Long Distance Running

Long Distance Running, including Open and Masters LDR

A Grand Prix Update

With two of seven races behind us in the USATF-NE Grand Prix Road Racing series – the Jones 10 Miler and New Bedford Half Marathon – where do we stand?


Exclusive Interview: New Bedford’s USATF-NE Champions

An update on our USATF-NE Grand Prix Road Racing series is coming soon. In the meantime, we caught up with the USATF-NE winners of our most recent Grand Prix race, the New Bedford Half Marathon: Ruben Sanca of the Whirlaway Racing Team and Andrea Walkonen, currently unattached.

Hear what they had to say about their latest wins, current training and what the future holds for each in the world of racing.


New Bedford Half Marathon (2014 GP Race #2)

New Bedford Half Marathon – March 16, 2014 – Grand Prix Race #2

Plc  Name                 ClubName                GunTime  SAge DvPlNEMChipTime AG %    AGPl Bib  Town
1    Ruben Sanca          Whirlaway Racing Team   1:05:52  M27  1   Y  1:05:50  89.95%  5    3322
2    Nick Karwoski        Whirlaway Racing Team   1:06:10  M25  2   Y  1:06:09  89.52%  11   3313
3    Dan Vassallo         Central Mass Striders   1:07:10  M28  3   Y  1:07:08  88.21%  16   2920
4    Robert Gibson        Janji(non-renewed club) 1:07:14  M24  4   Y  1:07:13  88.10%  17   1767 Brookline, MA
5    Eric Ashe            BAA                     1:07:25  M25  5   Y  1:07:24  87.86%  19   2824
6    Nicolai Naranjo      Western Mass Dist Proj  1:08:00  M25  6   Y  1:07:59  87.10%  28   2989
7    Brad Mish            BAA                     1:08:08  M26  7   Y  1:08:07  86.93%  29   2855
8    Wisley Ochoro        Team RUN                1:08:26  M35  8   Y  1:08:25  87.50%  23   2656
9    Philip Shaw          Millennium Running      1:08:43  M29  9   Y  1:08:43  86.18%  35   2116
10   Eric Blake           Unattached              1:08:47  M35  10  Y  1:08:46  86.80%  31   2333
11   Chase Pizzonia                               1:09:13  M28         1:09:12  85.57%  39   758  Bronx, NY
12   Jesse Regnier        Western Mass Dist Proj  1:09:36  M26  11  Y  1:09:36  85.08%  46   2984
13   Sean Duncan          Western Mass Dist Proj  1:09:36  M24  12  Y  1:09:36  85.08%  46   2986
14   Jonathan Joyce       Western Mass Dist Proj  1:09:40  M23  13  Y  1:09:39  85.02%  48   3380
15   Eric Macknight       Non-New England Club    1:09:49  M25         1:09:47  84.86%  51   952  Ballston Lake, NY
16   Jason Ayr            Western Mass Dist Proj  1:09:59  M26  14  Y  1:09:59  84.62%  54   2988
17   Ryan Gough           GLRR                    1:10:21  M30  15  Y  1:10:20  84.19%  62   3020
18   Jeff Howley          RMH of Providence RC    1:10:22  M34  16  Y  1:10:22  84.53%  55   855
19   Michael Burnstein                            1:10:27  M24         1:10:26  84.07%  64   2296 Brookline, MA
20   Andrew Chalmers      Greater Boston TC       1:10:31  M24  17  Y  1:10:29  84.02%  67   2819
21   David Johnson        Western Mass Dist Proj  1:10:40  M25  18  Y  1:10:39  83.82%  69   3357
22   Francis Cusick       Unattached              1:10:44  M27  19  Y  1:10:42  83.76%  70   1288
23   Mike Galoob          02-0099                 1:10:45  M40  1   Y  1:10:44  87.29%  27   1996 Peace Dale, RI
24   Adam Goode           Dirigo R.C.             1:10:45  M30  20  Y  1:10:42  83.76%  70   1176
25   Scott Mcgrath        Whirlaway Racing Team   1:10:51  M27  21  Y  1:10:47  83.66%  74   3317
26   Andrew Messer        Western Mass Dist Proj  1:11:00  M28  22  Y  1:11:00  83.40%  75   2987
27   Jonathan CharlesworthGreater Boston TC       1:11:02  M29  23  Y  1:11:02  83.36%  77   1968
28   Kim Smith            TEAM NEW BALANCE        1:11:09  F32         1:11:08  92.77%  1    2651
29   Stephen Polito       NB Boston               1:11:17  M24  24  Y  1:11:16  83.09%  81   1818
30   Christopher Magill   BAA                     1:11:17  M41  2   Y  1:11:15  87.45%  25   2850
31   Louis Saviano        Millennium Running      1:11:22  M23  25  Y  1:11:17  83.07%  82   2115
32   Alexander Taylor     BAA                     1:11:24  M34  26  Y  1:11:23  83.35%  78   2871
33   Ryan Mccalmon        BAA                     1:11:24  M38  27  Y  1:11:24  85.25%  41   3388
34   Sean Hyland          BAA                     1:11:25  M29  28  Y  1:11:22  82.98%  85   2844
35   Adrian Macdonald     Greater Boston TC       1:11:26  M25  29  Y  1:11:24  82.94%  86   2816
36   Ethan Brown          Team RUN                1:11:28  M26         1:11:28  82.86%  87   3248
37   Chris Mahoney        Central Mass Striders   1:11:30  M36  30  Y  1:11:28  84.06%  65   2919
38   Jonathan Baker       BAA                     1:11:32  M30  31  Y  1:11:29  82.84%  88   2825
39   Brian Mcnamara       Greater Boston TC       1:11:37  M31  32  Y  1:11:36  82.71%  91   1520
40   Ian Nurse            BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIA 1:11:37  M36         1:11:36  83.73%  72   2858
41   Gregory Picklesimer  Somerville Road Runners 1:11:40  M47  1   Y  1:11:36  91.71%  2    1017
42   Jon Korhonen                                 1:11:42  M31         1:11:40  82.63%  92   791  Somerville, MA
43   Robert Espinosa      Greater Boston TC       1:11:44  M29  33  Y  1:11:41  82.61%  93   2820
44   Manuel Gonzalez      Greater Boston TC       1:11:47  M24  34  Y  1:11:45  82.53%  96   1762
45   Patrick Rich         CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS   1:11:48  M37         1:11:46  84.03%  66   2923
46   Richie Spitsberg     Millennium Running      1:11:50  M28  35  Y  1:11:48  82.47%  98   2114
47   Eric Mendoza         Greater Boston TC       1:12:00  M29  36  Y  1:11:57  82.30%  102  2809
48   David Brooks         BAA                     1:12:15  M29  37  Y  1:12:12  82.02%  108  2830
49   Andreas Heilmann     BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIA 1:12:19  M29         1:12:19  81.89%  111  2880
50   Claton Conrad        Dirigo R.C.             1:12:31  M31  38  Y  1:12:27  81.75%  112  1230

