Thursday, February 1, 2024

Masters Team and Age Grading Recap for the 2024 USATF Cross Country Championships

January 30, 2024. As noted in the earlier recap, it was a cold, cold day at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, just outside of Richmond VA. Temperatures were in the upper 20's with winds at 13-16 mph, gusting to 26! That made the pre-race warmups important as well as the transition from the finish line to either the heated tent or a car in the nearby parking area! The earlier recap focused on Overall and Age Division individual championships. This recap focuses first on teams and then highlights the fastest Masters runners overall across all age divisions, based upon Age Grading. Scoring in the Men's 40+ and 50+ is based on the first 5 athletes to finish. Sum up their finishing places and the team with the low score wins. Only runners from complete teams are scored in the team competition. It is vital that the team get 5 runners across the finish line. Otherwise, they not only do not win team medals, they do not even earn Grand Prix points. For Men 60+ and 70+, and for all Women's teams only three are scored.


Men 40+ The Virginia, DC and Maryland teams showed up in force to compete for bragging rights in the region. They also aimed to repel the attempts of the two outside teams, from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The teams from the region included the Blacksburg Striders Blacksburg VA (home of VA Tech); Colonial Road Runners Williamsburg VA; Dojo Racing Washington DC; Endorphin Fitness Richmond VA; and Ragged Mountain Racing Charlottesville VA. The Greater Philadelphia Track Club and the Shore Athletic Club New Jersey were the two Mid-Atlantic teams who hoped to steal away one of the podium spots. The lead runners from the Colonial RR were brooking no opposition. Forest Braden and Adam Otstot were in the lead group throughout and finished 1-2 in the team competition. 

Forest Braden and his Colonial RR teammate, Adam Otstot, shown here in 1st and 3rd, went 1-2 in the Masters 40+ Team race--At the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott. Brian Flynn, running in 2nd, is affiliated with the Garden State TC, which did not declare a complete team for the Men 40+ division. 

Braden, head coach at William & Mary, knows how to motivate and, no doubt, encouraged his teammates. But after those two athletes went 1-2, their rivals from Charlottesville took 3rd and 5th with Matt Baresi and Chris Pirch, sandwiching Blacksburg's David Angell, 5th, between them. Colonial got another link in the chain when William Christian edged Dojo's Jeremy Redfern for 6th. That gave Colonial 9 points from their top 3. After John Becker claimed 8th for GPTC, Ragged Mountain got going again with William Palmer and Charlie Hurt finishing 9th and 10th within a second of one another. That gave ragged Mountain the edge; they had 4 runners finished, compared to three for Colonial. With a total of 27 points from their 4 finishers, Ragged Mountain was now in the driver's seat. Who would finish next? Derek Reinhold and John Gagliardi of GPTC delayed the resolution by taking 11th and 12th. Greater Philly had 31 points from their top 3. Once the first Endorphin runner was heard from, Michael Harlow in 13th, Colonial's Scott Ickes delivered an important 14th place, to bring Colonial even with Ragged Mountain on number of finishers, 4. That put them in the lead again with 23 points on 4 athletes to 27 on 4 athletes for Ragged Mountain. It could still go either way!

After Dojo's Bradley Klapper and Shore's Edward Ross finished 15th and 16th, Mark Tompkins closed off the scoring for Colonial, scoring 17 points as their fifth runner and delivering the victory. With a final total of 40 points, no one could catch them. Bert Jacoby closed off the scoring for Ragged Mountain with his 26th place, delivering the silver medal team finish. 

What about the bronze medals? Would either of the Mid-Atlantic teams mount the podium? Where we left off was Greater Philly with 31 points from 3 scoring runners and with Dojo Racing at 22 from 2 scoring runners. 

