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Scott Mason Earns USATF Honor


Scott Mason, the genius behind Scott Mason Photo, was recognized by the USATF-NE for the amazing work he does behind the camera. Scott received the Marja Bakker Volunteer Award because of all the photography he’s done at races throughout the region.


Scott Mason with female athlete of the year nominee Sarah Prescott. Photo courtesy of Sarah.

Scott’s work has been everywhere, from the big time of Level Renner (magazine and the website) to other publications such as Runner’s World, Running Times, New England Runner and more.

The latest issue of Running Times featured a piece on the Mountain Goats of New England, and one epic shot of his made the piece pop. There for all to see on Upper Walking Boss is EJN. Only you can’t see EJN’s face. If you can recognize people from their posteriors then you’ll know it’s him. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I’m guessing that’s his Mona Lisa. It’s just another example of how widespread Scott’s work is.

Even the logo that represented the Level 10k was a Scott Mason masterpiece.

lrrr 10k logo
Congrats to Scott! It’s a well deserved honor, and we can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for us.

Team USA at Bupa XC

Chris Derrick and Team USA had a strong showing over the weekend in Scotland. Chris won the men’s 8k Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race and Team USA placed second, narrowly losing out to the European squad by two points. Among those competing for Team USA was the 2013 USATF Club Nats individual champ Joe Gray. Joe Geezi (as he’s known in the Twittersphere) placed 8th overall in the very competitive field. Of the technical, tough course, Joe said: ”The race was awesome, that’s a real XC course set up there in Scotland. My shoes will never get rid of the mud we trampled over in the Salisbury Crags!”

Is there room for anymore mud on Joe’s shoes with all the trails he’s covered, especially after those muddy turns at Cranmore over the summer?

Also competing for Team USA were a couple of guys with local ties. Sam Alexander, a BAA Unicorn and assistant coach at defending New England XC champs Central Connecticut State University, and Ryan Bak, a Trinity College alumni. Sam and Ryan placed 27th and 17th, respectively out of the 29 person field. As you can see, it was a very small but fiercely competitive race.

Sam Alexander out on the course in Scotland.

Sam Alexander out on the course in Scotland.

Sam still ran a 26:05 on the difficult terrain even though his “legs felt very tired in the race itself.” It’s obviously not the way one would want to finish off the cross country season, but it makes for a long season when you’re still racing in January. “I’m in good shape but for some reason the race didn’t workout,” continued Sam. “Extremely tough course. Technical and muddy with wind and lots of turns. So happy to make the team and have the honor of competing with such great guys. Looking forward to more opportunities like this one.” Hopefully it’s not the last we’ve seen of Sam sporting the Team USA singlet!

Back to Joe Gray, who gave a little more detail on the race itself:

“Race went pretty well considering this event was not planned so my training didn’t match for an 8k effort. The pace felt pretty aggressive to me early on but i hung in there and passed about 13 guys over the last lap somehow. I think i had a surge of energy when i saw the European XC champion ahead of me. Also Jim Estes and Mic Byrne really gave alot of pre race encouragement so I didn’t want to let my team down so I tried to pass anybody I could and hold my position. Overall, when I look at the guys who did beat me I can accept and be happy with 8th place. There were a lot of tough guys behind me and the guys ahead were no doubt talented and accomplished athletes.”

As for the ladies, Kellyn Johnson was 6th in 21:02 in the women’s 6k championship. As a team the US finished third behind the winning  Great Britain and runner up European squads.

For more info on the event check out this write up on the USATF site, and click on the pic below for a link to more great pics from the races.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.55.01 AM

Level Dossier: Joe Navas

In honor of our very own Joe Navas being nominated for the 2013 USATF-NE Athlete of the Year award, here’s a dossier that we ran on him way back when:

Male Athlete of the year navas duncan ritchie

L-R: Sean Duncan, Tim Ritchie (AoY award recipient) and Joe Navas. Courtesy of Ephraim Ezekiel.

Name: Joe Navas

Nickname: Toad (Whirlaway nickname. Paul Hammond told me I was all guts and no legs.)

