Gregory Putnam put a call out back in August to see if there was any CMS runners interested in the 2016 US National Masters 5K Championship in Syracuse, NY (Festival of Races). I raised my hand. Joe Shairs and Tim Van Orden did as well. This was going to be a solid team competing in the 40+ age group where 3 men score. The Atlanta Track Club has placed 1st for as long as I went back in the results (at least six years back). Dave Dunham and Tim Van Orden have run what is known as a fast course in the past so they gave me all I needed to know – it’s a fast out and back with a small rise at the start and back up and over at 2.8 miles.
The room was booked and the car was packed on Saturday morning with Gregory, Joe and I heading west on Rt 90 for about 5 hours to the Maplewood Inn – race site HQ. Joe and I did an easy 5 miles in the afternoon and then we grabbed our bib numbers. You know it is a serious event when you have the age group bib required for the back of your singlet. The three of us had dinner at the Blue Spruce, hotel restaurant. My Caprese salad with steak was awesome. Francis Burdett and Bill Newsham swung by before they got seated. FB recently ran a 33:XX 10K in South Africa! They both reassured me that the 5K course was quick.
I woke up on race day at 5:20 for a walk across the street with Joe for a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts. New Yorkers do not know what a “regular” means for coffee at Dunks on the North Shore J Back to the room, I whipped up some Oatmeal with Craisins. We left the hotel for the race just after 7:10. The race started at 8:50 and the course was about 20 minutes away. I wanted to get there early to scope out the course with Tivo and the team. We arrived to an extravaganza of activity – tents, balloons, vendors, raffles – all within steps of the athletic facilities at Syracuse University. Team jackets from various areas of the country were milling around. We ran the first 1.25 miles of the course turned and ran back. It was going to be a fast one as the weather was perfect – cloudy, no wind, and maybe high 50’s.
I lined up and started with Joe, three rows back. The race bolted out and got up and over the hill. It was no problem. I looked ahead after 500m and Joe was about 7 seconds up on me. I pushed through the 1st mile in 5:17 and was in a sea of masters that I did not recognize. The course was set up with kilometers as well as mile markers which was cool. I came upon the turn-around which was wide in order to run around an island. I saw the leaders heading back. Greg and Tim were next to each other, about 20 runners deep. Joe was about 20 seconds up on me. I started to slow up and I could tell. Mile two was around 11 minutes. I tried to hang in and get through the hill at 2.75 in one piece.
I lost a few places but held on to stride out the last 400 meters without giving up too much. My time was 17:29 (gun time) or 17:27 (chip). That placed me 55th among masters and 79th with the open runners combined. My 2.5K splits were 8:27 and 9:00. Yes, 33 seconds slower in the 2nd half of the race. I felt that too. It was great to air it out early and see what the legs and lungs could handle.
Greg (15:53 gun), Tim (15:58 gun), & Joe (16:50 gun) placed the Central Mass Striders to a 2nd place finish behind the Atlanta Track Club and ahead of the Syracuse Track Club in the 40+ age group. Greg and Tim placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in their 5 year age groups. We had to hit the road early so we missed the awards that were held several hours later at the hotel. Tivo hung out and picked up the plaque for the team.
|Greg, myself, and Joe an hour before the start of the race|