The Battle for the M40+ Team Title: Front From Left: William Christian Colonial RR, Matthew Barresi Ragged Mountain, and Christopher Pirch Ragged Mountain, running just ahead of Edward Ross Shore AC-white singlet and John Gagliardi Greater Philadelphia-white headband. At the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Dojo tightened things up considerably and moved into the lead when their 3rd and 4th runners, Jason Dwyer and Timothy Greszler finished 18th and 21st. Now Dojo had 61 points from 4 scoring athletes. When would the next Philly runner score? Would he be ahead of the 5th Dojo?! Joshua Sohn answered that by finishing ten seconds ahead of GPTC's Matthew DiPretore in 23rd. That gave Dojo 84 points from their top 5. But, wait a minute! DiPretore finished 24th; that still only raised GPTC's 4-runner total to 55. They could still climb onto the podium! When Greater Philly's Marten Beels finished 28th, he delivered the goods! Greater Philadelphia edged Dojo by a single point to take 3rd, 83 to 84, and claim the bronze medals. Blacksburg was fifth at 111 [D Angell, M Wisnioski, D Kolasa, K Byrd, D Paye] , with Endorphin 6th at 118 [M Harlow, J Dowdy, A Addison, J Sharp, D Goode] and Shore 7th at 168 [E Ross, J Maranzani, H Leddy, G Wiesinger, P Nowicki]. Shore had entered a hodge podge team of 40+, 60+ and one 70+ athletes when a number of runners had to scratch. It can be a tough decision, but team unity is important. There were two runners in their 40's and three runners above age 65. Those three older runners could have formed a 60+ team and been more competitive. But then the two younger runners would have been competing with no team. The five joined together and had five scoring members. They finished 7th as a team!

Colonial Road Runners 40     Ragged Mountain Racing 53     Greater Philadelphia Track Club 83

50+ The Blacksburg Striders and Colonial Road Runners showed up for the 50+ team competition but none of the other regional clubs were represented. Greater Philadelphia and Shore competed as did the Atlanta Track Club from Georgia and the Santa Barbara Running and Racing team from California. Santa Barbara had competed well in these championships ten years ago. They were hungry for national competition again. In Rusty Snow and Marcelo Mejia Perez, Santa Barbara had two of the top 50+ runners. They did not disappoint, taking 1st and 3rd. 

Rusty Snow #490 leads the way for Santa Barbara Running and Racing in the M50+ Team Competition. Snow's teammate, Marcelo Mejia Perez can be made out in the background with the bright blue shoes. They finished 2nd in the Team M50+ Competition. At the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Tim Harte finished third for GPTC. Then it was Blacksburg's Anderson Norton in 4th, followed by Atlanta's Frederick Dolan in 5th. Santa Barbara was still in the driver's seat. Blacksburg's Ignacio Moore altered that calculation by finishing 6th and giving Blacksburg two scoring runners in. They trailed Santa Barbara 4-10 but they were in the game with two scoring athletes. 

Anderson Norton #379 Blacksburg Striders leads Keith Schumann Orange singlet-Colonial RR, with Todd Booth just visible behind #419 Santa Barbara Running and Racing compete for the M50+ Team Championships at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

But Todd Booth scored 7th just six seconds behind Moore. That put Santa Barabara at 11 points on three runners. Blacksburg would have to bunch up its 3rd through 5th runners to have a chance. 

After Jeffrey Conston gave Shore its first score, Blacksburg did what it had to do. First, Kevin McGuire and Durelle Scott finished in a 6-second span, claiming 9th and 11th for Blacksburg. They now had 30 points from 4 runners; Santa Barbara had 11 from three athletes. Colonial did some of its own bunching; Timothy Suhr and Keith Schumann finished 10th and 12th to give Colonial its first two scores. After Fred Weir and Bryan Sydow finished 4 seconds apart in 13th and 14th to give Atlanta 32 points from three scored runners, Colonial got its third score from Robert McBee in 15th. That gave Colonial 37 points from three runners, just 6 points back from Atlanta. The focus on who was going to win the team championship returned when Blacksburg's Michael Stowe edged Santa Barbara's Michael Swan for 16th by a mere 4 seconds. That gave the Striders 46 points. But Santa Barbara still had a chance! Swan's 17th place gave them 28 points. They could tie Blacksburg if their 5th runner finished next. But it was not to be. Toby Worm of Colonial and Matt Cutrona of Greater Philly finished in 18th and 19th just ahead of Santa Barbara's #5, Joe DeVreese. DeVreese could not deliver the team win but he did deliver the team silver position! Santa Barabara had 48 points and no other team was close! Worm gave Colonial 55 points from 4 runners while Cutrona gave Philly their 2nd scoring runner. Could anyone steal the team bronze medals from Colonial? GPTC got their 3rd runner into the scoring column when Michael Flanagan finished 321st. But Colonial's Steven Kast ended all doubt when he finished 23rd, 8 seconds ahead of his teammate, Colonial's #6, Joe Calkins. Colonial claimed the final podium spot with 78 points. Atlanta finished 4th at 90 points [F Dolan, F Weir, B Sydow, M Strickland, M Pedersen]. GPTC took 5th with 98 points [T Harte, M Cutrona, M Flanagan, J Hollenbeck, J Shearer], while Shore's 120 points [J Conston, J Demetrick, K Dollard, E Puma, M DiLeva] gave them 6th place. 

