Over 400 of the speediest Masters athletes in America will compete for team and individual glory at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships on Saturday, December 10th. Sixty-eight teams vie for top honors, end-of-the-year banners for their clubs, and $10,000 in individual and team prizes.
The masters women toe the 6K line at 8am, followed by 60+ masters men in an 8:45 8K, and 40+ Masters Men at 9:45 in a 10K races. Conditions are expected to be challenging–clear and just above freezing, with winds at 10-11 mph when the masters women start.
Janet McDevitt and Sonja Friend-Uhl, dominant in the 40-44 and 45-49 divisions respectively, are co-favorites. Friend-Uhl bested McDevitt last year in this race but McDevitt prevailed in their 5K road contest this past October. McDevitt’s Club Northwest team bested Friend-Uhl’s Atlanta Track Club team, 15- 19 last year in the 40+ team division. That gives added spice to the duel between the two front-runners.
Kathy Martin, 11-time Masters Harrier of the Year, and Sabra Harvey, 2014 Masters Road Runner of the Year, will transfer their Women’s 65-69 track rivalry to the cross country turf. At the World Masters Athletics Championships in Australia, Harvey bested Martin at the 800 and 1500 meters but Martin prevailed at the 5000 meters. Perhaps more telling for this race, Martin won the gold at the 8K Cross Country race there.
In the Women’s 50+ team competition, the Athena Track Club, with Marisa Sutera Strange back on the team, are favored to fend off the new kids on the block, the New Balance Tampa Masters Runners, and last year’s bronze medalist, the Jane’s Elite Racing. The Impala Racing team has a slight edge in the 60+ contest but they will be pressed by the Atlanta TC and the Genesee Valley Harriers.
Kevin Castille will have plenty of rivals but it would be very surprising if he does not repeat his victory of a year ago in the Men’s 40 race. He bested Gregory Mitchell by a half minute last year. Mitchell, along with Neville Davey and Mike Galoob, will be trying their best to outlast Castille. Old rivals from the Men’s 45-49 division will meet this year as first-timers in the Men’s 50-54 division. Peter Hammer won the Men’s 45-49 division last year and took the 2016 age division 10K title. Kristian Blaich countered by taking the 5K title in his fastest time of the last three years. Pete Magill, five-time Masters Harrier of the Year, returns to his favorite racing surface after missing all of 2015 and much of 2016 to injury and rehab. His recent road race times show he is close to the top of his game. Brian Pilcher, USATF’s Athlete of the Week in October when he broke the Half Marathon, 25K, 30K and Marathon marks for Men 60-64, will try to lead his Tamalpa Runners team to victory in the 60+ division.
The Men’s 40+ team competition is dominated by the Atlanta Track Club, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and the Bowerman Track Club. The Cal Coast Track Club and the Greater Springfield Harriers are the primary contenders for the 50+ crown while the Tamalpa Runners are favored in both Pilcher’s 60+ team contest and in the 70+ race.