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Masters runners race to Tallahassee for the USATF Cross Country Championships


TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- The 2018 Masters Grand Prix kicks off 2018 with the USATF Cross Country Championships on Saturday, February 3. Masters runners will vie for over $7,000 of Championship prize money in addition to bragging rights that go with the victories. Tallahassee Apalachee Regional Park hosts the competition, held joint with Senior and Junior Championships. The Masters women run over a 6K course at 9 a.m. with the men following on an 8K layout at 9:45 a.m.


Kevin Castille, the 2017 Masters Road Runner of the Year and Overall Masters Champion at the 2016 Club Cross Country Championship on this same course, returns to the scene of his 10K triumph to try his luck on their 8K layout. He will be challenged by David Angell, winner of the 2017 Masters Grand Prix for Men 40-44. Sonja Friend-Uhl, the Women’s 2016 Club Cross Country Masters Champion, should also dominate. Marisa Sutera Strange, who finished 4th in that race will give chase again. She will be joined by Maggie Shearer and Jennifer Bayliss, dropping down from their California International Marathon finishes in 8th and 12th respectively in the Masters competition. Shearer also has the fastest 10K time of the 3 in the last couple of years at 36:39.


Top contenders for the age-grading crown, signifying the best relative performance across all age groups includes,  on the women’s  side , 2017 Masters Athlete of the Year, Sabra Harvey, and Strange, who finished 2nd to Harvey at this past December’s Club XC Championships. Susan ‘Lynn’ Cooke and Doreen McCoubrie could also be in the hunt. Among the Men, Castille will be the favorite but he could be challenged by Nat Larson, who had the top age-grading score at the 2017 Club Cross Country Championships. Other contenders include Rick Becker, Christian Cushing-Murray, Kent Lemme, and Mike McManus.


The Athena Track Club and the New Balance Tampa Masters team went 1-2 in the 2017 Masters Grand Prix Club competition for Women 50 and up, and NBT will be trying to knock off the top dogs this Saturday to get a step up on the 2018 competition. The tightest team contest for the Men is probably in the 60+ division where the 2017 Grand Prix winner in the division, the Boulder Road Runners tries to hold off the improved Atlanta Track Club which finished 3rd but defeated the 2nd place club, Shore AC at the Club Cross Country Championships this past December.


Favorites for Individual Age Division Championships include: Shearer, Bayliss, and Strange in the 40-44, 45-49, and 50-54 divisions.  Trish Butler should battle McCoubrie for top 55-59 honors, with Patricia Ford, Harvey, Madeline Bost, and Eve Pell favored for 60-64, 65-69, 75-79 and 80-84. Angell, Castille, Lemme, Larson, and Becker are the favorites for 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, and 60-64. Doug Bell, Dave Glass, Robert Hendrick, Jim Askew, and Al Ray are favored for 65-69,70-74, 75-79, 80-84, and 85-89.


Contributed by Paul Carlin

USATF Masters LDR Media

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