Residence: Eastham, MA

Occupation: Photography business (Organic Photography), art, writing, waiting tables, the occasional prize money.

High School: Nauset Regional High School;1988

College: Cape Cod C.C.; ongoing writing-journalism major

Club: Whirlaway

Miles per Week: 75-85 (some 60’s, some 90’s)

Notable PR’s:

  • Mile - 4:33 (New Balance Indoor Games; 2011)
  • ½ Marathon - 70:26 (New Bedford; 2009)
  • Marathon - 2:33:17 (Boston; 2011)
  • 7 mile - 36:51 (Falmouth; 2009)
  • 10K - 32:18 (Lone Gull; 2009)


Falmouth Road Race
Brew Run
New Bedford ½ Marathon
Boston Marathon

10K pace x 3:00 w/1:30 recovery x 6-10
90/75/60, etc. fartlek
any fast, long progression run

Places to Run:
National Seashore, Eastham MA
Province Lands, Provincetown MA
Ocean View Road, Wellfleet MA
Hopkinton to Boston

Workout Songs:
“Millionaire,” Queens of the Stone Age
“Cut Like a Buffalo,” The Dead Weather
“Bodysnatchers,” Radiohead
“Ain’t No Right,” Jane’s Addiction
“Jambi,” Tool
“Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own,” U2
“No One Knows (Live),”  Queens of the Stone Age
“All My Life” Foo Fighters
“Freedom,” Rage Against the Machine
“Readymade,” Red Hot Chili Peppers
“So What,” Ministry
“Something Against You,” Pixies
“Spacelord,” Monster Magnet

Book: “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” David Sedaris

Hobbies: Photography/filmmaking, writing, visual art, music, eating good Mexican food and absurd amounts of ice cream.

Running Intangibles

Training Philosophy: “Every minute you are not training, someone else is training to kick your ass.” and “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare to win,” (I hate Bob Knight; like, I really despise the man, but I gotta give him props for work ethic.)

Prerace Ritual: Watch video of Queens of the Stone Age performing “No One Knows” at the Reading Festival in 2005. I dare you to not jump through the roof of your car after the break when the drums, bass, and guitar come crashing back in. Easily worth 8-10 seconds that opening mile.

Career High/Lowlights: High- Winning the Masters Team title at Boston this year and walking up to the podium next to Chris Spinney and Jason Porter, knowing that I led the Whirlaway Masters Team.  Low- Starting the 2010 Falmouth Road Race with a bad hamstring and having to jog it in from mile 3. Took of my Whirlaway tank because I didn’t want to tarnish the name with my crap showing.

Goals: Short- Break 32 in the 10k; 15:20 in the 5k; go under 36:30 at Falmouth.

Long- Sub 2:30 at any marathon; finish the year in the top 10 Masters in the US; win the USATF-NE Grand Prix Masters title; run fast for the rest of my life.

Proudest Moment: #1- Marrying my wife at the Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theater with my son, my mom, and my family on the stage in front of 120 of the best people in the world.  #2- Winning the 2007 Brew Run. I wanted it; I trained for it. I went all out from the gun. First Cape Codder to do it in a long, long time.

Miscellaneous: 40 years as the son of an incredible mother and a heck of a father (long-passed), 12 years sober, 11 years without cigarettes, 10 years running, 4 years with my girl and son, 3 years with Whirlaway. Just numbers, I know, but some really big ones to me.

I really, really love to run. I love to compete. More than anything, I love the weird, raw humanity of the whole endeavor.

I love people and the more real they are, the more I love them. Nothing makes someone more real than a good, near-death experience; I mean an all-out, soul-searching, gut-busting, meet-your-maker race.  When someone gets to the end of these things and seems truly unchanged, I am simultaneously perplexed and repelled by such behavior. I mean, c’mon, that thing we just did? That was really something pretty crazy, y’know?

I love to win, and I will try every honest thing I can to do it, but by the end, if I did what I could, well, then that’s it. I’m smiling (unless I made some utterly boneheaded strategic mistake, in which case I just try to get the hell away from everyone before I start making excuses, which is just about the most lame, tactless, tasteless thing one can do.) If I didn’t do what I came to do, then it’s back to the drawing board to figure out how to make this thing work right.

