Saturday, May 18, 2024

West Coast Speed!-The USATF Masters Road Mile Championships at the Mile of Truth

May 16, 2024 The USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships were inaugurated at the Liberty Mile in Pittsburgh, PA in 2013. From 2014 until 2019, they were hosted by the Michigan Mile at the Crim Fitness Center's Festival of Races in Flint, MI. 

Start of the Men's Race at the 2018 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships Hosted by the Michigan Mile Photo Credit: Carter Sherline, Frog Prince Studios

The Rochester Mile, in New York, hosted the 2022 edition. 

Beginning of the Women's Race in Rochester, 2022 Photo Credit: Compliments of the Rochester Mile/GVH

The Monumental Mile in Indianapolis Indiana stepped up to host the event in 2023.  

Men's Race in Indianapolis with a Kilometer to Go! Photo Credit: Beyond Monumental

The event moves to the West Coast for the first time in 2024. The Devil Mountain Mile of Truth in Danville California hosts the event on Sunday, May 19th. The organizers are planning on three heats for the Masters Championships. Women first at 9:25 am, followed by Men 60+ at about 9:35 am, and Men 40+ at about 9:45 am. The Men's Race is separated into two waves so that the three fields are all about the same size and overcrowding is avoided.

This will be the largest field for the event yet. As of May 15, 200 athletes had entered. The weather forecast looks outstanding, with temperatures in the upper 50's at race time, under sunny skies with winds at 6 mph. The course is two circuits (and a bit more) around a large downtown city block. The current Masters Men's American Record of 4:22 was set by Neville Davey on this course in 2018. Six American records were set in Indianapolis last year. Two of those record setters, Christian Cushing-Murray and Mike Madsen return to defend the 55-59 and 50-54 championships and records, respectively. Tom Bernhard’s 5:18, the 65-69 American Record (AR) in the Road Mile could fall if Jacob Nur and David Westenberg both have ‘on’ days and push each other. Jan Frisby, new to the 80-84 division and the 2019 M75 national road mile champion has an excellent shot at Sherwood Sagedahl's 7:08 AR. Sonja Friend-Uhl, the 45-49 AR holder, could lower Doreen McCoubrie’s 5:18 AR. Sue McDonald holds the Women’s 60-64 World Record at 1500M outdoors at 5:02.68 and in the 1 Mile Indoors at 5:30.73. She is chasing the 5:44 Road Mile AR of Masters Hall of Famer, Kathy Martin. Carol Mikkelsen, at 85, is the oldest female competitor. She could break the 85-89 AR of 15:25 set last year by Joyce Hodges-Hite.

Note: If the reader has seen faster road mile times for 'straight shot' courses like the Fifth Avenue Mile, it is important to realize that those courses are not record-eligible. To avoid the possibility of substantially wind-aided times, a mile course must have a finish line that is no more than a half-mile distant from the start. It must also have a drop of no more than 1 meter per kilometer. That means no drop more than about 1.6 meters for a mile course. Many record eligible courses adopt a variant of an inverted 'U' shape. The runners head in one direction for about 500 meters, turn left to go over a block, turn left again and finish with a straight shot of over half a mile.


WOMEN Who is likely to be the first athlete to cross the finish line? The primary contenders for that honor appear to be Elizabeth Camy, Jessica PondsCourtney Quirin, Kristin Rohde. and Megan Syal from the 40-44 division; Sonja Friend-Uhl, from the 50-54 division, could also be in the mix for the podium. 

Known more for her marathons and half marathons, Camy just captured the silver medal overall at the USATF Masters 10 Km national championships in Massachusetts with a sparkling 36:42! In February she was the first Masters woman to finish the Surf City Half Marathon in 1:18:30.

Elizabeth Camy earning the Silver Medal Overall at the 2024 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Ponds was the 2nd Masters woman at the Austin TX Half Marathon in February with a 1:26:41. Last November this Maryland athlete ran a 40:28 10K. Ponds showed considerably more speed recently; she was the second woman to finish at the Westminster Mile in Maryland in April, clocking a nifty 5:08.87. 

Quirin is a puzzle. I find no recent results for her in Athlinks nor in the posted 2024 Pacific Association Road Race results. Yet at the West Coast Last Chance Open in 2017, when she was 34, she ran a 4:41 1500 Meters, roughly equivalent to a 5:06 Mile. Ordinary aging to her current age of 41 suggests a 5:15 might be reachable if she has maintained fitness. Two years after that race, she clocked 17:53 at Morgan Hill, roughly equivalent to an 18:18 effort five years later. But does Quirin still have that kind of fitness? We will find out on Sunday.

Rohde ran 18:36 at the Shamrock 5K in Portland Oregon in March, finishing fourth woman overall and first Masters. Rohde has no recent mile results that I can find. She ran at Club Cross last December, finishing 13th overall. Camy finished 22 seconds ahead of her in that race.

