The fourth annual USATF-New England Awards Banquet was held on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at Montvale Plaza in Stoneham MA. The evening kicked off with a cocktail hour and passed appetizers, followed by dinner with guest speakers and awards. USATF-NE President Tom Derderian called up a few of Olympic Trials qualifiers from the association for a fun Q&A. And of course the program featured the much-anticipated awards presentation recognizing the Runners, Road Race, Off Road Race, Club and Race Director of the Year for 2014. Special awards also included acknowledgment to some of the top participants and contributors to the association and sport.
The following 2014 Award Winners were announced:
- Dan Vassallo, Central Mass Striders – Male Runner of the Year
- Denise Sandahl, Millennium Running – Female Runner of the Year
- Central Mass Striders – Club of the Year
- Boston Marathon – Road Race of the Year
- Loon Mountain Race – Off-Road Race of the Year
- 24 Hour Ultra Around the Lake – Ultra Race of the Year
- Glenn Stewart, Baystate Marathon – Race Director of the Year
Congrats to all and thanks to everyone who nominated and voted for candidates! Check out the photos below, courtesy of USATF-NE Treasurer Stephen Peckiconis.
By: Kate Queeney, USATF-NE XC Committee Member
The 2014 USATF-NE Cross Country Grand Prix wrapped up on November 30 with the Warrior Run at Larz Anderson Park. This race was a fitting cap to the season—a little mud, a little ice, and yet more toilet drama (locked bathrooms). Full individual and team results are here.
David Wilson, running unattached, put his stamp on the series with a decisive 31-second win over Jonathan Charlesworth of Greater Boston Track Club. David ran all five races in the series and won 2 of them en route to his 2014 title. In the open men’s team race, GBTC took 6 of the 7 top spots to score a convincing win that secured their overall series championship. T. J. Unger of HFC Striders was the only team runner to break up that GBTC pack, leading his men’s team to 2nd. The men from SISU Project, in their first year of fielding a full team in this division, took 3rd in this race but ended up 2nd in the overall series, 2 points ahead of HFC. I smell a rematch in 2015.
On the women’s side, Elizabeth Ryan of GBTC led her team to a near sweep, finishing the 2.8 miles of fun in 17:52. Seven
seconds behind Elizabeth was her teammate Caroline Martin, who with 2nd place in this event rounded out her decisive win in the overall series. Greater Boston won the Grand Prix decisively, finishing ahead of Western Mass Distance Project in all five races in the series. The women of WMDP echoed their 2nd place series finish with a 2nd at the Warrior Run as well, this time led by newcomer Joanna Johnson in 4th place. The women of SISU Project followed team leader Amanda Wright (6th) to a 3rd place finish, ending up 5th in the Grand Prix behind teams from the BAA and New Balance Boston, both of whom contested only the Mayor’s Cup and the USATF-NE Championship.
Jason Cakouros of HFC Striders finished first among the masters men to lead his team to the 40+ win, no doubt inspired by the cheering he did during his warm-up as the women rounded the “egregious” hill on the large loop. HFC claimed the Grand Prix series win in this division as well. The 40+ men of GBTC took 2nd place at the Warrior Run but placed 4th in the overall series, as Greater Lowell held onto a 2nd place tie with BAA in the series despite not fielding a scoring team at this final race.
As previously predicted in this blog, Mark Reeder of Greater Lowell showed up to put the icing on his Grand Prix series title in the 50+ division, even though no teams fielded a full team in this category, perhaps because Greater Lowell already had the series sewn up. The 60+ men from GBTC won that team race uncontested and claimed a decisive Grand Prix victory; the only race they didn’t score in (and win) was, ironically, their own meet at the start of the season. Bruce Bond of GBTC stands atop the 60+ podium in the Grand Prix series after scoring in all 5 races; Bruce finished 2nd in this division at the Warrior Run to James Wilson of the BAA.
