Monday, June 29, 2009

Midnight Sun Run Masters Rankings and Records

I'm just getting started, but here's a link to a new blog that I'm starting that will list masters winners, records, and rankings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sugarloaf Hike: Father's Day Extravaganza

Defying common sense (most of us had completed the Midnight Sun Run 10K race barely 10 hours earlier) the Junior Nordics Comp Group left Fairbanks Sunday morning for a Father's Day hike up Sugarloaf Mountain in the Alaska Range, between Healy and Denali Village. The wind was howling and we had to endure a rain squall or two--after bushwacking through brush over the first mile. Alaska hikes are often straight up the mountain, switch backs and meandering trails be damned.

Here are a some pictures from the trip. Enjoy!

Pink Lady Slipper


Moss Campion

Monday, June 22, 2009

27th Midnight Sun Run

On a cool, wet, night, the race up front sounded exciting although I wasn't able to see much after a mile and a half. Let's see how my predictions went.

1. Tony Tomsich (32:41) - a little slower than predicted, but he was just going for the win. Hopefully Tomsich will keep running after college and will return for an all out effort. He could probably run 30 min, maybe faster on this course.

2. Justin Houck - (33:10) Here's your ringer, Houck ran 30:16 10K for the NCAA Division I Portland University cross country team last fall, and placed 159th at NCAA nationals. Houck almost missed the start of the race this time. There were no announcements and we were just milling about at the start when a woman with a cell phone walked up to the start line and started counting down 5-4-3-2...while Houck and a couple other runners were jogging back to the start line after doing a last minute strider. Wearing arm sleeves (it wasn't THAT cold!) Houck hadn't quite made his way back when we took off, so he had to swim upstream a few seconds, before jumping into the race. He passed me about 200 m in, and was up with the front runners in no time--still that may have cost him in the end, because his 5 min first mile was actually closer to 4:45 or 4:50.

(You won't see that kind of insight in the Newsminer!)

3. Stian Stensland - (33:42) Stensland took it out hard and set the pace early on and was probably at 5:00 for the first mile, so he dropped off to battle for 3rd-5th.

With five men under 34 min (Kramer 4th) and eight under 35 min, this was the most competitive Sun Run since I've been here, if not for more than a decade.

1. Crystal Pitney - (37:41) Just a few seconds off of my prediction, but she won again. A mild, pleasant surprise. I coached Crystal for the latter part of her high school career, but she fell on hard times during her freshman year at college and this was her first race since last October. Welcome back to Fairbanks and the winners circle!

2. Maggie Callahan - (38:02) The race ended much like last year with the two running side by side for a few miles before Pitney broke away. Let's hope they keep coming back and setting the standard

3. Melanie Nussbaumer (39:31) That's a nice run for the 25 year old Fairbanks runner.

The women were also fast this year, with five breaking 40 minutes and two more just missing it by seconds.

1. Mike Kramer (33:49) - I've been going over the archives (old Newsminer articles and results pages), and with six years yet to count (1986 - 91), only Bob Murphy had broken 34 minutes at Midnight Sun Run as a masters, a feat he accomplished three times. His record of 32:26 still stands, but Kramer's run is (so far) in the top 3.

2. Kevin Brinegar (33:52) - I knew Kramer and Brinegar would be close, that must have been a heck of a battle. I tip my Palin certified Russia Yamal hat to them. (My best as a 40-41 yr old was 34:07, but that was 3000 miles and 10 years ago). Hopefully they'll have some more close races and bring those times down even further.

3. Boy was I off on this one. Dork butt here runs 35:45 for the third 40+ slot. Possibly a new 50+ record (the best I've seen so far is 37:17 by Jim Loftus when he was 50).

4th and 5th went to Klaus Wuttig with 36:12, who has become stronger each year, and Mark Lindberg in 36:17. Mark ran back to back marathons in April-May, just two week apart, and it looked like he hasn't quite recovered from that. He'll be back.

1. Dorli McWayne (42:51) - At 56, still going strong, McWayne walked away with the title.
2. Cindy Bravo (44:36) Sub 7:30, solid for mid-40s
3. Lisa Heaney (45:01) likewise a good time.

