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Friday, February 22, 2013

USA Masters Cross Country National Championships

Forest Park - St. Louis, MO -- February 2, 2013 (Results @ USA Track and Field:  )

Photos by Marcy Ambler, Toni Hammes, and Traci Bramlett.

2013 National XC Championships is in Forest Park for the second consecutive year. Bramlett and I have been talking about doing this event for over a year and decided early in 2012 to take the plunge and run the 2013 event. As we were talking about it, decided to see if we could get a team of local Master's runners to participate....One thing led to another, we asked Mo Running Co - Cape Girardeau's owners Bryan and Kim Kelpe if they would be willing to sponsor our team and make their organization a club team under the USATF umbrella, and they graciously agreed.

Team Missouri Running Company consisted of eight 40 and 50 y/o guys who enjoyed running and were willing and able to participate at the event.   Kevin Bramlett, myself, Joe Windeknecht, Steve Schmittzhee, Paul Schell, Coach Mark Hahn, Doug Ambler and our secret weapon Jay Townsend donned the bright orange team tops and put our toes on the line in box #14 of the Master's 8K race. 

The wind was blowing directly into our faces as we took off.  The pack was out quickly through the first 400m as we rounded the ball field and headed north on the first loop.  Our team moved out as a pack and made strategic adjustments as we neared the first 1K mark of the course.

Male Masters 8K off at the gun. Field of 127. Ages 40 to 83. Missouri Running Company team is toward the right side of the picture wearing the bright orange tops.

The Forest Park course and a competitive field of runners from all regions of the country would provide a "complete" cross country racing experience over the next thirty minutes. The course made four 2K loops with rolling hills over varied terrain which included grass, packed paths, roots, pine needle turf, and a couple of areas of mulch.  The previous day's snow cover had melted into the ground and refrozen overnight.  With the rising temperatures and thousands of foot strikes from earlier races, stretches of mud formed in low lying spots for the final two laps.  A timing clock was located at the 2K, 4K, and 6K marks to assist with monitoring progress.

Missouri Running Co - Cape team members averaged between a 6:00 and 6:45 per mile pace.  This put us in a stride-for-stride mix with about half the field.  The constant pressure of competition to move up or fall behind made the morning more enjoyable as it was necessary to focus on staying in racing mode from start to finish.  In addition, in accordance with USATF rules, all runners wear a back-bib displaying their age group.  Great for a little extra motivation to find that next gear to finish a spot or two higher in the age group standings.

This race was a great experience and Mo Running Co team did an outstanding job. Our top 5 guys finished in top 56 OA and all 8 guys finished in the top 80. In addition, all 8 of our runners finished with age-graded percentage times of 70%+ which is an amazing feat for a bunch of true hobby joggers. Only two guys on our team have prior collegiate XC/track experience.  They are Jay Townsend and Joe Windeknecht.   Jay T. races big and showed why he was a member of a national championship team in college with his big finish today.

Team finishes 5th of 5 teams but have the tightest spread finish of the five 40+ teams with a 1:21 time; That is impressive.  Average finish time of 30:43 and total time of 2:33:34 for top 5 scorers.

Official Time
Overall Place
Age Group Place
Kevin Hammes
5th (45-49)
Jay Townsend
10th (45-49
Joe Windeknecht
13th (45-49)
Mark Hahn
14th (45-49)
Paul Schell
30th (40-44)
Kevin Bramlett
8th (50-54)
Doug Ambler
34th (40-44)
Steve Schmittzehe
18th (45-49)
* Age-Graded -- Individual's time as a percentage of the "ideal" time (statistical compilation of world record level performances) for their particular age.

Team MO Run Co-Cape: The pack nears the one-mile split on the north side of the course.

In addition to the men's and women's Masters Cross Country Championships, the morning's event also included The High School 4K, world championship qualifing races for men's and women's Juniors National Teams, and a men's and women's Open Race which featured Olympians Deena Kastor, Shalane Flanagan, Kim Conley, Matt Tegenkamp, and Dathan Ritzenhein.  Two of our area's younger standouts jumped into the mix.
Clayton Myers finished in the top half of the highly competitive HS 4K race. Clayton, with a 15:00 finish, shows he is primed for a successful Senior outdoor track campaign.

