Thursday, January 14, 2021

GRC 2020 Awards

2020 may not have given produced as many memorable races as we've been accustomed to, but that didn't stop GRC harriers from making the most of their limited opportunities! Nor did it stop coach Jerry Alexander from handing out annual awards at the winter meeting held over Zoom on January 13, 2021.

Here's to a better 2021!

Women's MVP 
Maura Knestout

Maura Knestout finished an excellent 108th place at the Olympic Trials Marathon in a PR of 2:44:13 on the savagely hilly course in Atlanta. The Trials was only Maura's second serious attempt at the marathon, and an injury limited her preparation to a six-week training cycle, making it clear that she has only begun to scratch the surface of her capability. While Maura did not race in the fall, she showed her dedication to the team by expertly pacing a series of time trials on the track which helped several of her teammates run big PRs. 

Men's MVP 
Keiran O'Connor

Kieran O'Connor made his one race of 2020 count, finishing an outstanding 86th place in the Olympic Trials Marathon. Kieran was in truly superb shape going into the race, and while the brutal hills took their toll, he ran hard all the way to the tape, passing 20 guys on the final loop. Kieran picks his spots, and the next time he emerges from hibernation will be to take his shot at qualifying for the 2024 Trials. Whatever the standard is, Kieran will be ready to hit it.

Women's Newcomer of the Year Meghan Grimes

Meghan Grimes made a successful transition from the club team at Georgetown to GRC, and in her three races in a GRC singlet she showed that she will be a major factor for our middle distance crew going forward. The highlight of Meghan's covid-shortened season was her 2:15.59 800 for our B team DMR at the Millrose Games, which was the fifth fastest split in a highly competitive field. Meghan was ready for a major breakthrough outdoors, and she'll pick up where she left off once the racing starts again.

Men's Newcomer of the Year 
Elias Graca

Elias Graca had an indoor season for the record books. Elias's best performance was at the Millrose Games where he led off our DMR in an outstanding 3:00.93 for 1200, which was a key factor in our club record time of 9:57.67. Elias also set a new club record in the 800, running 1:52.91, and his 4:16.67 mile was the fifth fastest in club history. For good measure, Elias ran 4:16.2 in a road mile over the summer, which is fifth on the all-time list. Elias focused on the 800 during his stellar career at Penn, and he will continue to explore his tremendous potential in the 1500/mile when the racing starts back up.

Nina Brekelmans Award 
Alex Morris

Alex Morris has been a huge part of the success of our women's middle distance group. In 2018 Alex set the still-standing club record in the 800, running an outstanding 2:08.87. Alex ran the 400 leg on our DMR that won the Millrose Games in 2017, and when healthy she continues to be our first choice for the 400 leg. Alex has expanded her range, as demonstrated by her 2:59.33 1000, which is the second fastest in club history, and she ran am impressive 4:34.87 1500 in her second attempt at the distance. Alex is a fitting recipient of this award because she shares Nina's passion for public service and fighting for the rights of the less fortunate.

Lauren Woodall Roady Award 
Sean Barrett

Sean Barrett has been one of the most consistent and reliable athletes in GRC history. His range extends from 3000 on the track, in which he has run the fifth fastest time in GRC history, to the marathon. While Sean has not yet accomplished his goal of winning Marine Corps, he's been in the mix several times, including finishing 4th in 2019, 8th in 2011, and 10th in 2016. Sean is also an excellent cross country runner who has twice represented the United States in the World Military XC championship. In his nine years with GRC, Sean has been deployed to combat zones several times, and he has earned two Bronze Stars for his service. Sean always found a way to train while deployed, and never used those extremely difficult circumstances as an excuse to lose fitness. Sean's toughness, resilience, and tenacity have been an ongoing inspiration to his teammates.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Top GRC Performances (#1)

Coach Jerry has revealed his "totally subjective" top GRC performances during his time on the team!


1) Frances Koons Places Eighth at 2014 Clubs XC and Qualifies For U.S. National Team

"Frances was an 8-time All American during her legendary career at Villanova. Despite being unable to train in 2007 after surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on her kidney, Frances qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 1500 in 2008 while still a collegian. For her amazing resilience in the face of a serious medical condition, Frances and was awarded the 2010 Most Courageous Athlete Award by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. You can find a Philadelphia Inquirer article on Frances here.

Frances continued to find success as a post-graduate, and qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 5000. Despite all of her accomplishments, when Frances joined GRC she had never qualified for a United States team. That changed when she placed 8th at Clubs XC in 2014. Frances got out hard and hung on to beat numerous national class athletes, including fellow Villanova greats Emily Lipari and Jen Rhines, who was a three time Olympian.

Frances's great performance at Clubs earned her the right to represent the United States at the Great Endinburgh XC meet in Jaunary 2015. Frances took advantage of the opportunity to run for her country by placing 8th, and she beat, among other world-class athletes, the defending European XC champion. Frances turned her ankle so badly on the second loop that she could barely walk after the race, but she fought all the way to the tape and finished as the third American. I highly recommend you watch this video recap of the race, which has some nice shots of Frances, and captures the robust conditions on an extremely challenging course. 

Frances ran many great races for GRC, and she still holds the club records on the track in the 2 mile (10:06, which qualified her for the 2015 USATF indoor championships) and the 10,000 (33:17), and on the roads in the 8k (26:27) and 10k (34:12). Those records will eventually be broken, but Frances's stellar accomplishments in cross country are unlikely to be surpassed."


