M55 win in Spokane, is entered again for the first time in years. Last fall, at the ripe age of 59, Young took 2nd M55 at the Pac NW USATF XC Championships. Young did not compete this year so he is coming in a little under the radar. Blackmore, noted above, finished 3rd M60 behind King and David Litoff at Mission Bay Cross Nationals earlier this year. Litoff, a teammate of King's is registered for this race, as well as Blackmore. Litoff, a minute behind King over 8 km at Mission Bay, was a minute and a half back over the Colleen DeReuck 4 Km XC race this past month. Henry Notaro and Steve Schmidt also deserve a mention. Lee and Notaro both ran Boston this year, finishing 1-3 in M60. When lee learned that Notaro was also from NJ, he set about to recruit him for his Shore AC team. They finished 2-3 in the National Masters Road Mile Championships in Rochester in May. Since then, Notaro clocked 2:54:46 to take 7th M60 at the London Marathon. Two minutes ahead with a 2:52:52 was Steve Schmidt, noted for being one of the first two athletes to join the 6DS3 club in early 2020, six decades of sub-3-hour Marathons. He is still going strong. He has now joined the M60+ team of the Ann Arbor Track Club so will experience his first national cross country championship. Two gentlemen from the 65-69 division deserve a mention as well. John Barbour, 68, won M65 at Lehigh. The last year Clubs was in San Francisco, Barbour latched onto Rick Becker and would not let go. Becker outlasted him to take the M60+ title with 6 seconds to spare. The following year at Tallahassee, Becker was not there, but Brian Pilcher, the 2013 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year, was. Again Barbour would not let the leader, Pilcher, out of his sight. Finally with the finishing gate in sight, Pilcher was able to kick away from Barbour, taking the title with just 4 seconds to spare. Barbour suffered an injury just before Clubs in 2017 and did not reemerge until Lehigh, 2019, as mentioned. Rick Becker, 68, is a fierce competitor and three-time Masters Harrier of the Year. Not only did he take the Clubs Championship in 2015, he won Cross Nationals at Bend OR in 2016 by two minutes! At 64 in 2018, Becker finished 3rd behind Sheeran and Sayre, 61 and 60 respectively, but Becker had the higher age graded performance. Two places behind Becker was Jacob Nur. Nur has been a strong runner for a long time, but he has gone over the top in the last year and a half, breaking American Records at distances from the 5 Km, 17:00, to the Half Marathon, 1:18:00! 

Jacob Nur finishes off his American Record- breaking 10 Mile Effort - 2022 USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships Photo courtesy of SRA Elite


That last one was set just three weeks ago! Three weeks before that, he traveled to Boulder CO to take on the Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships over a fair, but challenging Cross Country course at altitude. No problem said Nur. The only 60-year-old who could come ahead of him was King, who took the Championship in 18:57. Nur was only 16 seconds back...and he was 45 seconds ahead of DeGrado and Tatum. It would be a mistake to ignore him for the M60 Championship.

It is hard to see anyone beating Larson right now unless he has an off day for some reason. Similarly, King is so tough on the turf, it is hard to see him off the podium. Lee beat him in Finland, but King was not at his best. Lee could make the podium, but he will have to beat Nur, Litoff, Sayre, and Tatum to get there. Lee is a terrific runner, at distances from the Mile to the Ultra Marathon. He holds the 50 Km and 50 Mile American M60 Records, set at two different races last year. He had some ups and downs earlier this fall but seems to have put those behind him.

Top Three Contenders*

Dan King     Nat Larson     Jacob Nur

*******************************************************

Women 6K Katie Sherron (not entered in SF), a longtime Florida native, took the title last year at Tallahassee; she noted that she used to live across the street from Apalachee Park and it would be one of her typical workout areas. She is not likely to travel much for national championships. Maggie Shearer, who finished 2nd to Sherron, is definitely a traveler, as well as a very game competitor. She got her first Masters National Championship at the 10 Mile in Sacramento earlier this year. Before that she had podiums at the 5 Km Masters XC at Boston where she finished 3rd, 46 seconds ahead of Karolyn Bowley, 6th overall. In February 2018, at Cross Nationals in Tallahassee, Shearer came closest to a win on the turf, finishing 2nd, by a 4-second margin) to Jennifer Bayliss (not entered). Later that year at Club Cross in Spokane she claimed another Bronze overall medal. Shearer just aged up to the 45-49 division but shows no sign of slowing down. She took 10th overall and 1st Masters at the Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K this Thanksgiving in 36:41!

