By Tim O’Keefe
SUMMER DECATHLON SERIES AWARDS 2022
Welcome to the 31st Summer Decathlon Awards ceremony. The decathlon began in 1990 …probably before many of you were even born! At that time FCC had a track that was open all the time and the club already short races there in the summer months. During my term as club president I organized the races into a series of 10 runs between 100 meters and 2 miles and it became an annual event with a lot of modifications and updates through the years. It was a good omen this year that our request to use the Frederick High School track for all 10 races was approved …something that hadn’t been done for almost 7 years. Then the first race came and the weather was reasonably hot with no rain forecast…another good sign! Then reality hit and we got into this pattern of late afternoon storms every Wednesday. We got all the races in before the rains during June except for one that caused a cancellation. 90% chance of bad storms ALL the stations said…it was dry at race time but we were all at home. In an unprecedented move we had 2 races in one night the following Wednesday…the 1500 meters and 400 meters. 24 brave souls did the double and it wasn’t as terrible as it sounds! July put an end to the storms but brought in stifling heat and humidity in its place. Welcome to summer running!
Since it is self managed, everyone gets experience at timing and matching runners with their places. We’ve even got a spot for someone to ring the finish lap bell… sometimes for all runners and sometimes with more than a lap to go…but it’s fun. The fun ratcheted up a notch when KRISTEN WATKINS of Charm City Running brought fun gift bags for the night’s relay winners as well as ice cream for everyone. Mental note… don’t try and form relay teams while Kristen is passing out ice cold goodies..it limits the field. That ice cream social night was also the 800 meter Grand Prix event and drew 40 runners…our biggest turnout of the season. On average the races drew about 24 runners with a low of 17 …July vacations?…and the high of 40 for the 800. Overall there were 19 different women and 38 different men competing. Our oldest runner was KEZHONG LIU at age 8o and 78 year old JEANETTE NOVAK for the women. on the younger end was 9 year old ALICE HEASMAN and her brother WILLIAM HEASMAN at age 11.
Not only do the runners help with managing each race, some have stepped up to be host and hostesses providing freeze pops for the kids race and for exhausted adults and fun prizes for the relays. Many thanks go out to KATHY CEA, PETE WERGIN, ART GREGORY, RUTH TAYLOR, CRYSTAL TRESSLER, PAUL CHRISTIANSEN, and HEIDI NOVAK. A special thanks to PAUL HEASMAN who Claire dragged to the 2 mile race as we tried to beat a storm by running one big heat with me as the timer. Paul’s job was to get finisher cards to each runner as they crossed the line. I believe Paul’s description was “Herding cats” as exhausted runners scattered everywhere. He did a great job and everyone got a time and place…though Paul never came back again. Many thanks to JOHN WAY who hauled all the equipment and reported results while I lazed away on a North Carolina beach. A big thank you to CLAIRE HEASMAN and KATHY CEA for always posting results quickly and accurately. Special thanks to JUSTINE SPRINGER for arranging the Ice Cream Social as well as organizing today’s fun event. And none of this could happen without club president HEIDI NOVAK allowing this series to be held free of charge for all club members.
Now for the important part…who are our series winners. To earn a prize, runners have to compete in 5 or more events and score enough points to earn a top 10 spot. Points are awarded based on age grading each person’s time and reordering them based on the age graded time. You’ve also seen in race results an age grade percentage. To give you an idea of what those percents might mean…a rating in the 60% range is good…you’re probably up in the top 10 in your age group in local races. 70% range is a competitive runner who wins or scores high in local races. You need 70% or higher to be on the Steeplechasers Racing Team. If you are at 80% you are in the WOW area…you are winning races or placing high in your age group state races. There are not a lot of local runners in this range but we do have a special few. If you are close to 90% then you are a regional or national class runner and awesome to watch. Keep these in mind as I go through our runners accomplishments.