New Bedford Half Marathon in Photos

More than 2,800 runners came out this past Sunday for the 37th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon, which is also the second race in our Road Racing Grand Prix series.

A few photographers were on-site to capture the race for us — check out the race photos by Thomas ColeKrissy Kozlosky and Scott Mason.

If you come across any additional photo albums that we missed, feel free to link to them in the comments section on Facebook – thanks!

Ruben Sanca (left) and Nick Karwoski, both of Whirlaway Racing Team (Photo Credit: Krissy Kozlosky)

(L-R) Ruben Sanca and Nick Karwoski, both of Whirlaway Racing Team, placed first & second respectively in the New Bedford Half Marathon on Sunday   (Photo Credit: Krissy Kozlosky)



Your Grand Prix Leaders

As we approach the second race in our Road Racing Grand Prix series this weekend — the New Bedford Half Marathon — we have two individuals leading the overall series.

The first and only race so far, the Jones 10 Miler, took place late last month in Amherst, MA. The challenging, hilly course didn’t stop Eric Ashe and Erica Jesseman from taking the top spots for the open male and female USATF-NE competitors. As your current Grand Prix leaders, we wanted to hear a little bit from these two local athletes about what it took to take the titles, and where we can expect to see them throughout the year.


Eric Ashe, B.A.A. — Male Open USATF-NE Grand Prix Leader

Eric Ashe (left), following the Jones 10 Miler - Photo Credit: Tom Derderian

Eric Ashe (left), following the Jones 10 Miler – Photo Credit: Tom Derderian

Eric chose to compete in the Jones 10 Miler because it’s part of the Grand Prix series and he wanted to score points for his team, the B.A.A. He also knew there would be some solid competition, and it would serve as a good preparation for the upcoming Boston Marathon he’s currently training for.

“I used the race as a good workout for Boston,” Eric said, noting he did a  longer warm-up than usual (6 miles) and went right into a 4 mile cool down to get his mileage in. “It was definitely a good indicator of how training is going, as my legs weren’t too beat up after the race,” he said.

It’s the first time Eric is really focusing on the marathon and he reports that his training is going very well. He says he’s in the best aerobic shape he’s ever been, which clearly showed in his last race, where he completed the 10 mile course in 50:43 —  that’s 5:04 per mile pace, and overall 7 seconds faster than second place finisher Ruben Sanca of the Whirlaway Racing Team.

We can expect to see Eric on the starting line at the New Bedford Half Marathon, where he plans to approach the race in the same manner as the first Grand Prix race, which is to go for the win but also use it as a workout for Boston. Looking ahead to April, Eric says: “I’m excited for what is to come at Boston as long as I can teach my body to hold up for 26.2 miles, and if I can stay healthy and consistent.”

For more on Eric’s training and racing, check out his NPR blog and this recent feature article on him at the same media outlet. Considering his early Grand Prix lead, it appears Eric may be the one to beat in the 2014 series.


Erica Jesseman, Dirigo Running Club — Female Open USATF-NE Grand Prix Leader

Erica Jesseman, post-race in Amerhst, MA - Photo Credit: Tom Derderian

Erica Jesseman, post-race in Amerhst, MA – Photo Credit: Tom Derderian

Erica joined the Dirigo Running Club in the summer of 2011 after graduating from the University of New Hampshire, attracted to the club’s fun and laid back environment — and living in Maine, it was most convenient for her too. For the Jones 10 Miler race, Erica had a similar approach as Eric, envisioning it as a great workout. She was most excited to compete with her Dirigo teammates Sheri Piers and Kristin Barry, who are Erica’s main training partners and mentors. Also training for Boston, she knew this race would serve as a nice preparation.

Her approach was to go out comfortably and controlled. “I knew I needed to run my own race; I didn’t focus on anyone but myself and my paces,” she said.  Her approach obviously was the right one, as she came into the finish at 59:33, which is 5:58 per mile pace.

Leading up to the race, Erica had been training through a tough winter like many of us, after suffering from IT Band Syndrome in the fall. Despite the conditions and bouncing back from the injury, she’s managed to hit 80-90 miles per week, many of them on the treadmill and hilly long runs outside on the weekends. “I haven’t been hitting my highest mileage during this marathon training cycle,” Erica noted, “it’s been more quality over quantity.”

Where else can we expect to see Erica in race results? Next on the calendar is the New Bedford Half Marathon, and in April she’ll be lining up for the Boston Marathon.


Congratulations to both Eric and Erica on their early leads in the USATF-NE Grand Prix series. Stay tuned for Sunday’s race results in New Bedford, to see how they fare as they look to continue their winning streaks while training for the Boston Marathon.

Sarah’s Streak – Going for her 100th Consecutive Grand Prix Race

Photo Credit: Scott Mason

Photo Credit: Scott Mason

The 37th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon on March 16th marks the second race in the USATF-NE Road Racing Grand Prix series. But for Whirlaway‘s Sarah Prescott, the race signifies much more. In fact, once she crosses the finish line, she will have completed her 100th consecutive USATF-NE Grand Prix race.

