Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Records Fall-Masters Athletes Tame the ‘Atlanta Flat’ 5 Km Championship Course

March 6, 2023 Atlanta provided great conditions for the 2023 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships this past Saturday, February 25. Masters athletes toed the line under cloudy skies, with temperatures in the mid 50’s and light winds. The race started at 7:30 Am, about 20 minutes after sunrise. The athletes headed to Centennial Olympic Park. Once in the park, they flocked to the Masters tent, illuminated with lights and good cheer. A quick exchange of greetings among old rivals, now longtime friends, bantering among teammates, and then off for warmups. Athletes could exit the park on the top side, step onto Marietta Street and jog the few blocks to the Starting area. Once there they passed those who were assembling for the Community race which would start a few minutes after the Masters Championship. After a few stride outs, the runners were called to the starting line.

A handful were focused on the Overall win; others on racing at the top of their Age Division. Still more were eager to do their team proud, emerging with a medal if possible and, if not, the satisfaction of a noble attempt. Others were there simply for the enjoyment of running and the thrill of competition regardless of outcome! One came with an American Record on her mind and a plan to take it down. In all, two American records were broken or tied. In addition, ten course records were broken.

AMERICAN RECORDS Masters Hall of Famer, Kathy Martin, has ten 60-64 American LDR Records, from the Mile to the 50 Km, and seven 65-69 records from 10 Km to 25 Km. Now that she is in her 70’s, it is time to acquire some more. Martin knows that Masters Championships courses are always sanctioned and certified, two of the three main requirements for a record attempt to be ratified. It must also be record eligible. That box was checked; the course elevation is slightly higher at the finish than the start. The Finish Line is a few hundred meters from the Start. All that is needed is less than a meter per kilometer drop and a Finish Line that is no further away from the Start than half the distance to be run. And race officials at a USATF Championship are always happy to fill out the necessary paperwork for a record submission. The final part of the equation is ability, and the training necessary to achieve the required time. Martin had no doubt she was ready. The current record, set by Jan Holmquist in 2015, was 22:14. Martin expected to break 22 minutes even on a course as hilly as this one; the elevation gain is over 40 meters. Another challenge is to survive the first few hundred meters in a crowded field of Masters runners striving for fast times. It is possible to get tangled and go down. That would likely end a record attempt. Martin had no trouble, although others were not as lucky. Once out on the course, Martin settled into a rhythm and found her own space in the stream of runners. Martin maintained a steady effort, finished strong and was delighted to see the finishing clock with the first two digits at 21! 

After the race, the time was confirmed—21:44 (Gun time)/21:41 (net time)—Martin had the record beaten by over half a minute. That is her first 70-74 American Record. I do not doubt we will see more later this year.

Note: Net time is always accepted for Masters record submissions.

John Glidewell, by contrast, arrived with no Masters records to his name. The only race appearing in Athlinks was a 17:55 5K in 2013, at age 56. Apparently he was a standout distance runner at Ohio State. In 1980, he almost nipped Olympian, Benji Durden, at the finish line of a 25 Km race, clocking 1:16:17, roughly equivalent to a 1:03:41 HM. Now 66, Glidewell embarked on serious training last year. I heard from one of the Atlanta runners that Glidewell had been posting on Facebook that he felt ready to break 18 minutes by a good margin. If that is what he was posting, Glidewell delivered, and then some. He crossed the line at 17:31 precisely. That tied Tom Bernhard’s 2016 record for Men 65-69. Huge congratulations to both Martin and Glidewell. Setting or tying an American Record on a hilly course like this is totally unexpected and a major accomplishment!

Note: These do not become records until they are ratified. There is a 5 Km mark by Jacob Nur from 2022 that is not yet ratified. If that mark is ratified as a record, it will supersede Glidewell's effort. If not, Glidewell's mark becomes the new record once it is ratified.


Once the gun, or the horn in this case, sounds, the runners take off from the starting line. 

The Horn Sounded-Ben Bruce led them out, followed by, from L: John Poray white singlet, Matt Yacoub lime green, Christian Cushing-Murray lime green, Brendan Prindiville white singlet, Mark Zamek white singlet, Shore AC -- Photo Credit: Jouaquin Lara

The first one to cross the finish line is the overall winner of the Masters Championship. All times are gun times. Ben Bruce HOKA Naz Elite, a late entry after returning from Australia with his WMA Cross Country medals, sprinted to the front when the horn sounded. He put a hundred meters on the chase pack in the first mile, never let up, and led all the way to the tape. He broke the 15:38 course record established last year by 31 seconds! That is his second consecutive win on the Masters National Grand Prix circuit! 

Ben Bruce smashes through the tape at the finish line-He won the Overall Championships, setting a new course record of 15:06 Photo Credit: Jouaquin Lara

Bradley Merner, Luke Mortensen Athens Road Runners, John Poray Indiana Elite AC, and Aaron Rowe made up the chase pack. Together over the first half of the race, Mortensen started pushing the pace as they approached the Luckie street hill. By the time they had surmounted it, Mortensen had a gap. He held the others at bay, taking 2nd place in 16:01. 

Luke Mortensen finishes 2nd overall at the 2023 USATF Masters 5 km Championships Photo Credit: Jouaquin Lara

Merner and Rowe battled to the wire, with Merner finishing 2 seconds ahead of Rowe in 16:08. Merner, a Canadian citizen, was ineligible for awards; Rowe captured the bronze medal. Poray finished in 16:22 just off the podium in 4th. Brendan Prindiville Tracksmith Boston Hares and Mark Andrews Genesee Valley Harriers were not far back, capturing the next two spots in 16:28 and 16:30. 

Ben Bruce 15:07Course Record (CR)     Luke Mortensen 16:01     Aaron Rowe 16:10

Jennifer Pesce Garden State TC, a top New Jersey high school runner, recovered from hip surgery and had returned to serious training last year. Her Masters win in 30:08 at the Philadelphia Marathon 8K last November gave her the confidence to contest for a national championship. Jill Braley Atlanta TC, who finished 2nd last year in 18:21, and Amber Morrison Bellingham Distance Project, a top marathoner from Washington, gave Pesce no quarter. Pesce pulled away of the win in 17:49, breaking the women’s course record by 26 seconds. 

Jennifer Pesce claims the Women's Overall Title in a New Course Record 17:49 Photo  Creidt: Joaquin Lara

Morrison finished 2nd in 17:59, with Braley in 3rd, 12 seconds back and ten seconds faster than last year. 

Amber Morrison-2nd Overall at 2023 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta Photo Credit-Creagh Cross

Elizabeth Wakeling Garden State finished t4th in 18:38, followed closely by Fiona Bayly, 18:38, Hidi Gaff Three Rivers Racing, 18:40 and Jessica Hruska Garden State, the defending champion, in 18:46.

Jennifer Pesce 17:49 CR     Amber Morrison 17:59     Jill Braley 18:11

AGE GRADING Those with the top age grade scores are the athletes with the best performance, for their age, across all runners. The scores are based on worldwide data on the best performances ever at each single year of age. All times are net time. Betty Lindberg, 98, set a world record last year in winning the 95-99 division championship. Lindberg did not break her own record, but she still had the highest age grading performance. Her 58:47 net time earned a score of 100.71%. 

Betty Lindberg, 98, finishing the USATF masters 5 Km Championships with the highest age grading score and winning the 95-99 division Photo Credit-Joaquin Lara

Almost as impressive was the 21:41 net time turned in by Kathy Martin, 74, 2nd at 98.54%. Michelle Rohl’s 18:57 at age 57 closed out the Women’s podium at 94.36%. 

Women's Age Grading Podium-From L: Michelle Rohl, Kathy Martin, Betty Lindberg Photo Credit: Creagh Cross 

Kristine Clark, 60, finished 4th; her 19:44 net earned a 93.75%. Fiona Bayly took the last bit of Age Grading prize money. Her 18:37 net time, at 55, merited a 93.64%. 

Betty Lindberg 98 58:47 100.71     Kathy Martin 71 21:41 98.54     Michelle Rohl 57 18:37 93.64

John Glidewell, 66, posted a 17:31 to net the highest score in the Men’s race at 95.53%. He was followed by Steve Schmidt, 62, whose 17:39 earned a 91.50%, edging his 61-year-old rival, Rick Lee, by less than a tenth of a percentage point. Lee’s 17:31 earned a 91.44%. 

Men's Age Grading Podium-From L: Steve Schmidt, John Glidewell, Rick Lee Photo Credit: Creagh Cross 

John Van Danacker’s TC Running Company 17:37 at 60, merited a 90.05, leaving him in 4th, just two-hundredths of a percentage point ahead of Roger Sayre’s Bolder Road Runners 18:25 at 65. It was a very tight race for top 5. Mark Andrews was five hundredths of a percentage point behind Sayre. 

