SAN FRANCISCO -- Saturday’s USATF Club Cross Country National Championships were nothing short of stunning, with an idyllic backdrop and stacked fields in every race as national championship contenders took to Golden Gate Park to see who reigned supreme. Individual national champions were crowned in open men’s 10 km and women’s 6 km races, as well as masters age group victors at 6 km, 8 km and 10 km distances.
Amy Van Alstine of HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite ran a tight race alongside defending individual champion Laura Thweatt and NAZ Elite teammate Rochelle Kanuho, keeping things neck-and-neck over the last 3/4 mile after splitting 9:51. The trio barrelled to the finish, but Van Alstine surged over the final 200 meters to edge Thweatt by a second, 19:51-19:52. Kanuho was right on their heels, crossing in 19:53. In the team race, the Boston Athletic Association defended their women’s team title with an exceptional 28-point performance courtesy of three top-10 finishes from Emma Bates, Sarah Pagano and three-time Olympian Jen Rhines. The second place team was High Performance West with 107 points and Club Northwest came in with a podium finish, scoring 156 points for third.
On the men’s side, Garrett Heath continued to prove his dominance on the cross country circuit, taking the men’s individual title in 29:06. Heath, who took the Bupa Great Edinburgh individual crown in early 2015, battled with Boulder Track Club’s Jonathan Grey, who finished just behind Heath in 29:10. Scot Fauble’s third place finish in 29:26 for the HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite men proved to be the catalyst for their victory in the team race, as all five athletes finished in the top 25 individually to edge the B.A.A. men, 60-106. The third place team was Boulder Track Club (127 points) behind Grey’s runner-up individual finish.
Masters races see defending individual champions dethroned
In an upset, Sonja Friend-Uhl was the first runner across the line in the masters women’s 6 km race in 21:59, beating Janet McDevitt by seven seconds. Defending champion Chris Kimbrough was another nine seconds behind for third.
The overall masters age-grade winner was Hall of Fame runner and 2015 Runner of the Year, Kathy Martin, 64, at 95.64%, followed by Sabra Harvey, 66, 2014 Runner of the Year, at 92.63%.
West Coast and Mountain West clubs ruled the team contests with Club Northwest (WA) defeating 22 other Masters teams to take the 40+ crown. Athletics Boulder (CO) claimed 50+, Impala Racing (CA) the 60+, and Tamalpa Runners (CA) the 70+ title.
In addition to W40 Friend-Uhl, W45, Kimbrough, W60 Martin, and W65 Harvey, notable individual age group winners included: Marisa Sutera Strange who took her third straight gold this year in the women’s 50 group, and hall-of-famer Carmen Ayala-Troncoso in W55. Lynne Hurrell, 81, was the oldest gold medal winner in W80.
Lafayette, Louisiana’s Kevin Castille was first across the finish line in the masters men’s 10 km in 31:00, defeating defending champion Greg Mitchell by over a half minute.
Castille, 43, also took the men’s age-grading crown at 91.52% with Rick Becker, 61, second at 90.77%.
The West Coast again dominated in the team contests. Mitchell led his Bowerman Track Club (OR) to the M40+ win. Other team winners included: Cal Coast Track Club in the 50+, Club Northwest (WA), led by Becker in the 60+, and Tamalpa Runners (CA) M70+.
Apart from M40 Castille and M60 Becker the age group crowns went to: Peter Hammer, M45; Mike McManus, M50; Dan King, M55; Doug Winn, M65; and Tamalpa Runners teammates, Len Goldman and Hans Schmid in M70 and M75 respectively. Bill Dodson was the oldest gold medal winner, taking the M80 crown at age 80.
The USATF Club Cross Country Championships will be available on demand at USATF.tv. Race video, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available Saturday evening.
Masters recaps contributed by Paul Carlin, USATF Masters LDR Executive Committee