February 4, 2023 The 2023 edition of the USATF Cross Country Championships took place at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, VA, just outside of Richmond. Despite the usual worries about dire running weather in mid-January, the January 21st event enjoyed very good conditions. With little precipitation in the run up to the event, clear skies and low 40's temperatures, the Masters athletes would enjoy fine Cross Country conditions. For those who like their cross country races uncomplicated, it scored there too. It was 4 x 2-Km loops around a huge field, with some undulations but no real hills, just one very short rise, and a couple of moderate down and up-slopes, The earlier post focused on the overall Championships and the winners who received funding to compete for the USA at the upcoming World Masters Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia February 18-19. This recap turns first to the 5-Year Age Division Championships, then the Age Grading Championships and, finally, the 10-Year Team Division Championships
AGE DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS Men 40-44 Bruce, McDonagh, and Pruitt who finished 1-2-3 overall came from this division. See January 28 Recap. 45-49 This division had a star-studded cast, not only David Angell Blacksburg Striders, Brock Butler Greater Philly, Jason Holroyd Greater Philly, Jacques Sallberg Cal Coast, and Mike Wardian Unattached, mentioned in the overall section, but also Matthew Wagoner who was the #3 in Greater Philadelphia's 1-2-3 sweep of the Masters 12 Km Overall Championship in 2021.As noted above, Sallberg let Angell run with a couple of M40 runners about 20 meters ahead through the first loop. Holroyd and Butler were single file behind Sallberg, with a ten-meter gap to a pack Wagoner was leading, which included Wardian. Angell hit the 4K split in 13:23 with a 25-meter lead on Sallberg.
|Sandwiched between John Gagliardi 43 #448 and Charlie Ban 40 #434, David Angell black headband leads the 45-49 Division at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA
Holroyd was still tracking Sallberg but Butler and Wardian were now running side by side some 40 meters further back. Wagoner was now 25 meters behind but trying to keep in contact with Butler for team points. The third loop saw more of the same except that Sallberg had perhaps narrowed the gap up to Angell by a couple of meters. Holroyd had to fall back, now trailing Sallberg by 50 meters. It was almost 50 meters back from Holroyd to Wardian, with another 40 meters on top of that back to the Greater Philly duo. Sallberg was not leaving anything to the last minute. He moved past Angell in the first half of the last loop and had 15 meters on him by the 7 Km split. Holroyd was now 70 meters behind Angell in 3rd; his division bronze was pretty solid as it was 80 meters back to his teammate, Wagoner. Sallberg tried to catch Burns for 3rd overall; he did not manage that but did put over 70 meters between him and Angell as he stormed to the division victory!
|Ene-Of-Loop-1 45-49 Chase Pack-From Left: Jacques Sallberg, eventual 45-49 winner, Jason Holroyd and Ryan Carroll 40-44 with Brock Butler a few strides back at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Angell had put a lot of energy out in those early loops but hung on gutsily; Holroyd took 4 seconds out of Angell's lead in the last kilometer, but Angell still had a good 50 meters on Holroyd as he claimed the Silver Medal. Holroyd took the bronze! Wagoner took 4 seconds out of Wardian's 8-second lead in the first half of the last loop but could only take 1 more second the rest of the way home: Wardian 4th 27:29 Wagoner 5th 27:32. Butler was 8 seconds back in 6th. Sallberg reminded everyone of what a fast closer he can be. Angell was disappointed to lose the lead to Sallberg but was happy with his race. "Everything that's been hurting will hurt tomorrow, but today everything held together!"
Jacques Sallberg 26:43 David
Angell 26:58 Jason Holroyd 27:09
50-54 Ahrlin Bauman Bowerman TC and Philippe Rolly Unattached merited mention in the Overall preview. Bauman has been one of the top runners in the 40+ Bowerman train for years. He was Bowerman's 2nd runner across the line and 9th Overall in 2013 when Clubs were in Bend OR. Nine years later at Golden Gate Park, he was Bowerman's 5th runner across the line, and 52nd across the line overall at age 49. At age 50, he and twin brother, Oscar Bauman Bowerman, perhaps on a lark, were in Richmond to compete as individuals. Or perhaps to let the world know that the Bowerman 50+ team will shortly be a force. John Howell, Greg Mitchell, and Orin Schumacher will all turn 50 before Club Cross 2023 in Tallahassee. None of the latter three were competing in Richmond with the Bauman brothers. O. Bauman was also part of the 40+ train but usually a few paces behind his brother; whether due to injury or other reasons, he has not participated at Club Cross since the Lexington Championships in 2017. Subsequent references in this article to Bauman are to A. Bauman unless otherwise specified.
Age Division preview for more details, but Rolly was a threat for the overall
podium at every national championship road race he entered from 2015 to 2019,
winning Gold at the 2018 USATF Masters 15 Km Championships in Tulsa OK. Bauman and Rolly have met at three Club Cross Country Championships with Bauman
ahead 2-1; only 14 seconds separates their cumulative times from those three
championships. Bauman ran well at Club Cross in San Francisco six weeks before
the Richmond championships. Rolly has not competed in cross country but ran
2:37:42 at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and 54:19 at the Army Ten
Miler. Tim Harte Greater Philly is very strong but probably not as strong as
Bauman and Rolly. He was a minute behind Bauman at Tallahassee in 2021. Harte
also clocked a 56:21 ten miler at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run in
Philadelphia. Steve Bell Atlanta TC finished 4th in the division at both
the 5 Km and 10 Km Masters national road championships in 2022, clocking 17:42
in Atlanta and 34:19 in Dedham, MA. Perhaps Bell had an off day in Tallahassee
in December 2021 when he finished 32nd in M50, over 2.5 minutes behind Bauman.