1) Kieran O'Connor Places 24th in 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon

"Kieran trained extremely well for the 2016 Trials despite difficult winter weather which forced him to run a 22 miler entirely under the Whitehurst Freeway. As race day approached it became clear that the weather in Los Angeles would be unseasonably warm, and Kieran convinced himself that the heat would work to his advantage. Based on the difficult conditions which leveled the playing field and Kieran's superb fitness, I thought that if everything went perfectly he could sneak into the top 50. Kieran surpassed my best case scenario, and then some. Here's what I said at the time about Kieran's incredible race.

'Kieran's performance was beyond question the greatest ever by a man in a GRC jersey, and no amount of tape applied by overzealous USATF officials to hide our logo could obscure that fact. Going into the race we knew that the heat, which was beyond oppressive, would mean that time was irrelevant, and Kieran's goal was simply to beat people. We also knew that Kieran was not afraid of the heat. To the contrary, Kieran viewed the heat as an opportunity, and had complete confidence in his ability to outlast his opponents in what promised to be a war of attrition that would reward those who wanted it the most. 

When the gun went off Kieran settled in to a reasonable pace with a large group of athletes, and as Kieran held steady and bided his time, the pack dwindled, and athletes ahead of him started to fade. Kieran kept plugging away and moved up gradually through the middle miles. As I counted places on the course in the second half of the race, I was able to communicate to Kieran that he was in the top 50, then the top 40, and each time I relayed this news, Kieran gave me a thumbs up, and kept right on rolling. By the time I saw Kieran with about 5 miles to go he was 35th place by my count, and while he had started show some signs of wear, he was buoyed by the knowledge that he was still moving forward. When he passed me for the last time with less than 2 miles to go, he was hurting big time, but when I told him that by my count he was in 26th place, there was no doubt that he was going to continue his charge to the finish, and he picked up the spots he needed to secure his place in the top 25. 

The list of athletes Kieran beat reads like a who's who of US distance running. Kieran, who didn't run in college and who has literally never run a track meet in his life, beat guys, in a race everyone peaked for, who are NCAA champions, consistently ranked in the top 10 in the US on the track and roads, and have been members of multiple national teams. That he did so is a testament to his preparation, which was superb, and even more so to his sheer force of will. Kieran got on the starting line determined to do something special for himself, his family, and his team, and he absolutely was not going to be deterred. His complete faith in his ability to compete on the highest level in the biggest race of his life is truly awe inspiring.'"

Top GRC Performances (#2)

Coach Jerry has revealed #2 on his list of the top ten GRC performances during his time on the time for the men's and women's side.


2. Emily de La Bruyere Runs 9:59.33 steeplechase, Portland Track Festival 2018

"Emily's performance in Portland was national caliber; indeed, it was the 31st fastest time by an American in 2018. Here's what I said at the time about Emily's fantastic run.

'Congratulations to Emily d for her epic performance at the Portland Track Festival, where she placed 4th in the steeplechase in the truly outstanding time of 9:59.33. That is a new club record, a PR by 3 seconds, and will almost certainly qualify Emily for her second consecutive appearance at the USATF Outdoor Championships. Emily had been on the cusp of breaking 10 minutes for quite a while, and to finally break through that barrier is a humongous accomplishment. Emily's run is made even more impressive by the fact that she had not gone over an actual steeple barrier or taken a water jump since nationals last year, yet she competed with no fear, confident in her ability to handle the hurdling and water jump. I'm really excited to see Emily go head to head with the best athletes in the country next week in Des Moines!'

That great run qualified Emily for nationals with room to spare, and after her performance in Portland, we both felt that she had a real shot at making it to the final in Des Moines. Sure enough, with 200 to go Emily was on 9:54 pace, and all she needed to do to claim the final time qualifier spot was stay upright. And then the last water jump happened. Emily has unfinished business in the steeple, and I am confident that she will qualify for the Olympic Trials in 2021."


2. Lucas Stalnaker Runs 28:57 for 10,000m at Raleigh Relays 2019

"In his final race for the Naval Academy, Lucas placed 5th in the 10,000 at the 2017 NCAA Championships. Based on that success, Lucas and I felt that qualifying for the USATF Championships was a realistic goal. But Lucas's duties in the Marine Corps affected his training in 2018, and he was "only" able to run 29:26 (which broke Mike Franklin's longstanding club record). In 2019, Lucas's training was outstanding, and we knew that he was ready to do something special in Raleigh. Here's what I said at the time about Lucas's fantastic run.

'The highly coveted but rarely awarded GRC Athlete of the Week goes to Lucas for his phenomenal 28:57.02 10,000 at Raleigh Relays, which was a PR of almost 12 seconds, and a club record by 30 seconds. Lucas's run was unquestionably the greatest track performance ever by a GRC man, and puts him in a great position to qualify for the USATF championships. Lucas executed his race plan perfectly--he went through 5000 right at 14:30, and ran a negative split to achieve his longstanding goal of breaking 29 minutes. It wasn't easy the last 1200, and as Lucas said afterwards, the last lap was the most painful 70 he has ever run, but he accomplished the mission. Well done, Marine!'

Lucas qualified for nationals, and the experience he gained in that race, where he placed 20th, will stand him in good stead in his quest to qualify for the 2021 Olympic Trials."

