Friday, April 14, 2023

The 2023 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships--A Preview

April 13, 2023. Syracuse NY will welcome back some of America's fastest Masters Half Marathoners to its challenging and varied course. Exquisitely organized, runners find themselves with a perfect staging area for success. The start and finish are adjacent to the On Center where gear can be stowed and great camaraderie can be enjoyed. The course starts on State Street but after a half mile, the course takes a right and there is a long climb up James Street. After running around the top of that hill, with a few more short ups and downs, the runners return to the flatter part of the course to finish up the last 4 miles. The organizers moved the day of the race forward from March 20th to April 16th to avoid the problem of snowy or icy roads. They appear to have been successful. The forecast for the start of the race shows 62 degrees F, 70% humidity, with partly sunny skies, and 6 mph winds. The temperatures will rise to 70 degrees by 10 am; there will be some cloud cover.

Start of the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon


Women There is plenty of running talent in this race but the strongest of the 40-44 contingent appears to be Chelsea Benson. Benson ran 1:18:56 at the Eversource Hartford Marathon last October and followed it up with a swift 2:37:56 marathon at the California International Marathon CIM in December. Her 58:10 at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run suggests she might run even faster than that 1:18:56 on a fast course. Last year, Jennifer Bigham took the Masters win and the overall win in 1:18:06. Running faster for the win would certainly be a worthy goal to shoot at. Several runners will contest the win. Luciana Bartholomew comes in from Fort Worth, TX to try her luck. She did not have as good a day at CIM as Benson did but she had a good weekend this past February when she ran a 37:52 to win the 10K at the Cowtown Marathon on Saturday and followed that on Sunday with a 1st Masters finish at the Half marathon in 1:21:04. If Sarah Bishop has a good day, she could push those two. She ran a nifty 56:57 15K last November, suggesting a low 1:20's half might be within her grasp. Although it is not recent, a 1:16:40 Half Marathon at the Shamrock marathon weekend in 2018 shows that she is not averse to the distance. Jennifer Weston finished in the top ten overall at the USATF Masters 5 Km Championships on a hilly course in Atlanta with a 19:04. She also ran a 2:52:20 at the Wineglass Marathon last October, suggesting a 1:23 or better half marathon might be in her future. Batholomew's teammate, Neiringa Kaulinaite ran a 1:25:34 half marathon in Houston this past January. Karen dos Santos has not run a fast half marathon that I can find in recent years, but she finished 4th last September at the Masters 12 Km Championships in New Jersey with a 47:37, suggesting that she has the capability to crack 1:25. Abby Dean ran under 1:25 here last year but if a recent half marathon is a good indicator, she has still not fully recovered from an injury incurred this winter. 

Fiona Bayly focused intently on moving up at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon

Fiona Bayly, now in the 55-59 division, ran 1:24:08 here last year to win 50-54. She showed last month that she still has that fitness. She ran 1:24:22 at the UA NYC Half Marathon on a sub-freezing day with wind! It looks like it should be Benson and Bartholomew going 1-2. Let us go with Bishop as the pick to round out the podium.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Luciana Bartholomew    Chelsea Benson     Sarah Bishop

Men Dickson Mercer, who finished 6th overall at the Masters 12 Km Championships last September in 40:42 could be the strongest in this race. If he is in the same sort of condition now, a sub 1:14 on a flat course might well be in his range. That still might be over 1:14 on this course. That may be too optimistic, however. Last year he ran the UA NYC Half Marathon in 1:15:49 and the Parks Marathon in 1:16:20. 

