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Masters Athletes Take On Fast Virginia Beach Course for 2018 8K National Championships

3/16/2018
 

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA -- The Road Race portion of the 2018 USATF Masters Grand Prix kicks off with its 8K Championships as part of the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend. Their Towne Bank 8K will be hosting some of the fastest long distance runners in the country.


Libby James, now 81, had intended to make a record attempt last year but came down with pneumonia just before the race. This year she is healthy and headed to Virginia Beach with the goal of busting the 80-84 American record of 52:00 held by Anne Clarke since 1991. If successful, James can add this to her 5K and 15K record runs. Brian Pilcher came within 7 seconds of the Men’s 60-64 American record last year but succumbed to a hamstring injury shortly after that race. This is his first race back and it is too much to expect a record run. But with Pilcher you never know; he owns the 5K record and has pending records from the Half Marathon to the Marathon.

 

Age-grading is the top prize awarded for the best performances relative to age across all Masters Age Divisions. Among those returning for the Men’s  Age-Grading contest, Pilcher, 61, Nat Larson, 55, and Kent Lemme had the top age-grading results last year. Roger Sayre, 60, who came on late last year in the Grand Prix circuit outscored Lemme at the 15K and Club Cross Country Championships. Tom Bernhard may also factor in; he had a top age-grade at the 5K Championship where he placed between Larson and Lemme. Joe Sheeran, known nationally more for his cross country exploits, may find himself in the mix if the Virginia Beach road course is to his liking. Marisa Sutera Strange, 52, and Doreen McCoubrie, 56, who finished 2nd and 3rd here last year, are the top returning women in Age-Grading.  Jeanette Groesz, 67, should also factor in; she outscored McCoubrie at the 15K and Half Marathon. Whether she can achieve the same results over a much shorter race is in question.

 

The Race to be first athlete across the finish line looks like a repeat battle between two Virginians, David Angell from the Blue Ridge Mountains and Philippe Rolly from Alexandria. Last year they finished 1-2 in 25:24 and 25:51. Jonathan Frieder who did not run here, might factor in; he came in 18 seconds ahead of Rolly in the Rothman 8K just before Thanksgiving.  Jonathan’s twin, Elliott, was the better part of a minute back at Rothman but 2 months later was able to edge brother Jonathan at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships.  Strange, McCoubrie and Mary Swan, who finished 3-4-5 in last year’s championship are entered. Heather Webster who took 3rd in the 2016 USATF Club Cross Country Championships 5 seconds ahead of Strange, offers a real challenge. Utah’s Michelle Simonaitis could also be in the mix.

 

In the team competitions the Colonial Road Runners, of Virginia, will try to defend their home turf against a host of challengers. They will have their work cut out for them as the Greater Springfield Harriers will try to run the table again this year in the Men’s 50 and up division. The same is true for the Athena Track Club who have won the Women’s 50 and up Masters Grand Prix 6 years running. The Atlanta Track Club will try to defend their W60+ title from their arch rivals, the Impala Racing team out of the SF Bay Area. The Garden State Track Club-New Balance look to dominate in Men’s 40 and up. The defending M60+ champion  Boulder Road Runners will face a stiff challenge from the Atlanta Track Club,  and the Genesee Valley Harriers look to take theirsecond 8K title in as many years in the M70+ division. The Ann Arbor Track Club and the Boulder Road Runners could press them.

 

Favorites for the 8K Age Division championships  include:  Barbara Biasi 70-74, Michelle Brangan 45-49, Libby James 80-84, Doreen McCoubrie 55-59, Jill Miller-Robinett 60-64, Suzanne Ray 65-69, Judy Stewart 75-79, Marisa Sutera Strange 50-54, and Heather Webster 40-44; David Angell 40-44, Tom Bernhard 65-69, Dave Glass 70-74, Robert Hendrick 75-79,  Nat Larson 55-59, Kent Lemme 50-54, Alan Rider 80-84, Philippe Rolly 45-49, and Roger Sayre 60-64. Most of those will face determined challenges from rivals with many outcomes uncertain until the final 500 meter straightaway to the finish—an exciting day of championship races!

 

Submitted by

Paul Carlin

Masters LDR/Media Coordinator

 


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