Syal, in January, was the third woman to finish, with a 19:53, at the San Francisco Hot Chocolate 5K. In early March, Syal was the first woman across the finish line at the Livermore Half Marathon in 1:25:34.

Friend-Uhl, running out of the 50-54 age division is a longshot but not an extreme longshot. She is the current 45-49 American Road Mile record holder with a 5:07 at the Navy Mile in Washington DC in 2018. After battling some health issues, Friend-Uhl came storming back this year. At last year's Outdoor Masters Championships, the Florida resident took the 1500M title for 50-54 at 5:04.75. At the recent national Masters Indoor Championships in Chicago, Friend-Uh was first woman 50-54 in the 1 Mile Run, clocking 5:27.

This is a tough race to sort through. Each candidate has strengths and weaknesses. Camy appears to be the strongest distance runner in the group but that is not a guarantee she is the fastest miler. Ponds just ran a fast mile in Maryland, only three seconds slower than the winning time last year in Indy. But it is a straight shot which should be faster than the Indy course which has two 90-degree turns. Her 40:28 10K last November and her 1:26:41 are consistent with the 1 Mile time possibly being an overestimate of Ponds's likely outcome in this race. Quirin has the chops as a top miler but has not raced recently that I can tell. Rohde is a strong, overall runner, strong on both the road and the turf, although beaten by Camy. I find no recent mile results for Rohde. Syal has solid results, a sub-20 5K and a faster half marathon time than Ponds. Friend-Uhl is a savvy miler on the track and roads. She won the overall national road mile championship in 2019 with a 5:06. But Friend-Uhl is not as fast at 53 as she was at 48. She will probably run faster than her 5:27 Indoor time; her recent training block appears very solid. Perhaps Friend-Uhl can run under 5:20 but running under 5:10 seems a reach too far. Will this be the first Masters Championship race since 2018 where the winner does not crack 5:10?

With so much uncertainty, I go with a finishing order of Ponds, Camy, and Rohde. But upsets are likely.

Likely Podium in Alphabetical Order:

Elizabeth Camy     Jessica Ponds     Kristin Rohde


MEN 40 PLUS WAVE The primary contenders from the 40-44 division are Fernando Cabada, Jesse Chettle, Mario Fraioli, and Neil McDonagh. Peter Gilmore, from M45, and Mike Madsen from M50, deserve mention as well.

Cabada, known more as a marathoner and half marathoner than a miler, Cabada has been a top Open athlete. He graduated to masters status last year and promptly won the Masters Ten Mile Championships in Sacramento in early April with a 49:03. Were this a longer distance, Cabada would definitely be the favorite. The only recent mile I can find for Cabada is his 4:38 Overall win at the Carnation Mile near Denver in August 2022. That would, I presume, be faster at sea level, and faster again, perhaps, if he had been pushed. He won by 17 seconds. On the other hand, it is apparently a straight-shot mile which offsets the disadvantages somewhat. My guess is that Cabada is still the favorite. Who can push him?

Fernando Cabada black singlet on his way to victory at the 2023 USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships in Sacramento CA Photo compliments of Sac4%ramento Running Association

In February of 2022, at age 38, Chettle competed in the Elite section of the Ascension Austin Marathon Mile, clocking 4:41 to finish 12th. His 14:52 5K at Grandma's Marathon gave him the overall win in June 2022. In November 2023, he ran a 15:58 and 1 15:55 5K in Phoenix and Missouri.

Fraioli is the defending Mile of Truth Masters champion. He won last year with a 4:38. On April 13th he was the Masters winner of the B.A.A. 5K in 16:00!

In January 2023, McDonagh, a Colorado Springs runner, finished second to Ben Bruce not entered here in the Masters race at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Richmond VA. His time over 8 Km was 25:26. More to the point, McDonagh was 12th Overall and 1st Masters athlete at the August 2023 Pearl Street Mile in Boulder CO with a 4:35. That is at higher altitude than Denver. Unlike Cabada though, McDonagh was in the midst of a tight race. Six other runners finished within two seconds of him.

Neil McDonagh claims the Silver Medal overall in the Masters Men's race at the 2023 USATF Cross Country Championships Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Gilmore is known nationally as a top Cross Country performer. He was twice on the Masters Overall podium at the national Club Cross Championships, the most competitive of the three national masters XC championships. The win eluded him but he finished second over the Lehigh course in Bethlehem PA in 2019 and over the Apalachee regional park course in Tallahassee in 2021. Last March, Gilmore went long, with a 2:31:53 to finish 8th overall and first Masters at the Napa Valley Marathon. His most recent mile is the road mile in Los Gatos; he was 2nd Masters athlete at the Big Bang in 4:35.