From Left: Maggie Shearer and Katie Sherron matching stride for stride -- 1st loop-- 2022 USATF Masters 6 Km Cross Country Championships at Tallahassee FL 

Carre Joyce Heineck ran in her first Masters National Championship at Tallahassee, claiming 3rd just 7 seconds behind Shearer. landing on the podium on your first Masters outing is sweet! She went one better on her 2nd National Championship, this time ten miles on the roads of Sacramento. She finished 2nd, a minute back from Shearer. She would like to continue that string of improving, no doubt; moving up one more place would require a win at San Francisco.

Carre Joyce Heineck flies downslope at the end of the first loop 2022 USATF Masters 6 Km Cross Country Championships at Tallahassee FL 
  


Meriah Earle was 43 seconds behind Shearer at Spokane. The next year she took first at the Masters 5 km XC Championships in San Diego with an 18:38. Since then she has added to her stature with an Olympic Marathon Trials run, a sub-17-minute win at Carlsbad this year, a 1:16:39 Half Marathon, and two sub 2:40 Marathons, 9th overall at Grandma's in June and 25th Overall and 14th American at Chicago in October. 

Meriah Earle after her Overall Win 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km XC Championships-Missionn Bay, San Diego CA Photo courtesy of San Diego Track Club


Earle's San Diego Track Club teammate, Kimberly Mueller, took 5th in 19:14 at Spokane. A steady runner just off the podium at national XC Championships, Mueller was 1:19 behind Shearer at 2019 Cross Nationals in Tallahassee, netting 5th place. Mueller was 9th at 2020 Cross Nationals in San Diego, and 7th at Mission Bay in 2022 Cross Nationals. Bowley is not just a hometown runner; she came to Tallahassee last year, finishing 4th behind Shearer and Heineck. Jessica Hruska proved to be a versatile runner last year. She started things off with a 7th place finish in Tallahassee, a half minute back from Bowley. She followed that with a winning effort in Atlanta taking the 5 Km Masters Overall Championship in 18:15 (gun)/18:12 (net). A third at the Half Marathon in Syracuse, and the same finish at the 10 Km in Dedham, along with a 2nd place finish at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships at Boulder added up to a 2022 Masters National Grand Prix title for Hruska. She should be running with confidence this year. Natasha Bliss, a San Diego Track Club teammate of Earle's, is new to the circuit, but arrives with plenty of impressive credentials. She finished 3rd in the Masters race at Carlsbad in 17:59 this year, a minute behind the winner, Earle, but well ahead of Hilary Corno. Corno (not entered), as a point of reference, finished 4 seconds ahead of Shearer at Mission Bay in January. Renee Gordon finished 4th at Mission Bay last January, 50 seconds behind Shearer. Megan Heuer finished 12 seconds behind Bowley last year at Tallahassee, finishing 5th. The only thing I know about Elizabeth Wakeling is that she won the W40 division of the Ashenfelter 8K in 29:25, finishing 1:19 ahead of Karen Dos Santos (not entered in SF) who finished 5th in the 12 Km National Masters Championships at Highlands. The 29:25 is age grade equivalent to a 37:01 10K so Wakeling has national caliber talent. Had she run in the 12 Km and finished 1:40 or more ahead of Dos Santos, she would have won that championship. Athlinks has no other results for Wakeling, and a quick web search turned up nothing. 

Gretchen Hurlbutt deserves mention. She finished 2nd Overall at Spokane just 4 years ago. In 2019 she ran a 36:25 10K and a 1:26 HM. But there is nothing evident between then and this November when she apparently ran a 27 minute plus 5K, listed as 'Adult 5K', presumably to distinguish it from the 'Kids 5K'. It was probably not a serious effort, but it raises the question of her current fitness.

Shearer is now in the 45-49 division, as is Mueller. Is there anyone else of interest from that division? The name, Sharon Lemberger, 49, jumps out! A year ago, she ran 2:56:53 at CIM; this year she ran a 1:22:55 Half Marathon at the Berlin Marathon. At the Pacific Association XC Championships she finished 1st Masters. Trisha Steidl ran 2:57:44 at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon finishing 5th in W45. She also took the Masters title at her 2020 Pac NW association XC Championships. There are no clues to her current fitness.