John Glidewell 66 17:31 95.53     Steve Schmidt 62 17:39 91.50     Rick Lee 61 17:31 91.44

Note: Age Grading awards are based on net time.

AGE DIVISION. Twenty National Champions were crowned. Ten Age Division course records were broken! All times are gun time.


40-44 The Overall podium, Pesce, Morrison, and Braley was the same for the 40-44 division.  

Jennifer Pesce 43 17:49CR     Amber Morrison 42 17:59     Jill Braley 44 18:11

45-49 Sara Girotto Philadelphia Masters was spotted after the race in the Masters tent with an ice bag on her knee. Another athlete told me that she had been pushed and fell at the start. She bounced up, gritted her teeth, and was still able to compete well in 45-49. But any chance she had of running with the lead pack was gone. Girotto was, nonetheless in good spirits treating the incident as the ‘fortunes of warShe had won the division last year in 19:07, a course record for 45-49. She must have been pleased to lower that time by 13 seconds this year. Had she repeated her 19:07 effort, it would have been a mad dash to the finish to beat Jennifer Weston, who clocked 19:09 for 2nd place. Weston came in with a 2:52:50 at the Wineglass Marathon. Girotto was one of the ten athletes who broke course records this year. Euleen Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. TC finished 3rd last year in 19:36. Josiah-Tanner beat that time by 14 seconds this year as she closed out the podium once again. 

Women's 45-49 Podium-From L: Sara Girotto, Euleen Josiah-Tanner, Jennifer Weston Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

She enjoyed a half minute cushion over the 4th place finisher, Rebekah Kennedy Central Park TC.  

Sara Girotto 18:54CR     Jennifer Weston 19:09     Euleen Josiah-Tanner   

50-54 Abby Dean Greater Philadelphia TC won the division and finished 4th overall last year in 18:40. Rehabbing a hamstring tear from earlier in the year, she did not expect to be competitive overall. She was looking forward to a good competitive race at the front of the division pack. Dean got what she wished for. Hortencia Aliaga Garden State was giving no quarter. Finally, as they rushed up Marietta, Dean felt she had the race in hand. Dean took first in 19:22, a mere 4 seconds ahead of Aliaga. Rachel Hopkins Sirius Athletics , who had been among the early leaders, finished 17 seconds later in 3rd

Women's 50-54 Podium-From L: Abby Dean, Hortencia Aliaga, Rachel Hopkins Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

Samantha Forde Impala Racing, who had won the division at Cross Nationals in Richmond, was 22 seconds back in 4th. 

Abby Dean 19:22     Hortencia Aliaga 19:26     Rachel Hopkins 19:43

55-59 Fiona Bayly was looking to redeem what was, from her perspective, an unsatisfactory outing here last year. She finished 3rd in 50-54 in 18:57. The race did not unfold as expected. This time she would be in the front of the starting area and go out with the leaders. Her main rival in the division this year, as last, was Michelle Rohl Greater Philadelphia, who set American Records on the track last year in the 800M and 1500M outdoors. Rohl also won the 55-59 division and finished 3rd overall at the Masters (Road) Mile in Rochester in 5:12. More relevantly, she had run almost half a minute faster than Bayly last year in this race, taking 3rd overall. This year the honors went to Bayly, despite some bumps at the start. Rohl was not able to match her splendid time of last year. Bayly improved from 18:57 to 18:40, giving her the division win. Rohl claimed the silver medal in 18:57, with Kris Huff Atlanta 3rd at 21:28.

Women's 55-59 Podium- From L: Fiona Bayly, Michelle Rohl, Kris Huff Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

 Rohl's teammate, Anabelle Broadbent, was a half-minute back in 4th. 

Fiona Bayly 18:40     Michelle Rohl 18:57     Kris Huff 21:28

60-64 Kristine Clark Athletics Boulder  came in with the credentials of a June 5K last year in 20:29, a September one in 20:48, and a 43:11 on the tough Bolder Boulder 10Km, all at altitude. Clark also hails from Salida CO, above 7,000 feet. Running for Athletics Boulder, perhaps she drops to mile high elevation for some of her training. Dropping another 4000 feet to compete in this race seemed to suit her just fine. She covered the first downhill mile in 6:08, and the second mile in 6:15. She did a good job on the final hilly mile. Many saw their times increase by 8% or more, comparing Mile 1 to Mile 3. Clark only showed an increase of 6.25%. She clocked 19:48 to take the win and get the course record! By any reckoning she beat two pretty fair runners in Mary Cass Liberty AC and Doreen McCoubrie Greater Philadelphia. Cass finished 6th here last year in 21:42 but had seen strong improvement over the year. McCoubrie ran a minute faster than Cass here in Atlanta in February. Cass was just 21 seconds back over 12 km in September. Cass took the division crown at Club Cross in December. Cass's improvement continued through to this event as she nabbed 2nd in 20:17, 14 seconds ahead of McCoubrie. 

Women's 60-64 Podium-From L: Kris Clark, Mary Cass, Doreen McCoubrie Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

Cass's teammate, Lauren Leslie finished 4th, a minute behind McCoubrie. 

Kristine Clark 19:48CR     Mary Cass 20:17     Doreen McCoubrie 20:31

65-69 Patrice Combs Atlanta, the 2019 Masters Grand Prix Champion for 60-64, celebrated her 65th birthday last year at the Masters TF Outdoor Championships last summer, taking home wins at the 1500M, 5000M, and 10,000M distances. Combs finished 5th in 60-64 here in Atlanta last year, but her 5th place time was over a half minute faster than the winning 65-69 time. The defending champion, Kitty Musante Shore AC, tried her best to repeat, but Combs claimed the win with a 22:32, a good minute ahead of Musante's silver medal effort. Cindy Williams Atlanta, a mainstay of Atlanta's 60+ team, ran 22 seconds faster this year, taking 3rd in 25:06. 

Women's 65-69 Podium-From L: Patrice Combs, Kitty Musante, Cindy Williams Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

Williams had a margin of over 40 seconds on the 2022 MNGP winner, Susan Stirrat Shore AC, who finished 4th. 

Patrice Combs 22:32     Kitty Musante 23:34     Cindy Williams 25:06

70-74 Kathy Martin smashed the American 70-74 5 Km record with her 21:41 net time, which was also good for the 2nd best age grade score. She pulverized the 70-74 course record by 2:15 with her 21:44 gun time mark. The latter also gave her the 70-74 win, with over 2 minutes to spare. Jeanette Groesz Team Red Lizard took the division title at Club Cross in San Francisco but was no match for Martin on the roads of Atlanta, finishing 2nd in 24:02. Norma 'Nonie' Hudnall Atlanta prefers the track to the roads. She is a top runner from the 800M to the 5000M and is a feared competitor at the steeplechase. She shows up whenever and wherever her team needs her. Hudnall led the Atlanta effort, taking 3rd in 70-74. 

Women's 70-74 Podium-From L" Jeanette Groesz, Norma 'Nonie' Hudnall, Kathy Martin Photo Credit: Creagh Cross
Hudnall had the better part of a minute on the 4th place finisher, Mary Lewis

Kathy Martin 21:44AR,CR     Jeanette Groesz 24:02     Norma Hudnall 27:40

75-79 Last year, the Atlanta Track Club trio, Myrna Barnett, Catherine Radle, and Andrea McCarter went 1-2-3 in 35:12, 36:24, and 36:59. This year the threesome had no challengers either. They went 1-2-3 in a slightly different order. 

Women's 75-79 Podium-From L: Myrna Barnett, Andrea McCarter, Catherine Radle Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

Barnett claimed the gold medal again, but McCarter and Radle switched finishing places. 

Myrna Barnett 36:46     Andrea McCarter 37:09     Catherine Radle 38:35

80-84 No entries. 

85-89 Last year Joyce Hodges-Hite Atlanta TC competed unopposed in 80-84, claiming the win in 50:05. This year Hodges-Hite was unopposed in 85-89, winning the gold medal in 48:51. She took over a minute off her 2022 winning time! 

Joyce Hodges-Hite 48:51

90-94 No entries. 

95-99 Once again the Masters tent rocked to the chorus of "Bet-ty! Bet-ty! Bet-ty!" Her fellow athletes saluted Betty Lindberg Atlanta TC, 98 years fit! She won this division unopposed, as she did last year. 

Betty Lindberg, in high spirits right after finishing the race and donning her finisher's medal 
Photo Credit: Joaquin Lara

She repeated as Age Grading champion!

Betty Lindberg  59:04

MEN 40-44 Bruce, Mortensen, and Rowe went 1-2-3 overall. They all came from this division; they mount the age division podium as well.