Madsen, as noted above, set the American 50-54 Road Mile record in Indy last year. The 4:37 he ran there looks competitive. Madsen also finished 2nd overall at the 2019 Masters Road Mile Championships in Flint Michigan. His 4:37 lost by a whisker to an athlete with a better dip at the tape. The course in Flint Michigan was more technical and had some elevation change but it says a lot about Madsen's discipline that his time did not slow over those four years, aging from mid-40's to 50. Like Westenberg, he ran a 'rust-buster' 1500M this spring. His 4:18.6 1500M equates roughly to a 4:42 Mile. He should run faster a month later.

Like I said, Cabada appears to be the favorite. I expect him to be pushed. Chettle, Fraioli, McDonagh, and Madsen can all break 4:40. Perhaps the final order is likely to be Cabada, Fraioli, McDonagh. Chettle and Madsen could certainly be pushing them. Gilmore is less likely to be in the mix, but functions as kind of a wild card here. He is likely just entered to shore up the West Valley M40+ team. But Gilmore is such a fine runner that one can never afford to overlook him.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Fernando Cabada     Mario Fraioli     Neil McDonagh


MEN 60 Plus Wave Note: Although I write about the first athlete across the finish line from this wave, there are no separate Overall prizes or medals for the M60+ wave. It is most likely that the Overall Men's gold, silver and bronze medals will come from the 40+ wave. The Masters Men's race is split into two waves to avoid overcrowding on the course.

The primary contenders in this wave include: John BorthwickJeff Mann, Kevin Ostenberg, and Raymond Rodriguez from the M60 group and Jacob Nur and David Westenberg, from the M65 division.

Borthwick finished 5th in the M55-59 division at the Masters Road Mile championships in Rochester in 2022, clocking 5:05. A year later he took the M60 win at the Grand Blue Mile with a 5:15. Six weeks later he cooked a 5:11 road mile at Indy to finish fifth in the M60 division. He finished 4th at the Masters Indoor Championships this past March with a 5:23.

Mann finished three seconds ahead of Borthwick at the Masters Indoor Championships 1 Mile with a 5:20 in March. A few weeks later he ran a surprisingly modest 20:28 at the Carlsbad 5000. 

In 2022, Ostenberg finished 5th in 60-64 with a 5:14 at the Masters Road Mile Championships in Rochester. His 17:25 at Carlsbad was good enough to win his division; it shows he is coming in with good fitness.

Kevin Ostenberg, powering over the turf on his way to a bronze medal in the Men's 60+ Race at the 2024 Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Rodriguez won M60 at the Mile of Truth last year in 5:23. He ran 17:23 at the Morgan Hill 5K last July. This March, however, he clocked 19:23 at the Dublin CA Shamrock 5K. He apparently was overcoming some challenges at that point. Is he fully clear of whatever challenges he was facing in March?

Nur holds four American Records for 65–69-year-olds. He set the 10 Km mark in 2021 at 35:42. In 2022 he set the 5 Km at 17:00, the 10 Mile at 58:34 and the Half Marathon at 1:18:00. 

Jacob Nur Strides to Victory and a New Men's 65-69 American Record for the Ten Mile Run at the 2022 USATF Masters Ten Mile Championships Photo courtesy of Sacramento Running Association

The 17-minute 5 Km suggests he has good speed to go with his endurance. His most recent effort is a 23:47 at the Valentine's 5K in Sacramento. That equates to an 18:17 5K, off his best. His 5:19 to win Men 65-69 at the Mile of Truth in 2019 was, perhaps, his first try at a road mile. As such, it may be possible that he would run faster on a second try. He intended to run at Indy last year but had to withdraw to save himself from a potential injury. A repeat of his 5:19 will probably not be fast enough to win. It might be fast enough for the podium though.

Westenberg, out of the Greater Boston area, set the Indoor Mile American Record for Men 65-69 at 5:10.61 in December 2022. He ran the Boston Marathon on a hot day in mid-April. Thirteen days later, Westenberg was able to win the 65-69 division at the USATF Masters 10 Km Championships at 39:00.

David Westenberg captures the Men 65-69 Win at the 2024 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships Photo Credit: Michael Scott

That shows resilience. In the middle of a marathon buildup in March, his winning time at Masters Indoors this year was 5:22.8. His training log shows a 4:57.98 'rust-buster' outdoor 1500M on a cold and windy day in early May. A 4:58 1500M equates, roughly, to a 5:25 Mile. He has experience with the Road Mile. In May 2022, Westenberg ran 5:15 at the Masters Mile Championships in Rochester NY. He ran 5:19 at the High Street Mile in Newburyport MA in August 2022. Because he is now in the process of recovering middle distance fitness after a marathon, I expect his Mile time to drop between his '5:25' rust buster and Sunday. But how far can he go? He can get under 5:20. Can he get under 5:15?

