Sunday, December 3, 2023

2023 USATF Club Cross Championships-Masters Races-Women--Age Divisions

December 2, 2023. The Saturday forecast is warmer and more humid than a few days ago but still not bad, at least for the first two races. Temps in the low 60's for the Women's race, followed by mid 60's for the Men's 60+ race at 10 AM, with mid- to upper 60's for the start of the Men's 40+ race at 11 AM.  With relative humidity forecasted for 80% and above, the dew point for the M40+ race should be above 60, but below for the first two. Hats, sunglasses and hydration may be important. At the moment there is no rain in the forecast between today and the race; if that holds, footing should be good. Of course, as always, keep an eye on the weather forecast. It can change every few days. 

The Women's race goes off at 9 AM over 6 Km. That is two 3km loops around the course at Apalachee Regional Park. It starts across a wide, open grassy field, down a short slope, past the Jumbotron that has a video feed from the course and periodically updated standings.  There is a gradual climb to a left turn heading to the back of the course. Eventually it turns and runners wind through a wooded section and then, after the 2 Km mark, onto the 'Shell Path', ground up shells that feels something like running on gravel. Then you bend left and at about 2.5 Km, get to 'The Wall', a short, sharper uphill where runners who are feeling good can hope to make a decisive move. After that it is straight along the top field back behind the start and then repeat. On the 2nd loop instead of heading straight, after 'The Wall', runners hug the woods on the lefthand side of the top, open field where they started, following that along and then downslope to the finish.

Course Map: 2023 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships 6 km Course by sarah.linehan - Flipsnack

This preview considers the 155 entries for the Women's race. I report on Individuals by Age Division; later this week, there will be a report on teams. 

Women's Race at Club Cross 2015--Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Photo Credit: Michael Scott

40-44 This division is packed with talent and determination. If all goes according to paper, Carrie Dimoff and Renee Metivier will battle for the win. But there are so many others who could upset that apple cart. 

Dimoff Bowerman TC was a top performer, as an Open athlete, at the 3000M steeplechase and 10,000 meters on the track. She finished 13tth in the Marathon at the Doha World Championships in 2019. More recently she captured the Women's title at the Bowerman 5K this August in 16:45 and cranked out a 1:18:48 Half Marathon in July. Dimoff competed as an Open runner at Clubs in San Francisco, finishing 51st out of 264 and 6th out of 42. The time of 19:38 is misleading because the makeshift course was short. The only way the officials could convince the Parks Department to allow the races to continue in the gale conditions was to put every remaining race on the Polo Grounds 'track.' It is, perhaps, more meaningful to say that Dimoff finished a little over a minute behind the winner, Stephanie Bruce---pretty fast company!

Metivier Team Red Lizard has the flat speed to match Dimoff; she finished 6th in the Elite Women's Race at Carlsbad in 2022, clocking 16:41. Metivier went to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships five times in her Open Career between 2006 and 2010. Her best finish was in 2007 when she finished 36th. The second American to finish, Metivier helped the USA to an 8th place team finish. Highly consistent, her worst individual finish was 49th. She contributed to Team USA's 4th place finish in 2008 and their 3rd place finish in 2010. In her first Masters Championship, Metivier ran away from the field at the 2022 Cross Country Nationals in San Diego, in 21:50, enjoying a winning margin of 1:46. That field was strong at the top. Maggie Shearer (see 45-49) finished 3rd in that race; she was 2nd at Clubs in Tallahassee in 2021 and at San Francisco last December. It is more difficult to judge Metivier's recent fitness. This past April she finished in the top ten Masters at the Sunapee Scramble Up and Down Mountain Trail Run. Shortly thereafter, Metivier took 1st Masters at the Breakneck Point Half Marathon Trail Run.

Two others who stand out from a deep field include: 

Katie Sherron Gulf Winds TC, who bested Shearer by 12 seconds at the 2021 Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee. She was the hometown favorite in 2021 and brings that same comfort with the course and the hometown crowd to this race. But she has other credentials too. Last June she took home the Masters Road Mile Championship from Indianapolis, clocking 5:05. She ran a 17:34 5K in April and this fall took the Women's title at the Clearwater (FL) HM in 1:20:17.

