Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mt Washington preview - Men's Seniors

Mt Washington – The men’s seniors

What I’ve attempted to do is provide a sneak peek at the top masters (40-49) and seniors (50-59) at this year’s
Mt Washington Road
race.  This year Mt Washington will be the Mountain Running National Championship and will have a great field assembled.  I thought it would be fun to try to predict how it will all shake out.  I’ll state up front that this is not an all-inclusive list, and as always there is a chance I’ve missed people who will finish ahead of some of the guys I’ve ranked.  Such are the vagaries of trying to handicap a race with 1,100 entrants (almost half of those entrants are between the age of 40 and 59).

A little about the process I used: 
I only ranked USATF members.  I only ranked runners between the ages of 40-59.  I only looked at runners with a history of running under 1:30 at Mt Washington or under 1:30 for a recent half marathon.   Note: If you run a sub 1:30 you are among the top 18% of all men finishing the race.  I tried to locate recent results on runners (not easy for some).  I sent out requests for info from all of the people I’d determined had a shot to run under 1:30.  Then the real ranking began!  I believe that the best indicator for how someone will run at Mt Washington is how they HAVE run at Mt Washington.  Nothing predicts a finish better than how you’d finished in past years, of course that doesn’t take into account current fitness.  So for people with past Mt W results I looked at current fitness with a weight given to races in the 20k – half-marathon range.  I’ve often heard that people run right around their 20k to half-marathon time for Mt Washington.  For some people this is a very good indicator, but for others (like me!) that isn’t even close.  For people who have never run the race before I again looked at recent results with weight given to the 20k/13.1m distance.  Then there were some who haven’t run Mt Washington and also don’t have any recent results (or at least nothing in the 20k range) so basically I just guessed.   The times I’ve used are if conditions are “good” whatever the heck that might mean.  The “Range” I use is narrower if I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of the current fitness of the individual (and it is wider if there are few or no Mt Washington results to compare).  Anyway, If you are not happy with the way I’ve done this I say “Too bad!” and if you don’t like your own ranking, I’d be willing to adjust it – See Paul Doe ($$$$$).

I’ll post my predictions in a table format on Thursday.  Today I’ll post the notes about the seniors, and on Wednesday I’ll post notes about the masters.

Notes about the top entrants in 5 year age groups:
Craig Fram age 53 (WRT) – Craig will be running his 10th Mt Washington.  He won the race in 1997 and has a PR of 1:03:20 that he set in 1995.  He also finished in the top five six times and has won more money than any other in the history of the race.  Range: 1:08-1:11

Martin Tighe age 54 (CMS) – Martin will be running his fifth Mt Washington.  His PR is a 1:16:26 which he ran in 2009.  A recent addition to the Central Mass Striders, he is “looking forward to running on a competitive Senior/Masters team”.  Martin has been training well this year and “going for 75 minutes at Mt Washington”.  He is planning on competing in the USATF New England Mountain series and has recently started “training hard on the track…just to keep my legs spinning and hopefully speed me up those hills”.  Range: 1:12-1:16

Paul Doe age 53 (WRT) – Paul will be tackling the mountain for the first time.  Paul’s stated goal “is to help Whirlaway attempt to set a new Senior team record”.  He is no stranger to records, he was part of the Whirlaway team that shattered the world record in the 4x1,600 earlier this year.  Paul is training well and hopes that (the oft quoted comparison of Mt Washington to half-marathon times) “half marathons really are indicative”.  With 50+ teammates Craig Fram, Reno Stirrat, Paul Hammond, Doug Martyn, Michael Platt, and Chris Spinney, it would seem that Whirlaway is posed to crush the course record of 6:55:52 (1:23:10 per runner).  Paul gets ranked ahead of Paul Hammond due to his willingness to part with a $20 bill.  Range: 1:14-1:19

Paul Hammond age 52 (WRT) - Paul will be tackling the mountain for the first time.  As a newcomer to Mountain running he notes “I know there must be some kind of specific training I should be doing for a successful assault on Mt Washington, but I am clueless as to what it is”.  Paul has been training well including “50 min runs at lunch and a 45 min Beantown bootcamp workout after work”.  He will be tuning up for the race with a Pub series road race and the USATF New England 12k championships.  His recent results include a 1:16 half-marathon, a 27:30 5m and a 16:36 5k. 
Range: 1:12-1:16

John Weiner age 50 (PA) – John will be running his first Mt Washington.  John has been “running for over 40 years…and on a whim I registered for the Mt W RR”.   He has been focusing on “form and technique and speed” and feels that “50 year olds can get faster”.  Earlier this year he ran a 1:18 half marathon and a 35:07 for 10k.  He noted “running 7 miles is no big deal…running 7 miles up Mountain like this will be an adventure, and yes fun”.  Range: 1:13-1:18

Ernie Brake age 50 (CMS) – Ernie will be running Mt Washington for the 21st consecutive time (which ranks 25th).  Although his “training is pretty modest…between 35 and 40 miles per week” he works for the aptly named “Marathon Landscaping” which Ernie notes “adds to the fitness factor”.  He is also the local high school team’s long distance running coach where he completes drills along with his runners.  His goal this year is a sub 1:20 (which he has done 14 times).  He races infrequently but “was encouraged when I ran 16:56 at the SEA 5k” in April.  Range: 1:15-1:19