Bell was closer at San Francisco this past December, finishing 16th in the
division, a few ticks under two minutes behind Baumann.
The top runners moved to the front and some of the runners in this division found each other. When they passed the 1st 1 Km split, Baumann, Rolly and Siemers were running together, crossing the mat in 3:19, with Schumann a stride back. Lomogda and Bell were 15 meters back from Schumann, with Harte a few strides back.
|50-54 Lead Pack + 1 -From Left: Philippe Rolly, Ahrlin Bauman, Matt Wagoner 45 #473, Mike Wardian, and Art Siemers at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
As they passed the 2 K split mat, Bauman and Rolly had a couple of strides on Siemers. It was now 40 meters back to the chasers. Harte had moved up, now running even with Schumann. Bell and Lomogda were 10-15 meters behind Schumann. Bauman pushed over the next loop, realizing a 40-meter lead over Rolly by the 4 Km split. Harte and Siemers were running in tandem, over 60 meters behind Rolly. Forty to fifty meters further back, Lomogda and Bell were battling, with Lomogda having a couple of strides on Bell. The third loop saw Rolly come back towards Bauman; there was now just 10-15 meters between them heading into the final 2 Km! Harte had a 40-meter gap on Siemers in the race for the Bronze medal. Bauman kept up his cadence; Rolly pushed for all he was worth! In the end Bauman held Rolly off, taking 1st in the division by a single second, in 27:28! Harte earned the Bronze medal, closing it out at 28:07 with a 19 second edge over Siemers. Bell moved past Lomogda and Schumann to take 5th in 28:35. Lomogda was ten seconds back in 6th, with Schumann 7th. Bauman and Rolly had another epic battle. Unless there are national cross country championships where these two met that I do not know about, Bauman now has a 3-1 edge, and the difference between their cumulative times in those 4 races is a mere 15 seconds.
Ahrlin Bauman 27:28 Philippe Rolly 27:29 Tim Harte 28:07
55-59 Key contenders in this division included Christian Cushing-Murray Cal Coast, Mark Hixson Greater Springfield Harriers, Mike Nahom Greater Springfield, and Dean Thompson Chattanooga TC. Cushing-Murray loves the sport, the thrill of competition, and the camaraderie that goes with it. How many other sub-4 minute milers are still competing at this high a level nationally? Cushing-Murray took the Masters 5 Km 50-54 Championship at Atlanta last February in 16:42 and ran 15 seconds faster at Carlsbad 3 months later. Cushing-Murray finished 4th in 55-59 at Clubs in San Francisco and would be looking to improve on that in Richmond. Some of Cushing-Murray's best XC outings have been at Cross Nationals. In 2018 he finished 2nd to Kent Lemme [taking a break now from competing nationally] but came back the next year to win the Age Division while finishing 5th overall. No one in the division can match Cushing-Murray's speed; he is often in the overall lead at a hundred meters before settling into cruising pace. Hixson and Cushing-Murray are not strangers. In 2018, Cushing-Murray edged Hixson for 2nd in the division, by a single second. Hixson did not compete in 2019; his next Cross Nationals competition was at the Mission Bay course in San Diego where he finished 4th in the 50-54 division, a good 20 seconds back from Cushing-Murray. Cushing-Murray has not had it his way always. At Lehigh in 2019, Hixson edged Cushing-Murray by 6 seconds. Nahom, Hixson's teammate, edged Cushing-Murray by 2 seconds for 4th at Clubs in Spokane, with Hixson a half minute back, and Thompson a minute further back. Cushing-Murray, Hixson and Nahom have all beaten Thompson, but at Tallahassee Clubs in December 2021, Thompson finished 3rd in 55-59, a half minute ahead of Cushing-Murray, with Hixson further back. Nahom, competing in 50-54, finished 20 seconds ahead of Thompson.
Cushing-Murray may have been well ahead of the rest of the division at the 100-meter mark but by the 1st Km split, he and Thompson were running together in a large pack, with Nahom 4 seconds back, and Hixson another 7 seconds back. Hixson was in sight but had some work to do if he was to stay in contact.
By the time they crossed the mat at 2 km and headed back out for the 2nd loop, Cushing-Murray had 10-15 meters on Thompson, with Nahom another 10-12 meters back and closing. Hixson, 60 meters further back, had lost contact with the leaders. Cushing-Murray was still leading the division at the end of the 2nd loop but now it was Nahom in 2nd, trying to close from 20 meters back. Nahom had 50 meters on Thompson and was not looking back. Nahom closed to within a second of Cushing-Murray over the next kilometer and then passed with conviction shortly thereafter. After another kilometer Nahom was heading onto the last loop with a lead of more than 50 meters. With 150 meters over Thompson, Cushing-Murray had no worries about holding onto 2nd, but first place was speeding away. Hixson had closed to within 50 meters and is known as a strong closer, but 50 meters is a lot of ground to make up in a 2 Km loop without challenging terrain. Nahom left nothing to chance, speeding around the last loop with his fastest split of the day, 6:55! That gave him the win in 28:29, with Cushing-Murray second 28 seconds back.
Thompson rallied and held off Hixson, taking third in 29:40, 11 seconds ahead of Hixson. It was a terrific win for Nahom, biding his time until he was ready to strike and then doing so smartly and moving away for the win! But if history is any guide, Nahom will have his work cut out for him if he wishes to defend the title next year.
It was not a fight for the division title and had more to do with the team contest, no doubt, but there was a terrific race going on behind the leaders. Ryan Shrum Chattanooga , Alejandro Heuck Greater Springfield, and Dale Flanders Genesee Valley Harriers, finished within 2 seconds of each other. Shrum held onto 5th, with Heuck getting 6th with a dip at the finish line, fractions of a second ahead of Flanders. Heuck's teammate, Francis Burdett, had been running with Heuck but could not match the acceleration over the last kilometer, finishing 9 seconds back.