The 50-54 division cannot be ignored either. Bowley, as noted above, took 6th at the 2021 Masters 5 Km Championships in Boston in 2021. Two months later she traveled to Tallahassee and finished even better, 4th at the Club Cross Championships. I find no recent cross country results for Bowley, but recent outings of a 37:07 10 K at Lone Gull and a 1:22:07 at the Eversource Hartford Marathon demonstrate excellent fitness. Chris Lundy finished 4th among Women this year at Dipsea. She also competed in the USATF Masters 10 Mile Championship in Sacramento, finishing 4th there too, behind Shearer, Heineck and record-breaking 55-year-old, Jenny Hitchings (not entered in SF). 

There are other strong runners I have not highlighted. The intent is to mention them in the age Division summaries. Even among these 14 there are probably no more than a handful who are likely to be in the hunt beyond the first kilometer or so. That short list includes Shearer, Earle and Heineck. Shearer finished ahead of Earle at Spokane, but Earle raised her game after that as she successfully pursued an Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier. Having achieved that, she has remained at a competitive level in the marathon. That has, apparently, helped her at all distances. Shearer will give it her best shot. With a road national championship under her belt, perhaps she can get that elusive Overall Gold on the turf at Golden Gate Park. Heineck has not been able to stay with Shearer yet. Perhaps this will be the time. Bowley, Bliss, Lemberger and, perhaps, Wakeling will be nipping at their heels, or may even push through to the lead. We will find out on Saturday.

Top Three Contenders*

Meriah Earle     Carre Joyce Heineck     Maggie Shearer


AGE GRADING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Best runners for their age across all age divisions.

WOMEN Seven years ago at Club Cross in San Francisco, Kathryn Martin, Sabra Harvey, and Marisa Sutera Strange formed the podium. None are back, but Carmen Ayala Troncoso who finished 5th that year and Mo Bartley who finished 7th are. Of those who are entered this year, the athletes who have achieved the age grading top 5 at Club Cross Championships since 2015 include: Jeanette Groesz, Nora Cary, Karolyn Bowley, and Lorraine Jasper. Fiona Bayly and Jeannie Rice are running at Club Cross for the first time in my 8 years of following Masters running. 

Karolyn Bowley on her way to 4th Overall and 1st W50 2022 USATF Masters 6 Km Cross Country Championships at Tallahassee FL 

Bayly was on the podium this year for the Half Marathon and 12 Km Championships, and Rice is on the podium almost every time she runs. The 2019 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year holds 70-74 American Records from the 1 Mile, 6:24, to the Marathon, 3:24:48. Others who need to be considered include Meriah Earle 44, whose recent BOA Chicago Marathon earned an 89.12%. Suzanne Cordes, who finished in the top ten age graders at Mission Bay and then also made top 5 at Boulder deserves mention. Jasper is probably not in contention as she has been rehabbing an injury this fall.

Nora Cary #2084 pushing forward toward the finish through 40+ and 50+ athletes like Kathleen Cushing-Murray #2182 2022 USATF Masters 6 Km Cross Country Championships at Tallahassee FL 


Karolyn Bowley topped the list last year in Tallahassee and is running well this year; Nora Cary won at Lehigh and just broke the American 8 Km record for 65-69. Jeannie Rice is Jeannie Rice

Jeannie Rice claims her National 70-74 5 Km Championship in Atlanta-- 2022 USATF Masters 5K 


Can I really leave Jeanette Groesz and Carmen Ayala Troncoso off the podium prediction list? They will have to prove me wrong on Saturday.

Top Three Contenders*

Karolyn Bowley     Nora Cary     Jeannie Rice

*Note: In alphabetical order in this and all other races covered here.

MEN 60+

Four of the top athletes in this race are back in 2022. In 2015, the Age Grading podium was Rick Becker, John Barbour, Bill Dixon, Tom Bernhard, and Doug Winn. All are entered this year except Dixon. Of those who are entered this year, the athletes who have achieved the age grading top 5 at Club Cross Championships since 2015 include: Doug Bell, Dan Spale, James Foster, Jacob Nur, Roger Sayre, Dan Johnson, Doug Goodhue, Dan King, and Kevin Ostenberg. Jacques Sallberg made top 5 at Mission Bay this past January and Robert Qualls achieved the same at Boulder. Rick Lee was on the Age Grading podium at the Half Marathon this year and Gene Dykes, who was on the podium in just about every national race he entered from 2017 to the start of Covid, has had a few more difficulties this year. Just off the podium at the Half Marathon in 4th, a few weeks later his rehab had continued well, with him landing on the podium at the Ten Mile. It looked like everything was returning to 'normal' but then there were a few more ups and downs and he was just off the podium at Highlands for the 12 Km Championship. 