Dickson Mercer finishing up his 6th place overall effort at the 2022 USATF masters 12 Km Championships in New Jersey Photo Credit: Jason Timochko

Tim Willcox clocked 1:16:27 here last year so they might find each other at the front of the Masters field. He will surely want to make the trip from Wisconsin worht his while. Sean Battis has the credentials to mix it up with those two. He ran 2:44:41 at Boston last April. A 2:56:08 outing at CIM in December raises some questions. But he has since run a 16:28 5K, on  New Year's Day, and a 33:31 10K earlier this month. A few others from the older divisions look not quite as strong on paper but that does not always play out. Harley Johnson from 45-49, ran 1:17:18 here last year after a 1:16:58 in Madison Wisconsin. But I find no race results on Athlinks for him since. Sanjay Rawal ran a 1:17:35 HM in May of 2021 and has run several 5K's in th e last few months in the 16:29 to 16:47 range. But if they are in the picture then surely Gregory Putnam, from 50-54, who clocked 1:15:58 here last year, is also right there. Mark Andrews, from the same division, is known more for his prowess at the shorter distances, 10 Km or shorter. He won the M50 division at the Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta this February, finishing 7th overall. He ran a nifty 16:30 on a hilly course. Last September he went a bit longer in winning his division and finishing 10th overall at the 12 Km Masters Championships, clocking 41:25. Andrews beat Putnam on that warm, sunny day by the shore. It still seems sensible to go with Mercer as the favorite. But Putnam's 1:15:48 stacks up well next to Mercer's two HM's last year and this. If Andrews had recently been running more 15K's and Ten Milers at least, I might be inclined to go with him over Putnam. It might be a mistake to leave Andrews out, but I will go with Willcox to finish off the projected podium.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Dickson Mercer     Gregory Putnam     Tim Willcox


Men 40-44 Mercer and Willcox are both from 40-44 so they are clearly projected for top finishes in this division. Battis, as noted in the overall discussion could well push those two. Evan Dumrese deserves a mention as well. His 2:54:08 at the Wineglass Marathon last October was a 7-minute improvement over his effort in 2021. If that represents a continuing trend, he could be in the mix also. For now, Mercer-Willcox-Battis seems more likely.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Sean Battis     Dickson Mercer     Tim Willcox   

45-49 Harley Johnson and Sanjay Rawal were mentioned as potential contenders for the Overall win. It seems sensible to add Randall Howard to the predicted podium. He ran 1:21:36 here last year and also ran a 45:20 12 Km at the Masters Championship on the Jersey Shore last September. 

Top contenders in alphabetical order: 

Randall Howard     Harley Johnson     Sanjay Rawal

50-54 Andrews and Putnam, mentioned in the Overall section, should battle for the division win. I like Putnam for the win but Andrews has been running very well lately! Andrews came in almost 45 seconds ahead of Putnam in the 12 Km last September. Still, Putnam seems to engage with longer distances more frequently and performs consistently well at distance. 

Gregory Putnam motoring over the last few miles into the finish of the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships Photo Compliments of Syracuse Half Marathon

Marcus Gage ran 1:19:49 here last year so should be on the podium again. However, at the UA NYC Half, more recently, he ran 1:30 and change but conditions were below freezing with wind so perhaps not the best indicator. Marco Cardoso, who ran a 1:07:46 Ten Miler in March would have been in the mix but went down in a big pileup at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run in DC, injuring his knee and knocking him out of this race. Should Gage actually be only in 1:30 shape, then Chris Rinaldi and Matthew Cutrona could be in the mix for the podium. Andrew Bucci seems to be primarily a XCTrail guy. But he did run a 2:05:41 on a 15-mile trail run in early December last year. I will go with Putnam-Andrews-Gage.

Top contenders in alphabetical order: 