Ben Bruce 15:07CR     Luke Mortensen 16:01     Aaron Rowe 16:10

45-49 In 2019, Brendan Prindiville Boston Tracksmith Hares, took 4th in the Masters 10 Km Championships with a 33:14. This was his first national championship since that race. He tested his fitness last November at the BIGGSTEPS Boston 5K and in February at the Super Sunday 5K. A 16:10 and a 16:12 demonstrated that he was nationally competitive. He was not quite confident enough to go with the main group chasing Bruce, laying 9 seconds off the pace at the first mile. He held that for the 2nd mile and then cut slightly into Poray's lead over the last 1.1, finishing in 5th at 16:28. That performance allowed him to take the 45-49 win. 

Brendan Prindiville captures the Men's 45-49 Division Title, finishing 7th overall at the 2023 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships Photo Credit: Joaquin Lara

Matt Yacoub Cal Coast was also competing in his first Masters National road championship in a few years. Yacoub was just off Prindiville's pace at the mile and stayed with him around the 180 degree turn and well into the 2nd mile. At that point a gap started to form, which Prindiville widened to over a hundred meters as they toiled up the final hills to the finish. Christopher Hernandez GVH, who finished 3rd at the Road Mile Championships in 4:48, showed that speed with a good closing effort to take 3rd, 20 seconds behind Yacoub and 18 seconds ahead of the 4th place finisher, Mathew DiPretore Greater Philadelphia.

Brendan Prindiville 16:28     Matt Yacoub 16:52      Christopher Hernandez 17:12

50-54 Mark Andrews GVH, who won the 2016 Overall Men's 10 Km Masters Championship, got out fast, kept it going on the uphill sections, building his lead to over 150 meters by the time he crossed the finish line in first. His 16:30 time broke the course record by 15 seconds! Steve Bell Atlanta pulled away from the rest of the chasers to claim 2nd ahead of his teammate, Brent Fields, by an equivalent distance. Sixteen seconds after Fields took 3rd, John Fernandez and Marco Cardoso Garden State approached the finish line neck and neck. Fernandez had the edge at the line as both received the same 17:42 time. 

Mark Andrews 16:30 CR     Steve Bell 16:59     Brent Fields 17:26

55-59 Christian Cushing-Murray Cal Coast, who took the 50-54 honors last year in 16:45, was back to try his luck, now in the 55-59 division. With his 16:27 at Carlsbad last spring, and his 34:21 10 Km effort in November, Cushing-Murray entered as the favorite. Even though he could not match his time of last year, Cushing-Murray had no trouble getting an early gap on the field and pulling away. He led by over 150 meters as he sped across the finish line, setting a new course record for 55–59-year-olds, 17:05! A half-minute later, Dean Thompson Chattanooga TC and Kristian Blaich Atlanta raced up Marietta Street in tandem, neither giving an inch. Thompson enjoyed a narrow margin for the silver medal, crossing the finish line just 2 seconds ahead of Blaich. Thompson enjoyed his second consecutive podium finish; he took 3rd in this division at Cross Nationals. Blaich, after taking a few years off, was enjoying his first podium finish at a Masters National Championship since 2018. 

Christian Cushing-Murray sprints for the 55-59 win at the 2023 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships Photo Credit: Joaquin Lara

Mark Zamek surprised many who knew of his recent rehabbing efforts, dealing with multiple ankle and Achilles issues. Zamek, despite being in the last few months before aging up to the 60-64 division, almost landed on the podium, just 4 seconds back from Blaich. 

Christian Cushing-Murray 17:05 CR     Dean Thompson 17:42     Kristian Blaich 17:44

60-64 Rick Lee Shore AC, Steve Schmidt Ann Arbor, and John Van Danacker TC Running Company entered the race as co-favorites. Lee is known as an athlete who loves to race, almost any distance, whether a race on the track, a road race from the mile to the marathon or a multiple day race across the Sahara Desert. And he wins most races he enters. Schmidt is famed as being one of the first athletes to run a sub-3 hour marathon in each of six decades. Van Danacker had emerged recently as a Cross Country contender on the national scene. Their recent history includes Club Cross, run over 8 Km on a tough weather day. Schmidt finished 9 seconds ahead of Lee, with Van Danacker 7 seconds behind Lee. Schmidt did not run at Cross Nationals in Richmond, another 8 Km race over the turf. But Lee and Van Danacker did; Van Danacker had the edge over Lee by 26 seconds. This time, Lee hit the mile in 5:31 and ran the second mile in 5:34. At that point, Lee, Schmidt and Van Danacker were in a tight pack. Lee was just a little stronger up the final hills. He had a 25-meter lead as he took the final left turn down into the finish within Centennial Olympic Park. It was enough! Lee took the win with a course record 17:32! Six seconds later, Van Danacker was able to edge Schmidt for the silver medal by 2 seconds! 

Men's 60-64 Podium - From L: John Van Danacker, Rick Lee, Steve Schmidt Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

A minute later, Lester Dragstedt finished in 4th.

Rick Lee 17:32 CR     John Van Danacker 17:38     Steve Schmidt 17:40 

65-69 As noted earlier, John Glidewell had a standout career as an undergrad at Ohio State and some impressive races shortly thereafter. But this was Glidewell's first Masters national competition. He made it count! He ran away from the field, winning by almost a minute over a strong field. In so doing, he tied the American Record and broke the course record for 65-69. Roger Sayre Boulder Road Runners ran a terrific race; his 18:28 time landed Sayre in the top 5 for age-grading and left him 22 seconds ahead of the 12 Km 65-69 American record holder, Ken Youngers. 

Men's 65-69 Podium- From L: John Glidewell, Roger Sayre, Ken Youngers Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

The 2017 silver medalist in the 60-64 division, Tom Devers, finished 4th in 19:47.

John Glidewell 17:32 AR tie, CR     Roger Sayre 18:28      Ken Youngers 18:50

70-74 Robert Qualls kept his streak going. Since returning from the WMA Championships, laden with medals, Qualls has been unbeatable at national masters Championships, He took the 12 km, the 5 Km Masters XC, and the Masters races at Club Cross and Cross Nationals. Qualls made it 5 in a row in Atlanta. The horn sounded and Qualls moved off, gradually accelerating as the crowd thinned out. He hit the first mile at 6:19. There were no M70 back bibs in front of him. He kept that pace up through Mile 2, slowed slightly heading up to the finish, and crossed the line at 20:09. His closest pursuers were over 150 meters back. Boulder Road Runner teammates, Douglas Chesnut and Doug Bell, approached the finish line with just a few strides between them. Chesnut took 2nd in 20:50, with Bell taking bronze four seconds later. 

Men's 70-74 Podium-From L: Robert Qualls, Douglas Chesnut, Doug Bell Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

A half minute later, Gene Dykes pushed up Marietta and was able to edge Kirk Larson for 4th by a single second!

Robert Qualls 20:09     Douglas Chesnut 20:50     Doug Bell 20:54

75-79 Dave Glass won every national championship 10 Km and up last year on his way to the 2022 Grand Prix championship for 75-79. He did not win a road championship under 10 Km in length. He is ahead of that pace this year, with this 5 Km win in Atlanta. Keith Yeates has turned into a podium threat since he aged up into 75-79. He took 4th at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships in 22:54 at Boulder in October, slipped to 7th at the highly competitive Club Cross Championships in San Francisco, then nabbed his first podium with a bronze medal at Cross Nationals in Richmond. He hoped to improve on that showing in Atlanta. Yeates kept Glass in sight for the better part of that first mile, but once they made the 180-degree turn, the gap increased. Glass was lost to sight and Yeates concentrated on holding his pace and not allowing a single M75 to pass. Paul Carlin, your author, felt like 2022 was a transitional year. Coming out of the Covid interruption in good shape, I ran a 48:37 10 Km in late April and was looking forward to being competitive at the national championships that would be held in the fall. Two weeks later my Achilles would not allow me to run. The only training was walking, spin bike or elliptical--no running. I finally worked my way out of rehab shortly before Christmas. By the time the 10 Km Championship rolled around, I felt competitive. Even though I finished 7th in 50:02, I was only 5 seconds out of 5th. If I had finished slightly faster, I might have passed the two runners I was closing in on. I finished 4th in the division at the 12 Km Championships and 4th at Cross Nationals in Richmond. I was hoping this race in Atlanta might be my 2023 Grand Prix podium breakthrough. I actually never caught sight of Glass. I could see Yeates a bit ahead and then a bit further. I kept him in sight until the long downslope after the 180 turn. By the time the course flattened out it seemed clear I would not be overtaking Yeates. I focused on form and keeping my cadence up. I learned later that Jan Frisby was having much the same experience with me that Yeates had with Glass, and I with Yeates. Frisby had finished 4th at Dedham but one of his old injuries had flared up in the run into the finish. That kept him out of national championships for the rest of 2022. He made his re-entry at Cross Nationals, but again ran into some issues with his training in the run up to the race and he could only finish 7th, 4 minutes behind me. I know that, in the past, Frisby has often been able to recover quickly. This time his conditioning was still not quite there. When Glass crossed the finish line, the win in hand at 22:54, Yeates was over 100 meters back, toiling up Marietta. When Yeates claimed 2nd in at 23:35, I still had a couple of hundred meters to cover. I got my podium finish, holding off Frisby to claim third place. Frisby indicated later that I got a good 80 meters or so on him in the first mile and then he started to gradually bring me back in the 2nd mile. But he could not keep that process going once we got onto the closing hills. 