Rick Becker leads the pack across the hillside on his way to 60+ victory--2016 USATF Masters 8 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Bend, OR


Oops--almost forgot...Nat Larson is in this race this year. A regular on the age grading podium since Clubs at Tallahassee, it is his first year in the 60's. He just broke the American 60-64 8K Record at the Ashenfelter 8K. I guess that means he is ready to rumble. 

Nat Larson white singlet on his way to victory at Tallahassee, with Christian Cushing-Murray latched on --2018 USATF Masters 10 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Tallahassee FL 


Who else from this incredible roster of athletes is most likely to be on the podium. This is one I am sure to get wrong. But some of the athletes listed here are not quite at the top of their game. They are coming back from injury or surgery or other interruptions. Rick Becker was also on the podium at Lexington, Spokane and San Diego this past January, ahead of King. He had a little hiccup in his prep for the 5 Km XC in Boulder but since then things seem to have come around. Jacob Nur has also been busting American Records for the last year or so. Tom Bernhard still holds the 65-69 American records for the 1 Mile, set on a rolling course with many turns, in Flint Michigan at 5:18. Until Nur's 5K time from a few weeks ago is ratified, he also still holds the record for the 5 Km, set in 2016 with a sterling 17:31. Dan King has broken all the records on the track over the last year and he has had a stellar last year or so on the turf. 

Top Three Contenders*

Rick Becker     Nat Larson     Jacob Nur

AGE DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS

Because of the huge number of entries, over 900, in these championships and because the race falls just a week after the USATF Annual Meeting, these previews will be a little less data driven. Some top runners who do not frequent the national championships may sneak in under the radar. If so, their achievements will be celebrated in the recap.

MEN 40+ See Overall Championships write up. 

From Right: Sergio Reyes, Roosevelt Cook, Jacques Sallberg & Wesley Reutimann -- 2022 USATF Masters 8 Km Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay, San Diego


Top Three Contenders*

Jesse Davis     Sergio Reyes     Malcolm Richards

*Note: In alphabetical order in this and all other races covered here.

45-49 See Overall Championships write up. David Angell, Neville Davey, Peter Gilmore, John Howell, Gregory Mitchell, Todd Rose, and Jacques Sallberg all received mention as prominent contenders for the overall Championship. Sallberg has won so many national XC championships it would be hard to leave him off the list for this division. Peter Gilmore finished 2nd Overall last year in Tallahassee and 2nd the year. before. 

Todd Rose #1899 leading teammate, Mark Yuen, Gregory Mitchell red singlet, & John Gardiner lime green singlet -- 2019 USATF Masters 10 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University course, Bethlehem PA


Davey came in a second ahead of Rose at Boulder. Remember that Davey is still the American Record holder in the road mile, as well as the Overall winner at Lexington Clubs. Of course, then Rose came back and beat him by 12 seconds at the Pacific Association Championships over 6 miles in Golden Gate Park. Rose beat Mitchell the last time they met at Clubs, in Tallahassee. Rose beat Davey in their last meeting. I will go with Rose and let Mitchell and/or Davey prove me wrong on the course!

Top Three Contenders*

Peter Gilmore     Todd Rose     Jacques Sallberg

50-54 Mark Yuen took this division by storm at Tallahassee, winning by a half minute over such staunch competitors as Jaime Heilpern, Yuen's West Valley teammate, Ivan Lieben, Emmet Hogan and Craig Godwin. Godwin has aged up to the next division but the rest are back to challenge for the win. Based on results at Boulder, Lieben is the strongest West Valley runner now. The West Valley 50's crew finished as Lieben-Callon-Mullane-Yuen with times 18:04, 18:23, 18:26 and 19:10 respectively. Last year at Tallahassee, Hogan finished behind Lieben and ahead of Mullane. Heilpern was almost a minute ahead of Lieben and is the only runner from this group that has finished top 5 age grading, which he did at Lehigh in 2019; he was also 6th in 2018 at Spokane. John Gardiner aged up  to the 50-54 division this year. Six years ago, at Tallahassee, he was in the last year of 40-44 and finished 3rd Overall behind Kevin Castille (who, in 2019, accepted a USADA sanction) and Greg Mitchell (still competing in 45-49). The following year at Lexington, his first in 45-49, he finished 2nd in the division. The next years found him finishing 4th, a single second behind Heilpern, at Spokane; and 7th at Lehigh, an off year. He did not compete last year. In May, he finished 4th at Carlsbad in 15:59. Gardiner has apparently raced sparingly since then but is presumably ready to roll. At the Pac NW XC Championships 3 weeks ago, Hogan won M50 with a 28:10, within 9 seconds of his 2021 time. He must be ready as well.

