Kate Queeney

Kate Queeney

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Polls show a dead heat going into Nov. 6. . .

. . . for the open women’s Cross Country Grand Prix, that is!

But let’s back up. Way back on Oct. 9 the HFC Striders hosted the 3rd race of the USATF-NE XC series at the Wayland XC Festival. In a year when most of the region has suffered from drought, Mother Nature served up a deluge for this race. Runners of all ages shrugged off the conditions and enjoyed a classic cross country day on the grass and trails. Ryan O’Connell of SISU was the first USATF finisher, coming in 2nd behind Dan Crowley, a 23-yr-old from Boston. (Get this man on a cross country team!). Kara Haas of GLRR was the 1st USATF finisher on the women’s side and the first masters woman, in 2nd place overall behind unattached Laura Morrison of CT. Arguably the most impressive result of the day was the overall winner of the 3K race in the under-10 crowd, Leilani Gibson from New Haven, who came within 6 seconds of the course record for her age group on an incredibly muddy and slippery day. Full results are posted here.

Two weeks later the grand prix competition moved east to the Mayor’s Cup in Franklin Park, where the weather was calendar-perfect, especially if you ignored the roughly 25 mph winds in your face as you headed by the finish line (which one does, cruelly, multiple times before actually finishing). Good write-ups on the top finishers in both the men’s and women’s championship races can be found here and here. As usual, several USATF-NE teams who do not race the grand prix series came out in force and dominated these races. Laura Paulsen of GBTC was the first USATF-NE finisher and led her team to 2nd place behind the dominant running of the women from Battle Road Track Club. On the men’s side NE Distance dominated as a team with a strong pack behind overall winner Jim Spisak, with BAA edging out the men of Battle Road for 2nd place. The masters competition played out among 300 runners aged 15 and up in the all-comers Franklin Park 5K. Mike Galoob of BAA continued his dominance by finishing first overall; he was finally joined by enough BAA teammates to pull of the 40+ team victory as well, and the BAA men also took first in the 50+ team division. The 60+ men of GLRR won that division. For the women it should not surprise anyone that Kara Haas was the first masters runner; you might also not be surprised that she was the first woman runner overall in this race that contained a fair number of college club runners. But even if you’re not surprised, you should be impressed. WMDP edged out Liberty by 1 point to take the women’s 40+ team title, while Liberty took the 50+ team race more decisively over the Westchester TC. Full results for the Mayor’s Cup are posted here.

khaas-mayors-cupAs the title of this post suggests, though, the real story in the USATF-NE Cross Country Grand Prix is the team competition. This coming Sunday the final race of the season, the USATF-NE Championships, will be held at Franklin Park. And on the open women’s side, the top three teams are all tied in the series right now with 13 points apiece. SISU claimed their share of the lead at Mayor’s Cup with the return of Caitlyn Germain, who led a 1-2-3 punch with Sumner Fletcher and Amanda Wright close behind to finish ahead of both WMDP and HFC Striders. This is the first time in recent years (maybe ever?) the HFC women have fielded an open women’s team throughout the series, and they have used strong pack running and some age-defying masters performances from Eileen Cakouros to stay in the hunt for the open series crown. At New England’s this year we return to pre-2015 rules where masters women can score down for the open teams and score for their age group teams, so Sunday’s race should be interesting. Will SISU take their first cross country series title? Which squads have to split their talent to cover the marathon in the road race grand prix? Show up to find out!

While the other team races are not as close–with the exception of the race for 2nd place in the open men’s division, where SISU and HFC are tied for 2nd–there is money on the line BOTH for the series places and for the New England meet itself. In the individual races the tightest series competition looks to be in the Men’s 50+ division, where former XC Chair Jason Cakouros lurks just one point behind Alejandro Heuck, with Jason apparently coming on strong as the season progresses. Online registration for Sunday’s meet is available for all USATF-NE members, and there will be raceday registration as well for the undecided. See you all there!

Photo credit: Granite State Race Services

Halftime in New England

No, not THAT kind of halftime–this weekend marks the halfway point in the USATF-NE Cross Country Grand Prix Series, with the upcoming Wayland XC Festival. Register here by Friday, October 7; raceday registration is also available onsite.

The second race of the series took place on Sunday, Sept. 18 on the cross country course of Smith College, hosted by the women of the Western Mass Distance Project. A number of teams made the trek west, lured by the promise of Atkins cider donuts and the clean air out beyond the Boston suburbs. Rain held off for the race, making for humid but otherwise decent conditions, and volunteers from the Smith College cross country team provided enthusiaswmdp-men-mile-1tic directions and encouragemen
t around the 5K course.

The men’s race went off first, and GBTC scored a decisive victory with 21 points to HFC’s 51, with men in red Michael Carlone and Braden Becker going 1-2. Mike Galoob of BAA led all masters men with a 7th place overall finish. The 40+ and 50+ teams from HFC Striders won the team race in both categories. Special props to outgoing XC Chair George Braun, who still showed up to race despite having technically moved to CO. George was so entranced by the surroundings on his warmup that he missed the start of the men’s race but jumped in anyway; he reports that the last mile of his warmup was his fastest split on the day. Charles Kaufman of Dirigo in Maine gets a special shoutout for winning the 60+ individual title in his first ever cross country race.hfc-at-wmdp

In the women’s race hometown girl Apryl Sabadosa of WMDP crossed first. Hot on her heels were teammate Kelsey Allen and GLRR’s Kara Haas, who was the first masters runner. WMDP rode the home course advantage to sweep the women’s team titles in open, 40+ and 50+, with Sisu taking 2nd in the open team competition and Greater Derry finishing 2nd in both 40+ and 50+. Many teams retired post-race to the Northampton Brewery to sample some of the 413’s finest refreshments before the long (or short, if you’re on WMDP) ride home. wmdp-womens-start

With two of the five series races complete, it’s time to start looking at series standings. On the women’s side, the open, 40+ and 50+ individual races are led by Amy Rusiecki (WMDP), Kara Haas (GLRR) and Virginia Nichols, respectively. In the team competition WMDP has a slim lead over HFC in the open division and maintains a similarly tenuous gap over GDTC in 40+ and 50+.