Jennifer Pesce Garden State TC is also a two-time Masters Overall Champion. She burst onto the Masters scene this past February with a win at the 5 Km Championships in Atlanta; she pulled away in the final uphill kilometer to take the title in 17:48. Pesce demonstrated her range by coming back in September to add the 12 km Masters overall win in 44:29, this time with over a half minute to spare. Although I can see no recent Cross Country results, I did find that, as a college freshman in 1998, Pesce competed in the sub-varsity race at the New England College Cross Country Championships where she finished 45th of 247! So Pesce knows cross country in her core, if not from recent experience.

Others who could make the podium if they have a good day:

Carre Joyce Heineck Team Red Lizard has paid her dues with a 3rd place Masters finish at Tallahassee in 2021 and a 5th place finish at Clubs in San Francisco. She has clocked a 17:58 5K, a 39:58 10K and finished as the 6th woman overall at the Portland Marathon in early October with a 1:22:38. In May she took the women's title and the Elite masters Women's title at Lilac Bloomsday, covering the 12 Km in 44:49.

Jessica Hruska Garden State TC finished 7th at Tallahassee, 1:13 behind Sherron. In October of '22, Hruska went up to Boulder, CO and claimed 2nd at altitude in the Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships. At Clubs in San Francisco, she finished 4th, just 25 seconds back from the winner, Meriah Earle. Will she make the podium this time? This July she took the Masters title at the Quad City Bix over a challenging 7 Mile road course, in 42:56.

Vivien Hyman The Janes Elite Racing finished in 6th overall, 4 seconds behind Heineck in San Francisco. She also finished 17th overall at Cross Nationals in San Diego in January 2022. Hyman ran an 18:48 5K in February but a 17:54 5K in June.

Jenny Kadavy HOKA Aggies finished 2nd overall at the 2023 USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento in April, clocking 59:05. She was the first Masters woman at the Pacific Association Cross Country Championships in mid-November, clocking 23:34 over the Golden Gate Park 6 Km course.

Jennifer Keenan Checkers AC has been the dominant Women's Masters runner this year at the Pete Glavin Cross Country series in upstate New York. Her road performances, this year, of 17:45 in the Tom Donnelly 5K, a 37:33 10K, and a 1:21:14 half marathon back up that claim to XC excellence.

Ziyang Liu Club NW clocked 1:19:50 for the Redmond OR Half Marathon in early September. Her Eugene Marathon time earlier in the year was 2:44:56. She also clocked an 18:15 5k and a 37:27 10K. Perhaps more relevant, in fall of '22, a month before Megan Heuer finished 3rd overall at Club Cross in San Francisco, Liu came in ten seconds ahead of her at the Pac NW XC Championships.

Jennifer Lutz has turned in some nifty times this year, including a 17:40 at the Super Sunday 5K and a 36:47 at the Lone Gull 10K, both part of the USATF-NE Grand Prix. She also was the first masters woman across the line at the New England XC Championships this year, finishing a good minute ahead of Ginger Reiner who finished 10th overall at the Masters 10 Km Championships this past April.

Elizabeth Camy Cal Coast TC has strong road credentials, but I find no recent Cross Country results. Still, Camy has run a number of marathons in the 2:43 to 2:53 range, including a 2:49:09 at Grandma's and a 2:46:51 in Boston, both this year. She also turned in a sizzling 1:18:39 at the Surf City Half Marathon.

