Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spokane and Geriatric Set Redux

Okay - so finally have found some time to get to the last race of the USATF XC Championships Recap - that being the Old Man's Run (aka Mens's Master's 8K).

First, a little recap of the conditions.  The course was at the Plantes Ferry Sports Stadium in Spokane Valley.  It's a big regional park with baseball and soccer fields.  It is an all grass surface that is in pretty good condition.  Not quite a golf course; but, not much different.  It's mostly flat, with a couple of short bumps/hills at about the 1K point on each of the loops.

Friday day was wet and drizzly.  No wind, mild temps - would have been a great day for a race.  But, we were a bit nervous about how sloppy the course would be with the steady rain.

Race day dawned clear and clam with very mild temps.  Even for the first races, the temps were in the low to mid 40's and there was just a mild breeze (it picked up off and on; but, never really was strong enough to be a significant factor during th race).  Amazingly, after such a short time, the rain had no real effect on the course conditions.  The grass was mostly firm; and, only a few very short soggy spots.  As with the temps and the wind, the course conditions weren't going to be a factor in the race.

Okay - now onto the race itself.  The field wasn't as big or as deep as it has been at some past master's races; but, was stll a reasonably solid race itself.  Some of the top finishers included guys like Tracey Lokken (champion), Mike Blackmore, Darren DeRueck, Andy Ames, and Danny Salazar.

For me, the race went pretty solidly.  I ran pretty consistent loops (the course was series of 2 kilometer loops) of 7:30 to 7:40 per segment.  I got out pretty comfortably; but, made a classic mistake and didn't cover a pack break up at about 1,500 meters.  As a result, I was in no man's land for the last 4 miles of the race.  I picked up a few guys - but the bigger pack of guys that I probably should have been with were well out of reach.

In the end, I had a respectable performance of 29:42 for 8K (just under 6:00 pace) and got 25th ovearll and 10th in the 45-49 age group.  It was right about where I had thought I could be in the race; but, still about 1 minute off where I was in 2007 and where I would like to get back to.

Jeff Thomas had a great race.  For a guy who has battled some tough injuries and illness - he came through like a trooper.  With a 30:44 time, he finished 33rd overall and 24th in the 40-49 age group.  It was great to see him back in the saddle and riding hard again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

USATF Spokane - Open Men's

Going into the men's open race, the clear cut favorite was, without doubt, Dathan Ritzenheim.  Nobody else in the field had credentials even approaching Ritz.  How in the world do you stack up against a guy who was a 2-time Footlocker XC champ, an NCAA XC champ, two time Olympian, American Record holder at 5,000, bronze medalist at Junior World XC, bronze medalist at 2009 world champs half marathon and 6th in the 2009 world champs 10,000.  The short answer - you don't.  In fact, you don't even pretend that you have any hope of beating him at what may be his strongest event (between XC, track and roads).

Sure, in the early miles, there was Ritz hanging in the middle of the lead pack. 

Then, after a few kilometers there's a small breakaway and it's a 3 man race between Ritz, Scottie Bauhs and Patrick Smyth.  But, all the while you just sense that Ritz is waiting for the moment to strike.  And, that moment came right at 9 kilometers.  At that point, Ritz just walked away from Bauhs and Smyth.  In the next 2K (1.25 miles) Ritz put about 20 seconds on the two challengers and just cruised on into the finish.

So fast the lead cart can barely stay ahead of him!Dathan all alone with 1K to go.

In the end, Dathan ran the 12K course in a comfortable 34:33.  Dathan is clearly at the top of his game and has made it clear that performing well at World XC is high on his priority list this year.  Is a podium finish in the cards?  Here's to hoping that he pulls it off.

Rounding out the men's team was Patrick Smyth with a breakthrough performance in 2nd.  Chico State Alum Scott Bauhs continues his rise tot he top of the men's ranks with his 3rd place.  They were followed by Ben Bruce, Bobby Curtis and Ryan Vail.  Perhaps not our strongest men's team ever; but, a good group of young, hungry athletes looking to prove themselves on the world stage.