Mark Andrews     Marcus Gage     Gregory Putnam

55-59 Although not large, this is a solid field. None are longer distance specialists. Paul Gilly ran a 1:38:05 at the Rock n Roll Las Vegas HM in February. Before that his most recent was a 1:30:09 in 2019. Mike Mertens ran a 1:28:41 in the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January of 2022. The other three entered have no recent half marathons but are stronger runners generally in the 10k-15K range. Scott Siriano ran 46:29 at the 12 Km Masters Championships last September. That seems consistent with a mid-1:20's or better half marathon effort. The same is true of his run a year ago at the Masters Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento; his 1:03:35 equates via age grading to a 1:24:14 capability. Of course, both of those courses are flat and Syracuse is not. Mike Nier ran a 44:19 at the 2021 Masters 12 Km Championships by the Jersey Shore. That is consistent with a low 1:20's HM. Nier ran 38:48 at the 10 Km Masters championships last year, although that was slower than his historical trend. My guess is that he will run faster at the 10 Km Championships in a couple of weeks. Even so, it would translate, in principle, to a 1:25 or so half marathon capability. The best recent effort at a longer distanced comes from Scott Humphrey. His 55:11 at the Stockade-a-thon 15K last November suggests he can go sub-1:20 in the Half. As always, many imponderables, but with an order of Humphrey-Nier-Siriano seems likely although certainly not a lock!

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Scott Humphrey     Mike Nier     Scott Siriano

60-64 Until the King of the 60's, Nat Larson, jumped in on the last day of registration, it looked like Ann Arbor teammates, Steve Schmidt and Larry Sak had a good chance of going 1-2 in this division. Schmidt has been in the top three this year when engaging with the top runners of the 60's field, like Nat Larson, Rick Lee, and John Van Danacker.  Lee runs Boston this Monday so skipped Syracuse and Van Danacker has other plans I am sure. Schmidt is a noted marathoner being one of the first to enter the 6DS3 club, six decades of sub-3 hour performances. A Steve Schmidt ran 2:52:52 at London last October. That seems consistent with his 2:55:52 at Chicago in 2021. I cannot find any recent half marathons, but that kind of marathon can translate to something like 1:22 and change. If so that gives Schmidt a small edge over Saks who ran 1:24:24 in finishing 3rd here last year. Saks also ran the Crim Ten Miler in 1:03:40 in August, consistent with a 1:24-ish half. They will need to shake Lester Dragstedt though. Dragstedt has been running strong for Atlanta; he ran a 1:02:53 ten miler at the 10 Mile Masters Championships in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago. In terms of age grading that is equivalent to a 1:23:22. But projecting a 10 miler onto a half marathon is tricky if the ten miler is close to the top of someone's usual range, as it is for Dragstedt. Of course, with Larson in, that will all be for the 2nd and 3rd places on the podium. Larson ran 1:16:31 to take 1st in 55-59 loast year. He may have lost a step but that is not obvious. He broke the American 10 Mile record for 60-64 at Sacramento two weeks ago. His 57:26 gun time translates to a 1:16:08. 

Nat Larson claiming the 55-59 win in 1:16:30 at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

Unless something unexpected happens, Larson should run well under 1:18. And with that kind of incentive I would not be surprised to see Schmidt try to stay with him. No one would expect the Half Marathon record to be broken on a chilly course as at Syracuse but it is not inconceivable that if Schmidt and Larson can push each other, a time under 1:16:52 is possible. Jay Littlepage could also make some noise. He has been running well recently. The day after his Masters Championship 5K race of 19:10, he ran 1:28:58 in the Atlanta Half marathon. At Carlsbad he dipped under 19. John Van Kerkhove ran 1:27:46 here last year. He would need to improve on that a little to be in the mix. Larson-Schmidt-Sak seems most probable.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Nat Larson     Larry Sak     Steve Schmidt

65-69 Roger Sayre is the top dog in this division right now, at least at distances over 5 km. He is coming in off a victory at the Masters Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento where he clocked 1:01:09. That is age grade equivalent to a 1:21:07. He ran 1:21:46 here last year to finish 2nd in 60-64.

