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Masters champions conquer rolling hills at the USATF Masters Half Marathon Road Championships


ANN ARBOR, Michigan – For the second championship in a row, predicted sunny skies did not arrive for the USATF Masters National Championships runners. At the Half Marathon Championships hosted by the Ann Arbor Track Club, the skies opened up and the rain poured down a half hour before the race. During the race, it was mostly light rain or sprinkles, with mid-60’s temps and moderate wind, followed by clearing for the end-of-the race celebrations. All-in-all, conditions were good for the tour of the scenic rolling hills along the Huron River.


In the race to be first USATF Masters athlete across the finish line overall, it came down to a terrific battle between Greg Mitchell of Oregon’s Bowerman Track Club and David Angell of Virginia’s Roanoke Valley Elite. The lead pack, consisting of Angell, Matthew Folk, Jonathan Frieder, Mitchell, Sam Teigen, and Olivier Vrambout, were taken out at a brisk pace by Mitchell. Once they got onto the scenic 8 mile stretch of Huron Drive, Angell, Mitchell, and Vrambout worked to establish a gap to the rest of the pack; after the 10 mile mark it was just Angell and Mitchell. Mitchell was able to pour it on over the last mile and a half to pull away from Angell, breaking the tape in 1:10:36 to Angell’s 1:11:20. Run Minnesota’s Vrambout completed the podium in 1:13:28, keeping a gap of 30 seconds on Matthew Folk. Mitchell made it a successful return from an extended injury period, winning his first national championship since the 8K in Brea California in early 2016. Angell just missed his 3rd straight win on the Masters Grand Prix circuit but maintains a comfortable lead for the 40-44 Grand Prix contest.


Melissa Gacek, of the Twin Cities Track Club, rolled to a comfortable win in 1:25:03 as the Women’s field split up early with Gacek in the lead and a pack of chasers including Melissa Broyles, Doreen McCoubrie, and Michelle Simonaitis. Although Simonaitis, the pride of Draper Utah, could not close the gap to Gacek, she successfully built a gap over the middle of the race, holding it all the way to the finish for 2nd place in 1:28:02. The Athena Track Club’s McCoubrie was able to pull away from Broyles to claim the final podium spot in 1:30:11, 24 seconds ahead of the local Michigan runner. Gacek added this to her 15K National Championship from 2016.


Age-Grade scoring is the best way to compare performance by age across all Masters competitors.

Club Northwest’s Rick Becker had the top Men’s score. Becker, 63, ran 1:20:18 for a World Class Age grade of 91.45. Gene Dykes, 70, of the Greater Philadelphia Track Club, pushed him with a 1:26:34 that age-graded only .37 of a percent lower. Dave Walters of Lisle Illinois, was less than a full point back in third. Roger Sayres, 60, and the overall winner, Mitchell, also took home prize money for 4th and 5th age-grade scores. The Women’s Age-Grading contest was even tighter. Suzanne Ray, 66, of Oregon’s Team Red Lizard, took the crown by running 1:42:55 for an 89.06. Patrice Combs, 60, was only .27% behind with her 1:34:50. Doreen McCoubrie, 56, finished off the Age-Grading podium by recording a 1:30:11 that age-graded at 88.57. Michelle Simonaitis, 52, and Ray’s Team Red Lizard teammate, Jeanette Groesz took home 4th and 5th place prize money.


National Age Division Half Marathon Champions included: Greg Mitchell 1:10:35 [OR] 44, Jonathan Frieder 1:14:20 [NJ] 47, Mike Nier 1:20:21 [NY] 53, James Zoldy 1:21:05 [CT] 56, Roger Sayre 1:19:07 [CO] 60, Heath Hibbard 1:28:47 [CO] 65, Gene Dykes 1:26:34 [PA] 70, Robert Hendrick 1:54:51 [MI] 75; Melissa Gacek 1:25:03 [MN] 42, Erin Larusso 1:38:20 [MI] 48, Michelle Simonaitis 1:28:02 [UT] 52, Doreen McCoubrie 1:30:11 [PA] 56, Patrice Combs 1:34:50 [GA] 60, Suzanne Ray 1:42:55 [OR] 66.


Women’s National Team Champions included the Ann Arbor Track Club 40+, the Atlanta Track Club 50+, and Team Red Lizard 60+.For the Men it was the Garden State Track Club-New Balance 40+, the Genesee Valley Harriers 50+, the Boulder Road Runners 60+, and the Ann Arbor Track Club 70+.


Next up on the Masters Grand Prix circuit is the USATF Masters 5K Championships hosted by the Atlanta Track Club’s Atlanta’s Finest 5K, on Saturday, August 18 in Atlanta, Georgia. Click here for more information.


Submitted by

Paul Carlin

USATF Masters LDR/Media Coordinator

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