The men's open race was also full of Montanan's.  No fewer than 6 folks with Montana connections ran in the race.  And, all 6 finished within 10 places and 52 seconds of each other.  Top of the group was Brett Winegar (Club Northwest)(Kalispell HS, MSU grad) in 41st in 38:43.  He was followed by Jason Schlarb (US Air Force)(hometown ??, MSU grad) in 43rd at 38:53.  Jason Delaney (Boulder Running Company)(Polson native, college =?) in 45th in 38:57.  Right behind Jason was John Mentzer (Bozeman HS, Naval Acadamy ??) in 46th @ 389:58.  Next in was Kevin Murphy (Kalispell, MSU) (Club Northwest) at 48th in 39:12 and then Alan King (Big Sky Distance Project/Rocky Mountain Project) (Billings West, Dakotya Weslyen) in 51st at 39:35.  Pretty impresive performances.  But how about that pack running.

Here's a shot from early in the race.

John Mentzer is #156 in the Navy Jersey on the left.  In the yellow BSDP jersey is Alan King.  Blowing his nose in the orange colors of Club Nortwest is Brett Winegar.  That may be Schlarb to Brett's right.  A couple of places behind Brett in the orange of Club NW is Kevin Murphy.  And, cheering on the right of the screen in the red hat and mountain man beard is Matt Seeley of Polson.

From a bit later in the race, here's Jason Delaney (123) with King and Murphy trailing close behind.

And, here's Alan late in the race stll looking good and strong.

Just a great race all the way around.  Watching the front end guys is so impressive.  The combination of grace and power is amazing to see up close and personal.  And, it was great to see all the people from the Big Sky country holding their own on the national stage.

(To check out the full results -  see )

Made for a great day all the way around. 

Next up will be the recap of the super impressive, blood and guts old guys race.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spokane Redux (Belated) - Open and Master's Women

That pesky thing known as life has gotten in the way over the last couple of weeks and has resulted in me being way behind in getting summaries done for the USATF Cross Country Championships in Spokane about 10 days ago (February 12th).

Let me start with the open women's and men's races.  At the front end, the women's race was pretty much an open and shut book.  And the title of that book was Shalane Flanagan.  The American record holder at 10K (track) and the Bejing bronze medalist at 10K, Flanagan was clearly in a league by her own today.  Even though Molly Huddle of Saucony tried to run with Shalane for a while, Shalane was clear of the field by 2 kilometers and just grew her lead throughout the race.

Huddle and Flanagn at1K

Shalane's Smooth Sweet Stride

In the end, Flanagan finished up about 300 meters ahead of the chase pack, winning by 51 seconds in a 25:09 over the 8K course.  Rounding out the top 6 and having the opportunity to represent the team at the World Championships in Poland were Molly Huddle, Amy Hastings, Magdalena Lewy Boulet (who is a Polish native), Renee Metivier Baillie and Sara Hall.  Could be a relatively strong team; but, if history is a guide - at least a few of the top 6 will choose not to go to worlds and the team will be weakened.  On the up side, Flanagan announced that she will go to Poland.  She seems to have a renewed focus to her running (after a bit of a let down in 2009); and, she could be a strong contender for a top 10 finish, with an outside chance at a medal.

From a Montana perspective, we had 3 women running - all from Missoula and representing the Mountain West Track Club.  Megan Lerch, Rye Palen and Jenny Newton had so much fun at club nationals in Louisville, KY in December that they decided to make the couple of hour drive west and hit the Plantes Ferry Park course.

Meg, Rye and Jenny warming up prior to the race.

Running 28:58, Meg led the Mountain West ladies with a 28th place overall finish.  It was a fantastic race for Meg and is just one more step on her progression to the national class level.

Meg in full stride.

Rye and Jenny also had great races, as they both finished in the top 50.  Rye at 30:45 came in at 42nd while Jenny ran close behind in 31:02 and 48th place.

Rye (289) and Jenny (286) at about 1200 meters.

Jenny should be super excited for next year as she'll then be a new master's athlete.  Her time this year would have put her 3rd overall in the master's field.  Which then is a great segue into the results of the women's masters race.

After also running withe her Mountain West teammates in Louisville at Club Nationals, Janika Umile tested her mettle agains the master's women.  Running near the top group for much of the race, Janika ultimately finished 7th overall in the masters (and 3rd in the 40-49 age group) with a 32:23 time.

But, nobody was going to challenge super-master Colleen DeReuk.  At 45, Colleen just ran away from the field and finished her 8K in 27:27 (almost 2 minutes ahead of second place) - a time that would have placed her 12th in the open women's race.  Pretty amazing performance.

The Whole Mountain West Crew (Rye, Janika, Jenny, Meg)

So, all in all, it was some pretty impressive running by the elites and Oympians.  But, it was equally impressive to see our Montana ladies more than hold their own on the national level.

Coming up next - open men.