Tim Riccardi and John Blaser could be in line for 2nd and 3rd. Riccardi's 1:02:04 last summer at the Utica Boilermaker 15K suggests a sub-1:30 could be in his range. But at the WMA Indoor championships, he clocked 1:32:43 in their Half Marathon. He ran 1:30:51 here last year so something on that order seems likely. Blaser has run consistently well at distances over 10 Km. He ran 1:30:34 at the Quad Cities Half Marathon last September and, probably, 1:32:15 at the Louisville Half in November.  What about Reno Stirrat? It is hard to figure. he has had so many ups and downs with injuries over the last couple of years, yet he often races very well. It seemed like a piriformis injury would be slowing him down, but he seems to have worked around it. Still he definitely cannot train as he would like to. He ran 1:33:06 here last year even though, at the time, he was coming off an injury that caused problems when there was a downhill swinging into a turn. Riccardi and Blaser will need to watch out for him. Sayre should be a lock for the win. Blaser and Riccardi should compete well with one another. Who will have the better day? I will go for Riccardi over Blaser but it could go either way.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

John Blaser     Tim Riccardi     Roger Sayre

70-74 Jim Foster is probably the favorite. He finished 2nd last year in 1:35:33. His 1:06:24 at the Utica Boilermaker in July suggests he had that same fitness. Could his Syracuse Track Club teammate, Ted Larison upset that prediction. He has beaten Foster on the turf recently. But he has not run longer distances that I can find since 2018. At that time his range was in the upper 1:30's. And, with the passage of time, perhaps closer to 1:40. Eugene Myers seems a bit more likely to push Foster. He ran 1:36:32 in the Susquehanna River HM last September and just clocked 1:39:55 in the HM at the WMA Indoor Championships. Jerry Learned finished 3rd here last year but medical problems have slowed him down recently. He still runs fearlessly however. Even though he was only able to run 1:28:57 in the Ten Miler at Sacramento a couple of weeks ago, he went out as if he would break 1:20 and held a good pace through the 5-mile mark when the wheels began to come off. Steven Segien could slide past Larison into that last podium spot. He ran a 1:43:00 at the Cowtown Half marathon at the end of February. I am going to guess that Larison, despite the lack of recent longer races, can still clock low 1:40's and come in ahead of Segien. We shall see. I am going with a likely order of Foster-Myers-Larison.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Jim Foster     Ted Larison     Eugene Myers

75-79 Dave Glass stands out at the head of this group. Until Gary Ostwald beat him at the Ten Miler in Sacramento earlier this month, Glass had not lost a division race at 10 km or longer since we came out of Covid. Ostwald is not entered. Glass clocked 1:41:54 to win this division here last year. No one can touch that this year, probably including Glass. He had an Achilles flare up in mid-March that caused some worries but his chiropractor seems to be taking good care of it and it has been improving. perhaps that affected his training for Sacramento. he ran almost two minutes slower this year than last. Still, if Glass can run around 1:45 or even a few minutes slower, there seems no one to challenge him. 

Dave Glass takes the 75-79 Win in 1:41:54 at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon

Most likely the race for 2nd and 3rd will be between Keith Yeates and me, your author, as it was at Atlanta in the 5 Km. Yeates had the honors that day, taking 2nd to my 3rd, in 23:32, a minute ahead of me. But a Half Marathon is outside of Yeates's normal range. He is running for his 70's team and for grand prix points as well. I have run well at the Half in the past, winning the division national championship in 2014 and 2017. Last year I ran 1:56:52 to finish 4th. But that was early in my comeback from an Achilles injury that disrupted my training from May to December the previous year. I have been training well. I ran two and a half minutes faster at the Ten Miler in Sacramento earlier this month. If nothing goes wrong, that suggests a sub-1:55 at least, and possibly sub-1:54, should certainly be attainable. Jim Glinsky or Dennis Moore could make some noise as well. Glinsky ran 1:57:48 here last year and Moore just 23 seconds slower. Moore's 1:19:36 at the Stockade-a-thon 15K last November equates to a 1:54:01. If that translation works, Moore could slide into 2nd. Glinsky was ahead of Moore last year but I can find no races for Glinsky in Athlinks longer than a 5K. Last year in the months leading up to the Half, Glinsky ran in a 5 Miler and a 10 Km. Perhaps that is irrelevant. If so, and if Glinsky has trained smartly without racing, he will upset this prediction. Taking all in all, I will go with Glass-Carlin-Yeates. Either Glinsky or Moore could prove me wrong!