For the men the individual leaders are currently Mike Carlone (GBTC, open), Mike Galoob (BAA, 40+) and Alejandro Heuck (GSH, 50+). The aforementioned currently-unattached George Braun sits atop the 60+ standings, which raises the question of whether or not 2 time zones will prevent him from holding that lead over Richard Molloy and John Barbour of GLRR. GBTC leads the open team standings, with HFC currently sitting atop the series in both 40+ and 50+. If you’d like to plot your upcoming strategy for cross country dominance, full standings can be found here.

And we’re off!

The good news is, fall arrived last weekend just in time for the first race of the Cross Country Grand Prix series. The bad news is, it arrived with a violent weather event in the middle of the men’s masters race. To our knowledge, though, no masters men were harmed in the making of your favorite season, and the seasons-spanning GBTC XC Festival was a successful and, indeed, festive kickoff. Full results are here.

gbtc-women-start

The day started with a humidity-choked race for the combined open and masters women. Victoria Barnaby took the win for GBTC in 19:07, followed by Kara Haas of GLRR as the first masters woman in 19:23. GBTC won the women’s team race in dominant fashion with 19 points to HFC Striders’ 88 points in 2nd. The women of WMDP won both the 40+ and 50+ team categories, with the women of GLRR and GDTC trading places in 2nd and 3rd.

gbtc-masters

Next off were the masters men, who survived gusting winds and torrential downpours midway through their race. Mike Galoob of the BAA won the race in 17:21, with Arthur Besse of CMS second in 17:36. HFC Striders gutted out two close team victories, over GBTC in the 40+ race and GLRR in the 50+.

gbtc-open-men

Skies cleared for the open men (at least by the end of the race—it might have still been raining at the start). Mike Carlone of GBTC came home the winner in 16:07, with Ryan O’Connell of SISU Project 5 seconds behind. Their finishes paralleled the team race, where GBTC took first with 30 points to SISU’s 58.

gbtc-pie

In a bit of series foreshadowing, the famed winners’ pies handed out by GBTC were from Amherst, MA—just a few miles away from the site of this week’s race, which is being hosted by the women of WMDP at Smith College in Northampton on Sunday, Sept. 18. Team registration is open online through 5 pm this Friday; onsite registration is for non-team affiliated individuals only. See you in the 413!

 

(photo credits: Tom Derderian for race photos, Kristin Tetreault for pie)

2016 Cross Country Season

Did you all feel that tinge of fall in the air last weekend—sunny days, cool nights, crunching underfoot? Ignore the fact that the crunching was probably from drought-starved grass, not leaves, and ignore also the return this week of summer-like humidity, and you might believe fall is right around the corner. And you know what that means: CROSS COUNTRY!

The USATF-NE Cross Country Grand Prix kicks off this weekend on Sunday, Sept. 11 with the GBTC  XC Invitational in Wellesley. This is a great course that mixes grass and trails, and they give out pies to the winners. Details about the race and a link to registration can be found here. http://www.gbtc.org/events/xcfestival/

The 2nd race in the series follows the next weekend, on Sunday, Sept 18th, at the WMDP XC Invitational hosted by the women of the WMDP on the Smith College cross country course (mostly trails). Inspired by the pies of GBTC, they are offering cider doughnuts to the winning teams. Info and registration for that race are here https://www.runreg.com/wmdpxc

Rules for the 2016 series remain the same as for the 2015 series, with the exception of women’s scoring at the New England Championship meet, which has been returned for this year to the previous model (see the rules page http://www.usatfne.org/cross for details. The most important rule to highlight is probably the fact that all teams must score in at least 4 of the 5 series races to compete for the overall series win in their age division. And since all 5 races are counted, teams who score in all 5 have the obvious advantage. (Plus they are likely to accrue pie, doughnuts, and glory along the way.)

Last year on the men’s side, GBTC took the open series title and settled for the bronze in 40+. GLRR claimed both the 40+ and 50+ titles over HFC, with the latter title decided by only 2 points after HFC pulled a bit of an upset at the Mayor’s Cup.  In the women’s competition, WMDP scored the open victory with SISU 2nd after the GBTC women failed to score in a 4th event. WMDP went back and forth with GDTC at the 40+ level for most of the season, with WMDP coming out on top by 3 points at the end. Meanwhile, since most of the GDTC team was 50+, they took that division running away (so to speak). Team competition in the series of recent years has been in many cases close between the top teams, but in many cases also relatively sparse in terms of the number of teams competing. The XC committee would like to take this opportunity to remind all our teams that there is actual money up for grabs here—see the rules page for amounts, and start rallying your teams now. See you on Sunday!

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