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Rivalries Rekindled at the USATF Masters 15K Championships in Tulsa


TULSA, OK—Over a hundred of the fastest Masters Long Distance Runners in the country have entered the 15K Championships, chasing a prize purse of $10,000 and the glory of national championships. Hosted by the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run, the race makes its 6th consecutive trip to the welcoming streets and neighborhoods of Tulsa.


The contenders will toe the line Saturday morning at 8:50 under mostly sunny skies, with low 50’s temperatures and moderate wind—as close to perfect as a competitor can imagine. The new course should be friendlier for the runners with over 100 feet less of elevation change compared to the course used from 2014-17. David Angell and John Gardiner will renew their rivalry in chasing the Overall Win. Gardiner has had the edge in Tulsa the last two years but in August Angell defeated Gardiner for the first time on the roads at the 5K Championships. Will it be a repeat or will Gardiner reassert his dominance? Will Angell be able to collect his 6th win on the 2017-18 Masters Grand Prix circuit? Philippe Rolly, the Masters Champion at the 2017 Chicago Marathon, and Sean Wade, the holder of the 50-54 American 5K Record at 15:02 will do their best to intercede and claim the title.


In 2016, Melissa Gacek took the win in Tulsa with Fiona Bayly 2nd; in 2017 they were flipped with Bayly taking the gold medal. Both are close to top form. Bayly was on the Masters podium at the Fifth Avenue Mile in September and finished just off the podium in the spring at the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. Gacek took 2nd Masters at the Fifth Third River Bank Run in the spring and finished 2nd in the Master competition at the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler earlier this month. Who will take the rubber match? Shannon Mauser-Suing has not been active recently but ran 1:21:27 at Nebraska’s Twin Rivers YMCA Half Marathon in 2016. If she is close to her 2016 level of fitness, she will be in the hunt for the win.


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: The top returning women from last year are, in order: Suzanne Ray, 67, Fiona Bayly, 51, Andriette Wickstrom, 63, Terri Cassell, 57, and Doreen McCoubrie, 56. Ray, Bayly, and McCoubrie have all finished on the Age Grade podium at Masters Championships and/or have performances graded as ‘World Class’ at 90% or better. The top returning men from last year are: Nat Larson, 56, Roger Sayre, 61, and John Gardiner, 46. They will have to contend with Rick Becker, 62, Mark Hixson, 50, and Sean Wade, 52. Larson is the favorite; he took the crown at the 5K Championship over Becker, Sayre, Hixson and Gardiner. Wade is the wild card; if this were a 5k he would, no doubt, be the favorite. Tom Bernhard, returning from a calf injury, could also factor into the contest.


The favorites for the Team Championships are: Women 40 and up-The LRC Racing [Nebraska] should have a slight edge over the San Francisco Bay area Impala Racing Team Women 50 and up-the Atlanta Track Club; Women 60 and up-Oregon’s Team Red Lizard; Men 40 and up-the Atlanta Track Club; Men 50 and up-the Greater Springfield Harriers out of Massachusetts; Men 60 and up-the Boulder Road Runners but Cal Coast will be right on their heels; Men 70 and up—the Ann Arbor TC and the Atlanta TC should be in a tight contest with Ann Arbor favored for the win.


Favorites for Age Division Championships include: 40-44 Melissa Gacek, David Angell 45-49 Jennifer Malavolta, John Gardiner 50-54 Fiona Bayly, Sean Wade 55-59 Doreen McCoubrie, Nat Larson  60-64 Andriette Wickstrom, Roger Sayre 65-69 Suzanne Ray, Tom Bernhard 70-74 Irene Terronez, Lloyd Hansen 75-79 Judy Bomer, Doug Goodhue. As noted above, Rolly will push Gardiner for the 45-49 title and Hixson will give Wade a battle for 50-54. Sayre will need to be at his best to defeat Becker for the 60-64 crown. If Bernhard’s calf injury has slowed him down, then Kirk Larson could take the 65-69 win.


It should be a great day for racing; Tulsa and the Tulsa Sports Commission put on an outstanding race every year!


Submitted by

Paul Carlin

Masters LDR/Media Coordinator

Running Professor, LLC/


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