18 year old Werner Hoefler ran a 34:50 in his first serious attempt at 10K, and 17 year old Zach Ginn went 35:55. Max Donaldson, just 12 ran 43:56. Recent high school graduate Kayla Teslow ran 40:01, and with 5:10 mile speed could become a force in the future.

More on other masters records, rankings, and maybe trivia later this week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Midnight Sun Run 11th Hour Preview

The Newsminer had preview article this morning--

They got the basics pretty well but you'll see some of the rest of the story here.

With David Dyer out, local high school graduate and Western Washington All American runner Tony Tomsich sure does appear to be the favorite, coming off of a 3:47 for 1500m last month (equivalent to a 4:05 mile). But don't count out Stian Stensland, who ran an under the radar (and ignored by the paper 15:58) at the all comer's track meet last week. Nobody in this town has broken 16 minutes locally since I moved here in 2004. Tomsisch should be able to go sub 32:30 and for the win, but if he's not up to it, Stensland will challenge.

Win - Tomsich - 32:06
Place - Stensland - 32:51
Show - Kramer - 33:19

The paper picks Tom Ritchie to be in the mix too. With a 2:37 at Boston this spring, you betcha! He'll be right in there.

This will be an interesting match up, but the status of the three favorites, Crystal Pitney, Maggie Callahan, and Molly Yazwinski has been up in the air all week. Last year Pitney and Callahan waged a good battle until the final mile, when Pitney pulled away for a fourth consecutive victory. However, she has not raced since October, after taking an injury red shirt this past spring. Meanwhile, Callahan had a stellar sophomore season at Arizona, capped off with an PAC 10 finish and a PR of 10:30 in the 3000 meter steeplechase. If she's rested and ready, watch out tonight! We could see a sub 37.

Win - Callahan - 37:15
Place - Pitney - 37:45
Show - Yazwinski - 38:45

Also, Laura Brosius has been running well and if she lines up would certainly be capable of a sub 40. Pencil her in for 39:30.

Bob Murphy holds the all time masters record with a 32:26, set in 1993, and from the archives that I've checked so far (all years excepting 1986-91), he's the only masters runner to break 34. The 32:26 should be safe but former winners Mike Kramer and Kevin Brinegar have run well this spring. Also 46 year old Mark Lindberg, who has never run a serious 10K, is stepping down after an impressive string of marathons over the past two years.

Win - Kramer - 33:19
Place - Brinegar - 33:40
Show - Lindberg - 34:05

For the 50+, the fastest time I've seen in the archives is 37:17. [other than hoping to finish in the top 10 for a 5th time I'm not talking].

There have been some very fast masters women At Midnight Sun, Sue Faulkner ran a sub 37 one year, but that division has not been as strong in recent years. The 55+ women Jane Lanford and Dorli McWayne should win the masters division and place in the top 10. Lanford is running Mayor's Marathon this morning, but as an Ironlady she'll still probably run in the mid/high 40s.

Now let's see if a ringer shows up. I hope so.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Record Breaking 5000 meters

Although 5K road races remain popular in Fairbanks (and elsewhere), 5000 meter races on the track remain off the radar. In 2007 and '08 there was only one 5000 m entrant at the local all comer meets (three per year), and that was me last June. To have a little bit of competition I lined up and ran with the 1600 m runners--the winner of that race ended up drafting off me for four laps. Yeah, that worked great.

This year I pushed a little harder to get people involved and it paid off. We ended up with a record field--a dozen runners! I am grateful to each and every one of them for showing up. Doing a 5000 on the track takes concentration and guts. Conditions were good, but a little warm, about 78 degrees and sunny at race time. Wish we'd have stuck with the schedule and run later, not at 6:15.

Stian Stensland dominated the field with a first ever sub 16 on the new Lathrop track, a 15:58. Rounding out the top four were Lathrop coach Kevin Brinegar with 16:40, and recent high school graduates Werner Hoefler (16:52) and Zach Ginn (17:04). I had a good battle with Zach, but couldn't match his surges and final kick, and finished 5th in 17:08. Sixth went to high school freshman Kyle Hanson in 18:22 and seventh was Dave Arvey with 18:27.