Run hard or stay home. There’s really no point in showing up and putting on that bib if you’re not going to give it everything.

My teammates know this next part so much already, that they are likely sick of hearing it, but I really am so incredibly appreciative of what it means to run for Whirlaway. The history and the makeup of this team are what New England club racing is all about. Not to say that there aren’t plenty of other teams that are just as notable (CMS especially, but also BAA, GBTC, HFC, Somerville, the list goes on…) but there’s just nothing quite like being able to call up Craig Fram or Reno Stirrat for advice on how to run the mile or needing 8 miles to catch up to a 51 year old Chris Spinney at the Boston Marathon on the way to a 2:33 (he in 2:40) or having Mike Platt tell you you’re “tough” or the stories of Paul Hammond and the recently added John Noland. The advice of Scott & Chrissie Anderson, the toughness and resolve of Brandon Newbould, Nancy Corsaro, Doug Martyn, Simonetta Piergentili, all incredible. Damn, these people are like no other group. The fact that I get to call them all teammates continually blows my mind. I can’t wait to see what the next few years brings and I only hope I can count my name someday among the notables of New England running.

Editor’s Note: If you don’t have a copy of “No One Knows” to listen to before your next race, just rip out Joe’s dossier and read it.  It will pump you up all the way to a PR.  If this guy doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know who or what will.  You can check out Joe’s blog at www.theherowithathousandlacesrunninglog.blogspot.com


As was stated at the beginning, this article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Level Renner. Get your free subscription today (box in upper right portion of screen).

Eaten By a Bear

Sixteen brave souls gathered in Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, MA on the morning of January 5th for an unofficial race. Whether you want to call it the Maudslay State Park 5km Snowshoe Run or the First Annual Dave Dunham Snowshoe Spectacular, it was a great little race with an old school feel. There weren’t even popsicle sticks! We just wrote down our names on a results poster board. It was awesome.

I was excited to finally try out my shiny new Dion 121′s. The excitement was tempered because not only had I never run in snowshoes, but running of any kind was few and far between for me as of late. For such a small race, it had quite a deep field. There was going to be some intense competition (in damn near perfect conditions).

After a brief warm up that consisted of mainly doing a couple of strides and then waiting to get signal on my Garmin, it was about time to start. We gathered at the line in the snow and were out quickly on command. Since we were off road I figured it would take a little while for the pack to thin out. Wrong! The leaders were quickly putting distance on the rest of the field and I couldn’t believe how quickly they were running away with it.

I also couldn’t believe how I seemed to be kicking snow up into the air and down the back of my neck. It was going to be a long three miles for this guy.

At just about the half way point my torrid ten minute pace was proving to be too much and a little asthma started kicking in. It was at that point that Theresa Ridgway went flying by me like I was standing still wheezing. Wait. I may have been. Theresa incredibly put two minutes of space between us over the last mile and a half.

Just when I thought I was overcoming the breathing difficulties (or the mid-race wheezes), a rogue runner flew by me at about Mach III. What?! At that point I started panicking thinking that I had somehow taken a wrong turn and come out in the lead. But that wouldn’t have even made sense; it was only a three mile race and if people were running that fast then they clearly would have finished long ago. I was beginning to fear that the breathing was worse than I thought because I was either now hallucinating or just couldn’t do simple math. Remember that time I went out for a run and forgot math? Yeah, didn’t want to be telling a story like that. The rogue runner must’ve been real.

Turned out he was very real. It was Tim Mallard, a member of the Gate City Striders who had arrived a bit late. As I was coming into the last straight I ran into basically the entire field coming back out for their cool down. Ah, perfect. They even had time to pose for a lovely group shot before taking off for that cool down.

dunham snowshoe maudslay

Group shot after the snowshoe race, courtesy of Dave Dunham.

I had been out on the course for so long that Mark LaRosa assumed I had been eaten by a bear. You know what? I feel like a part of me was. That’s what happens when you show up on race day without having done your homework: you get eaten by a bear. Even if it’s only figuratively speaking, it still sucks. At the very least I increased my chances of being consumed by an ursus americanus, and really, do you want to mess around with something like that?