Starting us off in 10th place for the men is me! While I have no amazing race times to share, I have two good stories. One great thing about running is that you can have good competition even though you may be nowhere near the front of the pack. So it was with Kathy Cea, Paul Christiansen and me. In every race we would each be trying our best and would all end up near one another the finish. Each of us had our moment where we bested the other two. Or so I thought. While my mind said we split the wins, in reality, I only won one of those races. Story number two was in the final race, the 1 mile run. I went out at a fast pace chasing Kathy as usual when I heard someone coming up on my shoulder. As we entered the backstretch, 9 year old Alice Heasman pulls up beside me and excitedly says “My shoes make me feel so fast today!” As I got over the shock of my fast pace being her pace I told her that I need to have those shoes. That pretty much summed up my summer racing.
Coming in 9th for the men was PAULCHRISTIANSEN. Paul was one of the few runners who managed to compete in all 10 of the decathlon races and this was a banner year for him running far faster than previous years. Even more impressive is that Paul rides his bike from Cloverhill to and from each race. Paul is a great example of how you should improve through the series. His opening mile in June was a 7:38 while his final mile was 7:22. Even more impressive was his 2 mile in June at 16:36 compared to July at 15:16, a drop of over a minute. Paul has been the director of the infamous Gutbuster relay in July which has runners completing 10 400’s. In addition he is the organizer of our aid station for the JFK 50 miler.
In 9th place for the women is ALICE HEASMAN. At 9 years old, she was our youngest runner but by far our most inspirational runner. Never without a smile she constantly cheered on other runners as well as excitedly chatted up each runner. She became Art Gregory’s running buddy and the two pushed each other through every race. Her best race was the 800 where she ran 4:43 and her longest race was the mile in 12:28. Way to go Alice!
One of our new members made the journey up from Montgomery County and claimed the 8th spot for men. KAM YEE ran 7/10 races and was part of of the fabulous 50 year olds that lit up the track. He consistently ran in the 70% range and had a hard charging style. He dropped 10 seconds off his mile time with a 6:04 where he was 5th overall. By far was his most exciting race was the 200 where his blistering 29.8 tied him for 1st in the age grading. That time is an AG 25.4 which is pretty amazing. Hopefully Kam will be up for more of our races.
JEANETTE NOVAK was the 8th place winner for the women. At 78 years old she continues push herself in every race. Not only does she enjoy her running she has become the decathlon wrap up queen. After every race she makes sure all the equipment gets put away and that the area is cleaner than when we arrived. She is an inspiration on the track running and AG mile in 7:21 and an AG half mile in 3:19. Even after running the 1500 meters shortly before, she managed an AG 1:42 for the quarter mile. Congratulations Jeanette!
Taking the 7th spot for the men was 42 year old SCOTT WALLACE. Scott managed to secure his position with only 5 races but those races were spectacular. He was part of the final heat in all the races that featured jaw dropping runs by Dan Jacobs, Jesse Magolon, and Jesse Henderson. All his races were in the 80% range with one, the 1000 meters at 88%…that’s in the elite zone. In age grading he was 1st in 4 of his 5 races as the overall winner in the mile with a 5:06. His 2:07 half mile AG out to a 1:57. As a master runner, Scott crushes his age group and makes watching him run a lot of fun.
BETH FULCHER is our 7th place winner on the women’s side. At age 30 Beth rarely receives any AG help yet consistently placed high in the standings, Beth was part of competitive ladies group that always pushed one another in every race and would switch off who won each time. Rather than rely on an end kick, Beth pressed hard through the entire race. Her 6:40 opening mile was bested by her 6:32 final mile. She was 1st female overall in the 1000 with a 3:40 and in the 200 with a swift 33.6. Congratulations Beth!
6th place for the men was 28 year old JESSE MAGOLON. Jessewas too young to get anyAG help but was so fast he consistently scored in the top 3. His races were all run in the upper70% to low 80% range which is why you see him as an overall winner in many road races. He ran 56.9 for the 400 meters which gave him both the open and AG win. He won the 800 meters with an amazing time of 2:05. His 4:23 for the 1500 meters put him 30 seconds ahead of 3rd place. A great summer of racing for Jesse!