Who looks readiest to be in the top three in the 60+ Wave? Nur and Westenberg are the top 65–69-year-olds but they may not have the speed to overrule the top 60–64-year-olds in the wave. Borthwick ran ten seconds faster than Westenberg in Rochester. To be fair, both ran the same time at the Chicago Indoor championships this March. And it could be argued that Westenberg is faster now that he is out of marathon training. Mann ran three seconds faster than Westenberg in Chicago, but in the 60-64 division. And his Carlsbad time argues against picking him. Ostenberg ran two minutes faster than Westenberg at Tallahassee. But that was also during Westenberg's marathon buildup. And Cross Country races over 8 km of turf may not be the best predictors of road mile success.

I look for Nur, Ostenberg, and Westenberg to fight it out for the top three, with Borthwick, Mann and Rodriguez strongly in the mix. Westenberg is the most seasoned middle-distance runner of the three. Perhaps the finishing order might be Westenberg-Ostenberg-Nur. That will be my guess anyway. Late breaking news! Borthwick is out with an injury.

Likely Podium in Alphabetical Order:

Jacob Nur     Kevin Ostenberg     David Westenberg 



M40 See above discussion of Men 40 Plus. The top contenders for that wave are, with the exception of Madsen, from the 40-44 division. Hence the likely order of finish here is also Cabada, Fraioli, and McDonagh.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Fernando Cabada     Mario Fraioli     Neil McDonagh

W40 See above discussion of Women. The top contenders in that race are from W40 with the exception of Friend-Uhl. The likely order of finish for this division, on the basis of a fair amount of guesswork, is also Ponds, Camy, and Rohde.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Elizabeth Camy     Jessica Ponds     Kristen Rohde

M45 The top athletes in this division appear to be Peter Gilmore, Lee Klarich, and Sanjay Rawal.  Gilmore's national reputation as a Masters runner is tied to his two second place finishes at the highly competitive Club Cross championships over the Lehigh course in 2019 and the Apalachee Regional Park course in 2021. But he has competed at almost every distance from the Mile to the Marathon. In 2019 he also ran a 4:34.01 at the 1 Mile Bang in Los Gatos CA. Five years later that 4:34 may look more like a 4:44 but that should still be competitive. In 2022, Gilmore finished 4th overall at the USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships in 52:46 and in August 2023, ran 16:09 at the Oakland Twilight 5000. Klarich finished 4th overall was second master finisher in 16:52 at last year's Stow Lake Stampede. He finished seventh overall in M40 Plus, but first in this division at last year's Mile of Truth in 4:49. Rawal made a splash nationally when he earned the silver medal overall at the 2023 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships. His 1:14:26 was a quality effort on an unseasonably warm April day over a hilly course in Syracuse NY. 

Sanjay Rawal on his way to the Silver Medal overall at the 2023 USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships

Rawal knows how to run long in the warm. He also competed at Boston this year, clocking a 2:45:28. More to the point, he has a 4:50 from the One Mile Around the World race on Long Island in 2021. He was not pushed. Perhaps Trevor Cox could break onto the podium. He ran 17:15 at Carlsbad last month. I will go with a likely order of Gilmore, Rawal, and Klarich.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Peter Gilmore      Lee Klarich     Sanjay Rawal

W45 Alyson Barrett, Jacqueline Cooke, Amy Crain, and Claire Saxton appear to be the top four entrants in this division. Barrett was 3rd in W40 last year at the Stow Lake Stampede 5K, clocking 19:04. She also took 3rd in the Devil Mountain Mile of Truth last year in 5:42. Cooke finished 5th overall and 1st W45 in the 2023 USATF Masters 10 Mile Championships. She was first Masters finisher at the Mile of Truth last year in 5:23. Crain ran 19:56 at the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot last year and 1:22:07 at the Napa Valley HM this March. She ran 5:30 in the Fleet Feet Liberty Mile in 2019; that suggests a time five years later that is closer to 5:40. Saxton had two solid 5K's last year with a 19:48 at Morgan Hill and a 19:47 at Stow Lake. On May 5th she ripped off a 19:31 at the Patagonia 5K. As it turns out, though, Cooke finished 24 seconds ahead of her. Saxton finished three seconds behind Barrett at the Mile of Truth last year. Cooke looks like the one to beat in this division, followed by Barrett. Crain could certainly give Saxton a challenge for the third spot. As a guess I will go with the experience of having run here before to give Saxton the edge. So, I go with a likely finishing order of Cooke, Barret, Saxton and will let Crain prove that wrong if she can.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Alyson Barrett     Jacqueline Cooke     Claire Saxton

M50 This division belongs to Flagstaff's Mike Madsen who set the AR in Indy last year with a 4:38 effort. 