EJN "bears" down on the line, while the others are already fully recovered.

EJN “bears” down on the line, while the others are already fully recovered.

Predators go for the weak and sick animals that can’t keep up with the herd. There’s not much room for pride or bragging rights when your primary motivation is to eat, so why bother going for the lead pack? By straggling so far back and wheezing I was probably looking quite appetizing. Maybe training so I don’t become dinner should be my new motivation.

As for the competition up front in this race, Scott McGrath (Whirlaway) won the 3 mi race in a blazing 20:19. Mark LaRosa was just behind him in 20:54, and Scott’s teammate Steve Dowsett grabbed the last podium spot in 21:09. Race organizer Dave Dunham came in 7th place, in 24:35. Think about that. Dave’s no slouch and he only came in 7th place in this unofficial race. Pretty incredible.

Melissa Donais was the top woman on the day (26:45, 11th overall). She still couldn’t convince her husband Nate Jenkins to get on the snowshoes though. Nate was seen running around on the street in the area. Maybe next time, Nate. Maybe next time. A couple of minutes in back of Melissa came Theresa in 30:21, followed by yours truly in 32:36. There was possibly a bear stalking me, but I never turned around to look.

It was a great event put together by Dave, even if it just ends up being a different twist on a Sunday morning meet up for a training run. This one involved snowshoes and a couple feet of some damn fine powder. What’s really amazing is that as I’m writing this, only 8 days removed from the event, all of that snow is basically gone and has been for days now. Crazy. Here’s to hoping that there’s enough snow for the bigger snowshoe races coming up this season!

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A Run With Tim Ritchie

By Kevin Gray

Current Editor’s Note: Reposting an interview with Tim Ritchie that first appeared in the May/June 2012 issue issue of Level Renner. Seems appropriate since Tim was just named the 2013 Male Athlete of the Year for the USATF-NE. At least we think he was. Haven’t seen anything official and there’s since been word of a rogue snapchat stating another athlete won. 

Rolling along effortlessly at 6:10 pace (for Tim, not me) along the Charles River, I get to know Tim Ritchie. On an unseasonably warm morning in late March, he reminds me of what consistency, passion, and intelligence can do for a runner. As a native of Worcester and graduate of Boston College, Tim’s first love was baseball, though he was self admittedly “awful.” “My favorite part was running the bases and the warm-ups, which I should have taken as an early hint,” he recalls. Following in the footsteps of his two older brothers who ran cross country, Tim started to develop a passion for the camaraderie, training, and racing that come with our sport, quickly finding himself hooked. Although talented and a hard worker, Tim ran modest times in high school (4:35 for the mile and a top 5 finish at the Massachusetts State Meet) that were not fast enough to earn a scholarship. “BC doesn’t have scholarships, and if they did, I probably would not have made the team.”

Tim’s road to success has been one of long, steady improvements as his big picture approach to training is starting to pay dividends. We started to see Tim cash in on this training in the winter and spring of 2011 as he catapulted himself onto the national scene while earning a reputation as a grinder, a true blue collar runner. Exactly what The Level likes.

I would often see his solid results (top 10 at BAA ½ Marathon twice) when perusing the internet, but after clicking onto Flotrack this past January to check out the mile at BU’s Terrier Classic, I did a bit of a double-take after seeing him run 3:58:49. Less than four hundred Americans have ever broken 4:00 for the mile, and to do it on a 200 meter indoor track in January is quite an accomplishment. To then double back in the 3000 an hour later in 8:05 is why I’m writing this article.

As we head into Watertown along the Charles River, Tim lets me know that the Terrier mile was meant to be more of a “hard workout,” not really an attempt at sub 4:00, and he was more stoked that his athletes (Tim in an assistant coach at BC) had run well earlier in the day. This served as a positive distraction, busying himself worrying about others, and before he knew it, it was time for his race. The one downside to this historic day was that his parents were not in attendance at the meet, but through the beauty of the internet, they were able to watch.

Currently coached by former Arkansas standout Matt Kerr, who Tim credits with taking him to the next level, both men subscribe to the “strength equals speed” approach, focusing on lots of tempos/ progression runs and a solid long runs rather than hard track intervals. Arriving halfway through Tim’s time at BC, he speaks very highly of Coach Kerr’s approach: “I believe that he is an innovative, intuitive and caring coach who has given his time and energy to my running over and above anything that I could have expected.” With the Olympic Trials quickly approaching in June, Tim’s goal is to qualify in the 10K rather than the 1500. The intent is to use his January sub 4:00 performance as a springboard into the 25 lapper.

Tim Ritchie Kevin Gray Mag
Back to our run on the Charles: after a few miles, I looked at his wrist and noticed that he was not wearing a GPS, sticking with the old fashioned stopwatch. About my observation, he responds a bit circuitously, “Often times Coach Kerr will find an open field and have us run intervals around the perimeter, running off of effort and not being overly concerned about pace.” The strength over splits approach is working for Ritchie. In addition to his indoor results, a recent 3rd place finish (44:41; 4:48 pace) at the Gate River Run (which serves as the US 15K championship) affirmed his place on the elite runners map. In five short years, Tim has gone from a 4:35 schoolboy miler to an elite who will take a crack at qualifying for the Olympic Trials at the Payton Jordan Invitational this spring.

As our jaunt progresses, we come to what I thought was the end of the loop where I would usually head back to Boston. Here, Tim’s face lights up with delight: “This is the best part of the loop, nice dirt trails and boardwalks.” I have to admit, after close to 10 years of running on the Charles, I thought I knew every section, but I’m giddy with delight as only a runner who finds a new trail can be. As we run along towards Waltham, I’m a bit surprised to hear Tim mention that he takes Sundays completely off to recover, does his longrun on Saturday, and does not run doubles. He will max-out with a weekly total around 70-80 miles in six days with the majority of it done at a quality pace. I start to process this in my head and again appreciate the simplicity of his training. Seventy miles may not be viewed by some as high mileage, but it’s working for Tim. I inquire about any potential sponsorship deals, and Tim is again very happy with the current support he receives from the BAA and does not feel that he has run fast enough yet to receive an offer: “I am very happy with my situation at the BAA, and they have been overly supportive of my running and racing goals. Long term goal would be to find sponsorship, if I found a situation I thought would maximize my running, but I do not think it is all that crucial at the moment. I think it demonstrates that you do not need money to run all that fast, you just need a strong work ethic and an attitude of gratitude.”

As we reach a stone pillar at the far end of some baseball fields, Tim reaches out and touches it and with a smile says “five miles” as we turn around and head back to his apartment in Brighton’s Oak Square. I chuckle to myself, as laid back as Tim appears, he needs to touch that pillar marking five miles, just as I would do, runners being the creatures of habit that they are. We begin to talk of the balance that Tim’s life requires, with full time-training, coaching at BC, working part time at the South End Athletic Company along with daily mass and a social life. Although he will occasionally get out to train with BAA or BC runners, Tim does the majority of his runs solo, sticking to the Charles River, Newton Hills, or BC Reservoir, which have all become his favorite routes. “Training is definitely a priority,” he says, “And the understanding after graduation was to give it my all for two years, and so far, so good.”

The conversation on our run home turns to life outside of running and another pillar of Tim’s life, his strong faith. I question how he has developed such a strong faith, and he tells me that his parents laid a strong foundation, but it was the friendships that he developed at his time at Boston College that have really fostered it. From some background research for this article, I learned that Tim encompasses this passion into all aspects of his life, helping run Campus Retreats for college students in the Boston area (yes, even BU students). He teaches the idea that faith is similar to athletics and running in general, where there may be days when you don’t want to run for any number of reasons, but if you show up and lace up, you will improve. We all have crosses to bear in life, but Tim’s feeling is that through tenacity, consistency, and passion, those crosses can be carried.

