PRTC Claims 22nd at USATF Club XC Nationals

Strong Individual & Team Performances

Golden Gate Park; San Francisco, CA

After months of training, planning and anticipation, 6 members of PRTC (Charlie Murphy, Kevin Brandon, Geraint Davies, Paul Matuszak, Nathan Ennist and Justin Simard) competed at USATF’s Club Cross Country National meet. The race marked the end of a productive cross country season for the team.

As in years past, the field included many of the best cross country athletes and clubs in the country. Running legends Alan Webb and Nick Symmonds mixed with other top harriers and Olympic trial qualifiers. The 10k race was held in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park. For PRTC that meant a journey in excess of 2,000 miles. The arrival of all club members on time, healthy and housed was an accomplishment in itself.

In true San Franciscan fashion, the team arrived at the course via ride sharing service Lyft after spending the night at an AirBnB rental property. All club members were pleased to awake to near perfect racing conditions. Due to recent rain, the terrain was wet in parts but largely presentable. The team previewed a few miles of the course for warm up while admiring the fresh scent of eucalyptus prevalent throughout the park.

The race began at 12:30 sharp. On the start line, Charlie remarked that PRTC’s positioning was not ideal. A large mud puddle presented itself directly in front of the team’s assigned box. Nevertheless, the team reviewed the race plan one last time before the gun. As predicted, the start brought trouble. The muck claimed the balance of a runner positioned in the adjacent box to the club. Fortunately, all PRTC runners stayed on their feet, dodging, leaping or otherwise avoiding the downed athlete.

Geraint paced the majority of the club through the first mile perfectly. Collecting into a pack proved difficult in the field of over 400 runners. Around the polo field, various members of the team sought each out in the crowd. Pack in place, the team stuck together for the first 5k.

At the halfway mark, Kevin and Charlie began to move up in the field. Working together, the pair passed numerous runners over the remainder of the race. Geraint closely tailed the duo. Paul and Nate followed, fighting to keep their position in the field as low as possible. Justin rounded out the team in good time.

Approaching the finish, Charlie edged Kevin to place first for PRTC. He also earned a spot among the top 100 finishers. Kevin finished one second later placing 103rd overall. Geraint cruised in soon after at 119th. Paul arrived at the line in 163rd. Nate came in ten spots later at 173rd. Justin soldiered through significant foot pain to place 282nd.

The race and weekend were enjoyed by all. The club is already planning to attend next year’s national meet in Tallahassee, Florida. Given the gains PRTC has made in the last year the club expects to send competitive male and female teams. Returning to Philadelphia, the team will enjoy a well-deserved rest before gearing up for various track and marathon goals.

Team – 22nd of 59
Competitors – 411
Charlie Murphy: 31:40 (99)
Kevin Brandon: 31:41 (103)
Geraint Davies: 31:59 (119)
Paul Matuszak: 32:32 (163)
Nathan Ennist: 32:39 (173)
Justin Simard: 34:15 (282)

Stray Observations

  • The after-party at The Factory was well attended, if understaffed.
  • Charlie led PRTC in both the race and post-race power hour.
  • Geraint and Paul managed to find a bar owned by a Buffalo Bill’s supporter in SF. Waking up for the 10am kickoff; the pair was pleased to receive free drinks for customer appreciation day. Geraint in particular may have taken solace in this as his hometown Bill’s fell to the Eagles.
  • Justin and his sister led an excursion to Japantown. Interesting sights and quality food were enjoyed there.
  • Aliah Molczan generously shared her culinary and photography skills with the team over the weekend.
  • Nate, Kevin and Aliah took full advantage of the race’s location. The trio made their way over the Golden Gate Bridge (Kevin overcoming a slight fear of heights), to famously crooked Lombard Street and then took in a choral performance by the renowned Chanticleer outfit.

Special thanks: To Ross and Philadelphia Runner for long sleeve club t-shirts and entrance fee assistance. Also, to USATF for travel grant money. All help was greatly appreciated!

Binder Crushes End-of-Year “Long Run” Half Marathon

In what has become a tradition over the past several years, the PRTC squad transforms one of their December year-end long runs into a half marathon race. However, this is not your typical race with entry fees, shirts and adrenaline pumping music along the course. While there are not any handwritten rules, there is a gentleman’s agreement to stick together for most of the race even waiting for competitors if a 20 second bio-break is required. This essentially makes the first 10 miles largely ceremonial (i.e., near 7 minute mile pace) similar to the opening miles of the Champs-Elysees ride to the final loops of the Tour de France. But once the runners start approaching the final wooded section prior to West River Drive, the pace significantly picks up.

