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Masters USATF Cross Country Champions are crowned


TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Cloudy skies and mid-50’s provided excellent conditions for the Masters races at the 2019 USATF Cross Country Championships. Rain earlier in the morning left a few muddy patches to run over but footing overall was excellent. The men’s 8Km race started at 9:15AM and a lead pack of David Angell, John Gardiner, and Jacques Sallberg had established a 5 second gap to the filed by the 2-kilometer mark. Sallberg accelerated as they approached the 7K mark, opening up a 2 second gap, which he grew as he sprang up the final hill, known as ‘The Wall’ and sprinted over the final 500 meters to a 20 second victory in 26:33. Sallberg added this to the USATF Masters Cross Country titles he won in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Sallberg attributed part of his success to his coaching high school and other athletes who keep him focused and motivated. When the Women’s race started an hour later, a larger pack consisting of Sarah Barber, Laura Bosley, Jill Braley, Marisa Sutera Strange, and Nancy Thomas quickly moved to the front, with Braley pushing the pace early on. Strange made a decisive move as they headed into the back wooded portion of the course just after the 2-mile mark. Braley tried to stay with her and distanced the rest of the field, but Strange had an 8 second lead with just a kilometer to go. Once they crested ‘The Wall’ and headed across the grass and downhill to the finish, Braley tried to make one more move, but Strange held strong all the way to the wire and a ten second victory in 23:31. At age 55, Strange is the oldest athlete to win the USATF Masters Cross Country race in recent memory. As she said after the race, “The mental and physical parts of the race came together, and it was great to run free.”


The Age-Grading competition determines who has run the fastest relative to a projected World Best for their age and gender. There are separate tables for Men and Women. The age grade score is expressed as a percentage with 100% being roughly equivalent to a World’s Best time. The slower the runner’s time, the lower the age grade. The, 2018 Cross Country Harrier of the Year and 2017 Masters Long Distance Runner of the Year, Sabra Harvey, 70, topped the charts on Saturday with a 26:27 over 6 Km for a 96.00% score. Strange, at 90.7 % took 2nd, and Susan ‘Lynn’ Cooke, 60, ran 25:55 for 86.94% to close out the podium. Jeanette Groesz, 69, and Sharon Gerl, 70, won the last cash prizes with 85.97 and 85.67. Nat Larson, 56, who finished 4th overall in 27:50 topped the scores on the men’s side with  a 90.42%. Mike Blackmore, 57, turned in a surprisingly strong performance, running a 28:12 for a 90.01%. In December 2017, he scored 86.47.  Joe Sheeran, 61, who bested Larson by a percentage point in Spokane at the Club Cross Country Championship, lagged behind in Tallahassee by 0.7% on a 29:18. The final two age-grading cash prizes went to Norm Larson, 63, and Ken Youngers, 62, with 88.27 and 87.70%.


Age Division National Cross Country Champions were crowned: Women 6km—40-44 Jill  Braley 23:41 45-49 Nancy Thomas 22:56 50-54 Amy Fakterowitz 25:24 55-59 Strange 23:31 60-64 Cooke 25:55 65-69 Harvey 26:27 70-74 Sharon Gerl 30:21 75-79 Catherine Radle 42:18. Men 8Km—40-44 Sallberg 26:33 45-49 Gardiner  27:20 50-54 Cushing-Murray 27:57 55-59 Nat Larson 27:50 60-64 Joe Sheeran 29:18 65-69 Chuck Smead 33:50 70-74 Lloyd Hansen 35:05 75-79 Ed Bligh 45:46. The closest race of the day was in Men’s in 65-69 where only 10 seconds separated Smead and Ignacio ‘Nash’ Jiminez. In Women’s 40-44, Jill Braley had only a 14 second gap over 2nd place finisher, Bosley.


Women’s Team Championship titles went to the Impala Racing Team in 40+ over the Atlanta Track Club (Atlanta) 6-9; 50+ going to the Athena Track Club over New Balance Tampa Masters and Atlanta 11-13-21; and 60+ to Team Red Lizard 9-17-21 over Atlanta and the Genesee Valley Harriers (GVH). Atlanta was unopposed in 70+. Men’s team titles went to: GVH  40+ the Cal Coast Track Club 24-47-52 over GVH and Atlanta; 50+ Atlanta over GVH 28-31; 60+ Atlanta 13-17-34-34 over Boulder Road Runners, GVH, and Shore AC, with third decided by a tie-breaking rule in favor of GVH; and 70+ to Atlanta over GVH 13-15.


The 2019 USATF Masters Grand Prix series next heads to the roads with the 8 Km Masters Championships on March 16th in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Join us for a flat, fast 8K course along the beach, with lodging convenient to the Race. Entry Information is here:

Submitted by

Paul Carlin

USATF Masters LDR/Media Coordinator

Running Professor LLC/

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