Trish Bourne of Greater Lowell also passed up the chance to savor her 50+ series win from the warmth and comfort of home, leading all Masters women at the Warrior Run as her Greater Lowell team took 2nd in the 40+ division and won the 50+ team race as well. The 40+ women from WMDP followed the lead of Dana Parrot, who finished as the 2nd masters woman 26 seconds behind Trish, to win the 40+ team race and secure their Grand Prix title in that division. Dana successfully defended her individual 2013 Grand Prix title in the 40+ division as well. The women from Greater Derry Track Club, led by Cathy Merra, came in 3rd in the 40+ competition and 2nd in the 50+ team race to cement their Grand Prix title in the 50+ division and a runner-up position in the 40+ division.
Full team and individual results for the entire Cross Country Grand Prix series can be found here.
The Cross Country Committee, chaired in the early part of the year by Jason Cakouros (HFC) and now captained by Chris Canning (HFC), would like to thank all who participated. Comments and feedback on the series are always welcome, and we look forward to seeing you next fall!
This table is copied from an Excel pivot table created by the Treasurer to generate check amounts to be paid to each club scoring in the 2014 Grand Prix series. (Excel generates the top row numbers in a random order) It takes all the individual team sections (M/F by Open/40/50/60/70) and sums across them by Club. Looking at the first line for Whirlaway, you will see 600 under the 200 column and 350 under the 350 column. That implies that WRT won three $200 awards and one $350 award. See the GP web pages for the team prize breakdown in each age group. Total Prize money purse in 2014 is targeted at $8,000. Ties inflate the total as both teams get the higher amount.
It is offered as just one way of thinking about which club won the Overall team title across all age groups. You could say that money talks.
|Whirlaway Racing Team||250||600||350||300||1,500|
|Central Mass Striders||300||400||250||200||1,150|
|Somerville Road Runners||125||300||200||300||925|
|Greater Lowell Road Runners||200||375||300||875|
|Western Mass Distance Project||175||200||350||725|
|Gate City Striders||75||300||150||50||575|
|Greater Boston Track Club||500||500|
|Boston Athletic Association||175||200||375|
|Green Mountain Athletic Assoc||100||125||150||375|
|North Shore Striders||100||125||225|
|Cambridge Sports Union||100||100|
|Gr Springfield Harriers||100||100|
|New England 65+||50||50|
|Heartbreak Hill Striders||50||50|
By: Kate Queeney, USATF-NE XC Committee Member
As visions of turkey, a possible winter storm and Mass Pike traffic dance in the heads of runners across the region, New England’s harriers are gearing up for the final race in the 2014 Cross Country Grand Prix series, the Warrior Run on Sunday, Nov. 30 at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, MA.
At the fourth race in the series, the USATF-NE Championships at Franklin Park on Nov. 9, the men and women of the BAA showed that unicorns aren’t afraid to get their hooves dirty. Team and individual results from this race are nicely summarized on the USATF-NE website.
A look at both team and individual standings in the Grand Prix shows that some races will indeed come down to this final contest—or, as Patty Smyth once put it, “And heart to heart you’ll win, if you survive the warrior.” On the men’s side, GBTC has a healthy lead, but should the unicorns or the team from New Balance Boston choose to race outside Franklin Park, things could get interesting. Right now 2nd through 6th places (BAA, SISU, NBB, WMDP and HFC) are each separated by 1 point. In the open women’s team competition, GBTC holds a healthy lead over 2nd place WMDP and 3rd place BAA. The women of GBTC have won every head-to-head contest with WMDP during the series, these two teams being the only ones to have scored in all 4 events so far.
At the masters level, both the men’s and women’s races are too close to call. The men of HFC hold a 2-point lead over the masters squad from GLRR, with BAA again making an appearance in the top 3 by virtue of only two (dominant) team performances at Mayor’s Cup and the New England Championships. On the women’s side, WMDP took the series lead after winning a squeaker over Liberty at the New England Championships, but both the Hot Flashes of GDTC and the masters women of GLRR are still in contention for the series. Both the 50+ (GLRR) and 60+ (GBTC) men’s team competitions appear to be settled already, and while GDTC leads the 50+ women’s competition, GLRR is still a serious contender in 2nd place. Individual leaders Mark Reeder (50-59) and Trish Bourne (50-59), both of GLRR, have sewn up their respective divisions and could choose to stay home Sunday, though we suspect they won’t. In all other divisions the title could come down to who chooses to stay safe and warm this Sunday, and who chooses to get up early and make the drive to Brookline, knowing that a trip home with a few thousand other Commonwealthers awaits.
