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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

First look at Overall Contenders and Other Illustrious Competitors in Atlanta-2023 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships

February 21, 2023. Atlanta welcomes back Masters athletes from across the country to compete in their 5 Km race on Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend. Three years after the thrilling Olympic Marathon trials were held in Atlanta, marathon hopefuls will pour into Atlanta from throughout the South and across the country to forge their own memories of marathon success.

Saturday, February 25th, between 7 and 8 am, the time of the Championship race, had been shaping up to have near-perfect weather for a 5K! The temperature forecast for the upper 50’s is holding but now there is almost a 50% chance of some rain. Of course, the flip side of that is a slightly better than 50-50 shot at no rain. Right now, it seems that even if there is rain it would not be a downpour. But, as always, check the weather before heading to Centennial Olympic Park on race day morning.


Perhaps the most illustrious of the competitors this year is the Hometown Heroine, Betty Lindberg Atlanta GA, back at age 98, to see if she can lower the 95-99 World Record that she set last year. She is a sure thing to win the 95-99 division!

Betty Lindberg, 97, Crosses the Finish Line at the 2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta GA, Breaking the 95-99 World Record Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Track Club

Michelle Rohl Mansfield PA, Greater Philadelphia TC fills two roles. She is also illustrious, the holder of the Women's 55-59 Outdoor 1500M and 800M American Records. And she just ran faster than the American Indoor 55-59 Mile Record at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile, clocking 5:16.70. She has that record, pending ratification. Rohl is also a contender for the Overall Women's Championship. 

Michelle Rohl claims Third Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta GA Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Track Club

Rohl finished 3rd last year in 18:32 (gun time) behind Jessica Hruska Dubuque IA 18:15 (gun time) and Jill Braley Atlanta GA, ATC 18:21 (gun time). Hruska registered on Tuesday, March 21st, now running for the Garden State Track Club. She assumes the favorite’s role as defending champion. 

Jessica Hruska claims the Overall Win at the 2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta GA Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Track Club

Hruska has also run well recently, finishing 4th overall at the highly competitive Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco. This will be her second outing of the year in the 2023 Masters National Grand Prix. Will she able to repeat her 2022 Masters National Grand Prix win? She is off to a good start. 

One of her other returning rivals from last year, is Abby Dean Wilmington DE, Greater Philadelphia TC 18:43 (gun time). Dean suffered a hamstring tear over the holidays and had a PRP procedure in early January. She ran for team points in the USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond on January 21st, although she probably should have sat that one out. She will run faster in Atlanta but contending for the Overall win probably not in the picture. She seems a good pick for winning the 50-54 division, although nothing is ever certain in such a competitive group. Dean clocked 32:21 on a hilly 5 miler last weekend and is looking forward to the competition at the front of the 50’s division.

Abby Dean crosses the Finish Line in 4th Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta GA Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Track Club  


Others who are likely to contend for the Overall win include:

Hidi Gaff Three Rivers Racing. She did not run here last year but she and Braley ran against each other in the 5000 Meter event on the track at the USATF Masters Outdoor TF Championships in Lexington KY last summer. Gaff edged Braley for a Bronze medal by just 3 seconds!

Elizabeth Wakeling Garden State TC, finished 7th at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco, CA. That race is, typically, our most competitive of the year. Hruska, the Champion here last year, finished 4th, just 16 seconds ahead of Wakeling. Wakeling clocked a 29:22 to win the Women's title at the Ashenfelter 8K in NJ. That time is roughly equivalent to an 18:06 5K.

Jennifer Weston Oak Ridge TN clocked 36:45 at the Expo 10K in Knoxville TN on the Memorial Day weekend last year and ran an 18:33 5K in November.

There are some very strong runners in the 50 and up divisions, but most do not rise to the Michelle Rohl level. The strongest has the bad luck to be in Rohl's division. Fiona Bayly New York City had an off day last year and still ran 18:57 at age 54. This past year she has stopped the clock at 18:21 and 18:32 at two or the NYRR's races in New York and was the first American Masters finisher in 37:41 at the Mastercard NY Mini 10K. She will compete! If she has a good day or if Rohl, perish the thought, has less than a good day, Bayly could turn the tables from last year.

Podium Pick-Overall Race in Alphabetical Order based on entries through Tuesday, February 21 at 9:40 pm:

Jill Braley     Jessica Hruska     Michelle Rohl


As of now, the Men's Race looks wide open; none of the top finishers from last year are back. Bryan Lindsay Zionsville IN, Indiana Elite AC won last year in 15:38 (gun time) but has not entered. 

One of his teammates, John Poray Fishers IN, is returning. He finished 10th last year in Atlanta on an off day in 16: 36 (gun time). A better indicator of his ability is the 2nd place finish he registered in the USATF Masters 10 Km Championships in April, where he finished in 33:05.

John Poray finishing off his 2nd Place Run Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 10 Km Championship at Dedham MA Photo Credit: Mike Scott

Other top contenders for the Overall win include:

Benjamin Kassell Davidson NC ran 16:11 at the Race for the Grasshopper 5K in South Carolina on January 7th, and a 15:45 5K last November in North Carolina. He also finished 5th in the Masters division at the AJC Peachtree Run in 34:29.

Bradley Merner Auburn, AL, a Professor at Auburn University, finished top 5 Masters at the Philadelphia Marathon last November with a 2:36:10 effort. He has a 15:46 5K in Ohio on his resume from 2021.

Last year, Luke Mortensen Athens GA Athens Road Runners won the Community Race that started a few minutes after the Masters Championships started. His 16:11 would have netted him 7th place in the Masters Championships had he been a few months older. He has not been idle in the interim. He registered a 1:14:04 time at the Athens GA Half Marathon in October and stopped the clock at 26:45 for an 8K in November, roughly equivalent to a 16:34 5K.

Brendan Prindiville Boston MA. Boston Tracksmith Hares last competed in a Masters National Grand Prix road championship in 2019. He clocked 33:14, finishing 3rd overall at the 10 Km Championships in Dedham that year. His last three 5 K outings, as reported in Athlinks, are remarkably consistent, a 16:13 at the B.A.A. 5K in April, a 16:10 at the BIGGSTEPS Boston 5K in November, and a 16:12 at the Super Sunday 5k earlier this month. 

Brendan Prindiville heading for the Finish Line and 3rd Place Overall at the 2019 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships in Dedham MA Photo Credit: Mike Scott

Now in the 55-59 age division, Christian Cushing-Murray Orange CA, Cal Coast TC, was an elite Open runner in the 1990's, running a 3:55.4 Mile at Eugene, OR in 1995 and a 3:37.94 1500 meters in 1992. His best performance on the roads is his 14:04 at the Carlsbad 5000 in 1996. 'Cush', as he is known, still has the fire to compete, especially for his team. He finished 10th Overall and won the 50-54 division here last year, at the age of 54, in 16:45. He returns this year in a new age division and is a threat to finish in the top ten again this year. He ran 16:27 at Carlsbad this past May and stopped the 10K clock at 34:21 at the Dana Point Turkey Trot in November.

Christian Cushing-Murray claims a Top Ten Finish Overall at the 2022 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta GA Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Track Club  

Podium Pick-Overall Race in Alphabetical Order based on entries through Tuesday, February 21 at 9:40 pm:

Benjamin Kassell     John Poray     Brendan Prindiville


Some Other Illustrious Competitors:

Rick Lee Bayville NJ, Shore AC 61. Lee came to elite Masters running late in life. Lee is one of a kind in his enthusiasm for running and racing fast at all distances. In addition to winning his age division at the Boston Marathon, Lee also owns the American Record for 50 Kilometers 3:31:44 and 50 Miles 6:27:30. He finished 2nd here last year at the age of 60 in 18:05. This past summer, he ran two sub 17:30 5K's. He also finished 2nd in his division at the Masters 1 Mile Championships on the road in Rochester, NY, losing the 60-64 title by a single second! He ran in a 4 x 400 meter relay on an indoor track a few weeks ago and, last I heard, was learning the proper way to get a good start out of the starting blocks.

Rick Lee #568 moving up through M50+ runners to claim a podium spot at 2023 Cross Nationals in Richmond VA Photo Credit: Rick Lee & Associates


Steve Schmidt Clarkston, MI, Ann Arbor TC. Schmidt is famous for being one of the first two runners to join what Amby Burfoot called the 6DS3 club. He has run a sub-3 hour marathon in each of six decades, a pretty impressive accomplishment for someone who is just 62. His most recent sub-3-hour Marathon was a 2:52:52 at the London Marathon last October. He showed his ability at shorter distances, taking 2nd in the division at the highly competitive USATF Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco last December, finishing 9 seconds ahead of Lee.

Gene Dykes regularly wins his age division in Marathons by a half minute or more, even the most prestigious of the Abbot World majors. But he is renowned for his assault in 2018 on the supposedly unapproachable 70 and up World record of 2:54:48 set by the legendary runner, Ed Whitlock of Canada. After his 70th birthday in 2018, Dykes made his first attempt at Rotterdam in the Netherlands in early April, coming within three minutes at 2:57:43. His next attempt would be on the same course on which Whitlock set his record, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. In between, he set an American 10K record of 39:02 while winning the national championship in Dedham, MA, and took the 5 Km National Championship for 70-74 with a 19:20 in Atlanta. At Toronto, he crept closer but still could not quite close the deal; he ran 2:55:17, a half minute off. It looked like everything was in place for him to break the record at the Jacksonville Marathon in mid-December. And it was, almost. He ran faster than Whitlock, clocking 2:54:23. Dykes’s research had led him to believe that, not only was the Jacksonville course certified and record eligible, but that the event was sanctioned by USATF. All three are required for World Masters Athletics to recognize a performance as a new World Record. The first two were good; the last was not. No World Record for Dykes! His Toronto performance still stands as the American Record. There were some minor injuries and slow recoveries after that, and over the next few years. Dykes was not able to make another serious attempt at the record. He has had difficulty coming back all the way but there have been flashes of the old Dykes. He finished 2nd here last year in the 70-74 division, running 20:43. A month later he won the Half Marathon national championship over a hilly course in Syracuse NY in 1:32:37; 2 weeks later he claimed the ten mile championship in Sacramento in 1:07:43. But since that time he has not consistently been able to train without injury and the injuries have been slower to heal. Some medical lab work suggested a treatment to adjust his platelet count and that appeared to pay dividends. He won the 70-74 division at the Naples Half Marathon in early January in 1:31:43. But on the run up to this championship he suffered an abdominal strain that is keeping him from his normal training routine. He may show up ready to challenge for the 70-74 division title before aging up to the 75-79 group, or he may not be competitive at all. Dykes is amazing; he almost always runs if there is a chance, whether he can run fast or is forced, by circumstances, to run slow.

Gene Dykes finishing off his American Record setting run at the 2018 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships in Dedham MA Photo Credit: Mike Scott

Doug, the ‘Silver Bullet’, Goodhue, now 80, is returning to the racing scene. Already in the USATF Masters Hall of Fame for his running in his 50’s and 60’s, Goodhue was a force to be reckoned with through his 70’s. In 2019 at the 5Km Championship in Atlanta, as part of the Atlanta’s Finest 5K, Goodhue won the 75-79 championship in 21:24 (net time), good enough to be recognized as among the top 5, over all age divisions, in terms of age grade score. He closed off the year by finishing 2nd in his 75-79 division at the highly competitive Club Cross Country Championships on the Lehigh University course in Pennsylvania. 

Doug Goodhue rounding the Final Turn on His Way to a 75-79 Win 

at the 2019 USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, GA Photo Credit: Mike Scott

Goodhue also captained his 70-74 team to the Club victory, clinching their second consecutive 70+ Masters National Grand Prix title. He competed throughout that period with a gimpy knee. Last year he went under the knife. Goodhue was rehabbing through the fall, using an alter-G to reduce the strain on the knee, and gradually working in more running. He decided to run with his old team for fun at the Club Cross Championships in San Francisco. Apparently, it was fun, despite the torrential downpour, high winds, and blown over trees. The official results show him finishing 2nd at those Championships, despite having a large lead on the 80+ field at the 5 km split. In any case, he is back for more. Goodhue is coming to these championships a little more trained up. We will see how things go.

Look for a more complete preview of age divisions and teams in a couple of days (I hope).

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Masters Athletes Bring Home Medals from Bathurst, Australia

 February 18-19, 2023 BATHURST, AUSTRALIA  Benjamin Bruce and April Lund earned the honor of representing the USA at the first ever WMA XC Championships by winning the Overall Masters Championships races at Richmond, VA on January 21st. At the inaugural WMA XC Championships in Bathurst, Australia, on Saturday, the Mixed Relay team of April Lund and Ben Bruce brought home Silver Medals for the USA. They were competing on the same challenging course used for the WA Cross Country Championships in Bathurst. Substantial elevation changes, a muddy pit, a chicane to weave through, and 90-degree plus heat tested the two Masters athletes, each of whom raced a 2 km loop. Battling the home team squads from Australia for the medals, Bruce and Lund clocked 14:11. Their 3:32 per kilometer pace enabled the American duo to break up the top two Australian teams, finishing 21 seconds back from the gold medal team, and 25 seconds ahead of the Aussie team chasing them. It was a terrific start for a historic weekend of racing!

Ben Bruce powers uphill in the Mixed Relay Race where he and his teammate, April Lund, won the Silver medal at the 2023 WMA Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia Photo Credit: Mike Scott

Team USA, All Smiles after their Silver Medal Mixed Relays effort at the 2023 WMA Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia Photo Credit: Mike Scott

April Lund, on her way downhill to the tricky 180 degree turn and the upslope through the chicane of tires, a challenging ending to the 2 Km loop at the 2023 WMA Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia Photo Credit: Mike Scott

The following day, Bruce and Lund toed the line for individual races. This time it was three loops each for a 6 Km grind up and down around the Mt. Panorama layout. Again, their chief rivals were Australians. Facing the same tough course and conditions two days in a row were a challenge. Both Bruce and Lund rose to the challenge, Bruce finishing 2nd overall in the Men’s race in 20:30, averaging 3:50/km. Lund clocked 23:53, averaging a tick under 4:00/km, finishing 3rd overall. 

April Lund sprints uphill after slogging through the Mud Pit at the Billabong
 on her way to a 40-44 Gold medal at the 2023 WMA Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia Photo Credit: Jeff Lund

WMA recognizes Masters level as age 35 and above; in the US, LDR considers Masters status not to start until age 40. Bruce came in ahead of all runners except a 40-year-old Aussie. Hence he finished 2nd Overall and 2nd in his age division. Lund came in behind two athletes from the 35-39 division but ahead of all others in the 40-44 division. She finished third overall but earned a Gold Medal in her division.

There were two other members of the team, David Cooke 40-44, and Derek Froude 60-64. They finished 16th and 7th, respectively, in their divisions. Despite the small size of the American team, they finished 3rd in medal count with three one Silver-40-44 Mixed Relay, one Gold-Women's 40-44, one Silver Men's 40-44. Australia led the way, followed by their neighbor, New Zealand. The British, Canadian, and French teams earned two medals each.

The next WMA Cross Country Championships will again be on the same site over the same weekend in 2024 in Croatia. If they keep the same structure as in these Championships, it would be nice if there were fuller participation and if reimbursement funding or 'pay for medals' were possible for more age divisions than just 40+. Perhaps the best way to organize funding, if it is available, would be to fund the best female/male pairs of runners in the same 5-year age division. If both are strong runners, there is a good chance for three medals from the pair. Age Grading could be a useful tool in that selection context. And as greater funding would become available, one could move to the age division f/m pair with the next highest age grade combination, and so on. As is generally the case with Cross Nationals as a selection event, if the top pair turns down the offer, you go to the next pair. If one of the pair turns it down, the male for example, and the other accepts, one would first see if there is a male who is close in age grading to the one who turned down the offer and see if he would accept. It would be more complicated, but could be accomplished as long as someone who is reasonably good with spreadsheets and a laptop is available to assist the Masters LDR liaisons with the task. The task could also be made easier by including a question in the registration process, "If you would be selected to receive $X of funding to compete at the World Cross Country Championships in Croatia, the weekend of February Xth-Yth, how likely would you be to accept: Choices: Definitely yes, probably yes, uncertain, probably no, definitely no.

It will be interesting to see what is organized for Cross Nationals for next January in Richmond.

The 2023 WMA Indoor Championships are from March 26 to April 1st. There are the same Non Stadia events that were staged in Finland last summer, a Cross Country event, a 10 km road race and a Half marathon road race. The Cross Countyr event is on Monday, March 27th; the 10 Km event on Wednesday, March 29th, and the Half Marathon on Saturday, April 1st, no fooling! Registration has already closed as has the window to apply for funding. Best of luck to all who will be competing!

There are no national cross country championships now until October 7th in Boca Raton, Florida. This coming weekend we begin the road portion of the Masters National Grand Prix. We have the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile-Masters Athletes on the Indoor Track

February 11, 2023 On the same weekend that Masters athletes were battling for National honors on the turf at Richmond, VA, other Masters athletes were headed to the Indoor Track at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. They would compete in honor of the late Jim Hartshorne deceased Dec 17 1994, who championed the Masters Mile in the big Track Meets in the Northeast, including the Penn Relays and the Millrose Games. This would be the 54th edition of the Men's races and the 41st for the Women. Some of the fastest Masters Milers in the northeast made the trip to Cornell's Barton Hall, including a contingent from Philadelphia. It was an exciting day! There were some tight races and an American Record was broken!

Combined Men's and Women's Mile This section, a warm-up for the faster races to come, was won by Laura Helmerick, the youngster of the crew at 63, in 7:55.34. Dennis Featherstone 82, the oldest of the crew, took 2nd in 8:08.97. 

For the men, there were two seeded sections and two Elite sections. There was one seeded section for the women and one Elite section. The Elite races included a 'rabbit' who gets instructions as to what pace the athletes are looking for and aims to deliver. In the most highly seeded Men's Elite race, the lead runner had to encourage the rabbit to pick up the pace a bit so as not to impede him when he was trying to break away from the pack. Having a pacer in road races for the leading contenders is comparatively rare, mainly occurring in some of the prestigious marathons. But it is increasingly common on the track, apart from national championships. To race a mile (1760 yards and about 1609.35 meters) on a 200-meter track, the starting line (or curve) is moved back 9.35 meters and each subsequent lap is 200 meters. Lap 1 is at 209 meters, lap 2 at 409m, etc.

All Photo Credits: Steve Gallow


Section 1 There were 5 competitors, ranging in age from 42 to 67. The three athletes between those extremes made up the podium. Roxanne Springer 58 pulled away from the field to win handily in 6:10.23. It was closer between Kim Jackson and Betsy Stewart. Stewart led for the first two laps with Jackson right on her heels. Jackson made her move on the backstretch of the third lap and gradually pulled away from Stewart to take second in 6:43.36, with a 15 second cushion. It must have been nice for Stewart to look at the clock and see she had broken 7:00! 

Roxanne Springer all alone at the front of the Women's Section 1 Race at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile 

Springer 86.23% and Ivy Bell 67 7:38.01 80.65% were the only two to break the 80% age grade level, sometimes associated with the idea of a 'National Class' time for the runner's age.

Roxanne Springer 58 6:10.23     Kim Jackson 54 6:43.36     Betsy Stewart 59 6:58.32

Elite Section 1 Two of the most decorated middle distance runners in the country were in this section. Lorraine Jasper 61 set the Outdoor 55-59 American record in the 1500 meters at 5:08.96 in 2016. That held until an even faster runner came down the pike. Michelle Rohl 57 broke that record at the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Lexington KY last summer when she clocked 4:56.7. Because the Outdoor records posted at have not yet been updated with that result, it may be that the posted records are updated with a lag. The Indoor Mile Record is listed as being set by Masters Hall of Famer, Kathryn 'Kathy' Martin in 2007 at 5:19.87. 

When the gun sounded the pacer took off and the only one going with her was Rohl. There was no competition for the win; the only question was how fast Rohl would go. Rohl was keeping right on the pacer and, as in the Men's Elite 1 section, was close enough that the pacer occasionally felt the need to up her pace. Rohl hit the 809-meter mark three seconds under the 2:41 that would signal she was on track to break the posted record. Rohl kept the hammer down all the way to the finish, claiming the win in 5:16.7. 

Michelle Rohl wins the Women's Elite Section and Breaks the 55-59 American Indoor Mile Record at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile

Pending verification and ratification, that is a new American record! 

The battle for 2nd was tight between Jennifer Boerner 40 and Carly Shea 44. Boerner went out faster, covering the first two laps in 1:21.15, enjoying a 3-second lead over Shea. But Shea kept to her game plan, content to go through the 809-meter mark at 2:49.8, still three seconds behind Boerner. But then Shea started to reel in her rival, cutting almost a second and a half off that lead in each of the next two laps. Continuing the acceleration, Shea passed Boerner on that next lap and pulled away ever so slightly on the final lap. Boerner never gave in taking third in a gritty effort. Shea had 2nd in 5:34.03 to Boerner's 5:35.98 for third. 

Carly Shea finishes off her 2nd place effort, with Jennifer Boerner background third in the Women's Elite Section at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile

Jasper was not in contention for the win but had no trouble taking her age division, across the two sections, in 6:10.97. Look for Jasper to go faster later this season; she was rehabbing an injury over the summer and fall and had probably not fully regained her fitness for this race. 

Michelle Rohl 5:16.7     Carly Shea 5:34.03     Jennifer Boerner 5:35.98

The top three Age Graded scores, as reported in the Hartshorne results, are given below; these three were the fastest runners for their age. Rohl's age graded is, essentially, 'World Best' equivalent for her age. Jasper's is World Class and Chiti's high National Class. Amy McMahon and Alison Schwalm also turned in National Class efforts.

Michelle Rohl 100.81%     Lorraine Jasper 6:10.97 92.33%     Melissa Chiti 57 6:03.06 87.93%


Section 2, Neil Coffey 61, one of the younger runners in the section, took the win in 6:02.69. Spider Rossiter 71, one of the older runners, finished 2nd. Rossiter kept the suspense up through 5 laps; he was never more than 2-3 seconds back, within striking distance. But Coffey pulled slightly further ahead over the next two laps and won with a lead of over 6 seconds. Rossiter took 2nd place time with a cushion of 11 seconds. Needless to say, Rossiter had the edge on age-grading, 82.40%, the highest age grade by far in the section, and a National Class effort.

Neil Coffey 6:02.69     Spider Rossiter 6:09.09     Gary Passamonte 66 6:20.23

Section 2 Age-Grading: Spider Rossiter 82.40%   David Williams 71 6:29.30 78.12%   Ted Larison 70 6:34.28 77.14%

Section 1 Damian Clemons 48 took it out hard, hitting the 409 meter mark in 1:20, with a gap of almost two seconds to the closest competitor, Mike Middendorf 50. Clemons looked good through the next lap but toward the end of the 4th lap, Middendorf was noticeably closer. Middendorf played the waiting game over the next two laps, content to ride along right behind Clemons. He made the classic Miler's move on the 7th lap, passing Clemons at speed and put almost three seconds between the two of them. He had another gear for the last lap as he sped to a ten second victory. 

Mike Middendorf pulls away from the field to take the win in the Men's Section 1 Race at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile 

Clemons, however, was not the 2nd place finisher. While the duel up front was taking place, Keith Eggleston 63, Steven Vanek 51, and Robert White 53 were lurking in the background. At the 809-meter mark, Eggleston was in 3rd, seven seconds back from Middendorf, and 7 seconds ahead of Vanek and White. Things started to happen over the next two laps. White accelerated on lap 5 to cut Eggleston's lead to three seconds and on the 6th, moved up almost even with Eggleston. Vanek had been slow to react in lap 5 but was clipping along well on lap 6, four seconds behind White. Vanek threw in a sub-40 7th lap, passing Eggleston and White, and trying to put a gap on them. But both held on, giving up just fractions of a second. Into the last lap, all three had their sights set on Clemons up ahead. White had the biggest head of steam and burst past Clemons and took 2nd in 5:45.36. As Clemons headed toward the finish line, Eggleston and Vanek were barreling down on him. Clemons, spent from his duel with Middendorf, had nothing left to fight them off. Both passed him, Eggleston getting the third place by 0.4 seconds over Vanek. Clemons took 5th; there was less than a 0.6 second spread from 3rd to 5th-close!

Mike Middendorf 5:38.21     Robert White 5:45.36     Keith Eggleston 5:48.39

Section 1 Age-GradingKeith Eggleston 79.44%     Mike Middendorf 75.25%     Robert Swizdor 57 5:53.66 74.98%

Elite Section 2 Although there were no team races, this section had two GVH athletes, Mike Nier 58 and Joe Mora 61. When the gun sounded, the two of them took off; Nier took the lead and Mora settled in behind him. Nier went through the 409-meter mark at 1:17.68; Mora was right on him, followed by James Derick 57 and Tristan Lambert 46 in close order. Nothing changed through 4 laps and into lap 5. But Derick sensed that Mora was allowing a bit of space to develop between him and Nier; Derick decided to pass Mora and fill that gap. On lap 6, Derick continued to accelerate, closing the gap to Nier to less than half a second. At the end of lap 7, Derick closed the gap to just 0.2 seconds and it was looking like the classic miler's catch and pass on the last lap. But if so, no one told Nier, who accelerated at just the right point to fight Derick off to the final turn. Coming off the final turn, Derick made one last move, but Nier had the answer, taking a thrilling win, with Derick in second, less than a second back! 

Mora fought off the challenge from Lambert, taking third place with a cushion of almost 2 seconds.

Unlike the other sections, the top 3 finishers had the top 3 age grades, although in reverse order. Mora had almost 2 percentage points on Nier, with Derrick a fifth of a percentage point back. 

Joe Mora finishing ahead of Tristan Lambert for third -Mora had the highest Age Grade in the in the Men's Elite Section 2 race at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile 

All three had high National Class times. Derick Staley 64 5:29.80 83.92% was the 4th athlete in the section to score above 80%.

Mike Nier 5:02.47     James Derick 5:03.25     Joe Mora 5:09.08

Elite Section 2 Age-Grading: Joe Mora 89.54%   Mike Nier 87.66%   James Derick 87.44%

Elite Section 1 This was the fastest of the evening. Jaret Herter 41 went to the front of the pack, right behind the pacer; the field strung out behind him, some single file, some two-a-breast. And that's the way it looked for the first few laps. Just before they hit the 809 meter mark, Herter started pressing just a bit and started to open up a gap; the pacer noticed Herter up on his heels and raised the pace. That next lap. Herter was right up on the pacer but the rest of the field allowed a 5-meter gap to emerge. They were unable or unwilling to match that pace at that stage of the race. The end of the 5th lap saw a gap of 10 meters. Herter was not kicking away so much as slowly 'turning the screw', building a lead, meter by meter. No one mounted a late surge that came close to threatening Herter. He won the race in 4:41.6 with over thirty meters of cushion, a tour de force

Jaret Herter takes the Win in the Men's Elite Section 1 with dozens of meters to spare at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile 

The race for the other two spots on the podium, in contrast, was tightly contested. Mark Williams 50 took the 2nd spot behind Herter for the first couple of laps. At the beginning of the third lap, Chuck Terry 40 passed and edged ahead of Williams. At the start of the 4th lap, Scott Weeks 50 pushed past Williams; on the backstretch, Mark Walchinsky 43 jumped into contention behind Weeks. James Coates 43 and George Young 41 were behind Williams, in that order. Weeks passed Terry right before the 1009 meter mark, with Walchinsky following closely and passing right after they entered the 6th lap. Walchinsky pushed ahead into 2nd on the backstretch just before the, but Weeks held on. As they passed the 1209 mark and hit the backstretch on the 7th lap, it looked like things might stay that way. Herter was well ahead, but Walchinsky was moving well, with a small gap to Weeks who was neither closing nor losing ground to any chasers. When the bell sounded, it was the three W's behind Herter, Walchinsky, Weeks, and Williams, just seconds apart. But Young had begun to move, with Coates trying to hang on. When they hit the head of the backstretch, Young launched himself past Williams, taking aim at Walchinsky! Walchinsky was finishing well and did not appear to anticipate anyone closing on him. With 20 meters to go he glanced to the side, became aware of Young in full sprint mode. By the time he tried to kick it up a gear, it was too late. Young took 2nd, with Walchinsky a few hundredths of a second back in 3rd. Coates could not quite get there, finishing 4th in 4:49.70.

Age-grading: Weeks and Williams, in the hunt for the win, came up short on the final lap, but managed the top age grades, both high National Class times; 

Scott Weeks #6 leading Mark Williams #3 in the Men's Elite Section 1 Race-They had the highest Age Grade scores in the section-at the Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile 

Herter not only won the race, he had the third best age grade in the section, with a National Class time.

Jaret Herter 4:41.60      George Young 4:48.44     Mark Walchinsky 4:48.59

Elite Section 1 Age-Grading: Scott Weeks 4:51.76 87.23%     Mark Williams 4:52.72 86.94%     Jaret Herter 83.64% 

As usual, it was an exciting and fulfilling day of Masters racing at Cornell's Barton Hall in Ithaca, NY. Next year will be the 55th running of the Masters Mile at Ithaca! Get it on your calendar. If you want to participate in this special event next year, I am sure Meet Director, Adam Engst [], would love to hear from you.