Mike Nahom 28:29 Christian Cushing-Murray 28:57 Dean Thompson 29:40
60-64 Three of the top four 60-64 athletes from San Francisco were back to contest another cross country championship, this one without wind and rain. Nat Larson Greater Springfield, Rick Lee Shore AC, and John Van Danacker TC Running. Larson and Van Danacker have been chasing each other around cross country courses at least since 2017 at Lexington KY. Larson had the honors that day as at most cross country events, winning the 55-59 race over 10 Km in 34:13. Lee joined the XC crew for the first time at Tallahassee last year, over 8K in the 60+ race. Larson started winning USATF National championships again last year at the Half Marathon in Syracuse and has not stopped yet. Along the way he set two 60-64 American Records on the roads, 5K 16:35 and 8K 27:35, and collected a Silver medal in the 10 Km at Worlds. Not a bad year. He entered a heavy favorite but had strong competition. Van Danacker could take comfort, perhaps, from coming in 20 seconds ahead of Larson in December 2021 at Tallahassee Clubs, but Larson was not as fit then and had trouble with the warmth and humidity. Larson wouold take nothinng for granted, nor would Van Danacker. At Tallahassee, Lee was the newbie. Some felt, in his exuberance, that he went out too fast and paid the price at the end, when a half dozen runners passed him in the closing stretches. He had no such problem at San Francisco this past December. He had a 6-second advantage on Van Danacker with 3 Km to go and had the same advantage at the finish line, taking 3rd place to Van Danacker's 4th. With that outcome fresh in his mind, Van Danacker would, no doubt, be planning on having a lead on Lee this time by 5 Km, with 3 Km to go. Whether they could do anything about Larson was anyone's guess--no overly warm conditions to help them out this time around.
Larson moved well in the early going and, at the 1 km split, already had 25-meters on Lee and Van Danacker, running in tandem. Ten to fifteen meters back from that duo was a trio of competitors, Lee's teammate, Henry Notaro, Mark Neff Shadow Project TC, and Tim Ensign Chattanooga TC. Lee and Notaro met at the Boston Marathon and next thing you knew, there was Notaro running for Shore. He finished 3rd at the Road Mile championships in Rochester and 2nd in 44:19 at the 12 K Championships by the Jersey Shore. Notaro had his XC national championships baptism of fire at Clubs in San Francisco. Like Lee the year before, he lost 5 places over the last 3 kilometers. Neff had been a couple of minutes behind Notaro at the 12K on another warm, sunny day but, arguably, might be faster on the turf. He finished 11th at the Club Cross Championships at Lehigh against a packed field. Ensign was 10 seconds behind Neff. Neither was at Golden Gate Park last December. Lester Dragstedt Atlanta was biding his time, finding his rhythm another 25 meters back from that trio. Dragstedt, returning to Masters national competition after a short break, was still fairly new to the 60-64 division; he finished a good minute and a half behind Notaro at Clubs. The order stayed the same over the next kilometer. Heading out onto the 2nd loop, Larson had over 50 meters on Van Danacker, who had now created a 15-20 meter gap between him and Lee. The trio was 70 meters back from Lee, with Neff and Ensign tracking Notaro. Dragstedt was another 60 meters back. The big change over the next loop was that Neff moved past Notaro with Ensign following. Neff had 25 meters on Ensign; Notaro was gamely holding onto Ensign, just a stride back. Dragstedt was well over a hundred meters back from that struggle. Over the next loop, Larson continued to build his overall lead, as did Van Danacker. Larson had close to 150 meters on Van Danacker and Van Danacker had 70 meters on Lee. Neff had pulled away from Ensing. Notaro had kept up the good fight but now found himself well astern of Ensign. Dragstedt had picked up his pace on that loop but was still over 60 meters behind Notaro. There was only oone surprise on the last loop. Dragstedt kept increasing his pace; he ran the last loop twenty seconds faster, catching Notaro, and pulling away over the final stretch to take 6th in the division by 6 seconds.
Larson won another cross country championship, but Van Danacker had kept the gap to under a minute. There is a reason why Larson has been named Male Harier of the Year three times! Lee was a half-minute back in 3rd, followed by Neff in 4th at 30:34, Ensign 5th at 31:16, and Dragstedt 6th at 31:32.
65-69 Ken Youngers Atlanta came out of the covid interrupt0ion in good health and fitness. He captured t1he American 65-69 12K Record in September and followed that up with a 65-69 win at Franklin Park in Boston over 5 Km of turf. He and David Westenberg Greater Lowell, one of his chief competitors, ran in the 8Km race, but in different divisions. Youngers finished 47 seconds ahead of Westenberg in that race. An injury kept Youngers away for a couple of months, but he made an appearance at the 5 Km in Atlanta, finishing 2nd to the incomparable Jacob Nur in 18:07. By Dedham he was back at full capacity, his 37:48 setting a 65-69 course record in the 10K. After a good outing at the Road Mile, Youngers needed another break to address some injury issues. He was not at San Francisco. For Richmond, Youngers indicated he would primarily be running for the team prize. But with a strong runner like Youngers you never know, once he is out on the course. He might wind up going for the win! Westenberg was definitely at San Francisco and, like Youngers at the 10 K road championship, finished 2nd to the currently unbeatable Nur. Westenberg was at the top of his game then. He broke the American 65-69 Indoor Record for the Mile in early December with a 5:10.61. Primarily a track guy, he broke onto the road portion of the Grand Prix circuit with a 60-64 win at the 2019 Masters Road Mile Championship in Flint. In 2022, he added the 10 Km to his repertoire, finishing 6th in 60-64, at age 64, at the Masters Championship in Dedham, clocking a fine 38:12, just 24 seconds slower than Youngers. Timothy Conheady Greater1 Philly had a very nice outing at the Clubs in Lehigh where he finished 8th in 60-64. Neither Youngers nor Westenberg contested that event. Two years later, Conheady ran at Tallahassee but had a tougher day, finishing 18th in 60-64. He clocked 5 sub-20 5K's in 2022 and a 39:50 10K in November. He is definitely dangerous on the turf. Pete Gibson Colonial Road Runners returns from a short absence while he was recovering from some issues. In 2017 he got outkicked for the 60-64 podium, clocking 30:14 at the0 Masters 8 Km national road championships in Virginia Beach. He clocked three sub-20 5K's himself last year and added two 10K's just over the 40-minute mark. Robert Reynolds Greater Philly was also in the field; he finished a minute and a half behind Conheady at Lehigh. He finished 3rd in the division at the 12 Km Championships in Highlands NJ three months earlier in 50:52; that time is roughly equivalent to a 41:54 10K.