If the prospect of forgoing other Turkey Trots and couch-dwelling doesn’t entice you, perhaps this description of the Larz Anderson course—courtesy of HFC’s Jason Cakouros, former XC Committee Chair—will:
“. . .brutally hilly. The grass always seems really high too. . . The first loop is rolling to fast. The other loop has a big grass uphill, grass downhill, an egregious hill around a row of trees and monument thingy seemingly run just to torture us and then a gradual grass climb back to the fun loop.”
If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, you’re reading the wrong blog. Happy Thanksgiving from the USATF-NE Cross Country committee, and we look forward to seeing you in Brookline, where unicorns, wolves, chickens and mascots of unknown identity will seek to answer Patty Smyth’s plaintive query: “Who’s the hunter, who’s the game?”
In 2014, USATF-NE launched a new sort of series, the All Terrain Runner (ATR) series. And it’s pretty much what it sounds like; it challenges runners to compete on a variety of terrain – the roads, mountains, trails, cross country courses and the outdoor track.
The series was the brainchild of Eric Narcisi, the 2014 USATF-NE secretary, Whirlaway Racing Team member and web producer over at Level Renner. Following the culmination of this new series, Narcisi feels it was a “huge success,” stating that “I had so many people tell me that they were experiencing different disciplines for the first time.” For instance, the series winner on the women’s side, Christin Doneski, told him that she had never run a track or cross country race before. “Yet because of this series, there she was, in unfamiliar territory but in a familiar position (in front of the pack),” he added. The men’s series champion, Nate Jenkins, is known for his road dominance, said Narcisi, “but there he was back in May trudging the Vermont mud at Sleepy Hollow.” And at the Loon Mountain Race in July, Jenkins went head to head with some of the finest mountain runners not just in the region, but in the nation.
Ultimately, Narcisi said that the series is all about getting people out of their comfort zones and experiencing more of what the association has to offer. “We anticipate many more people stepping out of their comfort zones and putting themselves to the ultimate test in 2015,” he added. “I, for one, can’t wait to line up with the rest of the All Terrain hopefuls this winter on the indoor track to kick off the new series.”
As many runners prepare for the second edition of the ATR series, which will include an indoor track and a snowshoe race, we caught up with the 2014 series champions.
Jenkins of Central Mass Striders, who made it a goal to win the first annual series and plans to compete again in 2015, said the series was fun and unique, adding that “it is a great way to try and draw together the very varied and often very separate areas of USATF-NE.” While he’s not all that excited about the snowshoe race in the second series, Jenkins admits “that is kind of the point of the series, isn’t it?” Who knows? Maybe he will excel at snowshoeing just like he did at mountain running in 2014, something he doesn’t consider himself the biggest fan of.
Doneski of Whirlaway Racing Team reported that the series pushed her to try new things all while enjoying the company of the series participants, which she described as “a really supportive, genuine group of runners who wanted to race hard but also laugh and have some fun.” While she wasn’t expecting to win this year and doesn’t expect to win next year either, Doneski shared that she’s in an interesting point in her running career. “My road race PRs are most likely behind me, but I feel I can still get better, stronger and faster in the endurance and adversity-based races: mountains, trails and ultras.” Her ultimate goal is to grow old still running races and pushing herself to try new things and to keep setting new goals.
Both runners had a tough time picking their favorite series race; though the men’s winner enjoyed the mountain and track racing the most. The women’s winner said her initial favorite that comes to mind was Sleepy Hollow. “It’s so hard in so many ways; the course is super challenging (which I love) and the conditions are so unpredictable (2013 was dry and fast and 2014 was very wet and muddy and really tough), and it’s right after Boston,” she said. “However, I also loved Loon. Again, it’s a challenging course, but I spent a full year from 2013 to 2014 regretting that I did not run all the way up Upper Walking Boss. I was looking forward to racing this year and redeeming myself.” Doneski happily reported that she did not walk a single step this year.