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Paul Carlin     Dave Glass     Keith Yeates


40-44 As in the Overall Championships, Benson and Bartholomew and Bishop look good for 1-2-3.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Luciana Bartholomew    Chelsea Benson     Sarah Bishop

45-49 Jennifer Weston, mentioned in the analysis of the Overall race is the favorite here. Even on a challenging course like Syracuse, she should be around 1:25 or below. Rebekah Kennedy, Michele Lavigne, and Susan Moore all seem to be in the 1:30 to 1:35 range. Moore ran 1:05:59 at the Ted Corbitt 15K in December and followed that with a 1:33:33 at the Fred Lebow HM in January and a 1:32:18 at the UA NYC Half Marathon with the dreadful weather. She seems primed for a low 1:30''s half marathon, even at Syracuse. Kennedy's recent credentials are at different distances. Her 3:16:32 at London last October equates roughly to a 1:35 HM. Her 1:08:20 at the Bronx 10 Miler suggests something better, perhaps under 1:30. If we split the difference, it is a toss-up between her and Moore.  Lavigne's credentials are not quite up to the level of Moore and Kennedy. Her 3:24:36 at Boston equates to a 1:39-ish HM and her 1:06:32 at the Stockade-a-thon translates to something closer to 1:34.  Clearly Lavigne could sneak past Kennedy and Moore if it is her day. The safest prediction seems to be Weston-Moore-Kennedy.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Rebekah Kennedy     Susan Moore     Jennifer Weston

50-54 In the not so distant past, this was a 'fireworks' division with Fiona Bayly and Abby Dean frequently in the role of chief rivals. Bayly has moved up to 55-59 where she can enjoy new battles. Dean is probably the favorite but, as noted above, she may not yet be back at full fitness. Even with that, it is likely she will prevail in the division. She finished 2nd to Bayly here last year in 1:24:57.

Abby Dean closing in on her silver 50-54 medal at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

But none of the other athletes returning from last year cracked 1:35. Dean ran 1:32:35 at the First State HM in Delaware a few weeks ago. If her trajectory is upward she may be close to 1:30 on a flat course. Of course at Syracuse that still might not translate to much below 1:32. That should be enough for the win. Late update: I learned that the 1:32:35 was part of a 15 mile training run with a 4 minute tempo, not a full-out effort. Also, Dean ran 1:04:02 at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, equivalent to a 1:24:17 on an equally flat and fast half marathon course. So, instead of projecting a 1:30 to 1:32, change that to a 1:24 to 1:25! Those vying for the two remaining podium spots include Shore AC teammates, Ali Marzulla and Alysia Puma. Marzulla clocked 1:35:41 here last year with Puma at 1:38:55. Marzulla ran a 1:37:34 half marathon in May of last year does not have any races on Athlinks after the 1 Mile Championships in Rochester last year. Puma ran in the same Superhero HM as Marzulla, clocking 1:38:53, but has more events after June. Puma ran at the 12 Km championships in mid-September, finishing 6th in the division. She followed that up with a 1::42:39 HM in early  October, not as fast as her earlier efforts but keeping active at distance. Perhaps Marzulla was injured or facing other barriers to training and/or racing. I wonder if she is simply running for team points or has actually gotten over whatever barriers were keeping her from racing and is ready to roll. Should either or both have an off day, there are two Genessee Valley runners who could move up. Cassandra Crane ran 1:42:18 here last year and 58:51 at the 12 Km Championships. I will be optimistic about Marzulla but also give some credit to Puma who has been active throughout, also running at Richmond VA on the turf. I opt for Dean-Puma-Marzulla.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Abby Dean     Ali Marzulla     Alysia Puma

55-59 This division belongs to Bayly. Jenny Hitchings, who has been setting American Records left and right, especially on her home courses in and around Sacramento, was able to beat her at the Ten Mile Championships but not many others will be able to make that claim this year. Bayly clocked 1:03:06 in that race, which equates via age grading to a 1:23:35 half marathon. That seems about right as Bayly also ran 1:24:22 at the UA NYC Half under terrible conditions of cold and wind. Were it not for Bayly, Suzanne La Burt would own the division. As is, she owns the Silver Medal chances. She ran a super time last year, 1:29:19. 