A runner since 1978, Sarah started entering Grand Prix races in 2000 when the club team she was a member of participated in the team competition. Motivated by seeing her name in the standings, she never looked back. Throughout this time, not only has she been a consistent name in our race standings, but she’s even found her way to the top of the results page many times too. She placed sixth last year in the series for the women’s 45-49 year old age group, and finished fourth the year prior.

Showcasing her range, in 2013, Sarah ran 36:11 for the 5 miler, 1:36:14 for the half marathon and 3:53:49 for the marathon. Considering the variety of distances included in the Grand Prix, Sarah’s training must prepare her for all sorts of races. This is why she has tailored her training based on the Grand Prix race schedule each year.

In addition to the series typically offering some races in her neck of the woods in New Hampshire, Sarah also says the Grand Prix boasts a good combination of distances and locations, while fostering camaraderie and team competition, which she enjoys with the Whirlaway Racing team.  While there are no official rankings for her streak, she says “Looking at available stats, next behind me is Christopher Chetsas (a fellow Goon Squad founder) with his streak of 6 consecutive Ironrunner years. My streak has been 14 consecutive Ironrunner years, plus one race in 2014.”  

So what’s next for Sarah? “Just keep running!” she says.  “I’ve done more than I ever imagined being able to do and feel incredibly fortunate for all the wonderful people I’ve become friends with… how could I ask for anything more?”

Reflecting on her favorite Grand Prix moments, Sarah adds: “There are so many wonderful memories, it would take a story itself!  Cape Cod Marathon was always extra special, first time I qualified for Boston Marathon and some really fun post-race parties.”

We would like to extend our congratulations to Sarah for her dedication to and successes in the USATF-NE Grand Prix series, and wish her continued success, especially at the upcoming New Bedford Half Marathon!