So, where can we expect to see these two competing in 2015? Jenkins shared with us that he has fortunately made some progress in fixing his long-standing coordination issues in his right leg, so his top goal for next year is to continue that progress all the way to a return to the marathon – something he hasn’t done since the World Championships in 2009. His second goal is to run an Olympic Trials Qualifier, with a third goal of achieving a personal record at any distance. “I haven’t set one since back surgery in early 2011,” he added. Jenkins’ final two main goals will be to win the ATR series and the USATF- NE Grand Prix.
Doneski currently has her 2015 calendar clear, but knows she’ll be looking to run the USATF-NE Grand Prix as well for Whirlaway, noting those dates will go on the calendar first. Then she will look to the Mountain Series and the ATR and see how those dates match up with her other races and her family plans. “And of course there is still that desire to run an ultra, but that might need to wait for my children to need me less and I am in no hurry for that,” she said.
Lastly, Jenkins shared that the ATR series represents something he’d like to see more of from USATF-NE – trying new things. “Will everything be a hit or a win?” he asked. “Heck no, but anything is better than nothing.”
Yesterday, we heard from the USATF-NE Road Racing Grand Prix series female open winner Denise Sandahl of Millennium Running. Today, Whirlaway’s Ruben Sanca shares with us his thoughts on the 2014 series and the role it serves in his overall racing goals.
After joining the Whirlaway Racing Team, Sanca says he developed a new approach on how to meticulously plan his racing schedule so that both his team and individual goals were maximized. “Thankfully, the Grand Prix bid selection committee did a great job in creating opportunities for mutual success,” he said.
While he sat out the 5 miler to recover from a shin injury and decided to opt out of the marathon as he was training for the Twin Cities Marathon instead, looking back at the Grand Prix races he competed in, Sanca reports that “By far, the New Bedford Half Marathon has been my favorite race on the circuit. Dan McCarthy and his staff have done an outstanding job of embedding the race into the culture of the city of New Bedford. From organizational and logistical standpoints, there are very few or almost no noticeable hiccups. Crowd support is amazing and even the city mayor is involved. The welcoming atmosphere in New Bedford is like no other I have seen in local New England races. From year to year, the race is consistently well organized and I personally make a note to run it every year.”
Throughout the series, Sanca says that he was challenged by various teams and individuals. However, the orange singlets from Team RUN kept him on his toes, as he learned to stay mentally composed to confront the unpredictability of that team’s athletes. And while he hasn’t formalized his 2015 racing plans just yet, the Whirlaway athlete looks forward to seeing the 2015 Grand Prix series, hoping to populate his racing calendar with most of its events, as he states “the blend in race distances creates an intriguing year of racing for any athlete.”
Not too far from taking the open male team title in this year’s series (finishing a close third), Sanca says that Whirlaway is certainly looking to be an improved team and in contention again for the overall title in 2015. Sanca personally looks to maximize his performance in each Grand Prix race next year, even if it means getting an extra point for the team. While he will be racing all distances, his eye is on attaining the Olympic “B” standard in the marathon.
* Thank you, Ruben, for participating in the Grand Prix series and sharing your feedback. Best of luck as you work toward your 2015 racing goals!
Earlier this month, at the Anthem Manchester City Marathon, a USATF-New England Championship, the top two runners apparently missed a turn late in the race and did not finish. Likely because of weather, the sign that had been placed at the turn before the race was not visible at the time the lead runners passed. We applaud the strong performances of the two runners affected–Jason Ayr, from Western Mass Distance Project, and Birhanu Mekonnen, a runner from outside of our Association–as well as that of eventual winner, Dan Vassallo of Central Mass. Striders. Manchester City Marathon has awarded Ayer and Mekonnen each $1,250, an even split of the first and second place prize money. This is in addition to the prize money already awarded to those who finished the race in prize money positions.