Suzanne La Burt claims 2nd in 55-59 at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

Unfortunately that is 5 minutes slower than Bayly's effort. Will anyone else break 1:40? Probably not. Jacalyn Lembo ran 1:40:05 at the Rochester HM in 2021 but keeps her main focus on XC and shorter road races. Most of the other entrants have run closer to 1:50 than 1:40.Athletes like Carol Reif and Elizabeth Rendell who ran 1:47:35 and 1:48:16 last year can move up if one of the above has an off day. The likely order of finish is Bayly-La Burt-Lembo.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Fiona Bayly     Suzanne La Burt     Jacalyn Lembo

60-64 For the longer distances, Doreen McCoubrie has been almost unbeatable by her peers. She will get a challenge this year. Last year she won the division in 1:33:28, with a 3-minute gap back to 2nd place. 

Doreen McCoubrie heading into the last few miles on her gold medal effort in the 60-64 division at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

Since this time last year, Mary Cass has been coming on strong. Cass did not run in this race but in September she competed in the 12 Km Championships, finishing just 19 seconds behind McCoubrie. Cass was able to come in ahead of McCoubrie at the USATF 5Km Championships in Atlanta, clocking 20:17 to McCoubrie's 20:31. That does not mean she can beat McCoubrie at this distance, but it should be close. Cass ran 1:31:06 at the Hyannis Half Marathon on March 5th; two weeks later she clocked 1:35:44 at the New Bedford Half. Cass's Liberty AC teammate, Lauren Leslie, has not been far behind. She finished within a minute of Cass at the 12 Km. Leslie has not run half marathons but did run 1:13:36 at the New Hampshire Ten Miler and 1:08:45 at the Tune-Up 15K in Greater Boston last month, Both suggest a time in the upper 1:30's should be attainable for Leslie. Victoria Bok ran 1:21:58 in the New Hampshire Ten Miler last year and, on April 1st of this year, clocked 1:14:08 in the Nealon Tuneup 15K. Both are compatible with a half marathon time in the 1:43 to 1:45 range, perhaps slightly higher for Syracuse. Kerry Monahan Gaughan is in that same range based on her 59:31 in the 12 Km last September and her 1:12:47 in the Spring Distance Classic 15K. My best guess at a finishing orde3r is McCoubrie-Cass-Leslie. It should be a great race within the races to keep an eye on.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Mary Cass     Lauren Leslie     Doreen McCoubrie

65-69 This would be Nora Cary's division to take if it were not fo rthe broken foot she suffered about a month ago in a non-running mishap. She sent an email indicating she was entered but would not be competing in Syracuse. That leaves just Helen Myers and Susan Stirrat entered. Unless something goes wrong, that means Stirrat is likely to win. 

Susan Stirrat heading for the finish line, earning a Silver medal in her 65-69 division at the 2022 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

Myers is a happy runner but is not currently competitive with Stirrat. Stirrat ran 2:08:41 here last year. Myers recently ran a half marathon in 3:48.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Helene Myers      Susan Stirrat     

70-74 Team Red Lizard has entered a team in Women's 70 and up and their three members are the only entrants in the 70-74 division. Suzanne Ray and Jeanette Groesz have gone back and forth in terms of who does better at long road races. Currently it appears that Groesz has the edge. Ray came solo last year and took the 65-69 win in 1:49:32. She had the upper hand last September at the 12Km Championships, where she won in 1:03:17, with Groesz 2 and a half minutes back in 3rd. At the Half marathon contested on April 1st in Poland as part of the WMA Indoor Championships, Groesz had the edge, 1:47:21 to 1:50:10. Either way, they are both very talented runners and always a threat for the overall age grading podium. Sue Herscher, the third member of the team is a fine runner but not quite as fast as Groesz and Ray. She ran a 2:09:45 half marathon in March. If she finishes the race she will have done her work for the team. She will, as a byproduct, earn the Division Bronze medal as well. The likely order is Groesz-Ray-Herscher.