2014 Jones Group Realtors 10M (2014 GP Race #1)

40th Annual Jones Group Realtors 10 Miler – Feb 23, 2014

Plc  Name                Club                     GunTime S AgeDvPl NE ChipTime  AG %  AGPl  Bib Town
1    ERIC ASHE           Boston Athletic Assn      50:44  M 25 1    Y   50:43   87.51%  6    524 BOSTON MA
2    RUBEN SANCA         Whirlaway Racing Team     50:52  M 27 2    Y   50:51   87.29%  8    570 DRACUT MA
3    DAN VASSALLO        Central Mass Striders     51:31  M 28 3    Y   51:30   86.20%  12   413 PEABODY MA
4    BRIAN HARVEY        Boston Athletic Assn      51:43  M 26 4    Y   51:42   85.85%  14   538 BOSTON MA
5    NEEL TARNEJA        GBTC                      52:18  M 31 0        52:17   84.93%  21   635 SHREWSBURY MA
6    BRAD MISH           Boston Athletic Assn      52:34  M 26 5    Y   52:34   84.43%  25   550 DORCHESTER MA
7    BRIAN MCNAMARA      Greater Boston TC         52:36  M 31 6    Y   52:34   84.52%  23   477 CAMBRIDGE MA
8    ANDREW ERSKINE      NB Boston                 52:38  M 22 7    Y   52:38   84.35%  26   620 SOMERVILLE MA
9    ERIC BLAKE          Unattached                52:47  M 35 8    Y   52:46   85.17%  20   649 WEST HARTFORD CT
10   ERIC MACKNIGHT      Fleet Feet Albany Racin   53:16  M 25 0        53:15   83.35%  35   366 BALLSTON LAKE NY
11   JESSE REGNIER       Western Mass Dist Proj    53:29  M 26 9    Y   53:28   83.02%  40   604 NORTHAMPTON MA
12   ALEXANDER PALEY     Fleet Feet Albany Racin   53:36  M 27 0        53:36   82.82%  42   360 ALBANY NY
13   JOSH STEFFEN        Millennium Running        53:41  M 33 10   Y   53:40   83.24%  36   519 NEW LONDON NH
14   JASON AYR           Western Mass Dist Proj    53:47  M 26 11   Y   53:47   82.53%  45   619 NORTHAMPTON MA
15   MIKE GALOOB         02-0099                   53:59  M 40 1    Y   53:59   86.19%  13   175 PEACE DALE  RI
16   SEAN DUNCAN         Western Mass Dist Proj    54:02  M 24 12   Y   54:01   82.16%  50   623 ARLINGTON MA
17   JEFF HOWLEY         RMH of Providence RC      54:07  M 34 13   Y   54:07   82.69%  43   671 PROVIDENCE  RI
18   JONATHAN JOYCE      Western Mass Dist Proj    54:10  M 23 14   Y   54:08   81.99%  53   370 HULL MA
19   MICHAEL BURNSTEIN   Janji (not member)        54:11  M 24 0        54:09   81.95%  54   630 BROOKLINE MA
20   Andrew Messer       Western Mass Dist Proj    54:14  M 28 15   Y   54:14   81.85%  55   592 WESTFIELD MA
21   TOM O'GRADY         Willow Street             54:22  M 28 0        54:21   81.66%  58   112 LATHAM NY
22   MATHEW WEISSINGER   Western Mass Dist Proj    54:31  M 27 16   Y   54:30   81.43%  62   495 NORTHAMPTON MA
23   RICARDO ESTREMERA   Fleet Feet Albany Racin   54:36  M 27 0        54:34   81.33%  64   363 ALBANY NY
24   MANUEL GONZALEZ     Greater Boston TC         54:42  M 24 17   Y   54:41   81.18%  65   424 ROXBURY MA