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Top GRC Performances (#3 and #4)

Below is another installment of Jerry's "totally subjective list" of top 10 GRC performances.


4. GRC Women Place 6th at 2016 Clubs XC in Tallahassee, Florida

"It all came together for the women at Clubs in 2016. We had excellent performances from our top six of Stephanie Reich, Emily de La Bruyere, Frances Loeb, Maura Carroll, Kerry Allen, and Elena Barham, and all of those performances are still among the top 10 all-time finishes by GRC women at Clubs. It took a lot of effort to get our women on the starting line--Emily flew from grad school in Paris to meet us in the Jacksonville airport for the long drive to Tallahassee--and when the gun went off, all of them performed superbly. Here's what I said about the race at the time.

We had a truly phenomenal day at Clubs, with excellent performances across the board. The headline was the amazing 6th place finish of the women's team, which was the best result for men or women in GRC history. To finish 6th in such a competitive field was beyond my most ambitious hopes, and I could not be more proud of that result. The team result was the product of excellent individual performances, led by Steph's outstanding 26th place, in 20:37, which is the second best placing ever at Clubs by a GRC athlete. Steph has proven this fall that she is a national caliber runner, and her dramatic improvement will continue in 2017. Emily made a stellar GRC debut, finishing 29th in 20:41, which is the third best placing in GRC history. Emily is a truly superb talent, and we're going to see great things from her in the future. Frances was 57th in 21:18, the 5th best finish in GRC history, and that was a significant improvement over her outstanding run last year. Maura ran the best race of her career, finishing an excellent 60th, in 21:21. Maura does not want to admit that she is an outstanding xc runner, but she proved the point conclusively on Saturday. In her first xc race in 11 years, Kerry was 70th, in 21:34, to cap off an excellent late season foray into shorter races, which is going to make her a better marathoner going forward. Elena ran a very strong race to close out her outstanding rookie season with GRC, placing 76th in 21:43. This was truly a fantastic performance from the entire team, and every one of our athletes played a part in our great result. To put into context how much depth we had, prior to Saturday the 5th best all time GRC women's performance at Clubs was 76th place. In Tallahassee, our 6th finisher was 76th place. To further illustrate the point regarding our depth, if Steph had been disqualified for throwing one of her competitors to the ground with a horse collar tackle (which is something she is known to do now and again), and we had scored our 2d-6th finishers, we would have placed 9th. Considering that our previous best women's finish was 10th, that is impressive indeed. I am beyond proud of our women, who came together when it counted, and ran as a team to achieve an incredible result. The women have made amazing progress since 2011 when our first team at Clubs competed with 5 athletes, one of whom could have run in the masters race."

3. Teal Burrell Qualifies for Olympic Trials at CIM 2014

"Wh​en Teal joined GRC in 2012, she had one goal--qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon. Her PR at the time was 2:51 and change, and the standard for the 2012 Trials was 2:47,so the target seemed to be in reach. When USATF announced in 2013 that the standard for the next Trials was 2:43, however, it seemed that Teal's goal was going to be impossible to achieve. But Teal never wavered in her belief that she could do it, and it all came together for her at CIM in 2014, when she ran a remarkable 8+ minute PR, and qualified with room to spare. Here's what I said about Teal's incredible run at the time.

What a truly, truly phenomenal performance by Teal!! I've had 24 hours to process her titanic accomplishment, and I'm still at something of a loss for words to describe how incredibly well Teal ran, but this will shed some light on the enormity of her achievement. When Teal began this training cycle, her half marathon PR was 1:21:37. Yesterday she ran two half marathons faster than that, back to back! Teal is a very experienced marathoner and for someone with her level of experience to improve so dramatically in such a short period of time is simply astonishing. To me, the most amazing part is that Teal believed to her core that she could break 2:43, and she committed herself to going for it by rolling with the 2:43 pace group from the gun despite the ever-present possibility that the aggressive early pace would come back to bite her late in the race. Indeed, Teal was so confident in herself that she hit the gas at mile 24, and left the 2:43 pace group in the rear view mirror to make sure she didn't cut it too close at the tape. Teal's performance is unquestionably one of the greatest in GRC history, and I am certain that her incredibly courageous run will serve as inspiration for our athletes."


4. Zach Hine Runs Marathon PR of 2:16:36 at CIM 2019

"It's not often that a legitimate national caliber athlete joins the team, so we were beyond excited to have Zach come on board in the summer of 2019. The GRC magic clearly rubbed off on Zach, as he ran a long-sought PR in his first marathon in a GRC jersey. Here's what I said about Zach's great run at the time.

Zach ran an outstanding 2:16:36, which puts him second on the GRC all-time list. More importantly, Zach ran a PR, which is something special considering that he has run many, many marathons in his illustrious career, including the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials, but his previous PR was from his very first marathon, which he ran in 2011. Zach was already qualified for the 2020 Trials, but chose to run CIM in order to get a confidence boost by running a PR, and it was mission accomplished."

3. Michael Franklin Wins Olympic Development 10,000 at the 2014 Penn Relays

Mike had an incredible outdoor season his senior year at Princeton, when he won the 5000/10,000 double at Heps, and topped it off with a 5th place finish at NCAAs in the 10. Mike was a kicker (as is amply demonstrated by the video of the Heps 5000 below which is well worth watching), and we knew that if he was near the front with 400 to go he would break the tape. Mike sat back and let Luke Meyer do the leading for the first 8k. Mike moved up to the leader's shoulder with 800 to go, and when he unleashed his huge kick with 400 to go it was game over. Mike's time of 29:32 was a club record that stood for four years. More importantly, Mike's victory at Penn was the first ever for a GRC athlete, and it started a streak of three consecutive years when one of our athletes won a championship at Penn. Here's what I said about Mike's great run at the time.

The headline of the weekend is Mike's victory in the 10,000 at Penn Relays. Mike ran a perfect tactical race, and there was never a moment of doubt in my mind that he would win. It would be difficult to overstate the gravity of Mike's victory, but rather than prattle on about it, suffice to say that this is the first, but surely not the last, major championship won by a GRC athlete."

Top GRC Performances (#5 and #6)

Below is another installment of Jerry's "totally subjective list" of top 10 GRC performances.


6. GRC Women Win 2017 Millrose Games Distance Medley Relay

"In our first trip to Millrose, our interpid crew of Alyson McGonigle, Alex Morris, Jesse Carlin, and Stephanie Reich were just hoping to be competitive. Much to our surprise, we won, and by a comfortable margin. Here's what I said about the race at the time.

We had a truly an epic performance by our women's DMR at the Millrose Games. Each of our legs--Alyson on the 1200, Alex on the 400, Jesse on the 800, and Steph on the 1600--ran great, and it all came together on the big day. Alyson got us started with a very strong 3:37.06, and she handed off just fractionally behind Central Park TC. Alex sat on Central Park's athlete for about 150 meters, then made a big move to take the lead and never looked back, finishing in an impressive 58.8. Jesse got out hard as always, and immediately extended our lead, and finished in 2:13.8, which was the fastest leg of the day by over a second. Steph got the baton with a sizeable lead, and when she got out aggressively for the first 600 and further extended our lead, the race was essentially over. Steph kept her foot on the gas the whole way, and finished in an excellent 4:54.2, which was also the fastest leg of the day.

Getting the win was important for two reasons. First, Millrose is as big as it gets in indoor track, and for us to be able to be competitive, let alone win, is something special. After all, it's not often that our athletes are described as "useful performers" by Tim Hutchings on a national broadcast, and it was fantastic for us, and our sponsors, to get that kind of exposure. Second, our victory is indicative of how far we've come in building our women's middle distance crew. Having Jesse on board has brought us instant credibility, and with outstanding young middle distance talent in Alyson and Alex, Liz, we will continue to improve. Finally, on a personal level, I grew up watching the Millrose Games, and it was truly my pleasure to be part of such a stellar accomplishment. Well done ladies!"

The video of the race is below:

5. Maura Linde Finishes 108th in 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon

Maura has amassed several impressive performances during her time at GRC as evidenced by the fact that she is in the top five in the 1500, 3000, 5000, and 10,000 on the track, and is second on the GRC list on the roads in 5k, 8k, 10k, and 10 mile, and her 20th place at Clubs in 2017 is the second best finish in team history. Here's what Jerry had to say about Maura's amazing run:

"For the women, Maura was an outstanding 108th in 2:44:13. Maura's tactics were perfect, and she steadily moved up through the field over the last 15 miles. Maura's time was a PR, and as difficult as it was to PR on that course, Maura's performance is all the more impressive given that this was only her second serious attempt at the marathon, and her training cycle was exceedingly short because of a nagging injury that prevented her from working out or doing real long runs until the middle of January. To run what surely would have been worth sub 2:39 (or faster) on a reasonable course, off of a six week training cycle, is incredible, and demonstrates Maura's immense potential in the marathon. Maura is only starting to scratch the surface of her ability at the longer road distances, and she will be a real threat to place in the top 25 in 2024."


6. GRC Men Win 2018 Millrose Games Distance Medley Relay

"After the women got the win at Millrose the previous year, the men wanted to get in on the action in 2018. Our men's middle distance group was still in its infancy, and our lineup featured distance runners Stewart Reich on the 1200 and Paul Thistle on the mile, along with Daniel Trettel on the 800 and Craig Morgan on the 400. Here's what I said at the time.

"The big highlight was the men's victory, which was truly a team effort. Stewart got us off to a great start with outstanding 3:03.5 1200. Stewart has good speed for a distance runner, but a 1200 at this level was a major challenge for him. Undaunted by the enormity of the task, Stewart ran a smart, patient race, and worked his way up steadily, handing off in third place. Craig, who has excellent 800/1500 credentials but hasn't run a competitive 400 in quite some time, ran a very solid 52.3. Despite being out there with actual 400 runners (one of whom ran 47.8), Craig more than held his own, running the 4th fastest leg of the day. Daniel was ready to pop a big one, and he perfectly executed his race plan of going out hard and settling in. Daniel's excellent 1:52.7 was the second fastest leg of the day, and set us up to go for the win. Paul T got the baton in second, 5 seconds behind the leader, and he methodically chipped away at the deficit. With 200 to go Paul was within striking distance and charging hard. Paul has only done a handful of workouts this winter, and hadn't raced anything shorter than a steeple in several years, but he managed to find another gear in the final 100, and made the pass in the home straight. Paul's 4:14.3 was the fastest leg of the day, and got us the win, in the impressive time of 10:02.95. I'll readily admit that I did not see the victory coming--the competition was formidable, we were not race sharp, and other than Daniel we had athletes competing at distances that were well outside of their comfort zone. Despite the long odds, the guys collectively rose to the challenge, and each of them ran better than I could have hoped for. That our group was able to exceed my most optimistic projections is proof that GRC athletes running together for a common goal can accomplish great things. Well done, men!"

5. Dan Meteer Runs 2:17:38 in Marathon Debut, CIM 2019

"In 2019, Dan had arguably the best year of any GRC man during my time with the team. He capped off his incredible year, which included a 4:09 anchor leg at Millrose and a 1:04:53 half at Indy, with an amazing performance in his marathon debut. Here's what I said about it at the time.

Congratulations to Dan M for qualifying for the Olympic Trials in his marathon debut with his fantastic 2:17:38 at CIM! This stellar performance puts Dan third on the GRC all-time list. Ten months ago, Dan anchored our DMR at Millrose, and and our expectation was that he would stick to the track for the foreseeable future. That changed after Dan jumped into the DC RNR Half as a workout and ran 1:07:33. With several months of marathon focused training under his belt, it was clear that Dan was fit to break 2:19. But being fit to qualify and actually qualifying are two different things. When the gun went off Dan executed his race plan perfectly, going through the half in 1:09:03 and running a big negative split to qualify with plenty of room to spare. Dan's transformation from a 5000 specialist to a marathoner has been remarkable, and I could not be more proud of his superb performance."

Top GRC Performances (#7 and #8)

Below is another installment of Jerry's "totally subjective list" of top 10 GRC performances.


8. Hilary May Runs Club Record 1500 Despite Torn Soleus at Hopkins/Loyola 2013

Coach Jerry: "Hilary was a middle distance standout at Harvard, where she broke the 30 year old school record in the 1000 meters. Hilary moved up to longer track distances in 2013 with great success, running club records in the 3000 (9:52.9) and 5000 (16:56) early in the season. The plan was to take her newfound strength and apply it to the 1500 in the latter stages of the season. Her first 1500 was at Hopkins/Loyola, which she treated as a rustbuster for the more competitive races to come. Here's what I said about the race at the time.

At the Hopkins/Loyola track meet on Saturday, Hilary picked up where she left off, running another GRC club record, this time 4:32.1 for 1500, which was also a new facility record. Hilary would have lowered her PR of 4:30 if not for an issue in her calf that impeded her the last 300. Considering that she was barely able to walk when she crossed the line, and led the entire race in a strong wind, that was another truly excellent performance.

But there's more to the story. What we thought after the race was a calf cramp turned out to be a torn soleus that kept Hilary out of action for months. Running 4:32 with a serious injury is truly impressive."

7. Kerry Allen Runs Qualifies for Olympic Trials at Twin Cities 2018

Jerry had this to write about the performance: "Congratulations to Kerry for qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon! At Twin Cities yesterday, Kerry ran an outstanding 2:41:33, a PR of over ten minutes, which is the second fastest time in GRC history, and was good for seventh place in a very competitive field. I can't overstate what an exceptional run that was, or how excited I am to see Kerry get the breakthrough she worked so hard for. As I've told Kerry many times in the last couple of years, she's had Olympic Trials qualifier written all over her, but despite several big PRs at shorter distances, she's had bad luck with weather on race day and a series of nagging injuries that had her questioning whether she would ever be able to reach her potential in the marathon. After another injury setback that scuttled her spring plans, Kerry put in a really good block of training for the past few months, and the weather in Twin Cities was perfect, and Kerry took advantage of her opportunity in a huge way. Kerry's fabulous performance was the product of years of hard work and unrelenting persistence in the face of daunting obstacles, and I'm really, really proud of what she accomplished."


8. Sam Luff runs 14:15.2 5000 at Princeton Larry Ellis Invite 2011

Sam had many impressive performances over all surfaces during his time on GRC, but the one that stood out to Jerry was his 20 second PR at Princeton. Here's what Jerry had to say:

"What an amazing run by Sam on Friday at Princeton! Sam went head to head with an elite field (that included future GRC greats Luke Meyer who ran 14:08 and Mike Franklin who ran 14:19) and proved that he belonged out there with them. Major breakthroughs like that do not happen by accident, and Sam worked extremely hard to put himself in a position to run with the big guns."

7. GRC Men Finish 9th at USATF Clubs XC, Bend, Oregon 2013

"GRC's recruiting class of 2013 was truly stellar. That summer we welcomed two-time Olympic Trials qualifier Luke Meyer, new graduate Mike Franklin, who was fifth in the NCAA 10,000 in his final race for Princeton, Kevin McNab, an All-American in the steeplechase at Texas A & M, and Kieran O'Connor, who was not nearly as accomplished as his comrades prior to joining GRC, but who quickly proved to be a special talent. With returning athletes Sam Luff and Sean Barrett, who was 8th in the long course race at the World Military XC championships that spring, we knew we had a formidable squad.

Bend posed unique challenges. In addition to being at 3500 feet of altitude, the course was literally up the side of a mountain, and the footing was very sloppy after several inches of show melted in the 24 hours prior to the start. We knew that if we stayed patient and let the course and the altitude take its toll on our competition, we could make a big move in the second half of the race. The guys executed the plan perfectly. In his only XC race since high school, Kieran placed 46th, which is still the best finish ever by a GRC man. Mike was 61st, which is sitll the fifth best finish in GRC history, followed by Luke in 72nd, and Kevin in 75th. Sam rounded out the scoring in 105th after taking an epic spill that, as luck would have it, was captured on film for posterity. Those great performances put us in ninth place, ahead of several professional teams. This was the first time a GRC squad placed in the top ten at Clubs, which was a monumental breakthrough for us. The success of the 2013 team set the standard of excellence for all future GRC Clubs teams."

Top GRC Performances (#9 and #10)

While GRC harriers are temporarily sidelined due to the coronavirus, Coach Jerry Alexander has been sharing his "completely subjective countdown of the top 10 GRC performances" during his time with the team.


10. Alex Morris Runs Clubs 800m Record 2:08.87 at the Swarthmore Last Chance Meet in 2018.

Jerry had this to say about Alex's record breaking performance: "The performance of the night came from Alex, who gave herself an early birthday present by running 2:08.87 in the 800, which is a PR by 3 seconds, and a club record. Alex was ready for a major breakthrough, and it happened last night in a big way. Alex got out hard, hung tough through the middle stages, and closed with conviction to become the first GRC woman to break 2:10. Alex's reaction when she saw the official time was priceless--it was a combination of shock and joy that I will remember for a long time."

9. Stephanie Reich Wins 2016 Penn Relays Olympic Development 10,000. 

Steph's win was one of her many great performances in a GRC singlet, but deserves to be set aside because it was such a huge breakthrough. She is the club record holder in the 1500, road 5k, and 10 mile. She also won the Army 10 Miler in 2016 and would go on to defend her win at Penn Relays in 2017.

According to Jerry, "Steph finished the night in style, winning the 10,000 in an outstanding 34:12, which is second on the all-time list. Steph did it the hard way, leading for at least half the race, and she ran a huge negative split (17:16/16:56), which shows she could have run faster in a more favorable race. To put into perspective just how far Steph has come in a very short time, her PRs prior to joining GRC in the fall were 17:59 and 37:31, so it's fair to say that she's improved a bit in the last year, and I have every expectation that she's just scratching the surface of her ability."


10. Carlos Jamieson Runs Road 5k Club Record at Clarendon Day 5k

Coach Jerry: "Carlos has incredible range, from shorter distances on the track (PRs of 1:49.3 for 800 and 3:41.84 for 1500) to longer distances on the roads (1:04:29 half marathon), and when healthy and fit he is capable of remarkable performances. Carlos was both healthy and fit in September of 2019, and he proved it by crushing the club record in the road 5k with his 14:27 at Clarendon. If more proof of his fitness was needed, he doubled back to win the 10k in 31:10."

9. Luke Meyer Runs 10 Mile Club Record at Cherry Blossom

Luke is no stranger to big stages having run in the Olympic Trials twice for the Steeplechase and Marathon in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

As Jerry put it, "Luke Ran 48:46 at Cherry Blossom, which was a club record by 21 seconds. Luke's 10th place finish in the USATF Championship was almost surely the highest placing by a GRC athlete in a national championship, and his race is unquestionably one of the finest ever in a GRC singlet." 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

2020 Olympic Marathon Team Trials in Atlanta, GA

We had a fantastic weekend at the Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta.  No description of the course can do justice to just how hilly it was, so much so that many athletes literally walked up the monstrous hill on the final loop.  These are not scrubs we're talking about, but rather the best marathoners in the country.  If many athletes of that caliber were reduced to walking, you know this course was really, really hard.  And it was quite windy out there, which didn't help matters.  Despite the robust conditions, our crew ran to the absolute best of their ability, and represented GRC with great distinction. 

Kieran was an outstanding 86th in 2:23:50.  Kieran's race plan, which worked to perfection in Los Angeles in 2016, was to stay within himself for the first half of the race, and then begin a relentless march forward picking off runners who got out too aggressively.  The hills got to Kieran earlier than he had expected, however, which precluded him executing the plan quite the way he intended, but he moved up 20 places on the final loop, which is all the proof we need that he ran hard all the way to the tape.  Kieran holds himself to a very high standard, and even though he was shooting for a better placing based on his incredibly high fitness level and his amazing success in 2016, he was thoroughly satisfied with his race because he knew that he gave it everything he had.  From my perspective, 86th place in the Trials is an objectively excellent result, and I am extremely proud of Kieran's accomplishment.  Kieran is going to take up tennis for the next few months (and use his free AlphaFlys as his tennis kicks), but he will be back better than ever once the qualifying window opens for 2024.

Dan was 96th in 2:24:45, and he was justifiably thrilled to be in the top 100.  To my way of thinking, Dan's top 100 placing was nothing short of miraculous given that less than a year ago he had never run a race longer than 10k.  After his meteoric rise on the roads in 2019, Dan was confident that he could compete on the national level, and while the hilly course did not suit him, and he didn't feel great after mile 10, Dan was able to hold his position throughout the long and arduous journey to the finish.  Dan is a tremendous talent, and he is planning to take a shot at the venerable club record of 2:15:13 in the late spring.  Given his remarkable progress in the last few months, I would not bet against him.

Zach was dinged up from his epic PR at CIM, and despite his best efforts to resolve his nagging injury he was unable to get healthy soon enough to reach race fitness.  This was Zach's third Trials, and he was determined to be part of the event even if it would be to a limited extent.  When his injury started to flare up on the first loop, Zach wisely called it a day.  Zach will surely be back for his fourth Trials in 2024.

For the women, Maura was an outstanding 108th in 2:44:13.  Maura's tactics were perfect, and she steadily moved up through the field over the last 15 miles.  Maura's time was a PR, and as difficult as it was to PR on that course, Maura's performance is all the more impressive given that this was only her second serious attempt at the marathon, and her training cycle was exceedingly short because of a nagging injury that prevented her from working out or doing real long runs until the middle of January.  To run what surely would have been worth sub 2:39 (or faster) on a reasonable course, off of a six week training cycle, is incredible, and demonstrates Maura's immense potential in the marathon.  Maura is only starting to scratch the surface of her ability at the longer road distances, and she will be a real threat to place in the top 25 in 2024.

Kerry was in the best shape of her life, and she looked great at the half way point.  Unfortunately she was afflicted by a crippling cramp around mile 16, and despite her best efforts to run through it, the pain was so severe that she had no choice but to abandon the race at mile 21.  The marathon is a cruel event, and despite her outstanding preparation it was just not Kerry's day.  Kerry will be back better than ever, and she'll continue her development into a national caliber marathoner going forward.

We also had a large crew of former GRC superstars in Atlanta.  Teal was a strong 130th in 2:45:27.  I had the pleasure of watching the race with Rusty, young Maya, and Teal's parents, and with the help of her incredible support team, Teal will surely be back for her third Trials in 2024.  Kelly was 264th in 2:52:17.  After experiencing stomach trouble throughout the race Kelly was happy to finish, and she came across the line with a smile on her face.  Catherine was 315th in 2:55:32.  This was Catherine's third marathon in three months, as she was able to rebound from her failed attempt to qualify at CIM with an outstanding run in Houston.  Her extremely short buildup for Atlanta went very well, and we were cautiously optimistic that she was ready to go.  It all caught up to her after halfway, however, and she was glad to finish in one piece.  I'm happy to report that Catherine will be returning to the area over the summer, so she is not only a former GRC superstar, she is also a future GRC superstar.  Hannah was 350th in 3:00:01.  Hannah looked very good for about 12 miles, at which point her achilles tightened up so badly that she had to stop to stretch it.  She was able to continue, but from there she was forced to stop and stretch every 2 miles.  Despite that ordeal, Hannah finished with her head held high.  Kristin was unable to start due to injury, but she was happy to be in Atlanta to cheer on her peeps.  For the men, Matt was a strong 108th in 2:25:42, and Patrick was 140th in 2:30:25.

In non-Trials action, Margaret was seventh in the half in Atlanta in 1:22:03.  That was an excellent performance on the now infamous Atlanta hills, and it is yet more evidence that Margaret is ready for a huge spring.  Finally, Brian Rich made an outstanding GRC debut, running 14:43.8 in the 5000 at BU Last Chance.  That was a 12 second PR, and we're going to see many more big PRs from Brian in the months ahead.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

2020 RRCA Club Challenge Ten Miler

The sun shone down on the Pacers // GRC - NB harriers at the 2020 RRCA Club Challenge Ten Miler in Columbia, Maryland last Sunday (February 24), which was a radical departure from the previous year's wind and rain. Though conditions improved significantly, the up and down nature of the course still provided a serious challenge to all runners. GRC finished a close second to Falls Road Running in the overall coed race, which scores 6 men and 6 women, in 594 to 610

The men's team was able to pick up a trophy for the overall men's team competition with a narrow victory over Falls Road Running 54-57. The team had top ten finishes from Patrick Hanley (3rd, 51:29), Sam Doud (6th, 52:42), Stewart Reich (9th, 52:55), and Mark Hopely (10th, 52:58).

The women's team was led to a second place overall team finish by Natalie Patterson and Stephanie Berger who were 6th and 7th, respectively. Though they had two strong front runners, the GRC women had to rely primarily on mid-distance track runners to fill out their team, which, according to coach Jerry Alexander, "says a lot about the commitment to the team...for them to race a distance that is way out of their comfort zone."

Men's Results
3. Patrick Hanley - 51:29
6. Sam Doud - 52:42
9. Stewart Reich - 52:55
10. Mark Hopely - 52:58
12. Josh Sutterfield - 53:10
14. Kyle Wagener - 53:24
15. Jerry Greenlaw - 53:28
21. Luk Olenginski - 53:43
22. Jim Heilman - 54:02
24. Alex Dolwick - 54:16
27. Alex Doran - 54:47
28. Sean Barrett - 54:51
29. Dylan Hernandez - 54:55
32. Lucas Meyer - 55:09
34. Trever Reed - 55:28
35. Sean O'Leary - 55:35
36. Joe Zamadics - 55:58
51. Matt Hassett - 57:04

Women's Results
6. Natalie Patterson - 62:27
7. Stephanie Berger - 62:36
16. M.E. Rauch - 66:13
28. Alexa Squirini - 68:50
29. Jackie Kasal - 68:56
30. Chelsea Vane - 69:01
33. Angelina Oputa - 69:48

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Run for the (Mill)roses

This Saturday, the GRC track crew took to the Big Apple to once again put up an incredible showing in the Distance Medley Relay at the Millrose Games. The strength and depth of our mid distance crew was clearly evident with two full teams ready to roll for both the men and women.