Next up is the Midnight Sun Run 10K.

Monday, June 08, 2009

If a Tree Falls to Russia Yamal from the Ester Dome

I misread the schedule and there was no all comers meet last week, but I decided to do a 3000 m time trial instead. Here is the result, plus a little stuff. Moral of the story, if you don't like the mix of things, well you just gotta shake things up!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

How Would World Class Runners Fare on the Ester Dome?

UAF coach Scott Jerome provided a whimsical post the other day on, wondering if anyone could break 20 minutes to run 5 kilometers up the Ester Dome. The course, from the Stop sign at Ester Dome Road/St. Patrick's Road to the parking lot at the first summit known as at “Ulerhavan,” climbs approximately 1,600 feet (average grade about 10.3%).

Anyone who has run the “Dome” would tell you that it’s a tough climb, even on an average to medium training run. If you are running, there is no easy way up the Ester Dome. Add the element of competition, such as in the annual Ester Dome Hill Climb or Equinox Marathon, and the spector is downright brutal.

The course record for men is 22:47, set by Marius Korthauer in 2007 (six months before winning the 2008 NCAA Nordic ski championship); and the women’s record is 26:03 by Paula Havlova in 2005 a year when she ran to NCAA Division II status.
Some of the responses were interesting (
Which leads us to the question, can it even be done?

A 20 minute 5K up the Ester Dome would require a 12.1% improvement over Korthauer’s time. That’s a lot. For women, the equivalent goal time would be approximately 22:53, which has only been matched two or three men during the past decade of record keeping.

Korthauer is a remarkable athlete: at 6 ft 5 inches and bowlegged, he does not stride either in running or in skiing; he locomotes by scuttling. No doubt if he were alive, fabled University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman would label Korthauer as a “bumble bee.” An athlete who based on technique should not be any good, but somehow gets the job done in a big way (marathoners Kenny Moore and Alberto Salazar were bumble bees). The guy has never run a fast 5K or 10K, but he can climb and he can ski.

Another testament to Korthauer's hill climbing ability was from the Equinox Relay in 2008--his 8.7 mile time (including the Dome climb and rugged Out and Back) of 1:00:21beat a low-mid 2:30s marathoner by 5 minutes that day. And it was the fastest leg ever, by 3 seconds, over Kenyan Moses Waweru (2004). Waweru had run 13:40s for 5000 meters the year before, and over the next several years was a consistent 29s and 30s runner for 10K in the USA road race circuit.

Nevertheless, I think a trained mountain running specialist (like Matt Carpenter in his prime, or more recently Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand) or world class distance runner with sub 13:30 5K abilities—who also does a lot of hill training and mountain running, e.g. the Kenyans, Ethiopians, or altitude based mountain goats such as CU Buff grads Dathan Ritzenhein or Billy Nelson could actually make a good go at it. For women to break 23, it would take the likes of Catherine Ndereba, the Dibaba sisters, Deena Kastor, or maybe upstart Jenny Berringer (a 9:22 steeplechaser soon to be out of CU).

Back to earth, Roger. For $100? Not going to happen. Not here, not in this lifetime. Maybe Scott could set up a fundraising match program. Shoot, I’d throw in some money to sweeten the pot!

[note: I ran 25:33 up Ester Dome at age 48—age graded that’s 22:42. Should I tell them?]

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Ack blew that!

Every year that I've been here, the first of the all comer track meets has been on the first Thursday of June. That's 5 years. Well they changed it to June 11. That means no meet this week and no 3000/5000. Arrrggh! I could have run a lot faster last Saturday with plenty of time to recover for other races.

Meanwhile, no one else seems interested. Like, who wants to run with an old guy?

I'm thinking of dragging my kid out to video a 3000 time trial where I could go for a non-existent unofficial Alaska state record for 50+ runners. Maybe try for sub 10. Perhaps intersperse some winter scenes, polar bears, shake the camera to emulate an earthquake. Then I could be like Trevor Dunbar and put it on Youtube and become an instant masters sensation.

Tamara totally rolled her eyes at this suggestion and now wants to disown me.