Fastest American Masters Runners Toe the Line on Sunday

2019 USATF Masters 10 K Championships–A First Look at Overall and Age Grading

April 21, 2019. As of Monday afternoon, over 220 of the fastest Masters Distance Runners in the country were signed up to contest the 10K Championships in Dedham Massachusetts. The last Sunday in April has seen the James Joyce Ramble host this race every year since 2013. It is not an easy course; there are definitely hills which some refer to as rolling. Fast times have been run here including a number of US records. If the forecast holds, the weather will be fine–mid 50’s at race time, mostly sunny skies–winds at 9 mph.



The 2018 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships a hundred meters into the race with David Angell #1 and Ryan McCalmon #100 leading the way Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Not all the Clubs that normally participate have been heard from. For example, no one from the Boston Athletic Association or the Greater Springfield Harriers is entered yet. Based on entries as of Monday afternoon at 1:25 pm, April 22, here is my early preview for Overall and Age Grading contests this year. Once online registration closes on Wednesday, the 24th, at midnight, I will update.

OVERALL

Women Last year the top 5 spots went to Jennifer Bayliss, Karolyn BowleyJennifer St. Jean, Marisa Sutera Strange, and Ginger Reiner. Strange won in 2016 in 36:48 and Reiner won with a 37: 11 effort in 2017. Right now only St. Jean and Strange are entered. Bayliss was not at the top of her game at the USATF Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee so may not be making the trip this year. Last year she won in 37:19. Both Bowley, affiliated with the B.A.A., and Reiner who lives in the Greater Boston area, may well enter in the next few days. St. Jean had one of her best recent years on the Indoor Track this past winter, and that may carry over to this race. St. Jean’s time last year was 38:27. Strange appears back on the top of her game after taking 1st place overall at the Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee this year and taking a strong 2nd place behind Roberta Groner at the 8K Championships in Virginia Beach at 30:37, three seconds faster than her time the year before. 

The 2018 USATF Masters 10K Championships with Jennifer Bayliss #206 and Ginger Reiner #201 leading the women’s field. Heather Webster red GVH singlet and Marisa Sutera Strange [green Athena singlet back left]are also gathering speed Photo Credit: Michael Scott

Heather Webster, who finished 6th in this race the last two years, could factor into the podium contest as well. Others who might contend for the Overall podium include:Melissa Hardesty and Perla Rodriguez. If it is the same Melissa Hardesty, she ran a bunch of 2:40+ marathons in her mid to late 30’s, and  has a 1:21:47 Half Marathon in fall 2017 when she was 40. Subject to this being the same person, she also may have run a 37:32 10K last November and a 23:46 4 miler this March. That 4-Miler is age grade equivalent to a 37:36 10K. Rodriguez finished 5th at the Credit Union Chery Blossom 10 Miler in 1:04:14, finishing a minute ahead of Casey Keeters who finished 4th in the 40-44 division at the 5K Championships last year in Atlanta. Rodriguez’s 10 mile time is age grade equivalent to a 39:17 10K. Among those currently entered my picks for 1-2-3 are:

Jennifer St. Jean     Melissa Hardesty     Marisa Sutera Strange

Men David Angell arrived on the scene in 2017 and ran to an 18 second win in 32:37. Last year he ran 4 seconds faster and enjoyed an even wider, 29 second margin of victory. He is going for three in a row. Up until I checked the Status of Entries this morning, my view was as follows. It appears there is only one individual with a solid shot at staying with him. Eric Blake, a newly  minted Masters athlete, ran 1:09:06 in the UA NYC Half Marathon, the first Masters athlete after Abdi Abdirahman over the finish line. That compares favorably with Angell’s time last year in the Masters Half Marathon Championship. His time in that race was 1:11:20, but times were generally a bit slow in that race. Angell has a 1:09:37 from the Richmond Half Marathon in November 2016. Angell is arguably faster in the 8K to 10K range than the 15K to Half Marathon range. Blake’s most recent 5000 meter effort was a 15:52 on the Indoor Track. Angell ran 9:22.95 in the 3000 meters at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships. Angell’s 3000 meter time appears roughly equal to a 16:08 but Angell has run faster on the roads where he clocked 15:45 on a tough course in Atlanta to take the 2018 5K Masters Championship. In the spirit of ‘the champ is the champ until someone beats him’, I give Angell the edge. But it should be a fun race to watch! The runner who is both entered and in the best position to stay with them is Patrick Rich, who finished 2nd last year in 33:02. Rich ran a 51:48 in the Frank Nealon Boston Tune-Up 15K this year , suggesting he is not far off his fitness last year. Sam Teigen and Jonathan Frieder, who finished 3rd and 7th year could contend for the podium. Bryan Sydow who edged Frieder for 4th at the Masters 8K Championship by 4 seconds, will also be in the hunt. Teigen was 15 seconds back at Virginia Beach so may be a bit off his best.