 Blacksburg Striders 46     Santa Barbara Running & Racing 48     Colonial Road Runners 78

M60+ Six teams were in the hunt for the podium. Colonial was defending the region's honor against Atlanta, Greater Philadelphia, Shore AC against clubs showing up for the first time in this recap, Ann Arbor Track Club Michigan and Pike Creek Valley Running Club [Wilmington DE]. But Shore was the heavy favorite and they delivered. Mark Zamek and Henry Notaro claimed 1-2 in the team competition.

Mark Zamek #512 led the way for Shore AC's winning M60+ Team at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Atlanta's Lester Dragstedt claimed 3rd, but then Greater Philly's Larry Rechtin and Timothy Conheady finished 4th and 5th, just ahead of Shore's Michael Salamone, who delivered 6th place and the M60+ victory [M Zamek, H Notaro, M Salamone, M Hersey] at 9 points! When Ken Youngers, suffering from his lower back stiffening up during the race, nonetheless finished in 7th it looked like Atlanta might be able to pull out 2nd place. But GPTC's Scott Armstrong ended that dream by finishing in 8th to give GPTC 17 points and 2nd place [L Rechtin, T Conheady, S Armstrong, K Davies, C Shields]

Keith Davies #453 center & Timothy Conheady blue shirt, red shorts, partially obscured by #493 working together for Greater Philadelphia with David Black white headband, background striving to move up for Atlanta TC in the M60+ Team Race at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

The efforts of Youngers and Dragstedt were not in vain; David Black finished 11th to give Atlanta 21 points and 3rd place L Dragstedt, K Youngers, D Black, S Lucking, M Spencer. Pike Creek Valley [D Wiechecki, G Cauller, W Rose] finished 4th with 50 points, a single point ahead of Ann Arbor in 5th [L Sak, A Pratt, W Freeman, P Carlin, M Mester]. 

Miles Hersey #511 Shore AC and Larry Sak #350 Ann Arbor TC battling for points in the M60+ Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Colonial was 6th at 54 points R Whitaker, A Cutler, O Perez, T Robinson, J Duffy].

Shore Athletic Club 9     Greater Philadelphia Track Club 17     Atlanta Track Club 21

70+ This division featured a dogfight between the Boulder Road Runners and the Greater Philadelphia TC. Don Morrison took top Team honors for Philly. 

Don Morrison #458, who finished first int eh Men's 70+ Team Competition led the way for Greater Philadelphia's Silver medal team effort at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

But Doug Bell answered at 2nd for Boulder. Gene Dykes took 3rd for Greater Philadelphia, followed by Boulder's Gary Ostwald in 4th. 

Gene Dykes #459 running in 2nd for Greater Philadelphia, with Doug Bell background, white singlet over blue shirt of the Boulder Road Runners looking to move up in the men's 70+ Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Philly led 4-6 but Boulder was still in the mix. Atlanta's Ward Irvin put his Atlanta TC team on the board with his 5th place finish. Rick Katz gave Boulder its 3rd scoring runner at 6th. If Philly's 3rd scoring runner finished 9th or higher, Boulder had the win! Jerry Learned finished 7th for Atlanta. But then 2 seconds later, Steve McCormick gave GPTC the 8th place finish they needed for a 12-12 tie. But the tie-breaking rule is whichever team's final scoring runner (#3 for 70+) has the better finishing place. Boulder got the win on the tie-breaker [D Bell, G Ostwald, R Katz, J Frisby]. Philly took 2nd, also with 12 points [D Morrison, G Dykes, S McCormick, J Assal] and, when Allen Joyce finished 10th, Atlanta had 3rd place with 22 points [W Irvin, J Learned, A Joyce, P Taylor].