Ashley Schmittzehe, never one to shy away from the competition, competed with many of the best open XC runners in the USA and finished the Womens Open 8K race in 35:13. This race featured the three Olympians in the top 3 places as Shalane Flanagan topped the deep field with Kim Conley and Deena Kastor finishing in the second and third spots, respectively.

Ashley competed in the Junior Women's 6K race in 2012, and with her Open 8K finish this year, gained valuable experience against two great fields.
Team Missouri Running Company-Cape: Jay Townsend, Doug Ambler, Kevin Hammes,
Steve Schmittzehe, Paul Schell, Kevin Bramlett, Mark Hahn, Joe Windeknecht, and Bryan Kelpe

Special thanks to Bryan and Kim Kelpe and Missouri Running Company - Cape Girardeau for their sponsorship during the 2013 National XC Masters Championships and for their efforts in becoming a USATF-affiliated club team.

Kevin Hammes

Jay Townsend

Joe Windeknecht

Mark Hahn

Paul Schell
Kevin Bramlett

Doug Ambler

Steve Schmittzehe

This race was truly a national caliber championship event as 38 of the 127 finishers ran 80%+ (National class) times. In addition, 97 of the finishers ran 70%+ age-graded times. When breaking the race down, it is really a tale of two different animals. (1) The elapsed time finishers and (2) The age-graded results. The top 10 finishers with regard to elapsed time included only 2 runners over the age of 43. John Mirth, age 50, finished ninth OA and Robin Rogers, age 44, rounded out the top 10 placers. The top 8 placers were ages 40-43 with six of the top eight finishers either 40 or 42 y/o.

Of the top 20 placers in the race, only 4 finishers were age 45 or above; This clearly indicates that the elapsed championships are, and should be, dominated by the "young guns" who have the fresh legs as well as those who Father Time has not frayed.


The Age-graded results of this race tell a different tale. John Mirth, age 50, was the OA winner and the only finisher in the race who broke 89% age-graded. As good as this field was, no one ran a world-class time of 90%.... This is an indication of how hard it is to break into that elite company.

Age-graded results tend to favor the fast older masters runners. For example, of the top 10 Age-Graded finishers, three guys, ages 63,68 and 60 broke into this elite group. In addition, only 4 of the guys age 40-44 made the top 10 OA under the Age-graded formula. Three 50-59 year old runners were in the top 10 finishers:

Top 10 Age-Graded Finishers:
1. John Mirth, age 50 with 89.09% ---9th OA elapsed
2. Ignacio Jimenez, age 63 with 88.44% ---48th OA elapsed
3. Raymond Pugsley, age 43 with 88.12% ---2nd OA elapsed
4. William Moore, age 51 with 88.06% ---13th OA elapsed
5. Rusty Snow, age 43 with 87.76% ---3rd OA elapsed
6. Ahrlin Bauman, age 40 with 86.41% ---1st OA elapsed
7. Mark Rybinski, age 57 with 86.10% ---34th OA elapsed
8. Jan Frisby, age 68 with 85.95% ---74th OA elapsed
9. Bobby Williams, age 60 with 85.84% ---50th OA elapsed
10. Keith Mulhollon, age 42 with 85.81% ---4th OA elapsed

With a combination elapsed finish/Age-graded finish, I would put Raymond Puglsey as the "true" winner of this race with a 2/3 finish = 5 total points. 2nd place with this combination would be Arlin Bauman with a combination finish of 1/6 = 7 points followed closely by Rusty Snow with a 3/5 combination = 8 points. 4th with this combination is 50 y/o John Mirth with a 9/1 finish worth 10 points. Keith Mulhollon finishes 5th with a 4/10 combination = 14 points.

* Using this combination, the "youngsters" again rule with the top 5 "finishers" ages 43, 40, 43, 50 and 43. 50 y/o John Mirth was the only guy over the age of 43 in this group.

Very interesting indeed....Folks, using this formula, the race was very, very close and definitely worthy of a National caliber XC event.

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