If I dare to pick winners at this point, I will have to go with Dimoff, Metivier, and Sherron in that order. But there is a wide range of uncertainty around the podium. If everyone entered now shows up on the starting line, there will be some very swift runners who finish outside the top 10 overall in this division, 


Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Carrie Dimoff     Renee Metivier     Katie Sherron

Pack Running Exemplified at Clubs in Tallahassee in 2016, a reminder that it is not always warm and sunny in Tallahassee in December Photo Credit: Michael Scott

45-49 The top entries in this division appear to be: Jill Braley, Euleen Josiah-Tanner, Christy Peterson, Maggie Shearer, Gwendolyn Twist, and Cambria Wu. Clearly if they are in top condition, Braley and Shearer are threats for the Overall win as well. 

Shearer Cal Coast finished 2nd overall at each of the last two Club Cross Championships. It would be great if I could write that this year looks like the year she is poised to move up and win the whole thing. But life does not always work out so smoothly. I can find no race results for Shearer all summer and fall. I understand that she is training well now. But her 19:25 at the Dana Point Turkey Trot is well off where she would normally be. That may not have been an 'all out' effort, and her fitness is likely to be better by the 9th of December, but it is hard to see her competing for the overall podium.

Braley Atlanta TC has not finished quite as high as Shearer at past championships but is purported to be in top condition. She just clocked a 1:22:07 hilly half marathon at the Invesco in Atlanta on Thanksgiving. Braley finished 6th overall at Tallahassee in 2022 but was only 40 seconds away from a podium finish. Perhaps that is in store for this December 9th? 

Josiah-Tanner T.H.E. TC just took the Overall win at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships at Boca Raton FL., finishing a half minute ahead of Sonja Friend-Uhl. At Tallahassee in 2021, Josiah-Tanner took the 45-49 division crown, finishing 13 seconds behind Wu, in 40-44 then, and just over a minute behind Braley, also in 40-44 at the time. Josiah-Tanner did not fare as well at San Francisco, finishing 13th in the division, 40 seconds behind Wu and over a minute behind Twist. 

Christy Peterson Cal Coast seems to be enjoying her best fitness in a couple of years. She just finished 2nd among Masters at the Dana Point Turkey Trot in 41:01. In the pre-Covid ears, Peterson was a threat for National Masters championships. In 2017, she came within a second of capturing the Masters 5 Km title in Syracuse when she clocked 17:51! She was a podium regular at prestigious races such as the Blue Cross Broad Street 10 Mile, the AJC Peachtree 10K, and the Freifhofer's 5K. Since then, her racing results have been a bit more modest, suggesting some barriers to full training. She was outside the top 5 at the Broad Street Run in 2021. She finished 7th in the 45-49 division and 14th overall at Cross Nationals in San Diego in early 2022. That marked her first national championship since moving to the West Coast and joining Cal Coast. She did not finish as highly on an individual basis as in the past. But she was a vital scorer for her Cal Coast team; they finished 2nd in the team competition. The team affiliation seems to have been a good thing. Peterson enters with a shot at the age division podium and, equally important, as a significant scorer for her 40+ team.

Cambria Wu The Janes Elite Racing finished 38 seconds ahead of her teammate, Gwendolyn Twist The Janes Elite Racing at Tallahassee. But Twist turned the tables in San Francisco, finishing 29 seconds ahead of Wu. At the So Cal XC Championships in early November, Twist either had an off day or has had some training setbacks; she was 1:45 behind Wu. Peterson, running for the rival Cal Coast squad, split the two, finishing a good 45 minutes ahead of Twist and a good 45 seconds behind Wu. That will be one of the 'races within the race' that will be fun to watch!

If Shearer is a shade off her best, it looks like Braley could take the division title. But how will the others fare? it appears that Wu has the current edge over Peterson and Twist. Is Shearer still a bit ahead of those three even if off her game somewhat? Shearer will still run her heart out for the team but may not have her eye on an individual medal, except in passing. I will go with Wu, followed by Shearer.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Jill Braley     Maggie Shearer     Cambria Wu

Another cold Club Cross Day in Lexington KY in 2017, the lead out onto the lower field Photo Credit: Michael Scott

50-54 Lorilyn Bloomer and Karolyn Bowley appear to be the top two contenders for the 50-54 win. Hortencia Aliaga and Holly McIlvaine look stronger than the others for third. But Samantha FordeRebekah KennedyCarla McAlister, and Wendy Terris are all podium threats.