25   Louis Saviano       Millennium Running        55:01  M 23 18   Y   54:59   80.73%  68   520 SANDOWN NH
26   Christopher Magill  Boston Athletic Assn      55:06  M 41 2    Y   55:06   85.20%  19   547 CUMBERLAND  RI
27   ADRIAN MACDONALD    Greater Boston TC         55:09  M 25 19   Y   55:09   80.48%  70   639 ALLSTON MA
28   David Brooks        Boston Athletic Assn      55:14  M 29 20   Y   55:13   80.38%  71   531 HOLDEN MA
29   Scott Leslie        Central Mass Striders     55:17  M 32 21   Y   55:16   80.61%  69   414 RUTLAND MA
30   BRAD LEWIS          Willow Street             55:24  M 27 0        55:22   80.16%  75   141 TROY NY
31   PETER OMAE          Team RUN                  55:29  M 35 22   Y   55:27   81.42%  63   614 LOWELL MA
32   MEGAN HOGAN         Fleet Feet Albany Racin   55:30  F 26 0        55:29   89.55%  2    362 SARATOGA SPRINGS NY
33   ERIC MENDOZA        Greater Boston TC         55:44  M 29 23   Y   55:44   79.63%  85   663 DORCHESTER MA
34   David METZGER       GBTC (not member)         55:48  M 27 0        55:48   79.54%  87   682 MEDFORD MA
35   JONATHAN BAKER      Boston Athletic Assn      55:49  M 30 24   Y   55:49   79.53%  88   525 CAMBRIDGE MA
36   CHUCK TERRY         Willow Street             55:54  M 31 0        55:51   79.51%  89   483 ALBANY NY
37   BRIAN KEEFE         Somerville Road Runners   55:55  M 24 25   Y   55:53   79.43%  90   167 WATERTOWN MA
38   ANTHONY WALSH       GBTC (not member)         55:57  M 30 0        55:56   79.34%  92   678 BOSTON MA
39   MORGAN KENNEDY      Central Mass Striders     55:58  M 26 26   Y   55:58   79.31%  93   408 GRAFTON MA
40   ANDREAS HEILMANN    BAA (not member)          56:03  M 29 0        56:03   79.19%  96   539 BOSTON MA
41   ANDREW DOWNEY       GLRR                      56:05  M 29 27   Y   56:04   79.17%  98   207 LOWELL MA
42   ANDY MCCARRON       Central Mass Striders     56:09  M 31 28   Y   56:09   79.11%  99   412 KEENE NH
43   JASON REILLY        Boston Athletic Assn      56:21  M 31 29   Y   56:20   78.85%  101  552 CUMBERLAND  RI
44   JAMES SULLIVAN      GLRR                      56:24  M 28 30   Y   56:21   78.76%  104  206 CHELMSFORD MA
45   BRYAN MAHONEY       Boston United Track & C   56:24  M 30 31   Y   56:21   78.82%  102  47  SOMERVILLE MA
46   AARON LOZIER        Willow Street             56:24  M 25 0        56:23   78.73%  106  113 CLIFTON PARK NY
47   CHRISTOPHER KLUCZNI Somerville Road Runners   56:30  M 31 32   Y   56:27   78.73%  105  381 SOMERVILLE MA
48   JASON GARRITY       Greater Boston TC         56:36  M 27 33   Y   56:35   78.43%  112  681 TOPSFIELD MA
49   SONNY GAMBLE        Western Mass Dist Proj    56:44  M 26 34   Y   56:44   78.23%  116  238 CARLISLE MA
50   SCOTT MCGRATH       Whirlaway Racing Team     56:52  M 27 35   Y   56:52   78.05%  121  564 ANDOVER MA