This year, Geraint (Davies), Joe (Binder), Kevin (Brandon), Nate (Ennist) and Paul (Matuszak) took part in the run. The big move made in this year’s race took place at the tip of the triangle turn on the Belmont Plateau course. Joe began the surge with Kevin and Paul following until the intersection of Montgomery Drive and West River. However, Joe was able to dial it up to another notch and ripped the closing 2.5 miles in a blistering pace to finish in 1:21:17. Kevin and Paul finished a distance second and third in an identical time of 1:22:41 — with Paul citing “a moderate to heavy (prior) night of drinking” and “strange sounds coming from the digestive system” as the main culprit dragging him down over the final stretch. Geraint and Nate, who both logged a number of miles prior to the group run, did not finish the race as both had to peel off early to avoid running too many miles a week away from Club XC Nationals.

2015 Philly Marathon Weekend

Margaret Vido Qualifies for Olympic Trials

This update is long overdue, but fortunately the delay comes with outstanding news. Shortly after the Philadelphia Marathon, USATF adjusted the women’s Olympic marathon trials “B Standard” from 2:43:00 to 2:45:00 to align with IAAF qualifying standards. As a result, Margaret Vido is now an entrant in this year’s Olympic trials marathon race held in Los Angeles, California on February 13. The qualifying mark is a result of her *2nd place* finish in *2:44:40*. Margaret becomes the first PRTC runner to qualify for the Olympic trials since a handful of members qualified back in 2008. This is an incredible result for both Margaret and the club. PRTC wishes Margaret the best of luck as she races against the best distance runners across the country in LA this February.

In addition to Margaret, the majority of the club competed in one of the three races held over the weekend. PRTC was led by Duriel Hardy and Kevin Brandon in the half marathon and 8K races, respectively. Both races were (and historically have always been) absolutely loaded in terms of talent. Duriel finished 12th in 66:48 – an unbelievable result for his debut. Even more, he negative split the race. Kevin followed up his strong East Regional XC result by finishing the Rothman 8K in 20th place. By doing so, he cracked the 25 minute barrier for the first time in 24:49.

Other results include:

Women Marathon: Liz Phillips (2:51:34; 12th Overall) and Jessica Fragola (2:53:18; 18th Overall) both ran great races in their PRTC debuts. Zandra Walton finished in 3:04:54 to grab 47th Overall (13th age group) while Jamie Morgenstern ran very strong for 20 miles before an injury slowed her pace. Jamie finished the marathon in 3:10:24.

Men Marathon: Huge PRs were set in the challenging conditions by Colin McGrath (2:34:20; 26th overall), Lucas Bryant (2:36:12 33rd overall; 7th age group)and Breandan Lyman – 2:38:44 (41st Overall; 18th age group). Lucas’ drastic negative split was impressive considering the strong cross winds on Kelly Drive. Jason Vail ran a solid race as well in 3:01:21 which was good for 29th in his age group.

Half Marathon: Catherine Campbell ran about on point with her goal in 82:30 which was good for 25th Overall (9th Age Group). Sam Ryan finished his debut half marathon in 76:14. Sam, who has yet to turn 20 years old, captured 1st in his age group.

Pacing: With the Olympic trials a few months away, several PRTC runners were asked to rabbit the pace required for an Olympic trials B standard qualifying mark. At the time of the race, the B standards were 2:18:00 for men and 2:43:00 for women.

Men’s OTQ B Standard Pace Group: Paul Matuszak led the charge for the men and ultimately had the 2:18 group sync up with the race leaders. Paul came through the half marathon with the front pack slightly ahead of pace in 68:43 (the pack of 7 was between 68:43 and 68:49). After hitting the 16 mile mark on pace, Paul dropped back a bit and continued to support those in the top 7 that started to drop back until the 20 mile marker. An intended DNF, but a well-earned DNF.

Women’s OTQ B Standard Pace Group: Mike Vido (Margaret’s husband) and Ian Ridgeway served as the rabbits with both completing the race. Since Mike and Ian have both run significantly faster than 2:43 in the past, their task did not have the same luxury as Paul in stopping before the finish. Therefore, Mike ran every step with Margaret and completed the job in 2:44:35. Ian, who hours later became a father, ran most of the way blocking the wind for the group before finishing in 2:45:21.