Top contenders in alphabetical order:

Jeanette Groesz     Sue Herscher     Suzanne Ray

75-79 Jo Anne Rowland has this division to herself. She would win against all but the most decorated runners anyway. She is fresh off a win at the Ten Mile Masters Championships in Sacramento. Her time was 1:26:50. her chip time age graded at 90.12.

Top contender:

Jo Anne Rowland



Fiona Bayly 55 could well rise to the top of the age grading podium in Syracuse. Her 1:03:06 chip time at Sacramento earned a 93.36% age grade score. That is probably too optimistic because the Syracuse course is harder. Still, she earned a 92.05% here last year. If she can match the 1:24's she has been running lately, she would age grade a bit higher. Bayly is probably the favorite in a talented field. Jo Anne Rowland 75 earned a 90.12 with her 1:26:43 at Sactown. Again, she would probably score a bit lower on the hilly course at Syracuse. Jeanette Groesz 73 has been running very strong lately. If she can replicate the 1:47:21 Half marathon she ran at the WMA Indoor Championships, she would merit an 88.98. Doreen McCoubrie 61 scored 88.55 last year with her 1:33:28. Mary Cass 61 has been on the way up over the past year. She outscored McCoubrie last year at the 12 Km Championships with an 89.99; her average time for her two recent half marathons is about 1:33. If she can match that at Syracuse, she posts a 90.2. Suzanne La Burt out-scored Cass at the 12 km with a 90.26. That was, coincidentally, her age grade score at Syracuse last year. My best guess is Bayly-La Burt-Cass. But there is a wide band of uncertainty. Update: Dean's recent 1:04:02 in the Cherry Blossom Run over ten miles suggests she is largely recovered from her winter injury. She could also be in the mix. Her Cherry Blossom effort age graded at 88.73%.

Top Contenders in Alphabetical Order

Fiona Bayly     Suzanne La Burt     Mary Cass


Nat Larson is the heavy favorite; he scored 93.20% here last year and 93.65% at the 10 Mile Championships in early April. Roger Sayre 65 finished 3rd at Sactown behind Larson, earning a 92.24. His 1:21:42 chip time here last year earned a 90.66% score. Gregory Putnam's 53 1:15:48 earned an 87.30%. Mark Andrews earned an 87.76% for his 41:25 at the 12 km. Steve Schmidt 62 earned a 91.50% at the 5 Km Championships. Known for his marathoning, it seems unlikely he would score lower at a half marathon course. But he would need a 1:19:30 or better to achieve that. No one would say he cannot do that, but his recent Marathon and half marathon times are a bit off that standard. 

I will hope that Schmidt breaks 1:20 on Sunday so that a finishing order of Larson-Sayre-Schmidt makes sense.

Top Contenders in Alphabetical Order

Nat Larson     Roger Sayre     Steve Schmidt

From the lead Pack Back through the Masters Championship Athletes Streaming Up the Hill


Team outcomes are difficult to predict not only because they are made up of so many different individuals, often with unknown fitness, injuries, etc, but even the final make up of a team is sometimes not known until after packet pickup. There is more guesswork here. Based on Status of Entries as of Friday, April 14.


40+ For a while it looked like Pacers/GRC Running might field a team but in the end just two of their athletes signed up. That leaves the Genesee Valley Harriers GVH as the only club with 0a complete 40+ team. Unless something happens at packet pickup in terms of a team being formed up out of already entered and affiliated runners, GVH will take the win.

50+ This division has two contenders, GVH and Shore AC. It looks like GVH has a little too much firepower for Shore AC.