Kicking off the 2014 Road Racing Grand Prix

UPCOMING RACES – Important Deadlines & Registration Details

The 2014 Road Racing Grand Prix officially kicks off tomorrow, February 23rd, with the Jones 10 Miler in Amherst, MA. The challenging race along scenic, hilly rural roads offers a total of $9,250 in prize money. $1,750 will be awarded to top individuals, $2,500 in age group prizes (no double dipping) and $5,000 for top teams. The event is rooted in New England history, having been founded by USATF-NE President Tom Derderian in 1975 as a tune-up race before the Boston Marathon. In fact, as the race website notes, “Bill Rodgers won Jones 10 Miler the first year it was held and used the race as a training run for his first Boston Marathon victory.” Past results for the race can be viewed here. If you’re still interested in racing and have yet to sign up, it’s not too late. Race-day registration begins at 9:00 am at Amherst Regional High School. 

The full 2014 Grand Prix schedule is outlined below, but there are two races taking place just next month that we want to make you aware of. The 37th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon will be held on March 16, with registration closing on March 1.

Next up in the calendar is the An Ras Mor 5k in Cambridge, the shortest race distance in the series. Held on March 30, runners can enter up until race day; however, entry fees go up $5 after March 9. USATF members will receive a discount on the registration fee. Please note that there are are no special steps needed to do so — simply select the “USATF member” category and know your 2014 individual USATF member number, which can be looked up here

2014 Road Racing Grand Prix Calendar

Updates to the 2014 Grand Prix Guidelines

There are a few notable changes to the Grand Prix Guidelines this year. Men’s and Women’s 70+ age group teams will be included in the scoring, as well as women’s 65-69 and 70+ individual age groups. Additionally, individuals winning their age group will begin with 10 points and those in second, third, etc, will be scored one point less for the top ten regardless of how many finishers are in the age category. Also in 2014, runners aging into a new category as individuals will still receive points in the age group in which they began the series. Their name will also appear in their new age group and they can accumulate points there as well.

Championship Standings

Be sure to visit our website for the latest Grand Prix standings following each event. In 2013 Grand Prix standings, B.A.A. and Whirlaway Racing team took the men’s and women’s open team titles respectively, with Sean Duncan of WMDP and Stephanie Reilly of Team RUN coming in as the the top open individuals. To view the winning Grand Prix teams since 1986, check out that list on our website here.

Which teams and individual runners will take home the top Grand Prix titles and prize packages this year?

Important Entry Deadlines Approaching

With several USATF championship events coming up, both at the regional and national levels, we wanted to make sure no important entry deadlines are missed. We’ve

outlined some key upcoming events below, with the deadlines bolded. Be sure to mark your calendars and check out each event link for more details. See you out on the track or the roads soon!



2014 Grand Prix Road Race Voting Details

Who, what, when, where:

While the USATF NE bylaws do not require the LDR Committee to involve the membership in decision making in regard to any event or activity it oversees, the Committee has chosen to invite input and voting from the LDR community in regard to the Road Race Grand Prix. The slate selection meeting for the 2014 USATF NE Grand Prix Road Race series date and time was announced at the bid presentation meeting on November 13, 2013 where over 60 people were in attendance. In addition, an ongoing LDR Committee of about 12 people meets sporadically through the year and had been meeting/emailing during the preceding months in regard to the bid solicitation process. At the presentation meeting, names were collected of those interested in attending the slate meeting. Those names combined with available LDR Committee members met on November 23rd in Waltham to review the bids and put together the slates for voting. A total of 11 people were present at the meeting. Clubs represented were: the BAA, CSU, GBTC, NSS, SISU Project, SRR, WRT, and WMDP. Transparency of the process includes: all meetings are open to all USATF members; voting privileges are extended to all club representatives (one vote per club); committee decisions are by consensus; bid and voting process guidelines are posted on the USATFNE website; and contact information including email addresses for the LDR Chairs is posted on the website. The road race Grand Prix is the only series that involves member input at USATF NE, all others such as Mountain, Track, and Cross Country are decided by Committees only.

High Street Mile:

After reviewing the bids and the Grand Prix survey results that had been collected after the bid presentation meeting and before the slate selections, the first topic was the High Street Mile. Ranked high in the survey and of interest to Committee members, we discussed our concerns about the High Street Mile event: 1) the USATF rule of scoring by gun time only and High Street’s use of chip timing to determine winners; 2) road-width start area and its effect on gun time; and 3) multiple heats/races at High Street and how we could score teams. We decided to offer a Showcase status to High Street in 2014 where we would promote the race, offer some incentive to USATF members to participate other than with points and see how an increased field in size and in top competitors would affect the race before making a decision for inclusion as a Grand Prix event if they bid in future years.

The Slates:

Putting together the slates, we listed the most popular races as determined by the survey results. Our immediate goals were to give the runners what they told us they wanted, avoid conflicts with religious holidays and local major races/nearby USATF national championships that would detract runners from Grand Prix races and make the schedule doable in regard to the typical training regimes of participants. There were several races that polled so strongly (or had a competing bid of the same distance which had time conflicts) it was clear they could be a core group and appear on all slates. We first organized a slate where races grouped themselves with a few early in the year, had a couple month gap and then resumed later in the year. We were able to get geographic diversity with the slate (another goal) and also switch out a couple of the distances/races and keep the format. We gave them a working title of 1a and b. We could also put in more bidding races that were popular and have them fall on an almost monthly basis. This format’s working title was 2 a and b. Representatives liked 1 a and b as the gap time off could support a spring marathon or rest time and liked 2 a and b as it spread out the races (and paying entry fees) over the year more consistently. The LDR Committee always wants every slate to be an effective Grand Prix so it does not ultimately matter to the Committee which one is elected, they are equally good.

At the slate selection meeting, we discussed offering just two slates: 1 a and 2 a with the b options as pull down menus within the slate. This presentation of the information would highlight the format as the primary element to vote on and the dominate slate in the pair would determine the final line up. We wanted to avoid a situation which came up a couple of years ago when a slate that had garnered 26% of votes was declared the winner. The Committee received criticism of that decision as over 70% of the respondents made it clear they had voted against the line-up. After the meeting, putting the slates in Survey Monkey (cheap version) proved a challenge as mixing question types (pull down within multiple choice) could not be managed and in the case of 1 a and b, if one did a pull down of the 5 mi for a choice between Carver and Ribfest and chose Ribfest, then An Ras Mor would be the only 5km choice because the Hollis 5km is three days before Ribfest. The Committee member putting the slates into Survey Monkey decided to list the slates in their entirety and informed the Committee. Since using numbers and “a” and “b” can imply value, the slates were named in honor of LDR pioneers: 1a became DeMar; 1b, Kelly; 2a, Kuscsik; and 2b, Gibb. We hoped that one slate/format would resonate with voters and a clear preference would emerge.

Voting cycle 1:

While the listing of the four slates appeared equally online, many representatives who attended the meeting urged their club mates to consider DeMar and Kelly (or Kuscsik and Gibb) a pair and vote for one or the other indiscriminately as discussed at the meeting prior to implementation. They championed the idea of format 1 or 2, and the dominate slate within the pair format becoming the Grand Prix lineup. Voting was nearly a week long to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday break and a blast email went out to USATF members noting LDR on their membership forms to open voting on Nov 26. Many participants commented on the formats and hundreds of votes were logged in just a few days.

At the conclusion of the first election cycle on December 9, a record 487 legitimate votes were cast. Names and USATF numbers were checked against the national database names of current members to determine legitimacy. Results: 2a: Kuscsik: 181 votes (37%); 1a: DeMar: 160 votes (32%), 1b: Kelly: 96 votes (20%); 2b: Gibb: 50 votes (11%). While Kuscsik (37%) had the most votes by 5% as an individual slate, going by format, slates 1a and 1b had 52% and slates 2 a and b 48%. The Committee split on whether to go with the format winner, DeMar or the popular vote winner, Kuscsik. Going with Kuscsik still meant that 63% of the respondents voted against it (and 68% against DeMar). The two dominate slates were close in percentage of the votes and declaring Kuscsik the individual winner was not fair to the groups who had been advised to vote for the 1 a or b or 2 a or b indiscriminately. Since the format vote was nearly same difference apart as the popular vote, essentially a tie between the two ways to view results, the Committee felt the best way to proceed was to put the dominate slate from both formats online for a run-off election based on the popular vote with a planned tiebreaker action if necessary. The slate selection process posted on the website stated “..Results will be announced at the conclusion of voting…” so no established rules were violated by the decision. Our political democratic process includes elections after a primary with two candidates emerging for final voting and the Committee thought the membership would understand this similarity and the close nature of the first vote.

The political analogy went way deeper than imagined. Inviting the membership to vote in the run-off was read by some people that there was something suspicious with the first vote and it spawned unfounded allegations of conspiracies, favoritism, and kickbacks to committee members as well as personal attacks on social media. Regardless, another voting participation record was set, nearly 500 people responded to the run-off vote invitation.

Run Off Vote:

The blast email to the membership went out December 12th and was voting was open for three days. The second round of voting had a definitive selection of the DeMar slate with 278 votes (57%) and Kuscsik received 213 votes (43%) for a total of 491 legitimate votes cast. It was easy to declare DeMar the winner and gratifying that it had a large margin of support.

The 2014 Grand Prix races:
D. H. Jones 10 miler, Amherst, MA, Feb. 23, 11 a.m.
New Bedford Half Marathon, New Bedford, MA Mar. 16, 11 a.m.
An Ras Mor 5 km, Cambridge, MA, Mar. 30, 10 a.m.
Ribfest 5 Miler, Merrimack, NH, Jun 15, 9:15 a.m.
GMAA Labor Day 15 km, South Burlington, VT, Aug. 31, 9 a.m.
Lone Gull 10 km, Gloucester, MA, Sept. 14, 9 a.m.
Manchester City Marathon, Manchester, NH, Nov 2, 8:50 a.m.

Join the LDR Committee:

While the membership is free to second guess the Committee, the meetings are open and those who attend try to make decisions that are fair to potential participants and the bidding races. We know we cannot please all members and the race directors that bid but we ask for respect for the volunteers who put in the time and energy to bring bids to the Grand Prix, make hard decisions and shepherd the process of voting to bring the best line up of races possible to those who want to compete. If you want your voice truly heard, join the LDR Committee.

Thank you to all who participated in the bid process and for attending meetings, voting and for putting these great races and the High Street Mile on your calendars to run them in 2014.

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