When the gun sounded, Westenberg got off the line quickly as Milers tend to do. He transitioned nicely when they headed around the first curve. By the time they crossed the 1 Km mat in the middle of the loop, he had a good 30 meters on Youngers. Gibson was just 15 meters back, with Conheady ten meters behind him. Reynolds was another twenty meters back in 5th. Over t0he rest of the first loop, Westenberg stretched his lead over Youngers to 40 meters. Youngers was not keeping pace with Westenberg but was adding distance to the chasers, now leading them by over 50 meters. Conheady and Gibson were running in tandem 60 meters or so ahead of Reynolds. The 2nd 2-km loop was decisive for the podium as Conheady pulled away to a 60-meter lead over Gibson; Westenberg's lead over Youngers ballooned to the same distance.
|David Westenberg Greater Lowell singlet, running with 40's runners, about 40 meters ahead of the rest of his 65-69 division at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Gibson was still well ahead of Reynolds and increasing the gap. Youngers not being at full fitness started to show more on the 3rd loop; Conheady cut slightly into the gap, reducing it to back under 100 meters. Conheady was able to cut another 40-45 meters off of the Youngers lead on the final loop, but it was not enough. Westenberg had no trouble, taking the win in 31:27. Youngers0 was almost a minute back in 2nd, with Conheady just 12 seconds back in 3rd. He had over a minute on Gibson who claimed 4th in 33:45. It was good to see Gibson out there competing at a high level at a national championship again. Reynolds took 5th in 34:52. Westenberg enjoyed his first National Masters win on the turf!
70-74 The top 3 contenders were expected to be: Doug Bell Boulder Road Runners, Gene Dykes Greater Philly, and Robert Qualls Unattached.
Qualls was a heavy favorite. Ever since the middle of the year when he returned from World's with a ton of medals, he has been unbeatable. On the turf he had impressive wins at Boulder and San Francisco. He was even able to beat Dykes at the 12 Km, a distance many would expect to favor Dykes. Admittedly, Dykes did not have the same relative fitness in 2022 that he had in 2018 and 2019 when he was unbeatable at every road distance from 5K to the Marathon and beyond. Dykes had some impressive results at Masters National Championships last year, including wins in the Half Marathon and 10 Mile, while still recovering fitness from ups and downs over the previous year and a half. Dykes had health issues which were diagnosed late in the year, with treatment beginning at that time. Dykes was able to clock 1:31:47 in the Naples Half Marathon on January 15th, one of his best results in months. Dykes excels at marathons and ultras, but he is still a formidable competitor on the turf. He won the 70-74 Masters 5 Km XC Championships in 2018 and finished 2nd at the highly competitive Club Cross Championships in Lehigh.
Bell, like Dykes, has had an up and down last couple of years. When all is good, he is definitely a threat for the win. He won at Tallahassee in 2021. Last October he finished 2nd to Qualls at the Masters0 5Km Championships in Boulder but he was over 2:00 behind Qualls. In San Francisco it was a different story. Whether the terrible weather affected Bell more, or for some other reason, he finished over 6 minutes behind Qualls in 19th. Dykes did not finish that much better, two minutes ahead of Bell in 14th. One of their competitors in Richmond, Eugene Myers Potomac Valley finished 6th, well over a minute ahead of Dykes. He also came in ahead of Dykes at Boulder, although behind him at the 12 km road Championships. Douglas Chesnut Boulder Road Runners ran 46:24 at the Bolder Boulder 10K in May. That is worth mentioning because it is at altitude and is a challenging course. And then he ran a 22:20 at the Colder Boulder 5K in December. He could factor in the race. John Kilduff Shore AC finished 13th at 2019 Clubs at Lehigh, finishing three seconds behind Kirk Larson Atlanta. Larson competed at San Francisco after skipping a number of Championships. Larson also had some injury issues last year but is healthy now. He finished 21st in San Francisco, behind Bell.
Qualls took off like he expected to win; he hit the 1 Km mat at 3:51, running with the 60's guys, and already was 80 meters ahead of everyone else in his division. Myers was leading the rest of the field at 4:16, with Dykes a couple of strides back, followed closely by David Anderson Greater Philly, Chesnut and Larson, with Kilduff 20 meters back. The whereabouts of Bell and Katz is unclear; their chips were apparently not registering their split times. From Mike Scott's photos we can place them fairly accurately for the 2 km split at the end of the first loop as there are pics at the 1.8 km point, more or less, along the course. Qualls was running with 60's and 50's competitors over 125 meters ahead of the division.