A complete list of series standings for teams and individuals is available on the Grand Prix section of our website. In addition, USATF-NE Long Distance Chair persons are looking into establishing additional guidelines for championship races to try to prevent any future mishaps at Championship events. We want to recognize and commend USATF members Jason and Dan for their outstanding sportsmanship throughout Manchester City Marathon’s deliberations.
With the conclusion of the 2014 Grand Prix series, a total of $8,000 in prize money will be distributed soon to teams accruing the highest point totals in their age categories for men and women. Voting will be available soon for the 2015 USATFNE Grand Prix Road Race series and we encourage all members to participate in selecting a great line up of races.
Chairs, Lisa Doucett, John Barbour and Jan Holmquist
The USATF-NE Road Racing Grand Prix series came to a close in New Hampshire at the City of Manchester Marathon on November
2. When the points were tallied at the culmination of the seven race series – which included a 10 miler, half marathon, 5 miler, 5k, 15k, 10k and marathon – it was Millennium Running’s Denise Sandahl and Whirlaway’s Ruben Sanca who came out on the top as the overall open winners.
The first-time series winners both competed in five of the seven races – Sandahl coming in 16 points ahead of teammate Jennifer Mortimer and Sanca, beating out second place runner Dan Vassallo of CMS by 18 points. To learn more about their journeys to success and future racing plans, we chatted with the Grand Prix champions.
Today, we’ll hear from the women’s champion. Stay tuned for our interview with the men’s champion tomorrow.
Flashing back to the beginning of the year, Sandahl didn’t think she had a chance to be competitive in the Grand Prix series. It wasn’t until after winning the Ribfest 5 miler that she realized capturing the individual title might be a possibility. And she was right.
While illness and a scheduling conflict prevented her from competing in the entire series, Sandahl says of her five Grand Prix performances, the Ribfest 5 miler was her favorite – where her team took all three podium spots. With Millennial Running managing the event, it was a good feeling for Sandahl and her team to win at home.
Not only did she take the overall series title from an individual perspective, but her team accomplished its goal of winning the open team championship as well. Millennium managed to field teams for six of the seven races, despite being a small team, beating out Whirlaway by nine points. A major contributing factor to their team success, Sandahl says is that many of the women train together regularly and worked with each other during the races.
Sandahl added that it was her own teammates who tended to give her the most competition throughout the series – perhaps leading to their success this year. Looking ahead to 2015, Sandahl says she and her team plan to compete in the Grand Prix series again, looking for the same success.
She also plans to race the Boston Marathon next April. “In my wildest dream, I hope to qualify for the trials,” she said. “A marathon PR is a more realistic goal. As for team goals, In hope to contribute to our continued success.”
Lastly, Sandahl noted, “I’d like to add how grateful I am to my family (especially my husband, Adam, and sons, Caleb and Ian), team and friends for all the support they provide.”
* We’d like to thank Denise for taking the time to share her story with us, and we wish her and Millennium Running the best of luck in future races.
This table is copied from an Excel pivot table created by the Treasurer to generate check amounts to be paid to each club scoring in the 2013 Grand Prix series. It takes all the individual sections (M/F vs Open/40/50/60/70) and sums across them by Club. Looking at first line for Whirlaway, you will see 450 under the 225 column and 350 under the 175 column. That implies that WRT won two $225 awards and two $175 awards. See the GP web pages for the team prize breakdown in each age group.
It is offered as one way of looking at which club won the Overall team title. You could say that Money talks. This is something that is already being done vs calculating a 10-9-8… scoring system (which someone else is welcome to do).