The Muddy Buzzard

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MMMM Recap

Okay - so, I'm a bit behind in gettting the weekend recapped.  But, didn't get back to Plains until Sunday afternoon, then have had a whirlwind couple of days with work.  So, just now getting some time to catch a breath and start to follow up on the hot racing of the weekend.

Let's start with the 4M, aka MMMM, aka Montana Mens' Master's Mile.  This great event was held on Friday night at MSU as part of the Fleet Feet Invitational Indoor Meet.  Kicking off right after the singing of the National Anthem, the field of 11 (plus the rabbit), broke from the gun at 6:35 p.m.

Intent on getting his 3rd consecutive win, Peter Dan Sullivan of Helena (45) settled into the 34 second laps (200 meters per lap) being paced by rabbit Chris Guy.  By the end of the first lap, PDS and Guy were 10 - 15 minutes clear of a chase pack including Rob Walker (Bozeman), Chad Coley (Bozeman), Kyle (stride for) Strode (Helena) and 4M rookie Dean Lipp (Missoula).

Chris Guy did a great job of pacing, stepping off the track at 800 with a great split of 2:17.  At this point, PDS was on his own and looking to 1) win the race and 2) dip under 4:40.  And he was not disappointed on either count.  Winning with a comfortable 30 meter lead, he finished at 4:38.59, his fastest time ever at MMMM.

With a great close over the last 400 meters, Rob Walker separated himself from the pack and finished a solid 2nd at 4:43.77.  In a close fight for 3rd, Coley outleaned Kyle Strode as they both broke 4:49.  Rounding out the top 5 was Dean Lipp at 4:55.41.

All in all, 8 men broke 5:00, with all under 5:10.  This clearly was the best depth and overall performances ever at MMMM and sets a challenge for next year's field.  Full results of the Zombro Physical Therapy Montana Men's Master's Mile:
1.) Peter Dan Sullivan, Helena, 45, 4:38.59
2.) Rob Walker, Bozeman, 42, 4:43.77
3.) Chad Coley, Bozeman, 36, 4:48.12
4.) Kyle Strode, Helena, 46, 4:48.98
5.) Dean Lipp, Missoula, 49, 4:55.41
6.) Ray Hunt, Deer Lodge, 44, 4:56.90
7.) John Herring, Missoula, 45, 4:57.94
8.) Patrick Judge, Helena, 40, 4:59.91
9.) Steve Bruner, Bozeman, 39, 5:03.29
10.) Jeff Braun, Butte, 45, 5:03.39
11.) Tim Dumas, Bozeman, 41, 5:06.82
12.) Chris Guy, Bozeman, 44, DNF (rabbit 1/2 mile @ 2:17)
13.) Kirk Keller, Bozeman, 51, DNS

Special kudos to John Zombro for his coordination of this event and his sponsorship.  Also special thanks to the MSU track program for continuing to provide this opportunity to Montana Masters.

Coming next..................summaries of the USATF XC Championships in Spokane.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Good Morning From Spokane

Beuatiful morning here in Spokane.  Haven't been outside yet.  But, it's dry (rain quit during the night), high clouds, very minor breeze.  Weather service shows 33 degrees.

Looks promising for good race conditions.

Master's women take off at 9:45 (Pacific Time). Me and the rest of the old guys out at 10:45.  The junior races follow that - then the big boys (and girls)

Open women at 1:15 (8K) and men at 2:00 (12K)

Watch the action (live or on-demand) at

Here's to racing hard, racing fast and having fun


The Muddy Buzzard

Quickie Results

Haven't heard much yet; but, did get an email from Nicole Hunt last night.  Looks like some fast racing at the MMMM last night in Bozeman.

Peter Dan Sullivan ran 4:38 (personal best at MMMM??) for his 3rd consecutive win.

Don't know the placing or times beyond that - but she did say that a total of 8 were under 5:00, including Ray (8th overall I think), Pat Judge, John Herring, Rob Walker, Kyle Strode, Chad Coley and Dean Lipp (who, based on info I got via Anders Brooker, ran around 4:55).

So, sounds like a pretty good run for the boys.

Haven't seen anything on the MSU sites (official and unofficial sites) or the Daily Chronicle.  Will post more when I get info.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Spokane Update

Went to the course and jogged it with Alan King, Meg Lerch and Anders Brooker. 

Although the same location, it's a much different course than we saw at Club Nat's in 2008.  No snow, decent temps, little wind.