|Robert Qualls USA singlet running in a pack of 60's and 50's runners well ahead of the rest of the field in his 70-74 division at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Bell came next, with Myers a few strides back, and Dykes another couple of strides back. Then came Chesnut, Larson and Anderson in 5th-6th-7th. Kilduff was 10-15 meters back from Anderson, with Katz a bit further back. All were within striking distance of the podium. By the end of the next loop Qualls had a gap on the field of over 200 meters. The only other change was that Chesnut came up even with Dykes; they were probably in a tie for 3rd behind Bell in 2nd (no more photos, so guesswork).
|Doug Bell #601 running 2nd in M70, next to 60's runner, Stephen Chantry. Eugene Myers green singlet a few runners back in 3rd M70 at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Qualls went from strength to strength and was never headed, winning, eventually, by well over 300 meters in a sizzling 34:08! Bell apparently kept toiling away in 2nd, not able to gain on Qualls, but staying just ahead of the field. Dykes shook Chesnut on the third lap; Chesnut did not shake off easily, tracking Dykes only 20 meters back. Dykes was able to turn up the pace quite a bit on the last loop but Bell had the answer and wound up in 2nd, three seconds ahead of Dykes. Chesnut was 4th, 19 seconds behind Dykes. Kilduff had started conservatively but moved up a place each loop and finished 5th at 36:55. Myers kept Larson at bay, edging him for 6th, 37:09 to 37:10. He was followed by Anderson and Katz.
Robert Qualls 34:08 Doug Bell 35:46 Gene Dykes 35:49
75-79 Dave Glass has been unbeatable on the roads at distances 10 Km and above since 2021. He has also done exceptionally well on the turf but is not unbeatable. He and Gary Ostwald have had quite a rivalry on the turf. In October 2021 in Boston, Glass had the honors over 5 Km of turf, winning in 23:41, with Ostwald in 4th, 54 seconds back. In San Diego it was closer, and the order was reversed, Ostwald 3rd in 41:08 over 8 Km with Glass 5th just 12 seconds back. Last October 22, Glass went up to the 5 Km XC Championships at altitude in Boulder, thinking he would be doing well to hold onto 2nd place. He surprised many, including hmself when he won that one in 23:57, with Ostwald in 2nd, 45 seconds back. It looked like Glass had maybe turned the corner with Ostwald. They learned differently at San Francisco in the Club Cross Championships in December over 8 km. Ostwald had a good first 5 Km, running in 4th but only a half-minute behind the leader, the great Cross Country runner, Ron Wells. Ostwald ran an incredible negative split in that race, chasing down strong cross country runners, Don Porteous and David Longmuir on the way to nipping Wells at the finish line by a half second! Glass moved up as well but could not match Ostwald's acceleration; he moved up from 6th to 4th, finishing 50 seconds behind Ostwald. In head-to-head matchups on the turf, they each had 2 wins going into Richmond. This would give one of them the edge, at least for now. Others who might impact the podium included Jim May and Keith Yeates. May and Yeates have been running consistently well all year, typically winding up just off the division podium. May finished 5th M75 in Boston, ten seconds back from Ostwald, with Yeates 6th in M70, ten seconds further back. Yeates was 4th with May 5th at Boulder. May skipped San Francisco but Yeates took 7th. Yours truly, Paul Carlin, has been gradually coming back all year from missing 6 months of training in 2021 to an Achilles injury. I have done better on the roads than the turf although at my first national X+C Championships, the 5 Km in Carmel IN in 2014, I came in 2nd just ahead of May. That was probably the last time I beat him on the turf. More recently I was way back at Boulder; I did not handle the altitude well at all. San Francisco was better; I finished middle of the pack, 8th of 16, but over two minutes behind Yeates. My training had been going well but it would be a lot of ground to make up in just six weeks.
Glass started off smartly as he does, leading the field around the first loop in 9:28, with May on his heels, Yeates a couple of strides back and Ostwald.
The next loop saw Glass building his lead. Hitting the 4 km split at 19:09, he had a 40-meter lead on Ostwald, who now had a 20-meter lead on May and Yeates. The next loop saw Ostwald cut Glass's lead from 40 meters to 25. Glass did not slow much, but Ostwald accelerated. Once they got onto the final loop, Ostwald waited for the right time, cutting Glass's lead down to just ten meters by the 7 km mat. When they had about 200 meters to go, Ostwald accelerated and pulled past and roared up the hill and away from Glass. Ostwald took the win in 38:05, with Glass in 2nd just 5 seconds back.
|Gary Ostwald #618 kicked away from his rival, Dave Glass red singlet-background to win the 75-79 Division at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Rick Lee & Teammates
Yeates had pulled away from his teammate, claiming the Bronze medal in 39:33. May was 4th 58 seconds back.
I was already well back in 5th after the first loop and played no role in the battle for the podium. I finished 5th in M75 but also had the satisfaction of being the 3rd scoring runner for the Ann Arbor 60+ team, helping them to a 6th place finish, just ahead of the Genesee Valley Harriers. I also could take some satisfaction in taking 26 seconds out of May's lead over the last 4 km of the race. He still beat me by a ton, though, 1:11.
It was another thrilling duel between these two great competitors, Ostwald and Glass. Ostwald has the turf honors now, 3-2 in head-to-head matchups. But will Glass pull even again later this year at the 5 Km XC at Boca Raton? Time will tell. In the meantime, Glass will enjoy turning to the roads. He ran in every Masters LDR Championship last year and won most of them! Will he again?
Gary Ostwald 38:05 Dave Glass 38:10 Keith Yeates 39:33
80-84 Ed Bligh Atlanta had the division to himself. He was the oldest finisher, clocking 47:25 for the win. He was not the last finisher, an added accomplishment for the oldest athlete on the course. Adding these 100 points to his bronze medal 90 points from San Francisco, Bligh has a commanding lead already in the Masters National Grand Prix competition.