Then this morning I saw that Kevin Castille had entered. Unless he runs into unexpected difficulties, the fastest Masters Runner whose name is not Lagat or Keflezighi will have no trouble pacing the field home. He just won the Cooper River Bridge Run in 29:58, not bad for a spry 47 year old! 

Kevin Castille approaches the finish line at the 2017 USATF Masters 15K Championships in Tulsa Oklahoma; he was the first runner across the finish line and won the Masters competition by over two minutes. Photo Credit: Tulsa World

Although he has run in, and won, a number of our other road and cross country championships, this will be his first trip to Dedham that I know of.

Kevin Castille     David Angell     Eric Blake    

AGE GRADING

Women In 2018 Jan Holmquist, then 73, took the title with a 50:29 that graded at 93.37%. She was followed by Marisa Sutera Strange, Karen Durante, Jeanette Groesz, and Patrice Combs. All but Durante are already entered. Holmquist appears to be in fine form. She ran the Doyle’s 5 Miler 23 seconds faster this year than last, so it appears possible she could raise her age grading score back above 95% as it has been in the recent past. Strange graded at 93.87% in Virginia Beach so can definitely push Holmquist for the title. Groesz ran the Shamrock Run Portland (15K) this spring in 1:15:49 which is slightly faster in age-grading terms than she ran that race in 2017. 



Jan Holmquist crosses the finish line at the 2017 USATF Masters 10 Km Championships where she age=graded at 96.79%!

An age-grade in the upper 80’s is likely with a higher score possible if she has a good day. Combs has age-graded in the upper 80’s. recently. She graded 89.99% last year in Dedham and this past month her 34:29 at Virginia Beach age-graded 89.91% for the 8K.Mimi Fallon who did not make the race last year, ran a 39:10 in 2017, at age 51, for an 88.56% score. The 37:57 she ran last October in the Reebok Boston 10K for Women, at age 53, graded at 93.63%. If she can come anywhere close to that time in Dedham, she would very much be in the hunt for an age-grading finish on the podium.

Jan Holmquist     Marisa Sutera Strange     Jeanette Groesz

Men Last year Nat Larson, 55 at the time ran 33:24 to take the honors in age-grading at 93.90%. He was followed by Gene Dykes, Bill Dixon, and Tom Bernhard. At the moment, none of those 4 are entered. Dykes is mostly focusing on longer races. I can find no races for Dixon since last November so he may be inactive or injured at the moment. Bernhard ran well in Virginia Beach, clocking 29:49 for a 93.20%. Bernhard may yet enter but he indicated at Virginia Beach that he may curtail his Championship participation this year compared to past years. We shall see. If none of those enter, who else should we look for? John Barbour appears to have recovered to a great extent from the injury he sustained in the run-up to the 2017 Club XC Championships in Lexington KY. He is still not back to the level he enjoyed in early 2017. 

John Barbour winning the 2017 Men’s 60-64 title at the 2017 USATF Masters 10 Km Championship; his age grade was 89.43%!

That year he ran the Doyle’s Emerald Necklace 5 Miler in 30:13 three weeks before winning the 60-64 age division at Dedham in 37:42. This year, just before his 65th birthday, he ran 31:00 in that 5 miler suggesting a time under 39 minutes should be possible. That would put his age grade in the upper 80’s. If his fitness is improving by the week, he might crack 90. Norm Larson and Ken Youngers could also make a run at the title. In the 8K Youngers and Larson graded at 91.36% and 90.24%. The order was reversed at the USATF XC Nationals in Tallahassee. Jonathan Frieder was only a little behind at 88.89% in the 8K and is, arguably, stronger at the 10K than the 8K. And, as above, Kevin Castille should lead the way. His Cooper River time age graded over 97%.

Kevin Castille     Ken Youngers     Norm Larson     

Next up will be updates on the Overall and Age-Grading contests once online registration closes and Age Division Championships, followed by team races if time permits.

Information on USATF National Masters 10K Championship

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