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USATF Masters 5 km and Marathon Championships on Oct. 4

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK/MINNEAPOLIS – Masters long distance runners have their pick of two races this weekend in the USATF Masters 5 km Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races and the USATF Masters Marathon Championship at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.
USATF 5 km Masters Championship at the Syracuse Festival of Races
Nearly 200 runners have entered the USATF 5 km Championships, hosted by the Syracuse Festival of Races. The 2014 men’s champion Greg Mitchell returns to defend his title after winning in 15:03 last year.  Chad Newton, the 2014 runner-up, joins his Atlanta Track Club teammate and the 2015 national Masters 10 km champion Kristian Blaich (Decatur GA).
On the women’s side, four strong runners are in contention. The field includes sub-17:50 runner Cassandra Henkiel, who won the USATF 8 km Championship at Brea, California, as well Renee Tolan and Jennifer St. Jean, both of whom have run under 18:00 in the 5 km in 2015. Marisa Sutera Strange is the favorite in the women’s 50-54 category. Not only did she win her age group in the 2015 USATF 10 km Masters Championships, but she is also the overall Masters winner and she recently ran a 17:43.
Francis Burdett and Mike Nier will renew their rivalry in the M50 division. In the M55 division, Brian Pilcher, the 2013 Runner of the Year, sustained a hamstring injury at the 2015 World Masters Athletics Championships in Lyon, France, and has not fully recovered. Breaking through could be Ken Youngers (Tucker GA), the defending champion and an outstanding runner in his own right. In the M70 division, it could be the Doug Goodhue and Jan Frisby show again. Frisby took home four, first place medals in USATF Masters championships this spring, and she bested the 10 km record for his age group. But Goodhue is back in form after a knee injury and will be going after his second consecutive national championship, building on his success at the USATF 1 Mile Championships.
 On the women’s side there are some sterling age group runners as well. Jan Holmquist smashed the Women’s 70-74 5 km record when she ran a 22:16 last year. Hall of Famer Carmen Ayala-Troncoso has run a 20:00 5 km this year and should take the 55-59 age group.
And there are 5 Masters athletes in their 80s who will be participating with Willis Moses, age 89, topping the list.
USATF Masters Marathon Championships at Medtronics Twin Cities Marathon
The USATF Masters Marathon Championships will be hosted by the Medtronics Twin Cities Marathon for the 25 consecutive occasion. Last year’s overall Masters winner, Mbarak Hussein (Albuquerque NM) ran 2:22:27 and will try to fend off a strong group of challengers, including Michael Wardian (Arlington VA) who finished runner-up by 22 seconds at the 2014 race.  Kevin Castille and Uli Steidl took second place and third place respectively in 2013, posting times of 2:21 and 2:25.
On the women’s side Maine’s dynamic duo, Sheri Piers and Kristin Barry return to defend their first place and third place finishes a year ago in 2:42:26 and 2:52. Two others, Jenny Schulze and Megan Skeels have recently finished their own 2:40+ marathons at the 2014 Grandma’s and the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathons respectively.
A renewal of one of the toughest age division battles again features Spyros Barres and Ricardo Maldonado in the 50-54 men’s division. Last year Barres bested Maldonado by a mere 15 seconds in 2:38:48. Bill Enicks, the defending champion in the Men’s 55-59 group in 2:52:22, will compete against a new challenger in Tom Dever, who is moving up in distance after posting a 1:17:12 at the USATF Masters Half Marathon championships in May. Last year Andriette Wickstrom had to chase two-time Runner of the Year Christine Kennedy in the 55-59 division but at least finished fourth place in the overall age-graded competition. She moved up to the 60-64 race to herself and will try to combine the age-graded performance with an age group win.
The Marathon is a tough race generally and the Twin Cities course is one of the toughest but no tougher than Joseph Burgasser, 77, and John Ouweleen, 75, who will duke it out in the men’s 75-79 division. They both cracked 4 hours at the Boston Marathon this spring.
--Contributed by Paul Carlin

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