Some soggy spots; but, the course is generally pretty firm and should be reasonably fast, at least through the masters races.  But, it's likely to be a bit sloppy by the time of the open women's race and could be a mess by the open mens event.

But, all in all, it looks like good XC conditions.  Much better than MT Cup this year.  But, not a "track" race by any means.

So far we've seen Brett Winegar (oringally from MT and an MSU grad), Katie McGregor, Molly Huddle, the Navy team, some folks from ZAP fitness.  Everyone looks super fit and super fast.  Makes me feel like a fat, old, slow guy.

Off to dinner shortly, then lay out the race clothes, go to bed and be ready for tomorrow.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Time To Rock & Time To Roll

Sitting in the hotel in Spokane waiting for some of the other Montana folks to show up.  Will go over to the course for a short jog and check out the conditions. 

A bit of lite rain right now.  Temps pretty good (maybe in the low '40's) and no wind.  That's pretty much the same forecast for tomorrow.  So, should be good racing weather.

Course is likely to be a bit sloppy - we'll see in a bit.

Feeling excited and ready to go.  National Championship events are always full of energy and tension.  You can just feel it down at the check-in and registration area.

I suspect that there's also some excitement and tension in Bozeman.  The old guys are only 3 hours out from the Montana Men's Masters Mile.  Looking for some hot times out of Brick Breeden tonight.

Will post some more later after checking out the course.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

27 Hours To The MMMM

27 hours from now the Montana Men's Master's Mile will be underway at the MSU Fleet Feet Invitational in Bozeman.

Will one or more dip under 4:40?

Will Ray Hunt shoot flames out of his ass?

Will the new kid on the block (Rob Walker) put it to the "old" guys?

Will Pat Judge and Steve Bruner duke it out as a race within the race for the 3rd consecutive year?

Who will be the suprise performer of the year?

Who will slow down the least compared to last year?

Who will be the biggest hit with the ladies (since I'm absent this year, it's a wide open field ;-0 )?

Will Tim Dumas man up and accept his punishment for passing on the drinking of the wine cooler in 2009?

27 hours and 5 minutes from now and we should have most of the answers.

I'll get results up as soon as I can.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

USATF XC on Flotrack

Watch the action from Spokane via Flotrack at

Check out this link for more information on race times:

USATF XC Preview

Just a few days away from the USATF XC national championships in Spokane.

Looks like it will be a good meet, although the men's field isn't nearly as deep as I would have expected.  Given there is no world track championships or Oly Games, I had expected that the big guns would all be showing up.  But, that doesn't seem to be the case.  Make no mistake, there are still come great athletes; but,, not quite the depth that I thought we would see.

The headliner is clearly Dathan Ritzenheim.  Ritz closed out 2009 on a high note.  6th in the world champs 10K in a PR, new American record at 5K, and a bronze medal at the world 1/2 marathon champs in Oct.  He's a former bronze medalist in the junior men's world XC race; and, has always excelled on the turf.  he's the clear favorite. 

After Ritz, we have the likes of Max King, Thomas Morgan, Scott Bauhs, Matt Gabrielson, Billy Nelson, Ryan Vail and Antonio Vega.

On the women's side, the headliner is Bejing bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan.  But, the women's field is a bit deeper on the talent side and includes ladies such as Katie McGregor, Emily Brown, Sarah Hall, Molly Huddle, Blake Russell and Magelena Lewy Boulet.

From a Montana connection, the women's field will include Megan Lerch of Missoula (and Mountain West Track Club).  Meg finished 19th at the USATF Club Championships in December.  She'll be joined by her Mountain West teammates and fellow Misosulians Rye Palen and Jenny Newton.

For the men - the open race will include Alan King of Billings.  We'll also see some native Montanan's and MSU grads (now running for Club Northwest) in the form of Brent Winegar and Kevin Murphy.

In the master's race - myself and Jeff Thomas wil be racing.

Should be fun. 

I'll keep postings up to date during the weekend.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Dumas Prospectus

Our own Tim Dumas has a new blog as part of his duties as a writer for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

To check out Tim's thoughts on the sporting life, check out:

MMMM Just Around The Corner

The 6th Annual Montana Men's Master Mile is less than a week a way. This Friday night, February 12th, at the Brick Breeden Field House in Bozeman, the best master's milers in the state of Montana will hit the boards on MSU's 200-meter indoor track. They'll be chasing the 4:33.7 time set by Scott "The Animal" Creel in the 2006 event.