Mike Madsen closing in on the Finish Line and a New American Road Mile Record for Men 45-49 at the 2023 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships Photo courtesy of Beyond Monumental

Last year he was 7th overall and 1st Masters 50-54 in the Carlsbad Masters Men's race with a 16:15. He ran a 'rust-busting' 4:18.6 1500M on April 13th, roughly equivalent to a 4:42 Mile. Madsen should be faster on Sunday. His chief competition should come from Jaime Heilpern and Todd Rose. Jonah Backstrom, John Gardiner, Ivan Lieben, and Julian Marsh will push the pace and could wind up on the podium. Heilpern is known for his cross country prowess but he is also fast on the roads. He broke 16 minutes last year at both Morgan Hill in July and Stow Lake in June. In May he took the M50+ title with a 4:42. I do not find a recent Mile result for Rose but he, too, is very tough on the cross country turf. He ran just a little slower than Heilpern at Stow Lake in 2022, 16:14. He ran 16:15 at Carlsbad this year. Backstrom mostly runs trails so it is hard to judge his readiness for a fast mile. He ran 58:13 at the Nor Cal 10 Miler a couple of years ago. So he is likely a low 35's 10K runner and so a low 17 5K runner. Gardiner finished second at the Masters 1 Mile Championships in 2017 with a 4:37. He finished 2nd M50 at Carlsbad this year with a 16:36. Lieben is coming back from injury but ran an 18:29 5K at Walnut Creek last November. His fitness continues to improve. He is ready to run faster but perhaps not fast enough for the podium in such a strong field. Marsh ran a 32:55 10K at the Kaiser Permanente HM in February of 2023. Without more recent evidence it is hard to see if he is tightly in the mix for the podium, as that time might otherwise imply, I will go with an order of Madsen, Heilpern, and Rose, but anything could happen!

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Jaime Heilpern     Mike Madsen     Todd Rose

W50 Boca Raton's Sonja Friend-Uhl enters the race as the favorite. As noted in the discussion on the top contenders for the Women's race, she is the 45-49 AR holder at 5:07. Since that time, she has dealt with some health issues and worked her way back to top fitness. 

Sonja Friend-Uhl closes in on Overall Victory at the 2019 USATF Masters Road Mile Championships in Flint MI Photo courtesy of the Crim Fitness Foundation

At the recent Indoor Championsh4ips she took the W50 crown at both 800M and 1 Mile. Her mile time was 5:27.32. She should be ready to run faster on the roads this Sunday. Her primary competition comes from Samantha Forde and Felecia Nedley. Forde was first woman 50 and up last year at both Stow Lake, in 19:31, and at the Mile of Truth in 5:56. Nedley finished 2nd to Friend-Uhl at the Indoor Championships in Chicago, clocking 5:50.01. Jodi Buyyounouski will make sure those three earn the podium. She was seven seconds behind her teammate, Forde, at the Mile of Truth last year. She ran 20:10 at Morgan Hill and 20:15 at Stow Lake. The most likely order of finish is Friend-Uhl, Nedley, and Forde.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Samantha Forde     Sonja Friend-Uhl     Felecia Nedley

M55 Christian Cushing-Murray defends his 55-59 Road Mile title from last year. Like Madsen, he set an American Record in winning, 4:47. A sub-4 Minute Miler in his day, a 1500 Meters finalist at the 1992 Olympic trials, Cushing-Murray competed in numerous high profile European track meets, the precursors to today's Diamond League events. Cushing-Murray is unusual among top Open runners in maintaining a long and successful career as a Masters runner. His love of the sport and team camaraderie has kept him not only involved but a central force on his Cal Coast Track Club team. His fitness is coming around again after dealing with some issues over the fall and winter. At Carlsbad last month, he finished second in M55 to Emmet Hogan in 17:15. 

Christian Cushing-Murray Breaking the American Road Mile Record for Men 55-59 at the 2023 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Indianapolis Photo courtesy of Beyond Monumental

Challengers to Cushing-Murray include Eric Hartmann and Darren Morgan. Hartmann ran 17:35 in the Bowerman 5K last August. His 28:43 8K run at the Shamrock Run in Portland shows his fitness in mid-March was not far off that level. Newly advanced to the M55 division, Morgan finished fourth in M50 at the Sactown Ten Miler on April 7th at 58:29, roughly equivalent to a 35:22 10K. Teammates, Erich Ackermann and Roger Dix, can be expected to push them all the way. Dix was 4 seconds faster than Ackermann, with a 5:29 at the Mile of Truth last year. Ackermann, with an 18:43 5K, reversed the tables with a three second edge over Dix at the Stow Lake Stampede. I look for a likely finishing order of Cushing-Murray, Hartmann, and Morgan. Breaking the 4:47 set last year looks to be a tall order but not out of the question.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Christian Cushing-Murray     Eric Hartmann     Darren Morgan

