Pair of UCLA alums win men’s & women’s Masters races.
Written by: Mario Fraioli
CARLSBAD, CA — Just before the three-mile mark of the men’s Masters race at this morning’s Carlsbad 5000, 43-year old Christian Cushing Murray of Santa Ana, California knew exactly what he had to do if he wanted to win here for the third straight year.
“I just had to try and sit,” Cushing-Murray said. “I was just kind of hanging on for my life again. I would have liked to have gone faster but you come here to win really. You gotta bring it here. You cant just walk through this thing.”
And bring it Cushing-Murray did, unleashing a flurrying kick to the finish line over the final 600 meters to win in 15:04, six seconds ahead of 41-year old Chad Newton of Pisgah Forest, North Carolina. Dennis Simonaitis, 48, of Draper, Utah was third in 15:11.
Simonaitis did a lot of the work throughout the race as no one wanted to take the early lead. Coming through the opening mile at 4:45, it was Cushing-Murray, Newton, Simonaitis, Charlie Kern (4th, 15:13) and and Andrew Duncan (5th, 15:22) running in a large pack. By two miles (9:41) only Duncan had fallen off as Simonaitis continued to tow the group along. It wasn’t until just before the final turn to the finish line that Cushing-Murray found some of his former sub-4:00 mile speed to put the race away.
“I figure a lot of these guys are stronger than me, but not a lot of them are faster than me,” said Cushing-Murray, a UCLA alum who now coaches distance runners at Foothill High School. “So I figured if I could hang with anyone to the turn I liked my chances.”
In the women’s Masters race, it was another former Bruin who was first across the finish line. Tania Fischer, 45, of Santa Monica, California prevailed in a sprint finish to win in 17:24–less than a second ahead of Kathleen Jobes, 41, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“I’ve been coming here the last four years and every time I’ve come I’ve gotten second, third, fourth, fifth,” Fischer said, “and I said, ‘one day I’m gonna win this thing. And when the race unfolded I found myself in the lead and I was a little nervous because I know there’s a lot of fast women and I was waiting for someone to make a move.”
After an opening mile of 5:27, it was a two-woman race between Fisher and Jobes. Passing 2 miles in 11:06, Fischer and Jobes had 15 seconds on the rest of the field. The two ran shoulder to shoulder all the way down the finishing straight before Fischer hit the gas one last time with less than 100 meters to go to eek out the narrow victory.
“She (Jobes) came up on me after the 2-mile and I just relaxed and stayed with her. When she tried to move, I checked it. On the hill we were really picking it up and then she made another move on the turn and I was like ‘no, I want to do this!” So I made another surge and passed her, but I wasn’t sure I had it till I crossed the finish line.”
Two records were set in the women’s Masters race as well. Lenore Montgomery, 80, of Canada set a pending world record in the women’s 80-84 age group, finishing in 29:16, seven seconds ahead of the old mark of 29:23. Anne Garrett, 77, of Oceanside, California set a pending American record in the 75-79 age group, finishing in 25:59.