Top Three Contenders*

John Gardiner     Jaime Heilpern     Emmet Hogan

55-59 Top runners in this division include: Christian Cushing-Murray, Craig Godwin, Peter Hammer, Michael Nahom, and David White. Hammer won this division at Tallahassee with a 35:46. Trivia question: When was the last time Clubs were held and Hammer did not win his division? In 2014 at Lehigh, Hammer finished six seconds behind the 45-49 winner, Chad Newton. Not that the individual championship is his goal, he is focused on the Team competition. But, in keeping with that, he has taken the division win at San Francisco, Tallahassee, Lexington, Spokane, Lehigh, and Tallahassee a second time. It is a remarkable record of consistency. Will he get his second San Francisco division win on Saturday? The evidence suggests he is ready to roll. He ran 33:57 at Lone Gull in late September and 16:28 at the BIGGsteps Boston 5K. West Valley's David White finished 2nd to Hammer in this division at Tallahassee in 36:41. Godwin and Cushing-Murray, competing in 50-54, ran 23 seconds faster than and a minute slower than, White. Michael Nahom also competed in 50-54 and has moved up into 55-59. He ran 36:57, just 16 seconds back from White. All three competed in Boulder this October, with Godwin, White and Cushing-Murray taking 1-2-3 in 18:54, 19:03, and 19:15 respectively. Godwin posted on Facebook recently that he was running into health problems. Naturally I hope he looks first to his health. In terms of this article, I focus on the implications for Saturday's race. If not for this health difficulty, he would be favored for 2nd after Hammer. It is uncertain at this point if he will run and, if he runs, whether he will be able to run all-out. 

Emmet Hogan orange singlet, Ethan Nedeau white singlet, Mark Zamek #1420 and Brian Sydow #1197 negotiate a muddy turn -- 2019 USATF Masters 10 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University course, Bethlehem PA


Nahom ran a 37:57 10K in May, a 49:59 8-Miler in July, and a 16:39 5K at the Regal Knoxville 5K Turkey Trot. Cushing-Murray turned in a 16:59 at a recent 5K and a 34:21 10K at the Dana Point Turkey Trot. Nahom's 5K grades a little higher than Cush's 10K and Nahom has the edge from their meeting at Tallahassee. I will go with Nahom and let Cush try to prove me wrong on the turf!

Top Three Contenders*

Peter Hammer     Michael Nahom     David White

60-64 See write up of M60+ Overall Championships. Based on that analysis, I have Dan King and Nat Larson. As Jacob Nur is from 65-69, I need one more contender. I will give Rick Lee the nod based on his having the fastest Marathon time in this division this year, his 2:47:58 at Boston, and because he came in ahead of King at the World Championships. Kevin Ostenberg is not a marathoner and, based on his performance last year, could well prove me wrong on Saturday.

Top Three Contenders*

Dan King     Nat Larson     Rick Lee

65-69 Jacob Nur and Rick Becker, both mentioned as possible contenders for the Overall 60+ Championship are obvious picks for the division. Who else should be considered? Kevin Dollard Shore AC, finished 3rd in 65-69 last year with a 34:43. Dan Johnson TC Running Company ran in 60-64, finishing 13th in 31:42. Michael Lebold and Brian Nelson have also aged up from times substantially faster than Dollard's. So, despite my admiration for Dollard's consistency, I will go with Johnson for the last podium spot.