Men Take 2nd at USATF XC East Regional Championships

Punch ticket into the “A” race for December’s club team national race

After years of hiatus, the East Regional Cross Country meet was brought back to life. The meet was held at Belmont Plateau and hosted by the adidas Garden State Track Club and participants included, The Garden State Track Club, Georgetown Running Club, Central Park Track Club, along with other members of various East coast clubs. With Geraint and Nate racing in Lexington, Kentucky with the Penn Running Club for the NIRCA (intercollegiate club team) Championships and several other members of PRTC resting up for the Philadelphia marathon weekend races the following week, the club was operating with a slim pool of runners to compete. Fortunately Justin, who was down from Buffalo for the weekend, and newcomer Joe Binder, member of USA’s 100K World Championship Team, were able to tag along with Charlie, Doug, Kevin and Paul to form a six-man team.

The race started off at a pedestrian pace up front with the first mile covered in 5:30. With nobody wanting to take the lead over the challenging course, the race continued at a relatively slow pace that created a bunched lead pack. The second time through the woods, the race sped up, with Kevin and Paul in the lead group of five and Charlie following. Paul began to separate from the field with the top runner from Georgetown and Garden State after reaching the top of Nursery Hill. Although several runners were really moving over the last mile, Phil Royer from Georgetown was able to secure the win easily in 26:26 after a dominating move at the top of Flagpole on the last lap. Unable to match the final kick, Paul finished a clear second in 26:33 and Youssef Rochdi of Garden State finished third in 26:46 after falling off on the final hill. Georgetown dominated the front of the race (1-4-6-7-8), but Kevin was able to split their pack up by finishing in fifth with a time of 26:53.

Although Georgetown would end up with the win with 26 points, the rest of the PRTC team finished strong, securing a second place finish with 53 points edging out both Garden State (68 points) and Central Park (82 points). Despite coming into the race a little worn out, Charlie was still able to finish inside the top 10 overall (9th – 27:16) after mixing it up in the front for the majority of the race. Justin had his best cross country performance to date and moved up the entire race to finish in 15th place with a time of 28:07. After several months without a race, Doug (28:32) closed out the scoring and shook off some rust to finish in 23rd place. Joe (28:39) finished a few seconds back from Doug in 26th place.

The race was for more than pride: USATF divided the men’s open field for the December 12th Club Cross Country National race in San Francisco into an “A” and “B” race. The team’s 43rd place finish in the 2014 national race at Lehigh would not be enough to get them into the “A” race in 2015. With a 2nd place finish in the East championships, PRTC solidified their bid for the upcoming national race and punched their ticket into the “A” race. Further, since PRTC finished as the top Mid-Atlantic Association team, the club was awarded a stipend from USATF–a stipend reserved for the top cross country team in each association–to support the trip out West.

Meanwhile in Kentucky, Geraint and Nate carried the Penn Running Club to one of the school’s best performances in recent history. Their 6th and 8th place finishes, respectively, provided some low sticks to help Penn finish 4th in the country.

Highlights of the day:

Doug left his phone on the hood of Paul’s Honda Fit. The phone magically remained on the hood for the duration of the ride back to South Philadelphia despite traveling on 76, 676 and 95. This was a fortunate result given that Doug just bought the cell phone the day before the race.

The team forgot Joe was pushing along his one year old daughter in a stroller for the cool down, so the first half mile was spent slugging through a rocky path and steep uphill. The remainder of the cool down was spent on the much more stroller friendly path of West River Drive.

Joe brought some very tasty homemade bread that went perfectly with the non-homemade beer brought by the rest of the club.

Kevin and Breandan stepped up big time and drank ciders

PRTC Takes 2nd at Mayor’s Cup

Congrats to all who participated in the Mayor’s Cup! PRTC placed 2nd overall with 14 competitors. We scored 280 points to Team Breakaway’s 295. We were one short of a runner in each race. Next year we’ll field a full squad and look to take the title!

5k Men – Charlie (1st) Doug (2nd)
5 Mile Men – Kevin (1st) Tim (2nd)
10k Men – Geraint (1st*) Nate (2nd*)
10 Mile Men – Paul (1st*) Justin (2nd*)
Half Marathon Men – Breandan (2nd) Iain (5th)

5k Women – Sharon (4th)
5 Mile Women – Brittany (9th)
10 Mile Women – Jamie (3rd)
Half Marathon Women – Lauren (7th)

* The men’s 10k was actually a tie. Geraint and Nate crossed the line with the same exact time. Paul and Justin similarly dominated the 10 mile.

Matuszak Wins Sea Isle 10 Miler!

Congratulations to Paul for winning the Sea Isle 10 Miler over a competitive field in 56:20. That’s Sub-5:40 pace on a beach!

We also had some impressive runs from Breandan (11th overall, 3rd in age group) and Jason (32nd overall, 2nd in age group). Nice work men!