The pace drops as we re-enter Watertown. We are lucky to catch the traffic light and manage not to break stride. As we race through the intersection, I’m struck not by a car but by what a humble, gracious guy Tim Ritchie is. He mentions to me on numerous occasions how flattered he is that Level Renner is doing a piece on him. The only time he actually talks about himself (without me directly asking something) is an anecdote from high school while racing against Chris Barnicle (see future Level Renner article). When I press him for the major influences regarding his steady improvement, he speaks of a large group of supportive family, friends, Coach Kerr and Jesus Christ who he feels “has truly given me the gift, the strength, and opportunity to train hard, run fast, and love every moment of it.”

[Retro Editor’s Note: Ritchie ran 28:44 at the Stanford Invitational on April 6 to meet the Olympic Trials “B” qualifying standard. Let’s hope he gets the “A” standard at Payton Jordan. Ritchie recently participated in the BAA Invitational Mile. You can read his race report on www.levelrenner.com.]

Kevin Gray is a regular columnist for Level Renner and a self-proclaimed running geek. Reach him at [email protected].

***As was stated at the beginning, this article originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Level Renner. Get your free subscription today (box in upper right portion of screen).

Sentinel Striders Earn Honor


January 6, 2014

2013 Junior Olympic National Cross Country Champions James Donahue from Reading MA and the Sentinel Striders club team from Smithfield, RI are co-winners of the USATF - New England Athlete of the Month for December 2013.

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National champion Sentinel Striders, with coach Joe Bennet (standing on the far right).

Donahue, representing Friends of Reading Recreation, won the Age 9-10 division 3000 meter race in a time of 10:44 over a field of 329 runners in San Antonio, Texas, on December 14. The Sentinels Striders A team won the Age 11-12 boys title in a 33 team field; their top finisher was Samuel Toolin in second place.

Full Junior Olympic National results

Check out the list of the 2013 USATF-NE Athletes of the Month.


The above release came from the USATF-NE website. Our scope doesn’t normally cover youth events, but an exception had to be made for this announcement since it was close to home, and contained an interesting bit of trivia.

I got my start many years ago running for those same Sentinel Striders back in Smithfield, RI. The coach of the striders, Joe Bennet, was a big influence on not only the way I run, but he might also have a little something to do with the development of the sense of humor that pops up in my various postings. It’s a great club with a long history of fielding competitive teams and hosting races (on a local, regional and national level). I wish I had some pics from those years handy. Since they are buried somewhere at the moment I will have to spare you that trip down memory lane.

James Donahue is the only Massachusetts male runner to win a USATF Junior National Cross Country Championship and the 3rd youth runner in the USATF New England Association to be named an athlete of the month. The other two? Ashley DiClemente and some guy named Andrew Wheating, who were named co-athletes of the month back in December of 2005.

James incredibly only began running with his Uncle Bob back in mid July 2013 at their summer cottage in Windham NH. In September he joined the Reading FORR program under coach Dan Princic. Dan as you may already know is competitive runner for the Whirlaway Racing Team. Under Dan’s guidance, James excelled to an elite 9-10 year old runner and ended up almost every race h he ran in his first year.

Congrats to James and to the Sentinel Striders (and also coaches Joe Bennet and Dan Princic)!

Abbey D Interview

There we were, jammed into the small office area at the back of the store with the live video feed up on the computer screen. It was a late-November Saturday afternoon at the New England Running Company shop in Beverly, MA, and free time was scarce. We hoped that it would stay quiet just long enough to watch Abbey D’Agostino nail down a national cross country title.

Watching Abbey cross the line victorious, live and at work.

Iona’s Kate Avery aggressively got out to a big lead and knowing full well that front-running isn’t the smart play in a championship race, it still made us anxious watching it. Come on, make a move already Abbey! I was still relatively new on the staff there, having only started back in the spring. Prior to joining the crew I had been involved with Level Renner for almost two years, and one thing we love to see is a runner with local ties breaking through on the big stage. It wasn’t exactly breaking through for Abbey since she already had titles on the track, but this was to be her big moment in cross country.

What made this even more interesting was that Abbey grew up on the north shore and shopped at the store, going back to her high school days. So now members of the staff were watching a customer, someone they knew from when she was starting out just like any other runner, capture a national title. How often do you see a former high school runner from your community win a national championship?

With that in mind, we went about setting up the interview. And what better place to do the interview than at the store itself, right? I had to work there anyway and Level Renner currently has no office, so getting to work a bit early and turing the floor into a studio (before the doors opened to customers) seemed like the best bet.

Once we sat down, we learned right off the bat that Abbey D’Agostino suffers from Track Hack, or as she calls it, The Reggie Cough. She is human! The first thing that came up was Abbey’s indoor track season-opening 5k win at the 2013 Jay Carisella Track & Field Invitational on 12/14 at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, MA (namesake of the aforementioned ‘reggie cough’). Abbey ran a 15:40 and secured herself a spot in the 5k field when the indoor national championships come around. “I always have to remember at the beginning of the indoor season how harder it is to breathe in the indoor arena. So yeah, that was a bit humbling for me.” Not bad for a rust-buster though.

Abbey did this flying solo, too. The next closest competitor was almost 90 seconds behind her. Just think what could’ve been; the PC trio of Emily Sisson, Sarah Collins and Laura Nagel had all run the 5k the weekend before and all ran between 15:40 and 15:42. It’s all irrelevant in the big picture since it was an early season meet and they were all undoubtedly running just fast enough to get the standard. However, Abbey running with the PC women is far more exciting than Abbey running solo.

National qualifier for the 5k in hand, it’s now time to focus on the 3k. “What I’ve done in indoor season in the past, too, is just done a little speed work so I’ll be in some fast miles, I hope, and then you know a couple of those before 3k, like mid-February.”

Naturally, the focus shifted to what was a bit further down the road: going pro. Obviously it’s not like asking a football free agent where they want to go. The NCAA is pretty clear (and strict) about what athletes can and can’t do (mostly can’t) regarding their future. But only a small amount of runners make the leap from the college ranks to the pros so there’s a lot of interest in the process surrounding the transition.

One thing that Abbey can do is get advice from people who’ve been through it, and luckily one of her good friends just recently made that move. Alexi Pappas went from Dartmouth to the Oregon Track Club and has been a valuable source of info. Abbey said that Alexi told her to “be at Dartmouth while you’re at Dartmouth, you don’t need to worry about it (going pro) yet. But she’s made it known that she’s available for advice because she’s been through the whole process before.”

There’s so much that goes behind any decision anyway that it takes its fair share of homework. “I sort of have to educate myself a little bit before I even have the vocabulary to ask the questions, so that’s the focus for the rest of this time off from school,” said Abbey regarding how she was to be spending the rest of her winter break.

“I’m trying to stay as open minded as possible as to what I’m looking for and where I want to be next year,” continued Abbey. “Obviously the location is a huge variable in where I decide I want to train and what I decide I want to do.” Speaking of location, that seems to be exactly what people are talking about lately.

In the days since we sat down, there was obviously one big announcement that we’d be remiss to overlook here: Abbey’s coach Mark Coogan has left Dartmouth to join New Balance. Mark accepted a position as part of the marketing team and will head up an elite training group based out of Boston. It’s very easy to speculate as to what will happen in a few months when Abbey graduates, but that’s just it: it’s all speculation.

If there’s one person who can ignore all of the noise surrounding that, it’s Abbey. She seems like she’s truly enjoying her time at Dartmouth and isn’t too worried about what will happen after her time is up in Hanover.

What she might have to worry about in the meantime is what to do about all of the marriage proposals. Okay, so far none of them have gone to her directly, but we received a few of them when we put out a call for interview questions from our readers. To see her response, well, you’re just going to have to watch the video.

We just hope we can get a Burning Love-style competition up off the ground. It would be epic.

A pic of from our session is featured in the latest issue of Level Renner, which is free to all and available now!

Fram, Hammond Take It To The Wire

BU Mini-Meet #3 was held on Saturday January 4th. With all the races out there now it’s very easy for results to get lost in the laundry list that is Coolrunning or in the various social media news feeds. Luckily this one picture from Chris Spinney grabbed our attention:

Hammond Fram Spinney BU Mini Meet

Fram beat out Hammond…just barely. Courtesy of Chris Spinney.

