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Masters Half Marathon Championships Head to the Great Lakes


ANN ARBOR, Michigan—After four years in Florida and 3 years in Southern Cal, the Masters Half Marathon Championship alights on the shores of the Great Lakes in Ann Arbor Michigan. Celebrating its 45th running, the Ann Arbor Track Club’s Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, DXA2, will host the 2018 Masters National Half Marathon Championship. Classic favorable running weather is forecast, with temperatures rising from the upper 50’s through the mid-60’s with partly sunny skies and moderate wind. There should be some fast times on this point-to-point course from the small town of Dexter, winding along the Huron River and into the university city of Ann Arbor.


David Angell is going for his third straight overall win this season after taking the 8K title in Virginia Beach and the 10K in Dedham Massachusetts. He looks to improve on his 1:12:18 finish in last year’s Half Marathon championship. But it will be no cakewalk. Greg Mitchell, the 40-44 Runner of the Year in 2014 and 2015, is back after battling injuries for much of the last year and a half. Second place Masters finishes in the prestigious Carlsbad 5000, in 15:30, and the Lilac Bloomsday 12K, in 39:58, suggest that Mitchell is back on the top of his game. Olivier Vrambout will defend the honor of the Great Lakes, as he returns from Minnesota to contest the prize. Vrambout took the Masters title at the Fifth Third River Bank Run earlier this month in Grand Rapids, where he went through the Half Marathon split in 1:12:57. Philippe Rolly, Masters Champion of the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2:34:29, will also contest the championship. He has been a few steps back from Angell in the last two Masters championship events but may find the half marathon distance more to his liking. Sam Teigen cannot be counted out either. Like Rolly has been tracking Angell, so Teigen has been tracking Rolly, finishing just 6 seconds back at the 8K and 12 seconds at the 10K.


Barring a last-minute entry, Melissa Gacek should be the class of the field. Gacek is coming off a second place finish at the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K where she went through the Half Marathon in 1:25:10. At that point she had only a few weeks of outdoor training under her trainers. With another four weeks of training, she should get close to the 1:21:53 she ran in the Bjorklund Half Marathon at Grandma’s. Her stiffest competition may well come from Melissa Broyles, who took 4th at the 25K, a few minutes back from Gacek. Erin Larusso and Michelle Simonaitis should battle for the remaining podium spot. Both have run 1:30 Half Marathons within the last 2 years. Larusso’s is more recent, but Simonaitis is probably running stronger this year than in 2016. She has finished 2nd in the Masters 8K Championship in 31:20 and ran 39:48 in the 10K Championship.


The Age-Grading Champions are the Masters Runners who finish closest to the World’s Best for their age and gender, with 100% the highest and best score. These prizes are awarded for the fastest comparative running across all age groups: Patrice Combs,  60, Jeanette Groesz, 68, Doreen McCoubrie, 56, Suzanne Ray, 66, and Michelle Simonaitis, 52, appear to be the main contenders. At the 2017 Half Marathon Championships, Groesz took the title at 88.58%, with McCoubrie second. But at the 8K this year, that order was reversed. And Combs and Ray both have finished with similar scores to those two. We do know it will be a heck of a close battle but how will it come out? It is a similar story on the Men’s side. Rick Becker, 63, Gene Dykes, 70, and Roger Sayre, 60, are the top favorites. Dykes took 2nd in Age Grading at the 10K, with a 92.90%, to the remarkable Nat Larson¸ whose string of Age-Grading victories at National Championships keeps growing.  Two years earlier it was Rick Becker who finished a little behind Larson in Age-Grading at the 10K with a 90.93%. Becker is typically even better on the Cross Country turf so it is worth noting that at the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships, Sayre recorded a higher age-grading score than Becker. Others to watch include Mitchell, 44, Vrambout, 44, and Dave Walters, 62.


The favorites for the Team Championships are: Women 50 and up-the San Francisco Bay Area’s Impala Racing Team; Women 60 and up-Oregon’s Team Red Lizard; Men 40 and up-the Garden State Track Club; Men 50 and up-upstate New York’s Genesee Valley Harriers but both Ann Arbor TC and the Playmakers Elite team out of Lansing Michigan will push them to the limit; Men 60 and up-the Boulder Road Runners; Men 70 and up—the Ann Arbor TC and the Atlanta TC should be in a tight contest in which Ann Arbor is a slight favorite for the win.


Favorites for Age Division Championships include: 40-44 Melissa Gacek, David Angell 45-49 Erin Larusso, Philippe Rolly 50-54 Michelle Simonaitis, Alan Evans 55-59 Doreen McCoubrie, James Zoldy  60-64 Patrice Combs, Roger Sayre 65-69 Suzanne Ray, Heath Hibbard 70-74 Irene Terronez, Gene Dykes 75-79 Robert Hendrick. As noted above, Mitchell  and Vrambout should push Angell for the division championship as well as Overall. Rolly has Jonathan Frieder to worry about, while Evans must worry about his teammates, Mike Nier and Dale Flanders, as well as Paul Mayer and Eric Stuber. Sayre will need to be at his best to defeat Rick Becker.


If the weather forecast holds, it will be nearly perfect for the race and the post-race celebration on Main Street in Ann Arbor. You can still enter in person on Saturday, June 2nd. For details, click here.

Submitted by

Paul Carlin

Masters LDR/Media Coordinator


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