Top Three Contenders*

Rick Becker     Dan Johnson     Jacob Nur 

70-74 Doug Bell, Tom Bernhard, Gene Dykes, James FosterRobert Qualls and Doug Winn were mentioned as possible age-grading contenders out of this division. Dykes, like Godwin in 55-59, has had his struggles in the latter part of this year after making what looked like a splendid recovery from some problems in fall of 2021. In a recent Strava post, he noted the need to have some medical tests done to sort out his current problems with training and races. Of course, Dykes, with difficulties, is still a very strong runner in this age division. As with Godwin, I am not sure if Dykes will run on Saturday and, if he runs, whether he will be able to compete all out! Bernhard is the only Ameriican Record holder in this group. Although those are on the roads and that kind of speed does not always convert directly to speed on the turf, he has to be considered a podium contender. Qualls has been winning everything in sight over the second half of this year, including the World 70-74 Cross Country Championship at the WMA Outdoor Championships in Finland. He came in first at Boulder in October, well ahead of Bell. Bell took the honors last year at Tallahassee, but Winn was not entered, and Foster had an off day. The most recent matchup at Clubs where all three were present was Spokane in 2018 when Winn-Foster-Bell finishing in that order with 50 seconds between Winn and Foster and another half minute back to Bell. 

Robert Qualls finishes off his Championship race -- 2019 USATF Masters 10 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University course, Bethlehem PA

Foster ran a 1:06:24 at the Utica Boilermaker 15K in the summer and in October ran a 20:01 at the Pete Glavin XC series #3 over 5K, although his Syracuse Track Club teammate, Ted Larison, beat him. It will be interesting to see whether Foster or Larison comes out on top on Saturday. Foster has had better days at past Club Championships. Others to be considered include Rick Pfeiffer and David Dunbar who finished 2nd and 3rd behind Bell last year. Lloyd Hansen is running. This is his first Championship since being diagnosed with terminal Mesothelioma well over a year ago. He has already proven the doctors wrong by many months! He is not competitive because he cannot train consistently but his many friends in the running community will be happy to welcome him back to the competition.

Top Three Contenders*

Tom Bernhard     Robert Qualls     Doug Winn 

75-79 The main contenders appear to be: Dave Glass, Len Goldman, David Longmuir, Gary Ostwald, Donald Porteous, Ronald Wells. Last year in Tallahassee, Wells defeated Glass for the Championship, winning by a good half minute. He also took the crown at Mission bay in January, with a 38:59, defeating Porteous by over a minute. It was Porteous-Ostwald-Glass in 40:34, 41:08, and 41:20 respectively. Glass was off his best that day. It is the only race this year where Ostwald has been really close to Glass. Even at the Masters 5 Km XC in Boulder, which should have favored Ostwald, Glass was able to finish 45 seconds ahead of him. Porteous may have the edge though. At Lexington in 2017, it was Longmuir 34:56, Porteous 35:35, and Glass 34:24, with Goldman at 36:42 in 70-74. The next year, Glass was running with an injury so was far back from his usual finish. That year it was Longmuir, Goldman and Porteous in 4th through 6th. It appears that Wells is ready for this race. At the Dirt Dogs XC Championships two weeks ago he was 1st in this division, 24th overall, and just over a minute behind David Dunbar, as he was at Tallahassee last year. Longmuir's 38:39 in 70-74 put him 4 seconds behind Glass. Given the result in Boulder it appears Glass is firing on all cylinders. It will be interesting to see if he can cut into Wells's edge. It is tough to pick between Goldman, Porteous and Longmuir; all have arguments to be made in their favor. They have all had good outings on the roads this year. I will go with Longmuir based on his Mission Bay result and both Lexington and Spokane, where he took the honors among this threesome. I will let the hometown boys, Goldman and Porteous, prove me wrong on the course!

Top Three Contenders*

Dave Glass    David Longmuir     Ron Wells

80-84 Doug Goodhue is coming back from knee surgery. In his last Clubs competiton at Lehigh in 2019, he was not able to cope with Tony Marshall (no longer competing in LDR), but he beat everyone else in 75-79 by over three minutes! He has not run any races yet. But knowing how competitive Goodhue has been over the years, it would be hard to say he is not in the mix for the podium, despite any protestations to the contrary. Hans Schmid took the division at Mission Bay by a wide margin so he should be in the mix as well. Richard Zerbe, known more on the track than the turf, at least to me, surprised me by winning easily at Boulder ahead of Stan Edelson (not entered in SF). Peter Rowat finished 2nd to Schmid at Mission Bay. I will go with him to finish off the podium. Goodhue says he is here to have fun. Who am I to argue? If his training has gone better than anyone could imagine and he stands on the podium on Saturday, well, that would all be part of the fun, would it not?