That is a shot of the climactic finish from the 3,000m dual between Whirlaway teammates Paul Hammond (white singlet) and Craig Fram (red singlet). The senior runners have long been a fixture on the roads around New England. Hammond placed 5th overall in the season standing for the USATF-NE road racing grand prix (50-54 age group), while Fram was 8th in the 55-59 bracket.

On Saturday, Fram just edged out Hammond at the line by running a 9:37.87 to Hammond’s 9:37.92. Thankfully Mike Giberti was there with the camera rolling and captured not only this dramatic finish (in which Fram’s effort and momentum took him down to the ground), but Mike also got the whole race. Here it is in all of its glory.

Other notables from the day (that we picked up on from social media activity):

BAA’s Anthony Crudale ran a 9:48.8 and GBTC’s Kevin Sheehan ran a 9:53 for 3k in that same heat. Look for both of them in the video above.



Have footage from any workout or race? Let us know, we’d love to share it!

Northern Arizona Elite


Flagstaff-based group features nine professional athletes and Olympic hopefuls

by Ben Rosario

FLAGSTAFF, (AZ) – January 7, 2014 – Former elite athlete and run-specialty store owner Ben Rosario has announced that he and his wife Jen Rosario have launched a new professional running team in Flagstaff, Ariz. The team, called Northern Arizona Elite, features nine high-level distance runners including the husband and wife duo of Ben and Stephanie (Rothstein) Bruce, 2:13 marathoner Jordan Chipangama and World Championship half marathoner Maegan Krifchin.

Rosario has operated the team on a small scale for the last six months as Team RunFan, a branch of his online retail store; RunFanShop.com. Rosario said the early success of the group led to the expansion and re-branding of the team.

“Jen and I were having so much fun working with the athletes that we decided it was time to invest the majority of our energy and resources into that side of things,” Rosario said. “Then it was just a matter of bringing together the right mix of athletes and honestly we couldn’t have asked for a better group.”

In addition to Bruce and Chipangama the men’s roster includes Arkansas All American and SEC Champion Eric Fernandez, 1:03 half marathoner Matthew Llano and Irish international David Rooney who was seventh at the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships. On the women’s side, Rothstein-Bruce and Krifchin will be joined by Kellyn (Johnson) Taylor and Amy Van Alstine, who will both represent Team USA at this weekend’s BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country Meet.

Rosario, who serves as the team’s head coach, said the plan is to create a fan base for the group through an interactive website and the use of social media.

“I’m a fan just as much as I’m anything else and I know that what people want is access to these athletes on a daily basis,” Rosario said. “We’re going to give them that access with tons of videos, pictures, interviews and training info…much more than people have ever seen from a professional training group.”

The team will begin racing under the Northern Arizona Elite moniker this month, first with Taylor and Van Alstine in Scotland, followed by Bruce and Llano at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. At this early stage the group is privately funded, but is actively seeking long-term corporate partners.

Northern Arizona Elite is a professional sports organization whose mission is to recruit, develop and produce distance runners to compete at the very highest level of international athletics and operate as a successful business by building a global fan base for the team and its athletes through comprehensive and ongoing marketing efforts on a local, national and international level.

To learn more visit www.nazelite.com.

Abbey D Coming Soon…

As promised, our big interview with Dartmouth phenom Abbey D’Agostino is on the way. Here’s a little something to hold you over. It’s our first ever GIF:

It sums up the interview: fun. We wanted it to be informal, laid back, goof around a bit. Most of our reader-submitted questions were marriage proposals. Did we ask her? Of course we did. You’ll have to check back to see her reaction.

This opens up the door to much more than that: Level Renner-produced reality shows. All of these potential bachelors could be lining up to win her heart in some sort of Burning Love-style competition. There was already some talk of a Real World-style show revolving around Sam Alexander’s talk of moving to Boston. We might be shifting completely to running based reality shows before long.

Wrapping up the video editing now, it should be up on the site by Wednesday.

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