Bloomer Bowerman TC took the win at Cross Nationals in San Diego in January 2020, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Marisa Sutera Strange, who had won XC Nationals at Tallahassee in 2019 over Braley, by 10 seconds. She claimed the 45-49 division prize, finishing 7th overall, at Boston in the 2021 Masters 5 Km XC Championships. She finished 7 seconds behind Bowley, who took the 50-54 honors. Bloomer finished 6th overall at the 2022 edition of XC Nationals in San Diego. This August she was the 10th Woman and the third masters Woman to finish the Bowerman 5K, with a time of 18:32.

Bowley Boston Athletic Association, as noted, edged Bloomer in Boston. She also won the 50-54 division at Tallahassee, finishing 4th overall, 43 seconds behind Sherron. In San Francisco she finished 15th overall and 2nd in 50-54 (of 41). Bowley was almost a minute under Aliaga's time and nearly 2 minutes ahead of Forde in that race. Bowley finished 2nd, this past April, in 50-54 at the Masters 10 Km Championships with a 38:19. This September her 38:10 earned 4th Masters and 1st in 50-54 at the USATF-NE Championships in the Lone Gull 10K. She and Bloomer should have a heck of a race!

As referenced just now, Aliaga Garden State TC was 56 seconds ahead of Forde Impala Racing Team in San Francisco last December and 1:14 ahead of Terris Team Red Lizard . It had been closer in Tallahassee the year before, where Aliaga edged Terris by just 12 seconds. Aliaga appears to be running stronger than ever. She captured 2nd in this division in the Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta. Her 19:09 on the 'Atlanta Flat' 5K course gave her a 40 second edge over Forde, who finished 4th. Aliaga came back later in the year to take bronze in the 50-54 division at the 12 Km Masters Championship, with a 48:36. Forde was a minute back in 4th.

McIlvaine Club Northwest finished 16 seconds before Aliaga did at San Francisco. At that time, McIlvaine was still in 45-49 while Aliaga was in 50-54. Athlinks provides no added information on more recent outings. I found, independently, that McIlvaine ran in the Pac NW Open & Masters XC Championships on November 3rd, finishing 21st overall in 26:10. That is enough, however, to suggest that McIlvaine and Aliaga will have a duel to see who claims the bronze medal spot on the podium. As McIlvaine came in ahead on their most recent head-to-head, that suggests she shoulld be favored. 

Forde is typically in the mix. She took the division title at XC Nationals in Richmond this past January. To be fair, none of the rivals mentioned in this analysis were racing. Forde has not been able to keep pace with Aliaga when they have met, but Forde finished 20 seconds ahead of Terris in San Francisco. McAlister finished 5 seconds ahead of Terris in Tallahassee and 12 seconds ahead of Terris in San Francisco; she was 8 seconds behind Forde though. These three have finished close to one another. Aliaga should be able to put some distance on the trio but if one of three breaks out from that group, it might get much closer for third place.

My best guess is: Bowley, Bloomer, and McIlvaine in that order. Aliaga could well upset that forecast, however.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Lorilyn Bloomer     Karolyn Bowley     Holly McIlvaine

Start of the Race at 2018 Club Cross in Spokane WA Photo Credit: Michael Scott

55-59 Aeron Arlin GenetTania Fischer, Jennifer Harvey, Rachel Hopkins, and Michelle Rohl stand out in this division. 

Arlin Genet Hoka Aggies has performed consistently well at recent Club Cross Championships. She sandwiched two second place finishes in her division at San Francisco and Lexington around a 5th place finish at Lehigh in 2019. She was 26 seconds ahead of Fischer in San Francisco.  

Fischer The Janes Elite Racing is synonymous with her team. You cannot think of one without the other. Individually she is always on the podium or just off. At Cross nationals in San Diego in 2022 she finished 2nd in 55-59. In 2021 at Tallahassee, she claimed 5th and moved up a spot to take 4th at Clubs in San Francisco. This year she took 3rd in the division at Carlsbad in 20:34. At the Dinosaur Dash earlier this month she clocked 19:56! Looks like Fischer is ready to roll!

