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USATF Masters runners overcome wind and cold in true 15 km test


Tulsa, OKLAHOMA – The USATF 15 km Masters Championships at the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Tulsa Run went off Saturday morning with unseasonably cold 35 degree temperatures and double digit winds. Those weather conditions, coupled with the hilly, challenging course that has been in place since 2014, made the race a true endurance test.


Kevin Castille has been on fire recently and Saturday was no exception. Castille had no problem racing to a runaway victory in 46:21, only 11 seconds slower than he ran earlier this year at the Utica Boilermaker to establish a new Men’s 45-49 American record. John Gardiner, defending champion, finished 2nd in 50:03, only two seconds slower than his winning time last year. David Angell, the 8K and 10K Masters Champion this year, finished 20 seconds behind Gardiner in 3rd. Fiona Bayly gained some redemption after finishing 2nd to Melissa Gacek last year. This year she reversed the field, winning in 58:46 to enjoy a 57 second victory over Gacek, who had a 16 second margin over Michelle Paxton, a newcomer to the Masters ranks.


Age-Grading provides a metric to compare the top relative performances across all age groups as a percentage of the predicted world’s best for that person’s age. Kevin Castille’s performance topped the Men’s contest with a score of 94.30%. Nat Larson, 55, ran 52:20 for a 91.48%, followed by Roger Sayre, 59, in 3rd, with a 55:29 and an 89.49%. The Women’s podium had 2014 Masters LDR Runner of the Year, Sabra Harvey, 68, on top for the 4th time this year, with a 98.69% for her 1:07:24 performance. Edie Stevenson, also 68, her friendly rival, ran 1:08:26 for a 97.20%, with Jeannie Rice, 69, taking third at 96.29% on a 1:10:09 and completing an Age-Grading sweep for the 65-69 division.


The 2017 15 km National Champions were contested in each 5-year age division. Men’s 5K National Champions include: Angell 40-44, Castille, 45-49, and Larson, 55-59, mentioned above, along with Kent Lemme 50-54, 52:26; Michael Young, 60-64, 59:40; Tom Bernhard 65-69, 1:00:47; Dave Glass 70-74, 1:06:15; and John Ouweleen 75-79, 1:13:28. The Women’s Champions are: Gacek, 40-44, Bayly, 50-54, and Harvey,65-69, noted above and Heather Meehan 45-49, 1:11:38; Doreen McCoubrie, 55-59, 1:03:12; Andriette Wickstrom, 60-64, 1:09:00; and Judy Bomer, 70-74, 1:38:40. Many of the division races were, like Castille’s, a tour de force where the winner enjoyed a victory margin of more than a minute. But there were several humdingers where the outcome was not known until the final few kilometers.  On the Men’s side, in 50-54, Lemme trailed Christian Cushing-Murray by 11 seconds at the 10K but was able to pass and create a 24 second gap by the end. Conversely, in 60-64, Young had only a 10 second lead on Brian Nelson at the 10K, but pulled away, stretching it to a margin of 1:36 by the finish. In the Women’s races, in 40-44, Gacek had a 9 second  lead on  Paxton at 10K, stretching t to 16 over the final 5K. The oldest age division had the next closest battle. Judy Bomer had a minute and 49 second lead at the 10K but over the next 5K Irene Terronez drew closer and closer; she took all but 23 seconds out of Bomer’s lead.


The women’s team races saw a dominant club easily defeat all rivals. That included the LRC Racing out of Lincoln NB, which took the Women’s 40+ title by an average of 7 minutes per athlete and the Jane’s Elite Racing from Southern California, who enjoyed a 2 minute per runner margin of victory. And Team Red Lizard took the 60+ title unopposed. On the Men’s side the 70+ race was dominated by the Atlanta Track Club, which a victory margin of more than 7 minutes per runner.  The other three team races were much closer. In the 50+ division the Greater Springfield Harriers enjoyed a 51 second per runner edge over the Cal Coast Track Club. LRC Racing had a 49 second per runner advantage in edging Cal Coast for the 40+ title and the closest race was the 60+ where 24 seconds per runner was all that separated the winning Boulder Road Runners from the 2nd place Kansas City Smoke.


The Masters races at the National Club Cross Country Championships at Masterson Station Park in Lexington KY on Saturday, December 9th finish off the Masters Grand Prix circuit. For entry information see here.


Submitted by Paul Carlin, USATF Masters LDR Media Chair

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