60+ It appears that neither Atlanta nor Boulder Road Runners will field a complete team. Ann Arbor looks to be the strongest. They have a strong 1-2 punch with Schmidt and Sak. Freeman should be their third runner in. He does not race often so part of that projection assumes that he is not too far off the fitness he had in 2020, just before Covid when he ran 1:34:33. With ordinary againg, that couuld be around 1:37. A 44:44 10K last month suggests that he should still be under 1:40 and that would surely be enough to give them the win. It looks close between GVH and Shore for 2nd and 3rd with the outcome depending, perhaps, on which Reno Stirrat is able to show up. Stirrat is one of those athletes whoo can surprise you with how well he can run despite various injuries and ailments. He ran 1:33 last year when he probably should not have been able to. He was definitely favoring one leg or foot. If he can run 1:33 again and the others run their likely low to mid-1:30 and mid 1:40, then Shore could well take Silver. Even so it would be tight, so my guess is: Ann Arbor-GVH-Shore.

70+ This is a tough one to handicap. Each of the teams has a runner on their team who is expected to take well over two hour to finish. And there are others with very wide range of projected times due to absences or a lack of evidence at longer distances. The Syracuse Track Club has two runners likely to run in the 1:35-1:40 range. Their #3 runner took 2:54:36 last year. GVH's Glinsky ran 1:57:48 last year. Yeates is very talented at distances up to 10 Km, but a half marathon has been outside his range. Suppose he runs 1:54. Their third runner, Doc Rappole, was performing very well just a few years ago. He won the 65-69 division at the USATF Cross Country Championships when they were in Boulder in 2015. In the years following he was a steady presence for the GVH team. But he was injured and lost training time. He has been training again but at relatively slow paces by his former standards. It is a wild guess, but maybe he would run something around 2:10? If so, GVH might take the silver medals. Atlanta is a good, but by no means certain, bet to take the win. Glass is a little off his form of last year but should still run in the low to mid 1:40's. Their #3 runner, Joseph Lenahan ran 2:17 last year but his recent half marathons have been a little slower. Perhaps he can run a 2:20? Then the big question is Learned. If he were running as he was last year and could be counted on for a low 1:40's, they definitely would win. But he has been struggling lately with medical problems. He ran the Ten Miler in Sacramento over 16 minutes slower this year compared to last. If one scales that up, that raises Learned's likely time from low 1:40's to low 2:00's. Even so, that could give Atlanta a fast enough time to win. And, of course, it could be that Learned has been able to start some treatment to overcome some of his recent problems. My best guess with loads of uncertainty is: Atlanta-GVH-Syracuse


40+ The Fort Worth Distance Project is making the trip from Texas. I imagine they are pretty serious about their chances, and so am I. Their #1, Bartholomew, is expected to contend for the win and their #'s 2 and 3, Kaulinaite and Terrell are very solid just a few minutes behind Bartholomew most likely. The have a good insurance runner as well. Their strongest competition should come from Shore AC. dos Santos should come in under 1:30 with la Burt right around that. As long as Marzulla or Puma can come in under 1:40, they should be good for Silver. After that GVH looks a good bet for Bronze with Roadkill likely just missing the podium.

50+ This could be a tight contest between Greater Philadelphia and GVH. If GVH can keep their pack of three scoring runners tight, they can take the win. If Bucci, Crane and Lembo all come in around 1:40, a little over or under, then they are in good shape. If they cannot catch GVH, GPTC should still be able to gain the silver medals, with Checkers AC picking up bronze.

60+ With Cary out, Shore AC will not field a team. Libe8rty AC has a talented team of runners. They should take first, barring any mishap. The Impala Racing team will be happy to take home the Silver 60+7 medals.

70+ Team Red Lizard is one of the strongest, if not the strongest 70+ women's team in the country right now. Even if they had opposition, they would be the favorites. With no opposition all they have to do is finish to earn top Grand Prix points and take home the gold medals.

There you have it, my preview of the 2023 USATF Masters Half Marathon. 

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