Doug Martyn age 52 (WRT) – Doug will be running his second Mt Washington.  His time in 2008 was 1:22:53.  Recent results include a 28:53 for 5 miles.  He notes that he is “looking forward to Mt Washington with some trepidation”.  His experience in 2008 was a “feeling as if I was all out…the problem being that I still had 1:17 (left) to race”.  Doug’s recent training differs from 2008 “this time around I am just trying to get fit from a training standpoint”.  His plan is to “hit the slope this time…a little less aggressively”.  He will be tuning up for Mt Washington at the USATF New England 12k championships.  Range: 1:15-1:20

Michael Platt age 50 (WRT) – Michael will be running his first Mt Washington.  He doesn’t feel that Mountain running is one of his strengths noting “I used to be a solid cross-country runner, but largely because of smart racing and ability to run well downhill…I only “survived” the uphills”.  Michael notes “I have been on a 2.5 year cycle of injury and illness (but) I was able to put in 8 weeks of solid training before Boston”.  Surgery for a painful bone spur may be in his near future but he looks forward to following that with “a few months of training consecutively (and) good things will happen”.  His recent results include a 64 minute 10 mile, 1:20 half marathon, and a 17:22 5k.  Range: 1:15-1:20

Andy MacDonald age 52 (BAA) – Andy will be running his 5th Mt Washington.  His PR is 1:11:16 from 1999. He finished third in the 50-54 age group last year running 1:17:20.  He is “on a comeback trail from a partially torn hamstring last summer” and spent the winter “hobbling through increasingly shorter and more painful runs”.  Andy has “connected with an ART massage therapist and (has) recently taken a significant turn for the better”.  He notes “I love the race even though I’ve only run it a handful of times”.  On training Andy says “every run involves a hill of some sort”.  His original goal was to break 1:17 “but I think that I would be ecstatic to be under 1:20”.  He recently completed the New Bedford ½ marathon in 1:22.  Range: 1:16-1:21

Rocco Della Serra age 51 (NJ) – Rocco will be running his first Mt Washington.  Recent results include a 29:34 8k and a 1:22 half-marathon.  Range: 1:17-1:22

Chris Spinney age 52 (WRT) – Chris will be running the full course for the first time (he ran 35:18 in 2002 when the race finished at half-way).  After his previous attempt he stated “Never again”, but “I guess that memory has finally faded enough to give it another shot”.  He notes that “summiting Washington is on the bucket list and I plan to clear it off this year”.  Chris’ stated goal is to “beat my boss’s bicycle time to the summit (1:25)”.  As part of the excellent Whirlaway Seniors team he feels “confident that my fellow senior teammates will kill it…I wouldn’t be surprised to see a senior record fall to them”.  Recent results for Chris include a 1:30 half-marathon, 63 minute 10 mile and 17:56 5k.
Range: 1:25-1:30

Reno Stirrat age 58 (WRT) – Reno will be running his fifth consecutive Mt Washington.  He has been very consistent, always running between 1:16 – 1:18.  Last year he just missed the single age record (age 57 – 1:17:27) while topping his age group and noted “I’ll be back to defend my 55-59 title”.  Although injured late last year he is “back to full training and hope(s) to be in good shape for the Mountain”.  Reno’s next big test will be the USATF 12k championships.  He noted how competitive the 55-59 age group is and expects to be pushed by Kevin Tuck (Utah) and Matthew Curran (Team Gloucester).  Reno holds the single age record (age 55) with a 1:17:47.  Range: 1:12-1:18

Kevin Tuck age 55 (UT) – Kevin will be running his sixth Mt Washington.  His PR is a 1:13:25 from 2008.  He has the single age records for age 53 and 54.  He recently ran a 1:20 half-marathon.  Range: 1:15-1:20

Matthew Curran age 55 (Team Gloucester) - Matt will be running for the 26th time, which ties him for the 26th most finishes.  He also is tied for 18th longest active finishing streak.  Unlike most runners he has improved with age, running his PR of 1:16:05 at age 51.  His goal this year “is the same as every year…a PR”.  He notes that a mistake he has made in the past is “I always run the first mile too fast”.  He is a student of the Mountain figuring out his splits based on the actual grade per mile.  He calls the race “a frustrating, exhilarating, soul crushing, uplifting, depressing moment of glorious accomplishment that I wouldn’t miss for the world”.  His recent performances include a 17:00 5k and a 28:15 5 mile.  Range: 1:15-1:20

Bob Gillis age 57 (Team Gloucester) – Bob will be running his 30th consecutive Mt Washington, which ranks 6th most consecutive finishes. He notes that his training is going well “thanks in part to my terrific Team Gloucester training partners”.  One of the more unusual workouts he has been doing is “pursuits in which we each handicap each other.  The slowest runner goes first and tries not to get caught.  The fastest runner goes last and tries to pick us off”.  He has been working out on the “gentle but relentless hills” of Ravenswood Park and also doing treadmill runs at steep grades.  Bob’s “goal this year on the Mountain…is to break 89 minutes”.  Range: 1:25-1:30

Len Hall age 58 (GCS) – Len will be running his 32nd Mt Washington; he is tied for 5th most finishes.  He also has a streak of 19 consecutive finishes.  He notes that “race performance is definitely slipping this year…must be that “aging” thing”.  He notes that the 55-59 age group will be tough with “a young Kevin Tuck…signed up…as well as Matt Curran…and as always, the hard charging Reno”.  He is hoping for a good showing for his team (Gate City Striders) and would “love to score a top 3 senior team finish this year”.  Recent training has included mountain runs “Chuck Landry and I ran up Ascutney twice yesterday”.  Recent results include a 67 minute 10 miles, 1:31 half-marathon, and a 19:32 5k.
Range: 1:26-1:31

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