Ed Bligh 47:25
AGE DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS Women 40-44 April Lund GYS TC, Brett Ely Notch Brewing, and Kara Rubinich Greater Philly finished 1-4-5 Overall. The January 28 Recap covers that race which applies to this division as well.
45-49 Brennan Liming Bull City TC was chasing after Lund for the Overall win, finishing 2nd. That gave her the win in this division at the same time. Kimberly Dietrick Greater Philly, Hiroko Guarneri Atlanta, and Catherine Moore Unattached, vied for the remaining two podium spots. Dietrick finished 6th at the 12 Km Championships in Highlands, NJ in mid-September, with a 54:04, equivalent to a 44:40 10K. She had a better outing over 8.4 miles three months later, with a time that equates to a 43:36 10K. Guarneri is a regular competitor at national Championships, running for Atlanta's 40+ team. She finished 5th at the 10 km Championships in Dedham with a 48:01. She finished 9th in the Division at the 2021 Clubs Championships at Tallahassee. Moore had a 1:39:44 HM and a 1:04:28 15K to her credit, the latter roughly equivalent to a 42:04 10K.to her credit. The first loop turned out to be decisive for the Silver Medal. Moore could not keep pace with Liming but had no apparent trouble putting a gap of well over a hundred meters on Dietrick. Guarneri was tracking Dietrick 30 meters back so there was no decisive break yet. Moore extended her lead on each of the last 2 loops to close out her 2nd place finish over 6 Km at 25:24. The 2nd loop saw Dietrick extend her lead over Guarneri from 30 meters to over a hundred. Dietrick and Guarneri both picked up their pace over the final loop, with Dietrick claiming the bronze medal, and Guarneri in 4th, 52 seconds out of 3rd.
As far as I can tell, this was Liming's first Cross Nationals. She did well at Clubs in Lexington and at Lehigh, but this was her best showing. She will, no doubt., be back next year to defend her division title and she tries for an Overall win. Moore had an excellent day as an unattached runner; no doubt some teams will try to recruit her.
Brennan Liming 22:42 Catherine Moore 25:24 Kimberly Dietrick 27:25
50-54 Ordinarily Abby Dean Greater Philly would have been the favorite. She won the 50-54 10K Championship at Dedham with a sparkling 38:01 and claimed 1st at the 12 Km on a tough, warm day in 46:42. At 2021 Clubs in Tallahassee, she was 4th in the division. As noted in the final recap, Dean apparently suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks back, had a PRP shot and had only resumed training a couple of weeks ago. Dean is such a strong runner that one still could not rule her out of winning but it seemed a daunting task. It did make for a more intriguing race. Others in the hunt for a win included Samantha Forde Impala Racing, Patricia Heppelman Greater Philly, Brenda Hodge Pike Creek Valley RC and Alysia Puma Shore AC. Forde finished 2nd to Dean at the 12 Km Championships, 3 minutes back, and finished 4th in 45-49 at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, clocking a 20:22 to Dean's 18:43 win in 50-54. Forde finished 6th at Boulder and 14th of 41 at Clubs in San Francisco. She has been rolling on the turf coming into Richmond. None of the athletes finishing ahead of her at either of those championships was entered here. Heppelman finished 4th in 45-49 at Highlands in the 12 Km, over a minute behind Forde in 51:53. She is no slouch; that time is equivalent to a 42:52 10K. Hodge has not competed recently in national championships but she clocked 1:11:03 in the Blue Cross Broad Street run in the spring, equivalent to a 43:07 10K, and ran a 20:52 and a 21:50 5K in November. Puma was a few minutes behind Forde and Heppelman at the 12 Km Championships, but she may not excel in warm conditions. She was closer at Atlanta in February where she finished a minute and change behind Forde, clocking 21:49 in the 5K. When the gun sounded, Forde shot off as if she were going to contend for the Overall win, not to mention the division win. She went over the 2 Km mat at the end of the first of 3 loops in 8:14 with well over a hundred-meter lead on the field. Heppelman was leading the other three contenders by a few strides. Dean was feeling the hamstring or a lack of conditioning, or just being conservative. Time would tell. Things were clearer by the end oof the second loop. Forde had almost doubled her lead, now nearly 200 meters. Heppelman had not dropped Dean, but the gap was now up to over 25 meters. Dean was probably not feeling great, but she had distanced herself from Hodge and Puma, battling for 4th and 5th. Dean had 50 meters on Hodge, but Hodge was just 10-15 meters ahead of Puma. Each would want to come in ahead of the other, not only for the individual place but for their respective teams. Both Hodge and Puma lowered their pace on the final loop but Hodge lowered it more as she powered away from Puma to take 4th in 26:38, with Puma 5th in 27:01. Forde savored the division win in 24:49, her first at a national cross country championship.
|Samantha Forde #402, heading for the 50-54 win, pacing with Jennifer Ledford 40-44 at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Heppelman was over a minute behind Forde but managed to close strongly enough that Dean had no chance to catch her. It was Heppelman by 12 seconds. Dean will need to recover from her hamstring and PRP. The 5 Km in Atlanta may be too soon, but perhaps she can recover in time to compete for the win in that race.
Samantha Forde 24:49 Patricia Heppelman 26:04 Abby Dean 26:16
55-59 Fiona Bayly finished 3rd overall out of this division. Not surprisingly she was over 400 meters ahead of the division field at the finish, winning in 23:10. Suzanne La Burt Shore, Jacalyn Lembo Genesee Valley Harriers, Inge McClory Athletics Boulder, and Darcy Strouse Unattached competed for the remaining podium spots. La Burt, in her last year in the division is still a force to be reckoned with. La Burt took the 10 Km title in 55-59 at Dedham, with a 40:05, and finished 2nd in the division at the 12K. At Tallahassee in 2021, she also took the 55-59 silver medal on the turf. Two sub-20 5K's last year show that La Burt has plenty of speed. Lembo ran a 1:40:01 at the Rochester Half Marathon in 2021 and performed well last fall at the Pete Glavin XC Series that GVH organizes. McClory ran a 1:41:29 at the 2019 Richmond Half Marathon and clocked 52:05 at the Bolder Boulder last spring. On a faster course at lower altitude that might well have been under 50. Strouse ran a 42:30 10K last April and in September challenged herself by running a 1:55:16 Half Marathon on the trails.