Peter Dan Sullivan will also be chasing Creel's 3-consecutive win streak (2005 - 2007) and seeing if he can once again dip under the 4:40 barrier after coming oh so close last year (4:40.2).

In addition, it will be great to see how our boys from the Big Sky compare against the national level elites. To give you some idea of what the jet-setters are doing, here are the results from Friday nights master's mile at the Boston Indoor Games:

1 Chris Teague 4:29.05
2 Ray Puglsey 4:29.43
3 Chris Simpson 4:30.56
4 Sean Livingstone 4:31.99
5 Armando Olivieria 4:32.69
6 Kent Lemme 4:33.61
7 Jason Cakouros 4:34.28
8 Josh Brown 4:35.11
9 Francis Burdett 4:35.51
10 Bart Wasiolek 4:36.04
11 Jamie Aubuchon 4:36.42
12 Henry Scollard 4:39.68
13 Bruce Davie 4:40.51
14 Chris Kealey 4:43.99
15 Kris Hartner 4:44.40
16 John Clark 4:53.20

It's unlikely that we will see our whole field under 5:00.  But, if 2009 sets any precedence, it may be possible that everyone is under 5:10; and, maybe even 5:05.

So, who is the 2010 field - well, here you go (including Race Director John Zombro's self created alter ego's for each runner):

Peter Dan Sullivan - Helena - Steve Cram - 2-time defending champion and only person to run in all 5 editions (to date) of the MMMM
Ray Hunt - Deer Lodge - Steve Ovett - sandbagger supreme with an incredible ability to shoot flames out of his ass in the last 300 meters.  Thrilling race with PDS last year, finishing second (4:40.2 to 4:40.6)
Chad Coley - Bozeman - Ray Flynn - 3rd last year in 4:48.8
Rob Walker - Bozeman - John Walker - new to the master's scene and a 1st time participant in the MMMM
Kyle Strode - Helena - Thomas Wessinghagen - a big, powerful runner who finished 4th in 2009.
Steve Bruner - Bozeman - Sebastion Coe - 5th in 2009
Pat Judge - Helena - Craig Masback - new to the 40+ ranks; but, a long time MMMM competitor (in past years the race has been open to sub-masters).  Has had some stirring races with Steve Bruner the last 2 years.
John Herring - Missoula - Steve Scott - just missed sub-5:00 in 2009.  Does his 2010 result start with a 4?
Tim Dumas - Bozeman - Tom Byers - has the dubious honor of having to undertake a "do over" after not living up to his part of the post race events last year :-)
Dean Lipp - Missoula - Jurgen Straub - has been more of a marathoner the last few years.  But, will be testing his leg speed in his 1st try at the MMMM.
Jeff Braun - Butte - Rod Dixon - another newcomer to the MMMM.  Has reached a new level of performance in the last year.  What can he do at the mile?
Steve Gideon - Darby - Don Paige - has shown some wheels at 400 and 800 as a master.  Can he make the move up to the mile with the same results?
Kirk Keller - Three Forks - Eamonn Coghlan - even as an over 50 athlete, still has some serious wheels.  Participation not confirmed.
Chris Guy - Bozeman - past MMMM competitor; but, has been injured in the last year +.  Will act as the rabbit this year to get the guys lined up for some seriously fast running.

Will try to provide an update during the week; and, wil obviously post the results as soon as possible.

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, February 04, 2010

It's sub-4 or it ain't

So, the Missoulian had an article yesterday noting that Patrick Casey was the Big Sky Conference Athlete of the week for his 4:04 mile performance last Friday night. See the whole story at:

I think that's great and a well deserved honor for Patrick. As I said in an earlier post, Patrick is an amazing talent and an incredible "racer". His 4:04 was a fantastic time and certainly sets him up well for the remainder of his collegiate career (and beyond).

What irked me was the last line of the story where it says - "Uof M runner Scott McGowan of Poplar was the first Montanan to go under the 4-minute mark".

Let's be clear. Scotty is still the only Montanan to go under the 4:00 mark. Patrick ran 4:04. The whole altitude adjustment is fine for qualifying and seeding at the NCAA meets. But, you've either 3:XX or you haven't. It's based on what the clock says when you cross the line.

Again, not wanting to take anything away from Patrick. 4:04 is a whole different type of fast from most of us can ever imagine. But, it ain't sub-4:00, no matter how much you try to dress it up.

And, in the end, something tells me that Patrick will legitimately get the mark before his Bobcat days are over.

Just my couple of pennies worth.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard