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Longmuir and Sheeran National Champions

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800 N. 10th Place, Unit F
Renton, WA 98057

               Cross Country Club Nationals in Lexington, KY


             Racing in a Winter Wonderland


By David Longmuir
Photos courtesy of Michael Scott

Running on the road is different from running cross country. Cross country meets aren’t run on pavement but on varying terrain and surfaces. Everyone lines up across a field at the start line and goes out hard to get well positioned before the course narrows because you’re not racing for time but to beat other teams in your age group. And by the way, it’s not a summertime sport. Notably, there’s a myth about cross country that circulates among the uninformed that it’s an individual sport—you know, as in the Iron Maiden lyric:

Run, on and on
Run, on and on
The loneliness of the long-distance runner

So you might assume that there are only a few people who have so little common sense that they participate in this crazy sport. But you would assume wrong.

On December 9th, the USATF Club Cross Country National meet in Lexington, KY hosted over 1100 runners who competed in five different races: open women, masters women, open men, masters men 40+ and 50+, and masters men 60+, 70+, and 80+.

Club Nats really emphasizes that cross country is a team sport. Of course, you can run unattached and compete for individual placing in your five-year age group, but most of the prize money and recognition goes to teams that are composed in ten-year age groups. How does your team win? You add up the placings of your scoring runners and the lowest score wins.

It’s typically not your number one runner who wins the meet for you. The team’s hero is your number five runner who finishes ahead of the opponent’s number three and bumps the opponent’s score up. Accordingly, the team’s fastest runner hangs out close to the finish line to cheer on teammates and to tally the team score.

At the USATF Club Nats, in the open divisions and in the masters men 10K, you run eight and score your top five; in the masters women 6K and in the masters men 8K, you run five and score your top three.

Many people that you know from Silver Striders ran, including me and my Eastside Runners teammates—Craig Andersen, Frazer Mann, and C.B. Crouse—in the masters 8K in 70+ division. Here’s a recap of each of the events.


Eastside Runners Silverbacks in the Masters men 8K, 9 AM start time, 24 degrees

110 men 60 and over competed in the 8K. Being wise and experienced due to our age—and slow to warm up—a number of us were whimpering about the race organizer’s scheduling. “By golly, they’re torturing us old codgers by making us race in the coldest part of the day.”

We fretted before the race about how many layers to wear and what length spikes to use in our racing shoes. But although the turf was frozen and the course was made a lot more adventurous by adding frozen molehills as tripping hazards for the unwary, the skies were blue and the wind was mild, only gusting to about 10 mph.

My Eastside Runners team—we call ourselves the Silverbacks—drew starting box #2 out of 31, at the left side of the starting field and in a direct line with the only small lane of grass that wasn’t strewn with molehills. We suspected that everyone else was going to crowd up into that lane immediately after the start, so we knew we had to get out fast.

The gun went off and we charged up a gradual slope for about 200 meters before the course leveled off and started descending to a narrower stretch of grass that looped around a large field. Joe Sheeran—Silver Striders Final Battle of the Boomers Champion who was running with the Club Northwest 60+ team—got an early lead:

Final Battle Of The Boomers overall winner Joe Sheeran, takes the early lead


And I—in the red singlet—got pretty well positioned by the middle of the descent about 400 meters in:

Final Battle of the Boomers  Winner M65-69, David Longmuir (now age 70 #1252)


Everyone in the masters races pins on two bibs—one in the front with the timing chip and your number, and one on the back with your five-year age group.

As we came off the descent and raced counter-clockwise around the large field toward the mile mark, I took stock of whom I was running with and saw lots of 60s, but no 65s and no 70s.

Thought bubble: “Wow! I’m running with the speedy young guys. But not to worry, I just got a really strong start and there was a nice long descent, so I’m really not going out too fast, am I?”

When we previewed the course the afternoon before the race, we knew we had to be extra cautious coming out of the field at the mile mark because there was a sizable rocky depression on the right side of the trail.

I saw the mile marker about 20 feet ahead and moved left while two of the men I was running with took the shorter route, stayed straight, and ran right through the rocks.

Thought bubble: “Boy, these young guys sure have stronger ankles and knees than we 70-plussers do.” Then I realized that I’d better check my split at the mile marker: 6:28!

Thought bubble: “Oops…6:50 would have been more prudent, although I might be okay because it was mostly downhill or flat early on. You can settle, you can settle. But I wonder where Craig is?”

Craig Andersen is typically our number one Silverback, and my pre-race goal was to be within 30 seconds of Craig at the finish. Moreover, my vision of the ideal race had Craig and I running shoulder to shoulder through the first couple of miles, finishing 1st and 2nd, and Frazer and C.B. both placing in the top ten behind us for a Silverback team podium appearance.

Shortly after the mile mark we were treated to several hills. Fortunately, the climbs were shorter and steeper than the descents so I could accelerate after each summit and roll down the hills without braking. I passed a couple of people on the first two climbs and stuck with a smooth-running 60-plusser from the San Diego Track Club:

Charging up the climb after passing 1322.


We passed the 2-mile mark—still no Craig!—and turned back toward the start-finish line, which meant a steady climb into a headwind.

Despite my over-exuberance at the start, the legs had plenty of springiness all the way up.

My San Diego Track Club pacer and I accelerated after the summit and down the long descent to start lap two. This time we ran clockwise around the field and then ran the hills a second time.

We passed the 4-mile mark and I realized that something must have gone wrong with Craig. If Craig were running his typical race he’d be right here with me or ahead of me.

Then as we headed upwind and uphill again into the finish chute, my legs finally started to complain about the speedy start. Nonetheless, I sprinted the last 100 meters to finish in 34:56, only two seconds behind my San Diego Track Club racing partner, who turned out to be Gregory Wagner, age 62.

I clocked 34:56; placed 24th overall, and was the first 70-plusser into the finish chute. I won the age group!

That was pretty exciting, but I didn’t celebrate. Instead, I moved off to the side of the chute to look for my teammates finishing because it’s the team score that matters most.

First Craig limped across the finish line in seventh place in the team scoring. He ran the last three and half miles of the race with horrible heel pain that came on right after the mile mark, yet he still finished second for our team:

Craig running through the pain.


Next, Frazer in tenth:

Frazer (#1253) loving his new spikes.


And then C.B. in fourteenth:

Final Battle Of The Boomers Winner M70-74, C.B. Crouse, testing the hill


We made the podium! Tamalpa Runners from the Bay Area executed an excellent team race by putting all three of their scoring runners in front of our number two. But our second-place team finish had a solid margin over Gennessee Valley Harriers, the third-place team.

Tamalpa: 2,3,6, (24) = 11; Eastside: 1,7.10, (14) = 18; GVH: 4,8,12, (15), (21) = 24.


Club Northwest 60+ team dominates at the front of the pack in the 8K

Here’s Joe hammering at the finish with nobody in sight 

Joe Sheeran started fast and finished faster, 62 seconds ahead of teammate Rick Becker, who won this race two years ago.

Rick Becker 2nd place alone


Completing the Club Northwest 60+ contingent of scoring runners in sixth place was Greg Beyerlein:

Greg Beyerlein (#1245)

Steve Bertrand and Fred Motteler ran as Club Northwest’s numbers four and five to make for a stellar team score. Podium positions in the master men 60+ were CNW: 1,2,6, (18), (19) = 9; Atlanta Track Club: 3, 5, 12, (15), (25) = 20; Shore Athletic Club: 10, 11, 13, (16) = 34.

Bill flying Seattle Seahawks colors.



Also running in the 65+ age division was our Eastside Runners teammate, William Waters, who flew Seattle Seahawks colors:






Master women 6K, 10 AM start time, 27 degrees

118 masters women ages forty and up ran next. The skies had started to get cloudier, the wind had picked up a bit, and the turf and molehills were still frozen even after the first race. Club Northwest put two teams on the line: 40+ and 50+. The CNW 50-plussers are speedy women you probably know from Silver Striders competitions, the top ten list, and Battle of the Boomers. Their team finished on the podium in third place with 6, 7, 15 = 28 points.

Gail Hall, sixth place individual, women 55-59:

Gail Hall, Boomer Final Battle Winner W55-59


Kristen Mossman, eighth place individual, women 50-54:

Kristen Mossman, (#1038) Battle Of The Boomers Champion W50-54


Kelly Kruell, eleventh place individual, women 55-59:

Kelly Kruell #1037


Masters men 10K, 10:45 AM start time, 28 degrees

273 masters men in the 40+ and 50+ group headed off next. Things were a bit more crowded in the early going. Here’s how packed the field was at about 3K:

10k start


Club Northwest again fielded two teams, with the 40-plussers finishing fifth and the 50-plussers just off the podium in fourth. Carl Combs had a terrific run to finish second in the 50-54 age group:

Carl Coombs #1516


Paul Abdalla and John O’Hearn ran together the entire way to finish tenth and eleventh in the 55-59 age group:

Paul Abdalla #1514 and John O’Hearn #1515


Tony Gerbino (10th in 50-54) and Sean Messiter (56th in 50-54) rounded out the CNW team.


We Silverbacks were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t cheer on our friends in the later masters races. This was because the organizers scheduled the awards presentations for the 8K at the same time the masters 10K was running. We 60-plussers assembled in an open-air fieldhouse where we all crowded around one heater while we waited for the individual medals and team prizes. Here I am on the podium, still finding it hard to believe that I am a national champion:

David Longmuir (center) with the 70-74 age group top 3


And here my Silverback teammates—minus Craig, whose gutsy race earned us our podium appearance but who couldn’t walk after the race—join me to get our very large check for second place:

Silverbacks on the podium! Left to right: Frazer Mann, C. B. Crouse, and David Longmuir


For detailed results, including age-graded standings, go to


And if you’re on Facebook, you can see more of Mike Scott’s great photos in this album.

Oh, by the way, remember our whimpering about having the earliest start time and having to race in the coldest conditions?

It turned out that the masters men 8K was run in the best conditions of the day—mild winds and blue skies.

By the time 424 open men toed the start line at 12:30, winds were gusting over 20 mph and it was snowing.

Next year, Club Nats comes to Spokane. Hmm…considering that Spokane’s weather during the first week of December is usually more wintry than Kentucky’s, perhaps it‘s time to start gathering a few more layers to race in. 


More great photos:

Here’s the link again: https://www.facebook.com/miscott/media_set?set=a.10102838346378044.1073742627.14304428&type=3





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