Men's 75-79 Podium-From L: Keith Yeates, Dave Glass, Paul Carlin Photo Credit: Creagh Cross

When I crossed the finish line, Frisby had a hundred meters yet to cover; he took 4th in 25:08.

Dave Glass 22:54     Keith Yeates 23:35     Paul Carlin 24:39 

80-84 Doug Goodhue Ann Arbor TC  has been in the Masters Hall of Fame for years. He and the legendary Norm Green are the only two athletes to win 8 consecutive Age Division Runner of the Year awards. He won his 59th national title at the 5K Championships in Atlanta in August 2019. Like everyone else, he had a forced break in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. In 2021, he had knee surgery. One of the motivating factors for Goodhue to come back from that surgery was to win his 60th national championship. Goodhue tested the knee and ran for fun, as he got his 70+ team together for the Club Cross championships. It tested out pretty well and he enjoyed the return to competition and the camaraderie. He entered the championships in Atlanta. Goodhue tweaked his hamstring in the run up to the event; that was his only worry. He resolved to start gradually, not an easy thing for Goodhue. But he had no trouble putting a gap on the rest of the field. When Goodhue crossed the finish line, taking the win at 26:36, the rest of the field had well over 300 meters to go! Ed Bligh Atlanta, who had taken the 80-84 title at Richmond, finished 2nd in 28:45. Seven minutes and change later, Andrew Sherwood Atlanta, the Elder Statesman of the division, at this race, finished 3rd. I have no idea how many podium finishes Sherwood has, but it must be a ton! He shows up to compete and anchor his Atlanta team. Goodhue go t his 60th Championship at the same site and the same distance as his 59th! Atlanta is, no doubt, one of his favorite places to race!

Doug Goodhue 26:36     Ed Bligh 28:45     Andrew Sherwood 36:11

85-89 Adrian Craven, the 85-89 Grand Prix champion for 2022, took the 85-89 win at Club Cross. He entered the race as favorite. Everything was going well until he headed up Matrietta Street toward the turn into the finish., At that point he was probably 1200 meters ahead of his teammate, Sid Davis, the only other entrant in the division. For what happened next, I am relying on hearsay. A runner indicated that he had heard that one of the spectators, a young boy, ran out in front of Craven, they got tangled up and Craven may have fallen down. Whether Craven fell down and whether he was able to get up in unclear. What is clear, in the referee's report is that an adult escorted Craven over the final meters to the finish line. The adult was well-meaning, no doubt, Craven may have been confused at that point. In any case, that action constitutes illegal assistance and resulted in a DQ. With Craven disqualified,   Sid Davis is credited with the win in 53:54 and, incidentally, moved up from 4th to 3rd finisher for the Atlanta TC's M80+ team.

Sid Davis 53:54     Adrian Craven DQ 38:50 


Team championships are determined by adding up the times of the first three finishers on each team, low score wins. The ‘Home Team’ Atlanta Track Club led the way with four team championships; five other teams won a single championship each. 


40+ The Athens Road Runners Luke Mortensen, Kevin Burke, James Berry, out of Athens GA, edged Atlanta Nathan Deeter, Andrew Marshall, Brennan Pratt [Mike Schmitz, Brad Frink] for the win with a score of 51:12. The difference between 1st and 2nd was an average of just two seconds per runner. Mortensen got Athens a lead of about a minute. The #2 and 3 runners for Atlanta clawed back all but 6 seconds of that. Atlanta’s ‘B’ squad Dustin Heslep, Kevin Gibson, Kurt Rowland [Mark Castleberry] took 3rd. Cal Coast, Athens 'B', and Atlanta 'C' followed in that order.

Athens Road Runners 51:12 17:04 average     Atlanta Track Club 'A' 51:18 17:06     Atlanta Track Club 'B' 55:49 18:37

50+ Atlanta Steve Bell, Brent Fields, Kristian Blaich [Chip Hawkins, Michael Strickland] took this win at 52:09. The Genesee Valley Harriers Mark Andrews, Dale Flanders, Michael Mertens [Keithe Yeates, Mark Rybinski] claimed 2nd in 54:27, with Atlanta’s B squad Fred Weir, David Waid, Brad Slavens [Jeff Haushalter, Hernan LaGreca] matching their 40+ counterparts in taking 3rd in this division. Andrews got GVH a half minute lead but the #2 and 3 runners for Atlanta were able to close that gap and more. Atlanta 'C', Colonial Road Runners, Athens Road Runners, and Atlanta 'D' followed in that order. 

Atlanta Track Club 'A' 52:09 17:23     Genesee Valley Harriers 54:27 18:09     Atlanta Track Club 'B' 55:16 18:26

60+ This contest was tighter, but Atlanta Ken Youngers, Lester Dragstedt, Casey Hannan [Gary Droze, Michael Anderson] again took the win with an average time per runner of 19:01 compared to 19:29 for the 2nd place Boulder Road Runners Roger Sayre, Adam Feerst, John Blaser and 19:42 for Shore AC Rick Lee, Kevin Dollard, Reno Stirrat [Scott Linell, Przemek Nowicki] in 3rd. The Ann Arbor Track Club, Kansas City Smoke, Athens Road Runners, Atlanta 'B' and Atlanta 'C' followed in that order. Shore and Ann Arbor had the top two finishers, but Atlanta had the tightest pack with just a couple of ticks over a half minute between their first and third runners. 

Atlanta Track Club 57:03 19:01     Boulder Road Runners 58:26 19:29     Shore Athletic Club 59:04 19:42

70+ Boulder RR Douglas Chesnut, Doug Bell, Rick Katz [Jan Frisby] moved up one position compared to their 60+ counterparts, claiming the 70+ win at 1:04:42, with Atlanta Kirk Larson, Dave Glass, Ward Irvin [Allen Joyce, Jerry Learned] second at 1:07:37, and Ann Arbor Terry McCluskey, Paul Carlin, Doug Goodhue 3rd at 1:15:44. Atlanta 'B' took 4th. Boulder had the top two runners, and their 3rd runner came in ahead of his counterpart #3 on every other team.

Boulder Road Runners 1:04:42 21:34     Atlanta Track Club 1:07:37 22:33     Ann Arbor Track Club 1:15:44 25:15

80+ As sole entrant, Atlanta Ed Bligh, Andfrew Sherwood, Sid Davis took the win in 1:58:50. It was a lucky thing they had Davis; his time was crucial to the win once Craven was disqualified. Never let anyone say a 4th runner is superfluous. 

Atlanta Track Club 1:58:50 39:37


40+ The Garden State Track Club Jennifer Pesce, Elizabeth Wakeling, Jessica Hruska [Gabrielle Panepinto] took the win with almost a minute per runner to spare. Their winning total was 55:13. Atlanta Jill Braley, Jamie O'Brien, Amy Koepp ;Hiroko Guarneri]  took 2nd in 58:11, with Athens Rhia Kilpatrick, Emily Noble, Suzanne Baldwin [Lisa Patton, Janet Muse Dorsey] 3rd in 1:00:12. Atlanta's B team took 4th. Garden State had the 1st, third and 4th runners across the finish line for a dominant win. Each runner on Atlanta's team came in ahead of their Athens counterpart; they had a convincing #2 showing.

Garden State Track Club 55:13 18:25     Atlanta Track Club 58:11 19:24     Athens Road Runners 1:00:12 20:04

50+ The Greater Philadelphia TC Michelle Rohl, Abby Dean, Doreen McCoubrie [Patricia Heppelman, Annabelle Broadbent] with a cumulative time of 58:50, claimed the win over Sirius Athletics Rachel Hopkins, Melissa Landers-Potts, Jill O'Grady Julie Luft, Laura Johnson] out of Athens GA at 1:00:43 and Garden State Hortencia Aliaga, Kimberly Aspholm, Angela Riordan at 1:02:30. Greater Philadelphia's top two runners came in 1-2. When McCoubrie, dropping down from her usual 60+ team, came in 6th, that cemented the deal for GPTC. Sirius, with less than a minute between #1 and #3, had the edge over Garden State. Atlanta and Impala followed in 4th and 5th.