W55 Liz Guerrini is the favorite. She ran 19:27 at Carlsbad last month and clocked a 6:12 mile at the Abbot Kinney 1 Mile Run. Annamarie Louie and Veronica Marzorini will vie for the silver medal. They appear to be quite closely matched. Louie ran 24:02 at Morgan Hill last July; Marzorini ran 24:10 at the Davis Stampede this February. Last May, Louie took 5th in W50 at 6:56 at the Mile of Truth. Marzorini turned in a 6:55 performance at the Firecracker Mile in Truckee CA. It seems to be a coin toss. I will give Louie the edge on the basis that she is more familiar with the mile course at Danville. Rachel Vinkey finished a minute and a half behind Louie at the Mile of Truth last year and should be just off the podium. The likely order of finish, given my earlier comment about course experience deciding a close outcome is: Guerrini-Louie-Marzorini.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Liz Guerrini     Annamarie Louie     Veronica Marzorini    

Masters Women Racing Over the First Half Mile of the Rochester Mile course for the 2022 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships Photo compliments of the Rochester Mile/GVH

M60 As indicated in the discussion above about the M60 Plus wave, Kevin Ostenberg seems strongest, with John Borthwick, Jeff Mann, and Raymond Rodriguez challenging him for the win. With Borthwick withdrawing due to injury, that leaves Mann and Rodriguez to battle Ostenberg. The 5:20 and 5:23 for Mann and Rodriguez in last year's Mile of Truth suggests they should dominate the others in the field. I worry, though, about their 5K times this spring. With 5:20 Mile speed, Mann should be well under 18:00 for a 5K. Yet his Carlsbad outing was over 20 minutes. Was that just an off day for some reason or is it a sign of injury that will mean a mile effort closer to 6 minutes? It is a similar worry with Rodriguez. He ran 17:34 at Morgan Hill last year. But at the Dublin Shamrock Run this march, Rodriguez ran almost two minutes slower. If Mann and/or Rodriguez is off their best, that opens things up for Steve Howard, Ray Knerr, Scott Lacrosse, and Gary Waggoner to compete for a place on the podium. Howard ran 5:35 at the Mile of Truth last May, following that with 19:09 at Stow Lake and 19:20 at Morgan Hill. The most recent fast 5K I can find for Knerr is an 18:12 at the Ventura Turkey Trot in 2019. Aging that up by 5 years still leaves it as a very solid 19:01. Knerr did show that on the cross country turf, at least in January 2022, he could outrun Borthwick. If he still has that relative fitness and is not injured, Knerr can play a critical role in this race. Lacrosse finished third this April in the Sactown Ten Miler with a 1:03:54, roughly equivalent to a 38:35. Waggoner finished twenty seconds ahead of lacrosse in that same race. I am going to guess that Mann and Rodriguez have gotten over whatever niggles were holding them back and stick with an Ostenberg-Rodriguez-Mann likely finishing order.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Jeff Mann     Kevin Ostenberg     Raymond Rodriguez

Taking a Turn at 600 Meters - The Men's Race at the 2022 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Rochester NY Photo courtesy of the Rochester Mile/GVH

W60 Sue McDonald, the 60-64 World Record holder at the 1 Mile Indoors, 5:30.73, and the 1500M Outdoors, 5:02.68, is the odds-on favorite. At the same time she chases a win, she will also be chasing Kathy Martin's 5:44 Mile Record. With some good 50's and a few 40's athletes to run amongst, I will be surprised if McDonald is not the new AR holder by the end of the day on Sunday, pending ratification, of course. Kris Huff, Allison Orofino, and Nancy Simmons contesting the other two podium spots. Huff ran 6:06 at the Rochester Mile in 2022, finishing 4th in W55. She ran 22:07 to finish 7th in W60 at the Masters 5 Km Championships this February. That is a challenging 5K but still it suggests Huff may not be ready to equal the 6:06 she ran two years ago. That gives some hope to Orofino who ran 20:45 at the Feed the Hungry 5K last November and ran a 27:59 Valentine's Day 4-Miler, equating to a 21:34 5K. Simmons is known nationally for her strong Cross Country running. In 2020 she took top W60 honors at the USATF Cross Country Championships. 

Nancy Simmons leads teammate, Suzanne Cordes halfway through the race on her way to the Silver medal in 60-64 at the 2021 USATF Club Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee FL Photo Credit: Michael Scott

In December 2021 she finished 2nd in W60 at the highly competitive Club Cross Country  Championships in Tallahassee. She demonstrated her road skills more recently; Simmons ran 6:02 to take top W60 honors at the 2023 Mile of Truth. The most likely finishing order seems McDonald-Simmons-Huff, but Huff and Orofino could easily be close at the finish.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Kris Huff     Sue McDonald     Nancy Simmons