One of the two blazing Taylor’s was the ladies 6th place winner. TAYLOR LUDMAN was part of the 30 something flying females. With no AG help she consistently scored in the top three in each of her 6 races. She pressed the pack the entire race and had a wicked kick to finish each one. She was 3rd lady overall in the two mile with a 13:27 and ran a 6:31 mile. She showed her true speed in 200 meters with a 34 second effort that put her only 4/10’s of a second out of 1st place. Congratulations Taylor!
Travelling all the way from Lovettsville, VA was 5th place SCOTT HARMON. New to the club, 54 year old Scott managed 5th place with only 7 races, so you know those races must have been pretty amazing. Scott placed in the top three AG in every race while consistently running near 80%. His 5:53 mile AG to a 4:59 while his 2 mile at 12:21 showed he didn’t lose much time while doubling the distance. One of his best races was a 2:30 half mile which AG out to a 2:05, his best run of the summer. Way to go Scott!
GRETCHEN WHITESELL was the 5th place winner in the women’s group. Gretchen was always in the top three despite no AG help. Gretchen’s races are very deceptive. She has such a relaxed and easy going running style that she doesn’t look fast…it looks like everyone else is going slower. She was the top female in the 3000 meters with a 13:14 effort. Her 3:41 for the 1000 meter was 2nd overall and she had blazing fast 6:33 for the mile. Great summer Gretchen!
A familiar face at the top of any race as well as our 4th place male is 56 year old PETE WERGIN. Last year’s decathlon champion Pete pulled out 4th running only 8 races. Not only that but two of his races were as a coach in helping Kathy Cea reach her running goals. Every race was in the 80% range and it comes as no surprise that he was chasing the lead pack despite 20+ years older. He ran the mile in 5:21 which AG out to 4:37…an 83% effort. His 800 meter was in 2:27 an AG 2:02 and his AG 4:04 for 1500 meters was tops and an 84% effort. Beside being a phenomenal runner…he is nice enough to call splits and give advice to those of us near Kathy which sure helped me a lot!
JOHANNA HOMON picked up the 4th place on the ladies side. With only 6 races the 24 year old (I’m pretty sure I have shoes older than that…) placed 4th with incredible skill and determination. She is a fearless runner willing to go out hard from the start and press through the rest of the race. It’s not unusual to see her 50 meters ahead of the chase pack. She is both exciting and inspirational to watch and despite giving her all in each race, you can count on a big smile within seconds of the finish. She ran the mile in 5:48, nearly 30 seconds faster than her June effort and one of only 2 females to go under 6 minutes. Her 5:40 for the 1500 was 17 seconds ahead of 3rd place. Her true speed was evident as she flew through the 400 in 69 seconds…4seconds ahead of 2nd place. Congratulations Johanna!
In 3rd place for the men…Mr. Consistency…57 year old JOHN WAY. John not only ran all 10 races but everyone was a max effort and in the mid 70% range. Add to that John’s involvement in several summer series races that at times had him racing 3-4 times a week. John also has longevity as this was his streak of continuous decathlon races stands at 129!It’s hard to do 10 decathlon races a summer but 13 years of it is mind boggling!. John took is 6:03 mile in June and dropped it to 5:56 in August…an AG 4:54 and 75% effort .His 2:46 half mile AG out to 2:16. And most ironic of all…John considers himself a slow sprinter and rarely is happy with his 400 meters. Yet this year he ran 77 seconds which AG to 64 seconds and was an AG 5th overall. As always…great running John!
Speaking of consistency, our 3rd place winner RUTH TAYLOR has been at the top of the decathlon, the grand prix, and just about any race in the state. At age 54 she seems to defy the odds and gets faster, not slower with age. She ran 9 of the 10 races and blasted through each one in mid 70% range. She was top 3 AG in all of her races which is no surprise given the drive she employs in every race. There is no such thing as going out easy with Ruth. Though she considers herself a road racer and is not a track fan, she can still light up the track with a 38 second 200 and 85 second 400. They AG out to a 31 second and 67 second effort respectively. Her 6:46 mile AG to 5:22 good enough for a 77% effort. She was also one of those relay runners you loved to be on the team with because every leg was an all out effort.