Boulder Road Runners 12     Greater Philadelphia Track Club 12     Atlanta Track Club 22

Women 40+ Team red Lizard had no problem in this division, going 1-2-3 with Renee Metivier leading the way, followed by Chelsea Lenge Warren and Kristin Shaw. Once that was settled, the battle for second got under way between the Impala Racing Team and Pike Creek Valley

Renee Metivier #628 center and Chelsea Lenge Warren white & red singlet, background running 1-2 for team Red Lizard's winning effort in the Women's 40+ Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Jacqueline Cooke put Impala on the board first with her 4th place finish but Sarah Rusk answered for Pike at 5th. Samantha Forde took 6th for Impala giving them 10 points from their top 2 runners. They just needed one more good score! Colonial's Tamara Pelletier claimed 7th. But a minute later, Pike Creek Valley's Brenda Hodge and Katrina Holloway finished just 4 seconds apart in 8th and 9th. That put a cap on it for Pike Creek at 22 points. But Impala could still claim 2nd if their third runner finished 11th or better. Unfortunately, Colonial had a solid pack of runners in their #2 through #4 slots and they took 10th through 12th with Deelyn Robinson, Megan Schulze, and Aimee Gianoukos

Deelynn Robinson #579 running in the #2 slot for the Colonial RR ahead of teammate, Megan Schulze #582, lime cap, orange singlet, backgrtound as they strive for points in the Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Jessica Anderson provided extra insurance with her 14th place finish for Colonial. When Alexandra Newman finished 13th, that allowed Pike Creek to claim the silver medals. It is always disappointing to lose the silver medal position by a single point. But Newman's 13th gave Impala a total of 23 and ensured them a podium finish at third. Colonial did not make the podium but they made a difference in the podium outcome.

Team Red Lizard 6     Pike Creek Valley Running Club 22      Impala Racing 23

50+ This division featured Greater Philadelphia vs. Shore. The final score was close but Greater Philadelphia had the win once Amy Gannon and Abby Dean delivered the 1-2 punch. 

Amy Gannon #592 leads the way for Greater Philadelphia at the front of the Women's 50+ Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Even if Shore had declared five runners, the maximum allowed, and all five had come in before GPTC's #3, they would still have finished 2nd in the team race. GPTC's #3 has to finish but her place would not matter. 

Shore put up a good fight; Laura Delea, Alexandra MarzullaMaureen Massell, and Alysia Puma finished 3-4-5-6.

Laura De Lea #616 and Alexandra Marzulla #618 working together as Shore AC's top two runners in the Women's 50+ team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

 When Louise Kelley closed off the scoring for Greater Philly at 7, that gave GPTC the win, 10-12. That 1-2 dynamic is only present if it is a two-team race. If there are a number of teams, the third runner on the 1-2 team can get moved down by runners on multiple other teams.

Greater Philadelphia Track Club 10     Shore Athletic Club 12

60+ Liberty Athletic Club managed the same trick as GPTC in 50+. Mary Cass and Amanda King finished 1-2. 

Mary Cass #601 and her Liberty AC teammate, Amanda King light blue cap, background, running 1-2 for their team at the front of the Women's 60+ Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

But that did not put 1st out of reach because three complete teams were entered. Nora Cary claimed 3rd for Shore and then Kris Huff put Atlanta on the board at 4th. Even though the 1-2 finish had not guaranteed the victory, that is still a heck of a way to start off. When Victoria Bok finished 5th, it was all over. Liberty had the win with 7 points. Neither Shore nor Atlanta could match that. But which team would nail the silver medals? Michelle Allen delivered 6th for Atlanta but then Debbie Brathwaite answered a half minute later with 7th place for Shore. 

Debbie Brathwaite rounds a turn as Shore AC's crucial # 3 scorer in the Women's 60+ Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott. 

It was tied at 10. Who had the faster #3? This time it was Atlanta's Robin Tanner who claimed 8th to give her team 18 points and the 1-point win when Susan Stirrat closed off the scoring for Shore; her 9th place gave them 19 points. Leslie Nowicki provided good insurance by finishing 10th for Shore.

Liberty AC 7     Atlanta Track Club 18     Shore AC 19

70+ The Atlanta TC was the only complete team entered in this division. Cindy Lucking, Andrea McCarter, and Joyce Hodges-Hite went 1-2-3 to claim the gold medal.

Atlanta Track Club 6

Cindy Lucking leading her Atlanta Track Club teammate to victory in the Women's 70+ Team Competition Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.