Before the gun could even go off, our fearless teams were facing new challenges. Gina McNamara - the anchor for the Women's A team - tweaked her knee early in the week, and it was ruled a game time call whether or not she would ultimately race. While not exactly adversity, Zartosht Ahlers stepped up on the men's B team to run a 400 meter sprint to ensure a full crew could hit the starting line. Zartosht, along with Meghan Grimes are both former NIRCA Club runners from Princeton and the other Georgetown Running Club (the one affiliated with the university) respectively. For them to go from club teams in 2019 to the prestige of a meet like Millrose says much about their talent and ability to compete.

The GRC men were second in a club record 9:57.67, and the women were third in 11:44.3. The fields in both races were extremely competitive this year, and several teams in each race were faster on paper, but we rose to the challenge and proved once again that competing as a team brings out our best.

Elias got the men started with an excellent 3:00.93, which is the fastest 1200 in team history.  Elias bided his time and closed very hard in the last 200.  Scott ran a strong 51.74, followed by Jordan who ran a patient 1:55.19, and he also made a strong move on the last lap. Daniel T ran an excellent tactical race on the anchor, bringing it home in 4:09.83. After getting  the baton in third and sitting on the second place team for 1200, Daniel closed in 61 to secure second place, and to get us comfortably under the 10 minute barrier.  There is much more to come from this crew. 

Jackie got the women started with a very strong 3:37.44, which is the fastest lead off leg in GRC history.  Sarah C got the baton in seventh place, and her excellent 57.93, which is the fastest 400 leg in GRC history, moved us into fifth place.  Jesse ran a strong 2:15.15, which maintained our position.  Gina ran an outstanding 4:53.8 to bring us home in third place. Despite the uncertainty, Gina delivered a big time performance for her team, and her excellent run put us back on the podium.  After assessing the field, it was clear it would take an excellent collective performance for us to get into the top three, and the women delivered.

We also had strong performances from our B teams. The women finished ninth in 12:12.82. Liz T led off with a strong 3:43.97. Maggie continued her comeback tour with a 61.74.  Meghan ran an excellent 2:15.59, which was the fourth fastest split in the field.  Meghan's progress has been remarkable, and she will be a force to be reckoned with outdoors.  Stephanie B ran a strong 5:11.7 anchor, and barely missed catching the team ahead of her.  The men finished eleventh in 10:37.34. Tom got it started with an impressive 3:10.38. Tom got out hard, coming through 600 in 1:32.4, and he hung tough to the finish.  Zartosht ran 57.97, and while no one will confuse him with Fred Kerley, he gave it everything he had, and then some.  Jim B ran a strong 1:57.84, which is his best performance in a GRC singlet, and Adam anchored in a solid 4:31.17.  It was great to see so many of our young athletes have the opportunity to compete on the big stage at Millrose, and several members of this years B teams will make a strong case for inclusion on next years A teams.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Colonial Half Marathon, BU Valentine Invitational recap and results

Road Racing

The duo of Mark Hopely and Natalie Patterson represented the GRC road racing crew this past Saturday, February 15th at the 41st annual Colonial Half Marathon in Williamsburg, VA. The two put up strong performances running 1:10:19 and 1:23:03, respectively, to both finish third. These times are especially impressive considering they were running what Mark dubbed as "America's hilliest half." These two are fit, and given a more forgiving course, are poised to rewrite their own record books this Spring.

Results here.
          Patterson, left, and Hopely, right, bring home hardware for their efforts at the Colonial Half

Indoor Track

Several members of the GRC indoor track team doubled back from the Millrose Games last week for a showing at the BU David Henry Valentine Invitational this past weekend.

On the women's side, Maggie Shelton led off the action running a strong 2:59.46 in the 1,000m, which puts her at #2 on the GRC all-time list for that event. Gina McNamara was next up for GRC, posting a 4:53.53 in the full mile. This is a new club record for the track mile, besting the previous top GRC mark by 0.36 seconds. Gina had been battling knee issues since her DMR leg at Millrose but was able to rally in time for her performance.

Elias Graca and Scott Gulizio started off for the men's team in the 800 the following day. Elias ran a speedy 1:52.91, breaking the second GRC track record of the weekend by 0.30 seconds. Scott was not far behind in a quick and even split 1:53.28, which now places him third on the GRC all-time list.

Tom Kelly was next up for the men in the full mile, running a strong 4:26.73. This is a season best for Tom and is surely a good omen for his progression to continue as track season heads outdoors. Adam Hearn was the club's representative in the 5,000m, running 15:29.76. Adam came through the 2k comfortably poised for his goal of a 14:50 finish when he decided that indoor 5,000m races weren't difficult enough already and finished the last 3k with only one shoe. Jokes aside, Adam still ran formidably after losing his shoe to another runner's spike, and will return to the track for outdoors with his shoes tied tighter than ever.

                       Hearn, right, catches up with a friend from the B.A.A after his 5,000m race

Results here.

Women's 1000m
Maggie Shelton - 2:59.46 (GRC #2 all-time)

Women's 1 Mile Run
Gina McNamara - 4:53.53 (club record)

Men's 800m Run
Elias Graca - 1:52.91 (club record)
Scott Gulizio 1:53.28 (GRC #3 all-time)

Men's 1 Mile Run
Tom Kelly - 4:26.73

Men's 5,000m Run
Adam Hearn - 15:29.76