Our runner up in the series for the women was CLAIRE HEASMAN. Despite taking holiday to attend the World Championships Claire made the most of her 7 races winning every one of them. Claire always ran the fastest heat giving the boys 15 years younger a run for their money. Claire’s races were always in the mid 80% range including her 1500 meter run at 5:02 an AG 4:20 for an 89% effort. That is regional and national level running! Her 5:41 mile AG to 4:56 which is pretty amazing for any age. Her 11:56 (AG 10:35) was 3rd overall…men and women. And her 800 meter 2:31 (AG 2:17) was 7 seconds ahead of 2nd place. Wow…Claire Heasman!
Our Men’s champion is shared by two phenomenal runners…DAN JACOBS and JOE BASFORD.
DAN claimed his share of the crown with an incredible effort in the final race, the mile run. His 4:43 was the only one under 5 minutes and was a jaw dropping 23 seconds ahead of 2nd place. Jaw dropping is an apt description for all the races Dan was in this summer. Dan is all out in every race regardless of the distance and his incredible pace is consistent through the entire race. For the rest of us mortals doing the timing, it was a joy to see someone run that fast. While he won almost every race he ran, he does have an achilles heel in the shorter events with narrow losses in the 400 and 600 meters. His 27 second 200 meter laid rest to the idea he lacks speed! He had a 1 second victory over Scott Wallace in a hard fought 1600 meters where he hit 4:38. More impressive was 4:08 for 1500 meters which was 15 seconds ahead of 2nd place and the 3000 meters in 9:15 which was an incredible 31 second victory. He was on his cool down lap by the time the next runner came in. At 30 years old, Dan has a lot amazing races still ahead. Congratulations Dan!
While 13 years older than Dan, JOE BASFORD claimed his share of the championship with consistent hard running. Joe’s goal at the beginning of the series was to run all ten races and he was one of three runners to accomplish that goal. Every race was in the mid 70% range and always run out of the fastest heat. Joe is a blast from the past having been at the top of the pack back in his 30’s and running races that left the rest only imagining being that fast. His opening mile was at 5:38 while his final mile was 5:23…a 15 second drop with an AG time of 4:59 . He ran 11:36 for 2 miles which AG out to 10:50 and is not far off his mile time. His young legs can still churn as he sped to a 27.9 for 200 meters…the AG of 25.4 was the fastest and missed the overall win by 6/10 of a second. His 2:26 for the 800 was one of his best efforts and AG out to 2:15. Way to go Joe!
The winner on the ladies end is repeat champion KATHY CEA. At 62 years old she shows no sign of slowing down…in fact she seems to continue to improve. A track novice last year she took that experience to set new goals and improve now that she knew what the races were like. Always with a positive attitude every one of her 9 race were a top effort. She was the AG winner in 4 of her 9 races and top 3 in the rest. A personal favorite of mine because I knew if Kathy was in sight, I was having a good race. She had an AG win in the 200 with a 41 second AG 30 second race. Her 1500 meter run of 6:51 AG to 4:53 which is a 79% effort. She had a 20 second improvement in her mile from June to August where her best effort came. She was focused on running a sub 7:15 mile and opened up with a 95 second split. Hmm…way too fast I thought and worried she was going to fade and die away. But that is not Kathy’s style. She regrouped and held on to run a 7:12, an equivalent to an AG 5:08 mile which was an 81% time…truly the sign of great runner. Congratulations Kathy!
Congratulations to all our award winners and to all who participated in this year’s Summer Decathlon. Though we honor the fastest of the bunch, fast is a relative term. If you come out and improve your times through the summer, you’re running fast. Or at the very least you’re out having fun trying! Thank you for listening these inspirational achievements and I hope to see all of you at next year’s 32nd edition of the Summer Decathlon.