Harvey Central Park TC set the American Record for the Road Mile at the Masters Championships in Indianapolis, with a 5:25. That was 11 seconds slower than her winning 5th Avenue Mile effort but Indy’s course is record eligible while NY’s is not. It was suggested to me that Harvey had been doing so well because she had focused her energies primarily on middle distance events on the track and road. Imagine my surprise then when I found her listed as one of the top 3 American finishers at the Berlin Marathon this September with a 3:12:11! Clearly Harvey has range. It is also clear that Harvey is much better at shorter distances. A recent 19:33 5K bears witness to that.

Hopkins Sirius Athletics has moved up to 55-59 since San Francisco. last December her 23:55 was good for 3rd place in 50-54. It would have been good for 2nd in 55-59, over a minute faster than Arlin Genet's. Her 24:20 at Tallahassee was good for 5th place; all of the four who finished ahead of her are still in the 50-54 division. Irt would have won the 55-59 division by 5 seconds.

Rohl Greater Philadelphia TC has made a virtue of keeping her focus primarily on the middle distances on the track and other races that benefit her team and contribute to her fitness goals. She is the current holder of the 800M, 2:23:26, and 1500M, 4:54.16, American Records for women 55-59.  She finished 5th overall and 1st in the 55-59 division at the Masters 5 Km XC Championships in Boston. Two months later she took the win at Tallahassee. There are rumors of injuries. She won the 5000M run at the Masters Outdoor Championships in Greensboro NC this summer in 20:09. That Rohl chose not to compete in either of her favorite middle distance events may be telling.

Hopkins beat Rohl in 2021. Rohl could beat her this time but that will be her challenge. Harvey is a likely 3rd place finisher. Arlin Genet could upset that guess. I will go with Hopkins, Genet, Harvey in that order.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Aeron Arlin Genet     Jennifer Harvey      Rachel Hopkins   

Another Example of Packing It Up for Team Points around a muddy turn at Lehigh for the 2019 Club Cross Championships Photo Credit: Michael Scott

60-64 Patricia Bellan, Mary Cass, Suzanne La Burt, and Marisa Sutera Strange stand out as top competitors in this division. 

Five years ago, when Clubs was held in Spokane, Bellan HOKA Aggies RC took the title in 24:27. She is probably looking to do the same with her new age division this year. In her last year in the age division, with the highly competitive Club Cross championships, she still finished 5th, just 15 seconds behind Arlin Genet. Perhaps more relevant, she was 11 seconds ahead of Cass.

Cass finished 2nd in 2021 at the 5 Km XC Championships in Boston. In 2022, she moved up, taking first last December in San Francisco, 40 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. At Boca Raton this fall she was not quite able to keep pace with La Burt. But only 4 seconds separated them at the finish line. La Burt has been able to beat her with larger margins on the roads. It will be interesting to see how their duel unfolds in Tallahassee.

La Burt moved up to this division between the 10K where she finished 2nd in 55-59 and the 1 Mile in Indy where she took the 60-64 win in 5:46. She has also won the 12 Km and, as noted, the Masters 5 Km XC, this fall.

Sutera Strange Shore AC has been a top Masters road racer and cross country runner for quite a few years now. She won the whole ball of wax in 2019 at Cross Nationals in Tallahassee. She knows this course well, having finished 4th overall the year before. After her Athena team broke up, Sutera Strange raced for Greater Philadelphia, finishing 2nd behind her new teammate, Rohl, in 55-59 at the Masters 5 Km Championships in Boston. After taking a break from national championships she is back. Strange has run a number of 5K's this year in the 19:44 to 21:17 range. That puts her essentially on par with Cass and, perhaps, slightly behind La Burt as far as road speed is concerned. Strange has always been a tiger on the turf so that has probably not changed.