Greater Philadelphia Track Club 58:50 19:37     Sirius Athletics 1:00:43 20:15     Garden State Track Club 1:02:30  20:50

60+ Athletics Boulder Kristine Clark, Inge McClory, Laura Bruess made sure their trip from the Rockies paid off. They took the win at 1:04:06. Liberty AC Mary Cass, Lauren Leslie, Victoria Bok [Drusilla Pratt-Otto], the longest standing Women’s track club in the country, out of Greater Boston, finished 2nd in 1:04:51, with Atlanta Patrice Combs, Michelle Keane, Barbara Chandler [Mireille Silva] 3rd at 1:08:37. AB's #1 gave them a half minute lead over Liberty, but Liberty's #2 runner eliminated all but 8 seconds of the gap. When AB's #3 runner came in 37 seconds ahead of Liberty's, that iced it for Athletics Boulder. Atlanta's 1, 2, and 3 runners all finished ahead of their counterparts at Shore for a strong bronze medal showing. Shore AC, Atlanta 'B', Atlanta 'C', and the Greater Buffalo Track Club followed in that order.

Athletics Boulder 1:04:06 21:22      Liberty Athletics Club 1:04:51 21:37      Atlanta Track Club 1:08:37 22:53

70+ Atlanta’s A team Norma Hudnall, Kathleen Allen, Marion Finley [Myrna Barnett, Andrea McCarter] took the win at 1:30:15, with their B squad Catherine Radle, Mary Reed, Nora Renzulli [Joyce Hodges-Hite, Betty Lindberg] 2nd at 2:04:13. I do not know if anyone has a record that could clearly establish it, but in my memory, we have never seen a 98-year-old member of a competing team in our championships. That is another first for Betty and the Atlanta Track Club.

Atlanta Track Club 1:30:15 30:05     Atlanta Track Club 'B' 2:04:13 41:25

That concludes this recap of the 2023 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships. The weather was great; the competition scintillating, and the camaraderie filled our spirits to the brim. Next up is the Masters Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento on April 2nd.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Preview of 2023 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships-Age Divisions

 February 23, 2023 The USATF Masters 5 Km Championships will be under way at 7:30 AM ET this Saturday, February 25, 2023 in Atlanta GA. The race will be run over the same course as last year. Starting on Marietta Street near Centennial Olympic Park, looping down to Georgia Tech and back up the Luckie Street Hill to the park. It is as flat a course as they could lay out in Atlanta and hence is referred to as being 'Atlanta Flat.' The weather is cooperating. Temperatures at race time should be in the mid-50's; the chance of occasional rain showers has disappeared from the forecasts; we should be racing under cloudy skies. 

The first post looked at Overall Contenders and a few additional illustrious competitors; I focus, today, on the highly contested age division races, with reference, where relevant to the earlier posting.

Note: I had gotten away from predicting the order of finish in age division contests. in part, because a very small number of competitors said they felt too much pressure from their friends and teammates mentioning the prediction; it took away from their enjoyment of the race. Since then, a slightly larger number has said they miss the predictions. So this one is a hybrid. I speculate on the order of finish in the writeup, but the final podium prediction is alphabetical. Please think of it as being just for fun and a great way to celebrate past successes and enjoy the current race. I love it when a runner exceeds all expectations and proves me wrong with an excellent performance I had not anticipated! But I know everyone shows up at the race with different levels of fitness than one might expect. Some have had a great training block; others have been hampered by barriers of various kinds from injuries to busy careers or family responsibilities. Understood!

Update on last minute entrants: Ben Bruce got back from the WMA XC and decided to hop into the race. He was, literally, the very last athlete to enter before online registration closed on Wednesday. Not only did he win the recent Cross Nationals overall title in Richmond, VA last month, he clocked a 14:55 5K at the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line race in NYC last November. He becomes the favorite to take the Men's Overall and 40-44 titles. Kathryn 'Kathy' Martin, a Masters Hall of Famer already, is back in action on the roads too. After an unheralded late entry at Cross Nationals, Martin signed up for this one too in the last couple of days. She won her division at Cross Nationals and took the Age Grading championship. She is highly likely to do both here as well.

WOMEN 40-44 Jessica Hruska Dubuque IA, Garden State TC is the defending overall and 40-44 champion. She won last year with a gun time of 18:15. The second place finisher, last year, Jill Braley Atlanta GA,.Atlanta TC 18:21 also returns to see if she can alter last year's order of finish. New contenders for the 5 Km title in this 40-44, identified in the earlier post, included Hidi Gaff Ft. Wayne IN, Three Rivers Racing, and Elizabeth Wakeling Maplewood NJ, Garden State TC [GSTC]. I will add Gaff to the potential podium list on the basis that she was able to edge Braley on the track last summer over 5000 meters. My general approach in picking winners has always been-If you're the champ, you're the favorite, until someone knocks you off the pedestal. That goes for Hruska, but also for Gaff over Braley. Gaff is, right now, the 'champ' of the two of them. So Hruska-Gaff-Braley seems a reasonable picking order.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Jill Braley     Hidi Gaff     Jessica Hruska

45-49 Sara Girotto Wynnewoof  PA, Philadelphia TC took the division crown last year in 19:07. This year she will have to find a faster gear as she goes up against Jennifer Weston Oak Ridge TN, mentioned as a contender for the Overall win. Her credentials include two 5K's last year that were a few ticks over 18:30. She also recorded a 36:41 at the Expo 10K in Knoxville TN. Girotto is a fighter though; she landed on the Overall podium at the 12K Masters Championships and raked in a number of ag0e division wins. Euleen Josiah-Tanner Atlanta GA, T.H.E. TC is a serious contender. She finished a half minute behind Girotto last year but clocked an 18:48 to take 4th in 45-49 at the WMA Outdoor Track Championships in the summer. Josiah-Tanner will have to handle the hills but has the speed to move up if she is close at the end. It will be interesting to see how one 'race within a race' shakes out. Last year, Rebekah Kennedy Forest Hills NY, Central Park TC, Amy Koepp Cumming GA, Atlanta TC, and Kathy Wiegand Tucker GA, Atlanta TC finished 5th, 6th and 7th with just 6 seconds between them, ranging from 20:31 to 20:37. If any of the top three falter, one of these runners could move up. The numbers say it should be Weston-Girotto-Josiah-Tanner but the muscles and sinews on the day may tell a different story.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Sara Girotto     Euleen Josiah-Tanner     Jennifer Weston

50-54 Abby Dean Wilmington DE, Greater Philadelphia TC [GPTC], Ingrid Walters not entered, and Fiona Bayly aged up to 55-59 finished 1-2-3 last year with times 18:43, 18:54, and 18:57 respectively. The 4th place finisher was over a minute back. So with Walters and Bayly out of the 50-54 picture, it should be a cakewalk for Dean, right? Wrong! Dean suffered a hamstring tear towards the end of the holidays and had a PRP treatment in early January. She ran at Cross Nationals to help her team with points but was well off her best. It is a month later and I understand that she has been able to increase mileage but did not really resume workouts until the week of Valentine's Day. Based on a 5-miler last weekend, it looks like she will be competitive within the division but a win is certainly far from guaranteed. Her main rivals this year include Hortencia Aliaga Garfield NJ, Garden State TC, Samantha Forde Santa Cruz, CA, Impala Racing, and Rachel Hopkins Athens GA, Sirius Athletics. Aliaga did not compete here last year but clocked a 19:07 5K last June and a 19:51 in August. Her 5:41 Mile netted her third place in this division at the Masters 1 Mile Championships in Rochester last spring. Forde ran last year and finished 4th in 45-49, but was well over a minute behind Dean. However, Forde was able to win the division at Cross Nationals in Richmond last month, with a lead of almost a minute and a half over Dean. Dean's relative speed will be faster this month, but will it be enough faster? Rachel Hopkins should be even tougher. She came in a minute and a half ahead of Forde at Club Cross in San Francisco this past December, taking 3rd in the division. A fourth runner to watch out for is Kimberly Aspholm Haworth NJ, Garden State. She finished 20 seconds ahead of Forde last year at these championships, taking 4th in 50-54. She was a half-minute back from Forde at Club Cross but that was cross country, not roads, and a 'home course advantage' for Forde. Aspholm will also be in the podium hunt! With the uncertainties surrounding Dean, it would be tough to pick a 1-2-3. Hopkins should be able to come in ahead of Forde, but whether Dean can come in ahead of both, split them, or come in behind then in 3rd is anyone's guess. And will Aspholm be a spoiler?!

