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300 Masters athletes to vie for national titles at the USATF Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championship in San Diego


SAN DIEGO — Masters Athletes from coast to coast converge on Mission Bay Park in San Diego this Saturday, October 12th for the Masters 5 Km Cross Country Championships. The women’s race off at 7:45 am, with the men to follow at 8:30 am. San Diego is delivering perfect running weather, with sunny skies, temperatures in the low 60’s, light winds and low humidity.


Meriah Earle and Hilary Corno, both representing San Diego clubs, are the hometown favorites in the Women’s race. Earle ran 16:57 at the Carlsbad 5000 so brings the speed. Corno finished 2nd to Earle there but took the title at the USATF San Diego Cross Country Championships. Both also have strong marathons this past year so they can race all distances. Kelly Couch from Northern California finished 3rd at the 5K National Masters Championships in Atlanta and has a top 5 overall Masters finish at the 2017 USATF Club Cross Country Championships. Others in the hunt include Oregon’s Lorilynn Bloomer, Southern California’s Amy Halseth,  and Donna Mills-Honarva, along with Jill Braley, from Georgia, who finished 2nd at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, Kara Parker, and Marisa Sutera Strange who took 1st in Tallahassee. Neville Davey, who won the Masters race overall at the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships, will lead a stellar lead pack away from the line in the Men’s race. To get a win, Davey will have to shake Jacques Sallberg, a 4-time winner of the Masters race overall at the USATF Cross Country Championships in the last 5 years. San Diego’s Adam Dailey was in the top 5 at Carlsbad this year in 15:35. All three have significant USATF Association wins in Cross Country this fall, so they are ready for the turf.


Age-Grading levels the playing field across Masters competitors of all ages by comparing that athlete’s performance to the World’s Best for that runner’s age and gender. Marisa Sutera Strange, 56, who finished 2nd in Age Grading to 2017 Athlete of the Year, Sabra Harvey, at the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships in Lexington KY, will do her best to outpoint Masters Hall-of-Famer, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, 60, who took the title at the 2018 edition of those championships. Jeanette Groesz, 70, who finished 3rd behind Strange in 2017 and 2nd behind Ayala-Troncoso in 2018, will try to reverse the tables on those two. The contest should be tight; Strange scored 90.34% in Lexington, but was followed by Groesz at 89.53, with Ayala-Troncoso at 89.41! Others who could factor in include Suzanne Ray, and Sharon Gerl. In the Men’s race, Joe Sheeran, 61, is the strong favorite. He won the age-grade title for 60 and over in the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships with an 88.39%, topped that in 2018 with a 90.93% at Club Cross in Spokane, and nearly reached that in at Cross Country Nationals in Tallahassee earlier this year with an 89.74%. The next best score on a cross country course belongs to Doug Goodhue, 77, who scored 86.59% in Spokane. John Gardiner, 47, who scored 86.40% could also wind up on the podium. There are two intriguing entries who could factor in. Tony Marshall, 75, comes out of the triathlon branch of endurance sports, but ran 20:02 at the Carlsbad 5000 this spring. Nolan Shaheed, 70, the middle-distance track star, will try the cross-country turf. If his 3000-meter speed can translate to the turf, he will be in the thick of the age-grading race.


Favorites for Men’s Age Division National titles include: M40 Davey M45 Sallberg M50 Christian Cushing-Murray M55 Kevin Zimmer M60 Sheeran M65 Joseph Reda M70 Terry McCluskey M75 Doug Goodhue M80 John Elliott M85 Warren Osborn. The runners to beat in the Women’s race include: W40 Earle W45 Lorilynn Bloomer W50 Parker W55 Strange W60 Ayala-Troncoso W65 Suzanne Ray W70 Jeanette Groesz W75 Virginia Lopez W80 Martha Walker W85 Suzi Falco.


The main focus in Cross Country is the Team Races. The Cal Coast Track Club could take titles in M40+, M50+, and M60+. They will have to defeat their strong rivals, the West Valley Track Club to take the 40+ crown. They are strong favorites in the 50+ race and will need to worry about the San Diego Track Club in 60+. The 70+ race should be a real dust up, possibly the most tightly contested team competition of the day. The Tamalpa Runners took the title at the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships. The Ann Arbor Track Club wrested it from them last December. The San Diego Striders have beefed up their team and look to repel both Tamalpa from Northern California and Ann Arbor from the Great Lakes. The Genesee Valley Harriers also bring a strong team that cannot be ignored. It is too close to call and will depend on individual efforts up front and in the trenches. In the Women’s races, the San Diego Track Club had the better of the Impala Racing at Club Cross in Spokane. Impala brings a stronger team this year, but Impala is still the favorite. Prado may actually be the biggest threat, led by Corno and Halseth. Impala appears to be as strong a favorite on the Women’s 50+ as Cal Coast is in the Men’s race.  Team Red Lizard should dominate the 60+ race although the Impalas and the San Diego Track Club will make them earn a win. The Impalas should have the edge over the San Diego Track Club in 70+, but San Diego is poised to take the 80+ contest unopposed.


Submitted by

Paul Carlin

Masters LDR/Media Coordinator

Running Professor, LLC/


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