Top Three Contenders*

Peter Rowat    Hans Schmid     Richard Zerbe

85-89 Adrian Craven, Elmo Shropshire, and Richard Williams are the only three entered. They will all podium. Shropshire is the favorite, but Craven has had a good year, taking the Masters National Grand Prix title with wins at these championships last year, in Rochester with the Road Mile, and at Highlands in New Jersey with the 12 K.

Top Three Contenders*

Adrian Craven    Elmo Shropshire     Richard Williams

WOMEN 40+ See Overall Championships write up. I have Meriah Earle and Carre Joyce Heineck from 40-44 on the overall podium. I need a third. 

Start of Women's Race -- 2019 USATF Masters 6 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University course, Bethlehem PA

I will go with Earle's teammate, Natasha Bliss.

Top Three Contenders*

Natasha Bliss     Meriah Earle     Carre Joyce Heineck

*Note: In alphabetical order in this and all other races covered here.

45-49 See the Overall writeup. In addition to Maggie Shearer, picked for the Overall podium, I am going with Kimberly Mueller and Sharon Lemberger. See Overall write-up. 

Maggie Shearer leading Mary Akor #24 and Hilary Corno just visible behind Shearer -- 2022 USATF Masters 6 Km Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay, San Diego

But  Euleen Josiah-Turner, who is the defending 45-49 Champion, will have something to say about that. She fended off challenges from Carla McAlister and Gwendolen Twist to take top honors in Tallahassee last year, with 17 seconds to spare.

Top Three Contenders*

Sharon Lemberger     Kimberly Mueller     Maggie Shearer

50-54 Karolyn Bowley and Chris Lundy were both mentioned in the overall writeup. In addition to those two, consider Cassandra Henkiel and Ingrid Walters. Henkiel finished 3rd in 45-49 five years ago in Lexington Kentucky and this year finished 2nd in 45-49 at the 10 Km Masters Championships in Dedham behind Abby Dean (not entered in SF), clocking 39:18. Walters finished 2nd in this division in Tallahassee last year, a minute behind Bowley and three seconds ahead of Gwen Lapham. 

Ingrid Walters #930 leading Michelle Rohl #771 and Gwen Lapham on Rohl's immediate right -- 2019 USATF Masters 6 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University course, Bethlehem PA


Both Walters and Lapham crossed the finish line in Tallahassee ahead of Dean. 

Top Three Contenders*

Karolyn Bowley     Chris Lundy    Ingrid Walters

55-59 Tania Fischer, Mary Lynch, and Kris Huff went 5-6-7 last year in Tallahassee but they are the highest finishing athletes to return this year. Fischer finished 2nd at the Clubs in Spokane in 24:21, 37 seconds ahead of Beverly Anderson-Abbs. Kirsten Leetch won the 50-54 division that year but has not been able to train with the same consistency over the past 4 years. Anderson-Abbs just turned in a 3:16:06 Marathon at CIM. That is a sign of good training but with that marathon just one week ago, it seems unlikely she can run as strong a XC race as one might expect. Patricia Bellan and Susan Hay went 1-3 in 55-59 at Spokane, clocking 24:27 and 25:13. That suggests that Bellan and Fischer might be closely matched. With no recent results that I can find for Bellan, the comparison may no longer be relevant. Hay ran a 1:08:32 15K this past March so she is in decent condition. Fiona Bayly is now in this division and must be the favorite. She has not run much XC recently but this year she won the 50-54 division at the Half Marathon Championships on a hilly Syracuse course in 1:24:08 and took the 55-59 crown in the 12k at Highlands NJ in 47:39. Bayly competes well at all distances from the Mile to the Marathon. She took the 2019 50-54 Road Mile Championship in Flint MI with a 5:23. She is the favorite for Saturday in this division. Huff has recent results that more than match Hays. She took 4th in the division at the Masters 5 km Championships in Atlanta with a 21:03 and 6th at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham with a 43:36. Jeannie Robinson also matches well with a 4th place in the division at Mission Bay this past January and a 42:28 10K. 