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Abby Dean     Samantha Forde     Rachel Hopkins

55-59 There will be fireworks a-plenty in this division. Michelle Rohl Mansfield PA, Greater Philadelphia TC is the defending champion in this division. She finished 3rd overall in 18:28 and took the division crown by a minute over 12 Km American 55-59 Record holder, Lisa Veneziano not entered, This year she will have to worry about Fiona Bayly New York NY who has aged up from 50-54. Bayly had an off day last year and still ran 18:57. Among other things, Bayly gave away a few seconds by thinking it would be net time, not gun time that would determine the winners. She will not make that mistake this time. Bayly has twice turned in 5K times this past year close to Rohl's. She ran 18:32 at the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K on November 5th and a week later ran just 1 second slower. In addition, she was the top American Masters finisher, after Edna Kiplagat, clocking 37:41 in the New York Mini 10K. Kris Huff Newnan GA, Atlanta TC and Annabelle Broadbent Perkasie PA, Greater Philadelphia will vie for the final podium spot. Huff should have the edge. She finished 4th in 55-59 here last year in 21:08; she also finished 6th at the Masters 10 Km Championships in 43:36. Broadbent was a minute slower than Huff last year so she would need to elevate her performance to claim the final podium position. Most likely it will be Rohl-Bayly-Huff, but we need to run the race to find out!

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Fiona Bayly     Kris Huff     Michelle Rohl

60-64 This should be one of the divisions with a big winning margin. Even with a field of 19, Doreen McCoubrie's West Chester PA, Greater Philadelphia name rises to the top. She finished 2nd here to her teammate Lorraine Jasper not entered last year in 20:25. McCoubrie added a third-place finish at the 10K Championships in 42:36, and a 60-64 win at the 12 Km Championships in 51:31. The two closest competitors may be teammates, Mary Cass Westport MA, Liberty Athletic and Lauren Leslie Warwick RI. Cass finished 6th here last year in 21:42, with Leslie following her across the finish line nine seconds later in 7th. Cass seemed to turn a corner during the year; she had better results anyway. Her 43:48 10K over the rolling hills of Dedham MA suggests she could be much closer to 21, or even under, for a 5K. She had a sub-20 at one of the Turkey Trot races and ran a nice 20:10 at the Super Sunday 5K that was the USATF-NE Championship. Leslie was almost a minute back from Cass at the Super Sunday 5K.  But I should not ignore Kristine Clark Salida CO, Athletics Boulder. Her nifty 43:11 at the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day demands respect. It is at altitude and the course itself is on the difficult end. So that stands up well to Cass's mark at Dedham. I might have thought that the outstanding middle distance trackster, Lesley Hinz Atlanta GA, Atlanta TC, would be a wild card choice, but Atlanta has her on their 'B' team so either she is facing some training/fitness challenges right now, or she is focusing on the Indoor Track season and just wants to run the 5K as a solid time trial/workout. There are lots of other runners who are just a few ticks off of the performances. these four have turned in. It should be very competitive through the first seven at least. If I had to pick a finishing order, I would go with McCoubrie-Cass-Clark, and let Leslie (and/or someone else) prove me wrong!

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Mary Cass     Kristine Clark     Doreen McCoubrie

65-69 Kitty Musante New Smyrna Beach FL, Shore AC is the defending champion; she took the title last year in 22:23. She should be the favorite but there happens to be a 'new kid on the block' who came in ahead of her last year. Patrice Combs Johns Creek GA, Atlanta TC was in 60-64 last year. She ran almost 45 seconds faster than Musante in finishing 4th in 60-64. Cynthia Williams Dallas GA, Atlanta TC finished 4th in this division last year in 25:28, That makes her the favorite for the final podium position. Susan Stirrat Rockaway NJ, Shore AC is right there should she have an especially 'on' day or any of those others have an 'off' day. Stirrat, the 2022 60-64 Masters National Grand Prix champion, picked up a 6th place finish here last year in 26:16. Most likely it will be Combs-Musante-Williams.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Patrice Combs     Kitty Musante     Cynthia Williams

70-74 Unless something surprising happens, Kathryn 'Kathy' Martin Halesite NY will take the 70-74 5Km crown this year. An Age Grading champion throughout her career on the track, the turf and the roads, Martin showed no diminution of her talents at Cross Nationals. Her winning time of 27:14 in the 70-74 division had her in the top half of all competitors and first in age grading at 94.7%, two percentage points higher than the 2nd place age grade finisher, Nora Cary not entered who also has a few American records. Did I mention that Martin still holds ten 60-64 American LDR records in distances ranging from 1 Mile to 50 Km. Until Martin entered, I expected the battle for first to be among the two teammates, Jeanette Groesz Redmond OR, Team Red Lizard and Suzanne Ray Jacksonville OR. Groesz is the stronger runner of the two on the turf. Groesz took first at Club Cross in San Francisco in 29:50. Ray is no slouch; she took 3rd. But Groesz finished over two minutes ahead of her. Ray tends to be better on the roads, at least at distances over 10 km. For example, she finished 1st and Groesz 2nd at the 12 Km Masters Championships in Highlands, NJ, with over two minutes between them. But which is better at a shorter distance on the roads, like a 5K? They did not compete here last year; it will be interesting to find out! Barbara Sauer finished 2nd here last year in 28:14, with Norma 'Nonie' Hudnall Spartanburg SC, Atlanta TC 3rd in 29:23. Mary Lewis Tega Cay SC did not compete here last year, but she did turn in 5 Km Performances of 27:55 in June, 29:26 in August and 27:54 in September. It looks like a spirited battle for 4th, 5th and 6th even if the podium picks are right. Martin should win it. I still think Groesz and Ray are the next two. If pushed, I would probably opt for Groesz 2nd and Ray 3rd, just because the distance is more in Groesz's wheelhouse than Ray's.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Jeanette Groesz    Kathy Martin     Suzanne Ray

75-79 The three Atlanta Track Club teammates, Myrna Barnett Snellville GA, Andrea McCarter Duluth GA, and Catherine Radle Atlanta TC entered last year. Like last year they have no rivals. Last year it was Barnett, Radle and McCarter in 35:12, 36:24 and 36:59. It could be, and probably will be, different this year but I have no way of knowing. So I go with the same order as last year, Barnett, Radle, and McCarter.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Myrna Barnett     Andrea McCarter     Catherine Radle

80-84 No entries

85-89 Joyce Hodges-Hite Millen GA is unopposed in the race. She beat everyone by showing up! Last year she won 80-84 the same way but there were two entrants in 85-89. Perhaps next year...

95-99 You guessed it! Betty Lindberg Atlanta GA is back! After setting the 5 Km World record for 95-99 at 55:48, Lindberg is back at the age of 98 to try to lower it further.

MEN 40-44 There's something about a 14:55 5 Km run that gets your attention! Ben Bruce has one from last year. Since turning 40 he has become almost a regular at the Masters National Championships. He clocked 38:37 while finishing 2nd at the 12 Km in New jersey, 4th in a tough field and tougher weather conditions at Club Cross in San Francisco and a nifty win in Richmond, VA at Cross Nationals. After winning a couple of Silver Medals at WMA XC in Bathurst, Australia, he's back in action this weekend. Bruce loves to race! He also turned in a 30:45 to capture the Mesa Marathon 10K in early February. A few others have times in the 15's but none are threatening the 15-minute barrier. As noted in the first preview of the Overall race, the top three before Bruce entered were listed as:  Benjamin Kassel Davidson NC, John Poray Fishers IN, Indiana Elite AC, and Brendan Prindiville Boston MA. It is not an easy call, but I will drop Prindiville off of the predicted podium list to add Bruce. Expected order is Bruce first but then it's a tough call. I'll go with Poray over Kassell because he knows how to land n a Masters national podium. In addition to the 2nd place finish in the 10 Km at Dedham, Poray also took 2nd at the USATF Masters 5 Km XC Championship at Boston in 2021. So best guess is Bruce-Poray-Kassel.

 Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Ben Bruce     Ben Kassel   John Poray

45-49 I just dropped Prindiville off of the 40-44 podium prediction.. I can make it up to him by placing him atop the predicted podium for 45-49. Given his 16:10 at Boston BIGGSTEPS and 16:12 on Suer Bowl Sunday, it is almost a 'no brainer'! Other contenders include: Matthew Di Pretore Newtown Square PA, GPTC, Christopher Hernandez Charleston SC, Genesee Valley Harriers [GVH], Shawn Williams Bloomfield NJ, GSTC, and Matt Yacoub Northville MI, Cal Coast TC.  Di Pretore finished 9th in 40-44 last year in 17:09, finishing just 3 seconds ahead of Williams, also in his first year at 45-49. That will be one fun matchup to watch! Hernandez did not compete here last year but he did take a 6th in this division in 43:23 at the 12 Km Championships in New Jersey, and a 3rd at the Mile in Rochester in 4:48. At that race, he finished 7 seconds ahead of Di Pretore. Will an additional 3.5 km change the order of that outcome? Yacoub ran at Tallahassee in 2021, finishing 27th in the division in those highly competitive championships. In addition he has a 34:34 10K and a 1:17:44 HM from last year and a 16:38 at a Super Bowl 5 Km this year. This should be highly competitive all the way through 5th place, if not further. Richard Jennings or Paul Jones could make the prediction look bad. Let's go with Yacoub next, after Prindiville, and, perhaps, Hernandez.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Brendan Prindiville     Matt Yacoub     Christopher Hernandez

50-54 Mark Andrews Rochester NY, GVH finished 2nd here last year in 16:51, a result that was, no doubt, disappointing to him, although an amazingly successful accomplishment to others! After winning a 10 Km Overall National Championship a few years ago, Andrews reported that when he saw a runner pass him late in the race, he recovered, accelerated past, and won the race. He said something like: "I had to do it! It would have been bad enough to lose the overall race, but he was also in my age group; I couldn't go home without at least an age group win!" He is the favorite, but Andrews knows you can never take anything for granted in Masters National Championships. In September he won this division at the 12 Km National Championship in 41:25 and in October clocked a 16:47 5K. Marco Cardoso Sayreville NJ, GSTC did not compete here last year, but was a couple of minutes behind Andrews at the 12 Km Championships. He had clocked a 16:53 5K in August. Brent Fields Covington GA, Atlanta TC finished 3rd here last year, a half minute behind Andrews. He also ran 35:54 at the 10 Km Masters Championships in late April. His teammate, Steve Bell finished 20 seconds behind Fields here last year, but then finished 4th at Dedham MA in the 10 Km Championships in 34:18. If he brings that kind of fitness to t0he Championship this Saturday, a sub-17 5K is surely in his grasp. John Fernandez Canton OH ran a 17:10 5K in 2021 and clocked a 17:41 last year. Reading the tea leaves, or goat entrails, depending on your tastes, it looks like Andrews-Bell-Cardoso, with apologies to Fernandez and Fields. Time to prove me wrong!

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Mark Andrews     Steve Bell     Marco Cardoso

55-59 Christian 'Cush' Cushing-Murray Orange CA, Cal Coast won the 50-54 in 16:42 last year; he is the guy to beat! He seems ready to roll. He clocked 16:27 at Carlsbad in April last year and then in November had a 16:59 outing. He came up just short at Cross Nationals in Richmond last month, taking 2nd in 55-59 at 28:57. His rivals will have to hope that, in the attempt to repeat his Top Ten Overall finish from last year, he goes out to fast and becomes vulnerable on the run up the Luckie Street hill toward the finish. Ryan Shrum Chattanooga TN, Chattanooga TC finished 5th here last year in 17:50. Scott Grandfield Rehoboth RI, Central Mass Striders was 5 seconds behind him. How will that duel play out this year? Kristian Blaich Decatur GA, Atlanta has competed sparingly in the past few years, spending more time running with his kids than in serious training. With his son running at college now, and a daughter soon to be, no doubt, Blaich may be able to focus more on his own racing again. He has not been idle though; he has to keep up with, or at least keep close to, his son. He ran an 18:13 5K in October and uncorked a 17:37 in November! Mark Zamek Minneapolis MN, Shore AC should also factor into the race. He has been dealing with various injuries and other barriers to consistent training. But he has, nonetheless, posted some fine times over the last year, while in rehab. Splitting his time between Minnesota and Florida, he ran a 16:57 and a 17:14 5K in the summer and then, this past December, clocked a 17:21. Zamek knows the course, except for the last half kilometer; he finished 2nd over a highly similar course in 2019, clocking 17:06. He seems determined to race even though his rehab is still in process. When the 'war horse' hears the bugle, it is hard to restrain him! Cush should win. On paper, if all goes well, Zamek should take 2nd and Blaich third, with Grandfield and Shrum not far back should they see a chance for the podium.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Kristian Blaich   Christian Cushing-Murray     Mark Zamek

60-64 In the 1960's there was a group of film stars and entertainers called the 'Rat Pack.' The 60-64 division has its own version. Maybe they should be called the Jet Pack. They  do not all show up at every event but some of them are at every event so far...and they are 'jet pack' fast! Three members showed up for Atlanta this weekend: Rick Lee Bayville NJ, Shore ACSteve Schmidt Clarkston MI, Ann Arbor TC, and John Van Danacker Rockford MN, T(win) C(ities) Running Co. And Lee is doing it as a detour on his way to Gasparilla, followed by a Florida 'vacay', and then a date with the 'Green Monster' at the Gate River Run. At Club Cross, it was Schmidt, Lee and Van Danacker, in times from 29:43 to 29:59. At Richmond, it was Van Danacker and Lee chasing another Jet Packer, Nat Larson not entered, finishing 2nd and 3rd with Van Danacker at 29:15 and Lee 26 seconds back. This will be Schmidt's first Masters National Road Championship, but he showed his turf cred at Golden Gate Park last December and last summer he took the 60-64 honors at the 5000M on the track in 17:37. That puts him in the role of 'favorite'. Lee has the advantage of knowing this 'Atlanta Flat' course; he finished 2nd last year in 18:05. Like Schmidt, Van Danacker is new to the course. But I have no doubt that they both have hills they like to train on! There are a host of other fine runners entered; 60-64 is loaded. But it is seems unlikely that runners like Lester Dragstedt Atlanta GA, Atlanta TCGary Droze Atlanta GA, Atlanta TC, Adam Feerst Denver CO, Boulder RR, Casey Hannan Atlanta GA, Atlanta TC, David Lee Bogart GA, Athens RR, Jay Littlepage Boulder CO, Athletics Boulder, and Robert Whitaker Yorktown VA, Colonial RR can rise to the level of the jet pack. But they could prove me wrong! There is no doubt they will race great; the competition for 4th through 10th will be amazing! And it can always happen that one or more could break onto the podium. As Schmidt took the honors in San Francisco and Van Danacker came in ahead of lee in Richmond, I will go with an order of Schmidt-Van Danacker-Lee.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Steve Schmidt     John Van Danacker     Rick Lee

65-69 If all is well, John Barbour West Roxbury MA, Greater Lowell RR, Paul Beers Roanoke VA, Roger Sayre Golden CO, Boulder RR, and Ken Youngers Tucker GA, Atlanta TC should all break 20 minutes and some, or all, of them will break 19 minutes! Barbour has run so many great Cross Coun8try races over the years, one can hardly recount them. He has had a few years battling injuries; it was good to see him running flat out for the finish line in San Francisco! He finished just off the 65-69 podium in 32:20. Barbour also turned in two sub-20 minute performances, 19:34 at BIGGSTEPS Boston 5K in November and a 19:38 at the Super Sunday 5K earlier this month. He also ran an 18:32 5K at Paddy's run in October. But I will make a wild guess that was not a certified course. Sayre was the only other of these three to compete in San Francisco. In one of his last races in the 60-64 division, Sayre clocked 31:23 to finish 14th in that ultra-competitive division. He ran 19:09 in the Denver 5K in September. That is at altitude, so it translates to sub-19 at sea level. Youngers finished 2nd here last year in 18:27. At Richmond last month, he finished 2nd in the division on the turf. He has had some challenges related to medical issues but so far seems to be able to compete at a very high level. He may not be up to the level of his 37:48 10 Km Masters Championship win last April, but you never know! Beers has not competed in any recent Masters National Championships that I know of. He ran 1:26:52 at the Aramco Houston HM last month. Before that, he clocked a 19:40 5K in a hometown race and recorded a 39:46 at the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond VA. Tom Dever Panama City FL celebrates a new age division by jumping into a national championship! He ran 19:20 at Carlsbad for his first big run as a 65-year-old. He followed that with a 40:36 10K in November. Two guys who have run continuously, both before, and up through their Masters years, at an elite level, are returning to this competition at something approaching their normal fitness. Both have had long rehab stretches in the last couple of years. Mike Anderson Tucker GA, Atlanta TC ran this race last year in 24:29. This past November he clocked 21:59 and by New Year's Day, was able to turn in a 21:33 at a Resolution Run. Sub-20 may be out of reach still, but he might get close. Reno Stirrat Rockaway NJ, Shore AC has been able to run at closer to his potential over this period, but not at his usual level. He finished 5th at these championships last year in 20:34. He clocked 41:11 in finishing 3rd at the 10 Km Masters Championships at the end of April. A month later he was competing at Rochester strictly for the team, completing what must have been an agonizing mile in 8:28. Although still no this best effort, it seemed like he may have turned the corner at the 12 Km Championships in New Jersey. He finished 7th in the division in 54:21, roughly equivalent to a 44:45 10K. But at Club Cross, he was again way off his normal pace. Richmond was better; that time he came in ahead of people he had been finishing behind. Perhaps even more importantly, his training has continued well after that. If he can get c lose to the 20:34 he registered last year, that would be amazing! Anything under 22 would represent very solid progress! Kevin Dollard Hopewell Junction NY, Stirrat's teammate, finished 3rd here last year in 19:58. He has run consistently all year; he should run well tomorrow, perhaps low 20's? Stan McCormack Shawnee KS, Kansas City Smoke finished 7th here last year in 19:36. He ran faster than Dever at the Masters Outdoor TF Championships, clocking 19:45 for the 5000M. The competition in this age division is also ridiculous! Still, Sayre looks like the best bet. After that maybe Youngers as long as his health is good. And then Barbour. But several others mentioned above have the potential to wind up on the podium.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