M65 As the earlier section makes clear this division should feature a classic race between Jacob Nur, known more as a long-distance specialist, and David Westenberg, known more as a middle-distance track runner. Both appellations are too narrow. Nur has run races as short as a Mile and Westenberg has now run two marathons. But Nur holds American Records at 5 Km and above. Westenberg holds American records at the 1500M and the 1 Mile. Nur ran 5:19 at the Mile of Truth last year. In August of 2022, Westenberg ran a Road Mile in 5:19. Westenberg's M65 win at the Indoor Championships this March was a 4:22. If both are on, it should be a close race. Westenberg may still be recovering frog his Boston Marathon on a warm day in mid-April. But it is 5 weeks later. Nur's outing at the Valentine's Day Run in Sacramento was not up to his usual standard. That could mean he was injured, or it could mean that he took it easy to avoid injury. Either way, I am going to guess that Westenberg, as a fellow who has run lots of miles and 1500M runs, has the edge. Barring any unexpected occurrences, the third podium spot should go to Ken Youngers. At the Masters 5 Km Championships, Youngers took 3rd in 18:55. Youngers also took 3rd in M65 at the 1 Mile Championships in Rochester in 5:28. Westenberg was two spots ahead of him in 5:15. That gives me a likely finishing order of Westenberg-Nur-Youngers. Should any of those three be off their best, Bobby Hastings, Michael Lebold, and Doug Steedman will be within striking distance ready to take advantage of any difficulties or miscues. Hastings just ran a 19:53 5K at the Sactown Ten. Lebold just ran 19:57 at the Carlsbad 5000. He was 5th M65 last year at Indy in 5:45, and 3rd M65 at the Indoor Mile in Chicago in 5:35. Steedman ran 19:46 at Morgan Hill last year. He ran 20:29 at Stow Lake in June but that was an anomaly. He ran 19:38 there the year before, and his 19:46 was a few weeks after Stow Lake. I will go with Westenberg-Nur-Youngers. It should be an exciting race!

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

David Westenberg      Jacob Nur     Ken Youngers

W65 Stella Gibbs and Lesley Hinz will lock horns. Gibbs had the edge over the 5K distance at the Masters Championships in Atlanta in February. She won W65 in 21:14. 

Stella Gibbs finishing off a Silver Medal Effort for Women 65-69 at the 2024 USATF masters 10 Km Championships at the James Joyce Ramble Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Hinz finished two minutes behind Gibbs but the 5K is not what she trains for; she trains for middle distance events on the track. Returning from surgery last year, her times have been improving. She ran a 6:38 road mile at the Resolution Run in January. Ruby Ghadially will also be in the mix. She won the division at the Mile of Truth last year in 6:37. In July she clocked 22:23 at the 5K in Morgan Hill. Gibbs is faster than both in the 5K. Will that be enough Will that be enough to offset any edge the milers might have? I will guess yes, but it will likely be close. I will opt for a likely finishing order of Gibbs-Hinz-Ghadially. Michelle Montgomery who ran 21:30 at Stow Lake in 2018 could step up if any of those three have an off day.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Stella Gibbs     Lesley Hinz     Ruby Ghadially

M70 Art Beckett, Doug Bell, Douglas Chesnut, Keith Duncan, and Kirk Larson have the fastest recent road miles. Beckett ran 6:04 at the fast, straight-shot Fifth Avenue Mile last September. In 2019 he ran 6:08 at the Mile of Truth. Bell and Chesnut finished 3-4 in Indy last year in 6:10 and 6:11. Duncan ran 6:01 at the 2022 Mile of Truth. Larson was fifth at Indy with the same time as Chesnut. Joe Reda has not run a recent road mile, but he won the M65 Masters 1 Mile title in Flint Michigan in 2019 at 5:33. If his comparative fitness at 70 is like his comparative fitness at 65, he could well still break 6:00. His most recent achievement was winning the M70 title at Dedham in the Masters 10 Km Championships ahead of Bell, Chesnut and Larson. 

Joe Reda taking the 65-69 Victory in the Men's Race at the 2019 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint MI Photo courtesy of the Crim Fitness Foundation

It looks like Duncan and Reda could have a realo battle for the win. Duncan should have the edge if his fitness is good. But these six have records so close that it will depend on their current level of fitness and how the day goes. I will go with a likely finishing order of Reda-Duncan-Bell but Beckett, Chesnut or Larson could wind up on the podium; they are that close!