Bayly, as noted took the division win, leading wire to wire.
|Fiona Bayly charges up the hill toward the end of Loop 1 on her way to 3rd place overall and 1st in 55-59 at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Bayly had crossed the timing mat at the end of the first loop in 7:35. Forty-eight seconds later, La Burt led the rest of the field across it. She had a 30 -meter lead on Strouse who had a similar margin on Lembo. But McClory was just a couple of strides behind Lembo. In the next kilometer, La Burt doubled her lead to over 60 meters. Strouse did well to hold the gap to that level over the rest of the loop. When La Burt kicked up the pace on the last loop, Strouse did too, but could not match La Burt's acceleration. La Burt claimed the silver medal in 25:12, with Strouse 27 seconds back in 3rd.
|Suzanne La Burt strides up the final hill on her way to the 55-59 Silver Medal at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Rick Lee
In the fight for 4th and 5th, Lembo built her lead to 25 meters by the 3 km mat, and then almost 40 by the end of the 2nd loop. It was still not a decisive lead; McClory was hanging tough and giving herself a chance should Lembo tire. But that did not happen. Lembo took 4th in 26:27, with McClory 13 seconds back in 5th. It was a tour de force for Bayly, but La Burt showed she is on her game as well. Some of the clubs in the region should take notice of Strouse, an unattached runner who runs most of her races in Maryland.
Fiona Bayly 23:10 Suzanne La Burt 25:12 Darcy Strouse 25:39
60-64 The Main contenders were Suzanne Cordes Impala Racing, and the three Greater Philly teammates, Julie Hayden, Doreen McCoubrie, and Mary Swan. These runners know each other as rivals. Cordes finished 3rd at Tallahassee in 2021, 12 seconds ahead of Swan. Cordes had a surprisingly good outing at Boulder, considering the altitude. She took the win with a 40-second edge over Swan. Cordes continued to roll with a strong 4th place finish at Clubs in San Francisco; none of the runners who finished ahead of her were entered in San Francisco. Of the three teammates, McCoubrie has the strongest results over time. She has been a top division runner and age grade podium regular for a number of years. She likes Cross Country but cannot generally make Club Cross because of work and family commitments in December. The last time she made it to Cross Nationals was in 2018 at Tallahassee. Trish Butler [not entered in Richmond] had a strong day, taking first but McCoubrie was not far back, and well ahead of Cordes. In the 20222 Grand Prix, McCoubrie won the 60-64 division in the longer road events she entered, like the 12 Km and Half Mile; she was on the podium in every championship race she ran from the 1 Mile to the 10 Km. Swan is a very strong runner who gets less acclaim because she is on a team with McCoubrie and Lorraine Jasper, two phenomenal runners. As noted above, Swan finished 4th at Clubs in Tallahassee in 2021. She, like Cordes, had a good outing at Boulder; she went into altitude and came back with a silver medal! Hayden finished 10th in the 5 Km at Atlanta with a 22:56. If she had a good outing and any of the others did not, she would be on the podium at the end of the day.
McCoubrie took off with the gun and was running in the top fifteen overall as she closed out the first loop, triggering the 2 km mat at 8:24! She already had over 60 meters on Cordes, who was running 2nd in the division. Swan was not giving any quarter, tracking Cordes a couple of strides back. Hayden was 20 meters back from those two, but it was early days in the race. It soon became clear that McCoubrie was soaring and would have no trouble; she added to her lead at every timing mat from 3 km to the finish. She won in 25:31 with over 200 meters to spare!
|Doreen McCoubrie surges up the hill at the end of Loop1, opening up a large lead on her way to the 60-64 win at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Rick Lee
In the battle for 2nd, Cordes was able to build a small gap over Swan, but no more than 15-20 meters by the 3 km mat, and then Swan closed that back up again over the next kilometer. She was within 2 seconds when they shot back onto the last loop. Swan perhaps sensed that Cordes was tiring. In any case, she made a strong move down the long stretch to the 1st right turn. By the time they rounded half the field and reached the 5 km mat, Swan had a lead of over 30 meters and was pulling away. Cordes had no answer today. Swan hit the finish line in 26:36 with a lead of 150 meters on Cordes. Hayden was never able to threaten Cordes, finishing 4th in 28:52. Today made up for 2018; does Gold feel better than Silver? You bet! And Swan had her 2nd Cross Country silver medal in three tries, not bad! And Cordes made the podium; she will have a chance to move up again in Florida, at the 5 Km Masters XC in Boca Raton and/or at Clubs in Tallahassee.