John Barbour     Roger Sayre     Ken Youngers

70-74 Robert Qualls Reno NV, River City Rebels, Doug Bell Greeley CO, Boulder RR, and Gene Dykes Bala Cynwyd PA, Greater Philadelphia TC stand out in this division as long as they are at or close to their usual fitness. There is no doubt about Qualls; he is the clear favorite. Qualls went wild at the World Masters Championships in Tampere Finland in the summer; he returned laden down with medals, Qualls has not been beaten since then. He had a shootout with Dykes at the 12 Km and emerged with the division win. The same held true on the turf, at Boulder, San Francisco and Richmond. Qualls led the way each time! He won by two minutes at Boulder; the other two were closer but winning by a minute and a half is not exactly a narrow win. At two of those, Bell was the 2nd place finisher. He was way back at San Francisco, but I am guessing Bell's back was perhaps not very happy with the weather. Bell came in 3rd here last year almost a half-minute behind Dykes. Bell loves the 5K distance but is probably less excited about hills. We will probably not see Dykes at his best. The question is whether he will be just a little bit off or way off. Dykes was breaking American records left and right in 2018 and nearly nailed the legendary, late Ed Whitlock's World 70-74 Marathon record. He did get the American Record. Since then he has had more difficulties with injuries and it was taking him longer to heal and then he would get injured again. He finally had blood work done late last year. It looked like he had turned the corner for good, perhaps. He ran 1:31:43 at the Half marathon in Naples FL last month. That was his best Half Marathon time since 2021 although nothing like the 1:25:10 he ran in 2020 before his difficulties started. Does that mean that Dykes will better the 20:47 he turned in last year? It could be. The problem is that he ramped up his training after the successful effort in Napkes and came up with an abdominal strain from a hill workout. Dykes should have rested but he had made a commitment to a training partner to compete in a 'couples' race on Valentine's Day and hated to disappoint. It was a struggle and he definitely needed to rest it after that. It is two weeks later and I have no idea if he is totally recovered or if it is still bothering him. Either way, Dykes will almost surely race. he loves to race and figured he would run this one with whatever fitness he can bring to the event. If he is past the abdominal strain and nothing else has acted up, the order of finish should be Qualls-Dykes-Bell. Others who might shoot past one or more of those three include Jerry Learned Gainesville GA, Atlanta TC, who finished 14 seconds behind Bell here last year, and Eugene Myers Columbia MD, Potomac Valley TC, who finished a mere second back from Learned. I found out at Richmond that Learned, the 2012 and 2022 Masters National 70-74 Grand Prix Champion, has been having some health challenges; his times have been suffering because his training has been uneven. Myers, on the other hand, has been running well. He uncorked a good one at Club Cross, finishing well ahead of Learned, Bell and Kirk Larson Atlanta GA, Atlanta TC. Larson has been a very solid performer for years but lost a bit of his enthusiasm after turning 70. He has been competing, but not as frequently, and his fitness has not been as sharp- as when he was a vital part of the M60+ team for Atlanta. He ran better at Richmond, though and this will mark his third consecutive Masters National Championship. Perhaps we will see the Larson of old mixing it up tomorrow. Terry McCluskey Vienna OH, Ann Arbor TC, the 2019 Club Cross 70-74 champion, returns to the fray. He ran for fun at San Francisco, but has trained a bit for this one. It will be interesting to see how he does. The last time he raced in Atlanta, in August 2019, he won the 70-74 division in 20:48. I would not expect that kind of performance but it would not be impossible for McCluskey to mount the podium, even off of short training. Picking 1st is easy. Qualls does not appear to have any close threats. If Dykes has recovered from his abdominal strain, he should take 2nd. I like Bell for third; he knows the course and has run well with the sole exception of San Francisco. McCluskey or Myers could also move up onto the podium depending on a variety of factors.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Doug Bell     Gene Dykes     Robert Qualls

75-79 The only runners in this age division that Dave Glass Glenville NY, Atlanta TC has had trouble with in the last few years, and then only at distances under 10K, are: Gary Ostwald, Gary Patton, and Ron Wells. None are entered. None of this year's entrants have given Glass any trouble since he emerged at the top of the division in September 2021.  Glass should win in the proverbial cakewalk! Keith Yeates Fairport NY, GVH should be the closest of the field to Glass. The last time Yeates ran in Atlanta it was 2019; he ran 23:42 to finish 6th in the division. He was over two minutes behind Glass at San Francisco and 1:22 at Richmond. But he was well ahead of all of the others at those two races.

A handful of the others, namely Jan Frisby Grand Junction CO, Boulder Road Runners, Przemek Nowicki Holmdel NJ, Shore AC, and your author, that's me, Paul Carlin Three oaks MI, Ann Arbor TC, have won national championships before. But it has been a few years. Frisby has done better than that; he ran well enough in his 50's to be awarded Masters Runner of the Year for both 50-54 and 55-59.  He won the 75-79 1 Mile Championship a few years back, perhaps 2019. In 2017, I was lucky enough to edge Glass for the Grand Prix 70-74 championship. He has now won the last two Grand Prix championships for 75-79. Glass has not lost a 75-79 race at 10 Km or over since racing resumed in the fall of 2021. He ran 22:36 here last year. Frisby finished 6th in 24:39. I was coming back from a May to December layoff due to an Achilles injury that was resistant to rehab; I ran 26:24. Nowicki, who has also had challenges, was at 26:53. Also he noted that he does not like hills. I was able to finish within a couple of minutes of Yeates at Richmond but that is the closest I have been since the 2021 resumption of Championships. That 26:24 is not representative of my ability. In November of last year, I ran a 24:58 5K. The course was not as hilly as this one in Atlanta but it was on a certified course. I have had a good block of training so I hope to run faster. Frisby and Nowicki were off their best at Richmond, finishing in tandem 4 minutes behind me. Frisby has made remarkable progress in short training blocks before; I have not heard of any new difficulties. He could challenge for the podium. If all goes well, the most likely order of finish is Glass-Yeates-Carlin.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Paul Carlin     Dave Glass     Keith Yeates

80-84 Hall of Famer, Doug Goodhue Milford MI, Ann Arbor TC, the 'Silver Bullett', is back in action. I wrote about him at length in the earlier preview. Coming back from knee surgery, he ran for fun in San Francisco. The official results placed him second, but ahead of anyone in tomorrow's field who was there. He has had a good block of training since then. In 2019 he won the 75-79 division in 21:28. He won't run that fast, but there is little doubt he will win the division, and by a large amount. David Turner Clarkesville GA, Atlanta TC won the division here last year in 29:11. He is a good bet for 2nd. Ed Bligh Alpharetta GA, Atlanta TC is probably next. He ran 28:56 on this course in 2018.He finished 2 and a half minutes behind Goodhue in San Francisco. Andrew Sherwood Atlanta GA, Atlanta TC, the 2022 Masters National 80-84 Grand Prix Champion will be there to compete and ready to step up to the podium if he has a good day.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Ed Bligh     Doug Goodhue     David Turner

85-89 Atlanta teammates, Adrian Craven Greenville SC and Sid Davis Atlanta GA, are entered in this division. Craven is generally faster than Davis. At Rochester last year, they met in the mile. Craven ran 10:40, Davis 14:04. If all goes as usual, Craven should win with Davis second.

Podium Prediction in alphabetical order

Adrian Craven     Sid Davis

Time ran out on me. Age grading and team competitions will have to go unanalyzed. It's after 9:30 pm and I have to race tomorrow.