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Doug Bell     Douglas Chesnut     Keith Duncan

W70 Donna Chan and Melinda Morse appear to be the strongest runners and are fairly closely matched. Chan ran a 2this year, finished 40 seconds5:06 5K last June at Stow Lake and in July clocked an almost identical 25:07 at Morgan Hill. Morse was forty seconds behind Chan at Stow Lake. Irene Herman was three minutes back from Chan at Stow Lake last year, and a half minute behind Morse at the Mile of Truth. Morse finished second in W70 at 8:09. Kathleen Harriman ran a 28:31 5K in 2022. Based on the information reported here, the likely finishing order should be: Chan-Morse-Herman.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Donna Chan     Irene Herman     Melinda Morse

M75 The primary contenders appear to be Len Goldman, Rick Katz, Jerry Learned, and Don Porteous. Porteous has the fastest recent 5k, his 22:50 at Stow Lake last June. His teammate, Goldman, was 11 seconds back in that race. Katz and Learned finished second and third in the USATF Masters 5 Km Championships in Atlanta in late February. Their times, 23:21 and 23:35 respectively, may be closer than they look. The Atlanta course has its challenges. Learned has the fastest mile time in the last two years. He ran 6:06 at the 2022 Masters Mile Championships in Rochester. His time at the Atlanta 5K that year was two minutes faster than his time this year. So, the 6:06 should be taken with a grain of salt. On the other hand, his 10K time this year was also two minutes slower than his 10K time that year.  Learned is largely recovered from health problems that hampered his running in 2023. But it is plausible that his times are still coming down. Perhaps Learned would be closer to 6:30 or 6:40 now? Porteous ran 6:38 at the Mile of Truth last year. Goldman has not run the 1 Mile in that race recently; he clocked 6:38 in 2019. An age grading adjustment for those five years would put an equivalent mile for Goldman in 2024 at 7:18. That seems too pessimistic given his 5K time. Perhaps 2019 was an off year for Goldman. Katz, despite his faster Atlanta 5K time, finished 40 seconds behind Learned in Rochester two years ago. His time in Indy last year was also not fast. That is also consistent, however, with Katz perhaps being off his best, but running for the team. He was the third member of the Boulder team last year. It seems that Porteous should come in ahead of Goldman based on these times.  Let me guess that the faster 5K time of Katz this February is indicative of faster speed at the 1 Mile also. I will make a guess at a final finishing order of Porteous-Katz-Learned, but Goldman will likely be close and could be on the podium at the end of the day.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Rick Katz     Jerry Learned     Don Porteous

W75 Jo Anne Rowland ran 25:17 at Stow Lake last year and won the W75 division with a 7:45 race at the Mile of Truth last year. Nelda Williams ran a 34:09 5K at Stow Lake and was slightly faster at Morgan Hill. She was a couple of ticks over ten minutes at the Mile of Truth. Andrea McCarter, the 2023 W75 Grand Prix champion, ran 10:43 to finish second in this division at Indy, and clocked 34:38 for the Atlanta 5K this year. It appears that Rowland-Williams-McCarter is the likely order of finish.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Andrea McCarter     Jo Anne Rowland     Nelda Williams

 M80 Jan Frisby celebrated his 80th birthday the week before the Masters 10 Km Championships at the end of April; then he broke the M80 course record with a 51:57. That performance is consistent with the 25:01 5K he ran to finish 4th in Atlanta. Frisby does not have a recent Mile result to point to. But in 2019, he battled Doug Goodhue for the M75 win and nipped him at the finish line in 6:18! 

Jan Frisby digging for the Finish Line Overtaking Doug Goodhue (out of picture) for the M75 Win at the 2019 USATF Masters 1 Mile Championships in Flint MI Photo courtesy of the Crim Fitness Foundation

Five years later, Frisby will be aiming to break 7 minutes, but not 6:30! As noted in the Records section above, Frisby has a good shot at taking down Sherwood Sagedahl's 7:08 American record for Men 80-84! Frisby is definitely the favorite but he does not get a free ride! Fred Martin ran 25:56 at the Stow Lake Stampede 5K. Martin also has a 6:19 from the Miracle Mile but it is from 2015. Ten years along, Martin is presumably much slower. The third athlete entered, Ramsay Thomas, ran a 30:11 5K in 2021. It looks like Thomas will be running for the bronze medal. The likely finishing order is Frisby-Martin-Thomas.

Likely podium in alphabetical order:

Jan Frisby     Fred Martin     Ramsay Thomas

W80 No entrants

M85 Elmo Shropshire has been battling an injury and entered but will not be able to run. That leaves Don Hillebrandt the only entrant in the division. He takes the crown unopposed once he crosses the finish line. Six years ago he ran 10:18 at the Firecracker Mile. It will beinteresting to see how close to that time he comes on Sunday at age 86.

Donald Hillebrandt

W85 Carol Mikkelsen will take the title unopposed. The bigger question is whether she will take down the American record for W85, set by Joyce Hodges-Hite at Indianapolis last year. Mikkelsen needs to beat 15:25. In February, 2020, Mikkelsen ran a 40:37 5k, or a little over 13 minutes per mile. She has slowed in the ensuing four years, but she should still have a good shot at the record.

Carol Mikkelsen

There is a full slate of team races; the powerful teams from Northern California vie for bragging rights and defend the home roads against teams from Southern California, Boulder, Flagstaff, and Atlanta!

Age Grading Champions will be crowned as well. Don't miss it! 

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