Doreen McCoubrie 25:31 Mary Swan 26:36 Suzanne Cordes 27:19
65-69 Nora Cary (Shore AC), Deborah Snagg Unattached, and Susan Stirrat (Shore) were lined up to sort out the 65-69 podium. Helene Myers was lined up as well; she had no interest in the podium. She appears to race simply for the enjoyment! Cary was a heavy favorite. The American 12K Record-holder for 65-69 at 51:09, recently added the 8K record. She clocked 34:18 in the Ashenfelter 8K; once ratified it will become an American Record. She is also strong on the turf. At Lehigh, she finished 3rd in 60-64 at age 64; at San Francisco in December, she finished 2nd. She would be going for the win, no doubt! The only event I could find for Snagg on Athlinks was the 2019 Footlocker XC event, over 5K. Snagg's 24:47 at that distance suggests that she should be competitive with Stirrat. It is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute effort over 6K. Stirrat's recent Cross Country events over 6K have been a little slower than that, in the low 30's. But every course and every race is different. Stirrat has good 5K speed on the roads, as evidenced by her 6th place finish at Atlanta last February in 26:07. Those three took off at the start, uncertain as to which podium spot they would occupy at the end of the race. That question was answered by the end of the first loop. Cary had a lead of over 150 meters on Snagg who, in turn, had a similar lead on Stirrat. Each runner would circle the field twice more but would be running by themselves, in terms of age division competition. They would need to stay focused. Cary claimed the win in 26:22, pushing the pace for a possible age grading prize.
|Nora Cary on her way to a huge win in 65-69 at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Rick Lee
Snagg was 2 and a half minutes back in second, with Stirrat 3 minutes behind her. As Stirrat was finishing, Myers was going back out for her final 2 km loop. It was another triumph for Cary. Although she runs for Shore, as well as Stirrat, they did not have a complete team; her only other interest was the age-grading podium!
Nora Cary 26:22 Deborah Snagg 28:57 Susan Stirrat 32:06
70-74 There were exactly three runners entered in the Women's 70-74 division and one of them was voted into the Masters Hall of Fame more than a decade ago. She was chosen the USATF Masters Harrier of the Year 11 times from 2002 to 2016. After an absence of a few years, Kathryn Martin was back to compete for a national championship on the turf. Like Cary, she had her mind not only on the win in her division but on the Age Grading prize. With no worries about the competition within the division, Martin could focus on running as fast a time as possible. In fact, one of the three did not make the trip. The other competitor in the race was Kathleen Allen Atlanta. Allen is a very solid runner who was a key member of the 60's team and, since we emerged from the Covid interruption to racing, moved up to lead their 70's team. Although in the same division, Martin and Allen were on a different part of the course for most of the race. Martin was 3 and a half minutes ahead of Allen after the first loop and continued to build her winning margin throughout the race.
|Kathy Martin #429 running in the midst of 50's runners, Terri Rath #411 and Alysia Puma #401 on her way to winning the 70-74 Division at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
Martin achieved her goals for division and age-grading, as did Allen, for division and team.
Kathryn Martin 27:15 Kathleen Allen 37:36
75-79 Andrea McCarter Atlanta was the sole entrant. McCarter would have been a formidable competitor had others entered. She finished 3rd in the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta, won the Mile in Rochester, and finished 2nd at the Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships in Boulder CO.
|Andrea McCarter finishes off the first 2 Km loop of the 6 Km race on her way to the 75-79 Division win at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Michael Scott
She took the win in 48:26.
Andrea McCarter 48:26
85-89 When the number of competitors who toe the line shrink from 2 in 70-74 to 1 in 75-79, one would hardly expect there to be two competitors in 85-89. But that was the case. Tai Graf and Joyce Hodges-Hite locked horns. In their only previous head-to-head contest, Graf had the honors, running 47:46 to finish 2nd in 85-89 in the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta a year ago. Hodges-Hite clocked 49:48 in winning the 80-84 division. On the other hand, Hodges-Hite did have a 47:01 5K in her record last year. And she won the 85-89 12 Km Championship in 2:03:08, which is roughly equivalent to running a sub-47-minute 5K. The official splits for Graf and Hodges-Hite are off but piecing together what was there, it looks like Hodges-Hite got off to a 2-minute lead over the first loop and built it the rest of the way in a continuous manner. By the time they hit the finish line, Hodges-Hite had a lead of over a quarter mile, hitting the line in 59:27.
|Joyce Hodges-Hite works her way around the 6 km course on her way to the 85-89 division victory at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Rick Lee
Graf, the oldest competitor on the day, kept her cadence going all the way to the finish. Hodges-Hite was able to even the score after Atlanta. Now they are even. Will they have another tussle in Atlanta later this month? Hodges-Hite is entered but Graf is not currently entered.
Joyce Hodges-Hite 59:27 Tami Graf 1:07:19
AGE GRADING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Age Grading tables rate each runner according to how their actual time compares to the statistical best time for a runner of their age and sex. Howard Grubb provides a calculator for the 2020 tables, developed by Alan Jones, in cooperation with Tom Bernhard. A link to the calculator: http://www.howardgrubb.co.uk/athletics/mldrroad20.htmlWOMEN You cannot get around an 11-time winner of the Masters Harrier of the Year. I mentioned Kathryn Martin's credentials as a Masters Harrier. I did not mention that she still holds the American Records for 65-69 on the roads at 5 Km 19:57, 10 km 41:57, 15 Km, 20 Km, Half Marathon, and 25 Km.
|Kathryn 'Kathy' Martin #429 surges up the hill at the end of loop 2-As younger runners like Kimberly Dietrick #391 49 and Kelly Cox #382 44 struggle to maintain pace at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Rick Lee
|End of Loop 1-The Greater Philly M40+ Train- From Left in Blue singlets: John Gagliardi #418, Scott Burns #447, with Jason Holroyd and Brock Butler background at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Mike Scott
|Lester Dragstedt heading for 2nd place M60 Team and a win for the Atlanta TC! First he had to get away from Larry Sak, Ann Arbor TC, who claimed 5th. At the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Mike Scott
|Kara Rubinich, leading the way for the Greater Philly 40+ team, with teammate, Erika Holroyd in background, on their way to a Team win. At the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Mike Scott
|Part of the W50+ Greater Philly Train -end of Loop1--From Left: Abby Dean #399 and Terri Rath #411 , battling Alysia Puma #401 amidst runners from other divisions. At the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA Photo Credit: Mike Scott