These four are likely to be close. La Burt has come in ahead of Cass recently, so I have to go with La Burt over Cass. Bellan also bested Cass in their most recent joint race, albeit in different divisions. Based on her fitness a few years back, one would have gone with Sutera Strange to come in ahead of the other three. Maybe I will leave Sutera Strange out and let her enjoy the camaraderie of competition. Of the other three I will guess that the order might be Bellan-La Burt-Cass.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Patricia Bellan      Mary Cass     Suzanne La Burt

Beginning of Loop 2 at the 2021 Club Cross Championships in Tallahassee Photo Credit: Michael Scott

65-69 Nora Cary appears to be the strongest runner in this division. Next is Patrice Combs, followed closely by Mo Bartley. Cynthia Williams and, perhaps, Kitty Musante, look to be the strongest off podium runners. And, if everything goes right, one of them might wind up on the podium. 

Cary Shore AC has broken a few American Records on the roads, in her day, and she likes the turf even more than the roads! She is the current 65-69 American record holder at 12 Km with a time of 51:09. Four years ago, Cary was in her last year in the 60-64 division and still placed 3rd at the Lehigh XC championships. She finished a minute and a half ahead of Combs on that course, rendered sloppy by the rain. At Clubs in San Francisco last year, Cary finished 2nd, two minutes ahead of Bartley and 4 minutes ahead of Williams. She finished first at Cross Nationals in Richmond in January, but none of these rivals had entered.

Combs Atlanta TC is probably a bit faster on the roads than Cary. She finished a minute ahead of Cary at the Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta in 2022. Combs came in 2 minutes ahead of Williams at Boca Raton, earning 1st place in the division. But, as noted above, Cary came in ahead of Combs at Lehigh and finished 4 minutes ahead of Williams over 6 Km in San Francisco.

Bartley had a fine race at altitude in Boulder, finishing 2nd in the division, a minute and a half ahead of Williams. At San Francisco two months later, Bartley finished 5th in the division, a good 2 minutes behind Cary.

Williams finished 2nd at Tallahassee, but none of these rivals had entered. At San Francisco, as noted, Williams was well back from Cary and Bartley. Williams bounced back to finish 2nd at Boca in October. Musante was the only one of these rivals to finish behind her. As noted, Combs won the division.

Based on road times, Musante should have been closer to Williams at Boca or perhaps even ahead of her. At the Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta this past February, Musante finished a minute behind Combs but finished almost a minute and a half ahead of Williams. Yet at Boca, Musante was nearly a minute and a half behind Williams. That may just speak to an advantage Williams has over Musante in running on the turf. Williams is experienced and very strong at XC. An alternative explanation is that Musante was off her game for some other reason. In either case it seems unwise to project a podium finish for her at Tallahassee. 

It should be close between Cary and Combs despite the Lehigh outcome. Nevertheless, I will go with Cary to win, followed by Combs and then Bartley.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Mo Bartley     Nora Cary      Patrice Combs

Start of the 2021 Race in Tallahassee, a Misty Early Morning Run Photo Credit: Michael Scott

70-74 Team Red Lizard teammates, Jeanette Groesz and Sabra Harvey are the two strongest XC runners in this division. Cindy Lucking, Cande Olsen, and Terry Ozell are likely the primne contenders for the fin8al spot on the podium, with Lucking the favorite among those three.

Harvey Team Red Lizard is in the Masters Hall of Fame and was the 2017 Masters Athlete of the Year. Harvey took the division title at the 2019 Cross Nationals Championships in Tallahassee, winning the division title, over Groesz in 2nd, by three minutes, and achieving the highest age grade. After taking a break, she resumed competing in Cross Country in 2022 at the 5 Km XC Championships in Boulder. In a much closer contest, Harvey finished 13 seconds ahead of Groesz to take the win at altitude.