Background Information Age Grading was developed by Alan Jones, who also invented the Jones Calculator for bikes which allows for the accurate measurement of road courses. The idea is to have a system that allows the comparison of every athlete to his single age best possibility. Worldwide data on the fastest time run at every single year of age over four distances, the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon are utilized. Curves are fitted to each of these sets of data and that curve generates a 'best possible time' for every age. Separate data are used for Women and Men. Then for any given individual, their time is compared to this 'best possible time.' If your time is 20:00 for a 5k and the 'best possible time' for a person of your sex and age is 18:00, then your age grade is roughly =18/20 x 100 or 90%; if you run 22:00 instead, your age grade would be about 18/22 x100 or 81.8%. These percentages can be referred to as Performance Level Percentages or PLP's. The higher the PLP the better. But the easiest way to calculate a PLP is to go to the Age Grading calculator maintained by Howard Grubb at: MLDR Road age-grading calculator ( Make sure you are using the 2020 tables. It should say: "USATF MLDR Road age-grading calculator 2020". Those are the most recent. We expect they will be updated this year to take effect no later than January 2025. If a timing company's software uses these tables, the age grade PLP generated from the overall results should match pretty closely to the ones you would get from that calculator. Because of rounding errors within the software program, they can be off slightly. Technically these PLP's should only be applied to road races because the data come from road races. But, for convenience's sake, the USATF Masters LDR Committee has decided to apply them to Masters Cross Country Championships. It is the best way to make awards that entrants across all ages can aspire to win. based on their relative competitiveness. Because Cross Country races are on terrain that is less forgiving than roads, times tend to be slower. That means that, on accurately measured cross country courses, the age grade PLP's will tend to be lower. 

WOMEN Nora Cary 68, who won the 65-69 age division and was the first woman in the 60+ team competition, at age 68, with a 27:07, achieved the highest PLP at 91.3%. This was actually Cary's second age grade win in a row. Because of unanticipated difficulties with the timing software, the wrong PLP's were used at Club Cross in Tallahassee. Cary finished 2nd last year to Masters Hall of Famer, Kathy Martin, with a 26:22 for a 92.7% PLP. Cary broke her foot in late February, had surgery in March and did not compete nationally again until the 12 Km in Mid-September. She ran 52:33 to finish second to another legend, marathoner Jeannie Rice.

Nora Cary's tour around the Cross Country course at Richmond VA earned her the Overall Age Grade Win, identifying her performance as the best across all age divisions in the Masters race at the 2024 USATF  Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Second place went to Mary Cass 62; her 25:38 merited an 89.3%. Third place was a tie at 85.8% between Carrie Dimoff 40, the overall winner at 21:16, and Amanda King 62, the 2nd place finisher in 60-64 at 26:41. Renee Metivier 42, 2nd place overall, and Kasie Enman 44, fifth overall in 22:06, tied for age grading 5th place at 84.8%.

Nora Cary 68 27:07 91.3%     Mary Cass 62 25:38 89.3%     Tie: Carrie Dimoff 40 21:16 85.8% & Amanda King 62 26:41 85.8%

MEN Nat Larson 61 who came in three seconds ahead of Mark Zamek 60 to win the 60-64 division, also took first in age grading ahead of his 60-year-old rival. Larson's 28:52 earned a 90.2% PLP while Zamek's 28:55, at age 60, earned an 89.3%. Larson, who owns the Men's 60-64 American Records for distances from the 1 Mile (4:49) to the Half Marathon (1:15:27) is a perennial favorite for the Age Grading podium at National Championships. He was the defending champion, winning here in 2023 with a time of 28:33 and a PLP of 90.4%. He then won the age grading championship at each of the national championship road races he entered, the 10Mile, Half Marathon, 10 Km, and 12 Km. The only contest he lost was at Club Cross at Tallahassee FL, where he finished 2nd to Rick Becker.

Nat Larson's race, at age 61, earned the highest age grade score, designating his as the top Men's performance, across all ages, in the Masters race at the Team Competition at the 2024 USATF Masters Cross Country Championships in Richmond, VA. Photo Credit: Michael Scott.

Third place went to Rusty Snow 54, who took top honors in 50-54 in his last year in the division; his 27:29 merited an 89.1%. Pete Gibson 67, who has seen a resurgence in his running recently, finished 4th; his 31:25 earned an 87.7% PLP. David Westenberg 66, who took the win in 65-69 at 31:18 scored an 87.2% PLP for 5th in age grading.

Nat Larson 61 28:52 90.2%     Mark Zamek 60 28:55 89.3%     Rusty Snow 54 27:29 89.1%

Hat's off to these incredible athletes for these amazing performances!

That concludes the recap of the Masters Championships at the 2024 USATF Cross Country Championships. Next up on the USATF Masters National Grand Prix is the first road championship of 2024, the Masters 5 Km in Atlanta GA on Saturday, February 24th. There is a new course and a new staging area for the race. Check out the details at: 2024 USATF Masters 5 km Championships | USA Track & Field.

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