SOON: 2014 Team Award numbers!
|WHIRLAWAY RACING TEAM||375||275||450||350||1450|
|CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS||125||325||225||350||1025|
|GREATER LOWELL ROAD RUNNERS||225||100||250||175||750|
|BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION||150||375||525|
|CAMBRIDGE SPORTS UNION||150||300||450|
|NEW BALANCE BOSTON||325||325|
|GREATER BOSTON TRACK CLUB||300||300|
|WESTERN MASS DISTANCE PROJ||250||250|
|GREEN MOUNTAIN AA||75||125||200|
|GATE CITY STRIDERS||200||200|
|WINNERS CIRCLE RC||150||150|
|GR SPRINGFIELD HARRIERS||100||100|
|SOMERVILLE ROAD RUNNERS||75||75|
|NORTH SHORE STRIDERS||75||75|
By: Kate Queeney, USATF-NE XC Committee Member
Toilet paper was in short supply, but talent and motivation were not, as USATF-NE athletes took to the fields and woods of Franklin Park on October 26 to contest the 24th Mayor’s Cup, presented by the Boston Athletic Association and Adidas.
In the women’s 5K Championship race, Rachel Hannah of Toronto, running for New Balance, took top honors with a time of 16:36. Hannah finished clear of a close pack of the second through courth place runners, with Juliet Bottorf of BAA finishing just ahead of teammate (and first masters runner) Jen Rhines. This was the first cross country race since 2005 for Rhines, the newly-anointed American masters record holder in the road 10K — who used a strong second half of the race to catapult her into third place over the final 100 meters. In fourth was 2013 NCAA Division I Cross Country champion Abbey D’Agostino, making her professional debut. The top six BAA runners swept the team competition, finishing ahead of New Balance Boston (second) and Greater Boston Track Club (third). With their first appearance in this year’s Grand Prix series, BAA jumps into third place in the series standings, behind GBTC in first and the Western Mass Distance Project in second.
The men’s Championship 8K saw another close race, with Mitch Goose of The Manhattan Project finishing in 23:46, four seconds ahead of Robert Mack (Reebok). Ethan Shaw of the BAA took third to lead a victorious team effort, with BAA’s fourth and fifth scorers (Sam Alexander and Bo Waggoner) making the difference against the second place Manhattan Project. The BAA men also made their first mark on the Grand Prix series at their home event; their win vaulted them into fourth place in the standings, behind GBTC, SISU project and HFC Striders. Both the men’s and women’s championship races are covered in detail on the BAA website.
While top masters runners such as the BAA’s Rhines mixed it up with the younger generation in the open races, runners competing in the masters and seniors divisions of the USATF competition took on everyone from high school runners to novice harriers in the Franklin Park 5K. The race was won decisively by 22-year-old Bryan Marsh in 15:44, with top masters finisher Mike Galoob of the BAA taking third in 16:23, just ahead of his teammate and fellow masters runner Chris Magill. Galoob and Magill led a strong BAA contingent to both the first place masters team title and first place overall team title in the race, while GLRR held on to second place in the Grand Prix series with a second place team finish. The masters team from HFC Striders finished third to maintain their position on top of the Grand Prix masters leader-board. Mark Reeder continues to dominate the men’s 50+ competition, winning the individual title in that division and leading his GLRR senior team to first place as well.
On the women’s side, 26-year-old Ravenna Neville took top honors in the Franklin Park 5K with a time of 19:25. The top masters woman was also the top senior woman: Trish Bourne, 50, of Greater Lowell Road Runners was the ninth woman overall in 20:43, pacing her masters team to a second place finish. First place masters team honors went to Western Mass Distance Project, whose three scorers swept the next three places in the masters race, led by former high school state champion (1991, on the Franklin Park course) Maura McDonald. In a truly cross-generational clash, the masters women from WMDP finished second overall to the Phillips Exeter girls’ team in the Franklin Park race. WMDP moved into second place in the Grand Prix series with this win, just one point behind Greater Derry Track Club, whose members finished third in the masters team race with a split squad, as some team members competed in a NH Grand Prix event in the Granite State. GDTC still holds the lead in the 50+ women’s team competition, with GLRR right behind.
With two races left in the Grand Prix series, many team races are too close to call. Harriers in the hunt for individual and team glory will return to Franklin Park on November 9 for the USATF-NE Championship Race, with visions of emptied and restocked porta-potties in their heads.