Groesz Team Red Lizard, unlike Harvey, took no break following the covid interruption. She took this division crown at Tallahassee in 2021 and followed that with another win in San Diego at Cross Nationals. At Boulder, later1 that year, as noted above, Groesz finished 2nd to Harvey. In San Francisco, Groesz took first again, when her teammate, Harvey, was not entered.

Lucking Atlanta Track Club has been away from Masters LDR competition for a few years, focusing on her triathlon contests. In January 2019 at Cross Nationals in Tallahassee, Lucking took 3rd in 30:34. A typical 3 years of aging would suggest a time of around 31:51 in 2021, a time that compares very favorably with the time achieved by Olsen and Ozell in December, 2021 on the same course over the same 6 Km distance.

Olsen Team Red Lizard finished 3rd at 2021 Clubs in Tallahassee with a 35:02. She continues to compete actively, finishing 11th at Clubs in San Francisco and 4th in the 5 Km Masters XC Championships in Boca Raton in early October.

At Tallahassee, Ozell finished two seconds behind Olsen, claiming 6th in 65-69. At the Masters 5 Km (road) championships last February, Ozell was 6th in 65-69 with a 27:41.

As suggested in the introduction to their division above, the most likely order of finish seems to be Harvey-Groesz-Lucking. Because Lucking's most recent1 XC effort was four years ago, the projection for 3rd has a wider band of uncertainty around it than it would otherwise.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Jeanette Groesz     Jennifer Harvey      Cindy Lucking

Start of 2022 Clubs at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on a Raw Day When the Near Gale winds blew in off the Pacific and uprooted a hundred foot tree Photo Credit: Pam Fales

75-79 Sharon Gerl and Jeannie Rice appear to be the top contenders for the division win. Terry Foody is the favorite to take the 3rd spot on the podium.

Gerl Team Red Lizard focuses more on the triathlon but runs cross country for her team every once in a while. She finished 2nd, 37 seconds behind Groesz in Tallahassee in 2021.  Two months later, at Cross Nationals in San Diego, Gerl again finished 2nd to Groesz, this time almost two minutes back. With Groesz still in 70-74, Gerl took 1st in this 75-79 division at Boca Raton in early febraury. This time she was over 3 minutes slower than Groesz however.

Rice Unattached owns the 75-79 American Records for the Road Mile, 6:44, and the Marathon, 3:34:32, not to mention the 15 Km, 20 Km, 25 Km and 30Km marks (from her marathon splits). Her Marathon time is also a World Record! Rice also owns the 70-74 American Records for the 1 Mile and for every distance from 20 Km to the Marathon. But she has only raced on the cross country turf once that I know of. That was an unusually wet, cold race in San Francisco last December. She finished 2nd to Groesz, 1:19 back over the 6 Km course. Gerl finished closer to Groesz than that 1in 2021. But she has not been that close since. 

Four years ago in Lehigh, Foody BLUEgrass Runners finished 7th in the 70-74 division. In February of 2022, Foody finished 6th in the 5 Km (road) championships in Atlanta with a time of 34:59. That is two minutes faster than McCarter's time over the same course this past February.

Rice is the favorite for the win although if Gerl has a good day, it could be close. Foody looks good for the final podium spot.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Terry Foody     Sharon Gerl      Jeannie Rice

First Loop of 2021 Tallahassee Club Cross Photo Credit: Michael Scott

80-84 Myrna Barnett and Sharon Beebe have this division to themselves. Barnett appears to be the faster of the two, at least on the roads. Barnet won the 75-79 division at the Masters 5 km Championships in Atlanta last February with a time of 36:31. That is over ten minutes faster than Beebe's most recent 5K time. That is a big enough cushion for me to pick Barnett over Beebe.

Top podium contenders in alphabetical order:

Myrna Barnett     Sharon Beebe

Lead Pack - 2021 Tallahassee Club Cross -- 300 Meters Into the Race Photo Credit: Michael Scott

That is it for my preview of the Individual Age Divisions in the Women's Race. Once I finish the same for Men's 60+ and Men's 40+, I will focus on the Team Races. That will be the final preview I post before the race next Saturday.

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