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 usatf.org 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-Grading: Keith 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 |
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 [firstname.lastname@example.org], would love to hear from you.