Top Three Contenders*

Fiona Bayly     Tania Fischer     Jeannie Robinson

60-64 Carmen Ayala Troncoso is in the Masters Hall of Fame and is a 4-time Masters Harrier of the Year Award winner. She took the 60-64 win in Lehigh in 2019 but skipped the Championship in Tallahassee. Last year it was Lorraine Jasper, Nancy Simmons, and Suzanne Cordes 1-2-3. Jasper is recovering from an injury this summer that threw her training off. Cordes, on the other hand, is coming off a fine 60-64 win at Boulder, ahead of Mary Swan and Carmen Ayala Troncoso. Mary Cass and Stella Gibbs will also contest the podium. Cass finished 2nd in this division at the Masters 5 Km Championships in Boston in 2021. She finished 6th in the Maste3rs 5 Km Championships in hilly Atlanta in 21:34, took 5th in the 10 Km Championships with a 43:38, and claimed 2nd in the 12 Km Championships in 51:50. 

Tania Fischer pink headband and Carmen Ayala Troncoso #2179 moving up through 40+ competitors -- 2019 USATF Masters 6 Km Club Cross Country Championships at Lehigh University course, Bethlehem PA


Stella Gibbs finished 2nd in the division at Mission Bay, a half minute ahead of Cordes. She also contested the 5 Km Championships in Boston and came up a little short against Cass. It may make sense to pick Swan for the podium. After all, she came in ahead of Ayala Troncoso at Boulder. But it may be that altitude affects some more than others. Ayala Troncoso has the history to suggest that she can win at Club cross. We will see how things turn out on Saturday. Perhaps Cass and/or Swan will prove me wrong? Here is my best guess for the podium:

Top Three Contenders*

Carmen Ayala Troncoso     Suzanne Cordes     Stella Gibbs

65-69 Nora Cary is the star of the show. She just broke the American 65-69 8K record at the Ashenfelter 8K with a 34:18! She also holds the 12K record. She finished 3rd in 60-64 at Lehigh when she was 64. Mo Bartley took 2nd and Cynthia Williams 5th at the 5 Km Masters XC Championships in Boulder. Last year in Tallahassee it was Sharon Moore, Williams and Susan Stirrat going 1-2-3. Joannie Siegler has not done much on the national scene since the Club Cross championships at Spokane. There she finished 7th in Age Grading. She has demonstrated plenty of fitness this year with a 21:22 5K and a 50:54 to finish as 5th Woman at Dipsea. She also prepped by competing in the Pacific Association XC Championships, clocking 27:04 for the 4-mile course and finishing as first woman 60 or over.

Top Three Contenders*

Mo Bartley     Nora Cary     Joannie Siegler

70-74 Although known for her road exploits, it seems reasonable to expect Jeannie Rice to dominate on the turf as well. See the Age Grading write up for more information. Jeanette Groesz is a very strong runner on the roads; on the turf she is a tiger! Groesz, and her Team Red Lizard teammates, Sharon Gerl and Cande Olsen went 1-2-3 at Tallahassee last year in 70-74, and they are all back, joined by their distance running colleague, Suzanne Ray. 

Jeanette Groesz puts distance between herself and the 60+ competitors behind her -- 2019 USATF Masters 6 Km Cross Country Championships at Tallahassee FL 


Kate Stewart competed against them at the Ten Mile. At that distance she finished ahead of Gerl and Groesz. Will she be able to do that on the turf? Ray, running as a 65-69 year old, ran two minutes faster than Stewart. But Groesz has usually been able to come in ahead of Ray on the turf. It also seems to be true that Groesz has been rehabbing some kind of injury or had some interruption to her training. She was almost 7 minutes behind Ray at the 10 Mile Championships. Five months later, she was only two minutes adrift of Ray in the 12 km Championships. I look for Groesz to run strong on Saturday. Jo Anne Rowland has also been running strong but not quite well enough to derail the Team Red Lizard train. Perhaps that will change at Golden Gate Park?

Top Three Contenders*

Jeanette Groesz     Suzanne Ray     Jeannie Rice   

75-79 Deborah Bliss, Jane Williams, and Andrea McCarter have this division to themselves. Start and finish the race and they are on the podium. Evidence suggests that is likely to be the order of finish, but we will find out on Saturday.

Top Three Contenders*

Deborah Bliss     Andrea McCarter     Jane Williams

80-84 Nancy Linck ran two half marathons this summer, in 2:45:40 and 2:46:40. She also clocked a 34:45 5K last December. Edda Stickle ran a 20:24 3K in 2018 when she was 76. That looks to me like Linck has a little edge over Stickle. Either way, they will both be on the podium after they finish.  

Top Two Contenders*

Nancy Linck    Edda Stickle

That is it! Now we can run the races to find out who will actually be the Champions at this edition of the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships. Best of luck to all the runners!

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