The 10 Best Moments for U.S. Distance Running in 2013
World & U.S. records, medals, world champions and so much more
Posted Monday, 23 December, 2013
Over the past decade, our sport has had much to celebrate and recognize thanks to the medal winning, record setting, high achieving U.S. athletes, and 2013 was another outstanding year of success and accomplishment for U.S. distance runners and the sport. The 9th version of 10 Best Moments for U.S. Distance Running, like past editions, has no shortage of moments to remember and rank. Some moments are mainly objective such as a record or a world championship medal, while others are more subjective and highlight an especially amazing or memorable performance.
Here is a distillation of the individual and collective 10 Best Moments for U.S. Distance Running in 2013:
ING New York City Marathon's Record Field
After last year's cancellation due to Hurricane Sandy, the ING New York City Marathon, on November 3, returned in spectacular fashion with 50,266 finishers, the largest marathon ever and the first 26.2 road race with more than 50,000 finishers. Also, in an especially poignant finish, 2009 race champion and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, who had quadriceps problems during the race, ran with Michael Cassidy in the final miles, and the determined duo crossed the line together with hands held, in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 47 seconds.
Huddle Sets 12K World Road Record
At the .US National Road Championships in Alexandria, VA on November 17, Olympians Molly Huddle and Shalane Flanagan waged a 7-plus mile battle before Huddle, 29, pulled away in the final stages for the national title in 37:50 vs. 37:58 for runner-up Flanagan. Huddle's time set 5 road records (count 'em): World, U.S. All-Comers, U.S. Open, U.S. Women-Only and USA Championship. Brava!
Frazier's Fabulous Triple at New Balance Nationals Outdoor
At the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Greensboro this past June, Wesley Frazier, a North Carolina high school senior, completed an impressive distance trifecta by winning the mile, 2 mile and 5000m titles in less than 72 hours. Frazier was the first girl to win triple titles at this annual event.
World & U.S. Ultra Records Fall at Desert Solstice Invitational 100 Mile
In Phoenix, AZ, December 14-15, Pam Smith (Salem, OR) and Zach Bitter (Madison, WI) established ultra records at Desert Solstice. Smith, 39, clocked 14 hours, 11 minutes, 26 seconds for 100 miles (8:31 per mile), shattering the world record on the track by 14 minutes (Edit Bérces (HUN) - 2002), while Bitter, 27, averaged 7:04 to hit 11:47:21, a new U.S. milestone. Bitter broke Jon Olsen's less than 3-month-old record and continued to the 12-hour mark, covering 101.66 miles to best legend Yiannis Kouros' world record from 1984 by just over half a mile.
Three Americans Sub-13:03 at Brussels
At the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme 5000 meters last September, Ethiopia's Yenew Alamirew won in 12:58.75 against a talented American contingent led by runner-up Bernard Lagat, who'd battled Alamirew, clocking 12:58.99. Galen Rupp was fifth (13:01.37) and Evan Jager, the U.S. steeplechase record holder, was eighth in a big PR of 13:02.40, while Chris Derrick crossed 11th (13:08.04). This was perhaps the best international showing in the 5000 for America outside of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Team USA Medal Haul: Individual Gold & Two Silvers plus Team Golds at World 24-Hour Championships
In Steenbergen, The Netherlands, May 14-15, Jon Olsen, a Californian, was the individual men's 24-hour champion, covering 167-plus miles, with John Dennis of Maryland the silver medalist, four miles behind. In the women's race, Texan Sabrina Little, 26, who finished second to Japan's Mami Kudo (age 49), regained her U.S. 24-hour record by covering 152.03 miles. The Americans also captured the men's and women's team titles for a near complete gold medal sweep.
Cain Crushes High School 3000m & 2 Mile Records
At the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on February 2, Ethiopia's triple Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba won the 2 mile in 9:13.17, but Mary Cain, 16, from Bronxville, NY made history not by finishing third overall, but by her 9:38.68 that smashed the nearly 22-year-old U.S. high school indoor record of 9:55.92 by Melody Fairchild. Cain's en route 3000 meter split of 9:04.51 also set a national record. During the year, the teen phenom, like Usain Bolt, was one of the few track athletes to trend on Twitter.
Rupp Sets U.S. 3000m Indoor Record
Against a top international field at the XL Galan meet in Stockholm on February 21, Galen Rupp, 26, won the 3000 meters in 7:30.16 to set the U.S. indoor record, busting Bernard Lagat's previous record of 7:32.43 from 2007. Only Lagat, as an American, has run faster for 3000 meters (indoors or outdoors).
Efraimson Wins Epic Nike Cross Nationals
In the best girls race in Nike Cross Nationals history (perhaps the best ever in the U.S.), Alexa Efraimson of Camas, WA surged in the final stretch to defeat Colorado's Elise Cranny and two-time defending champion Sarah Baxter of California to capture the 2013 title at Portland Meadows Race Track on December 7. Despite freezing temperatures and strong winds, the talented trio all broke 17 minutes over the challenging 5K turf course. For Baxter, it was her first high school cross country defeat. The race was, in a word, epic.
Team USA Men Shining Silver at World XC; Ben True 6th & Chris Derrick 10th
At the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on March 24, Ben True finished 6th and Chris Derrick 10th to lead the men's national team to a silver medal behind Ethiopia and ahead of Kenya, distance powerhouses. It was the first U.S. men's World harrier silver medal since 1984 in East Rutherford, NJ. Bravo!
At the World Championships in Moscow, 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp finished fourth in the 10,000m. Two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat was 4th in the 5000m, while fellow Olympians Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury were 6th and 7th in the women's 5000m respectively. Rupp and Huddle produced the best U.S. places for their respective distance at the outdoor global championships.
On January 12, Mary Cain produced a sterling 9:02.10 for 3000 meters indoors in Seattle. Her time is the fastest by a U.S. girl for the distance, but it is not be an official record because the track was oversized (greater than 200 meters). The U.S. indoor HS record is 9:17.7 by Melody Fairchild in 1991. Cain's time was also well under the best girls outdoor time of 9:08.6, run by Lynn Bjorklund in 1975.
At the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans 1/2 Marathon in late February, Shalane Flanagan was runner-up in a personal record 1:08:31 to Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar who ran a fast 1:07:25, also a PR and course record. Flanagan is now the third fastest U.S. woman all-time for 13.1 miles behind U.S. record holder Deena Kastor and Kara Goucher.
In late November, Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley earned her 4th California State Cross Country title in 16:43 to miss her own course record, but Sarah's team beat seven-time champion Saugus to earn the school's first team title as well. Baxter, who had never lost a high school race until NXN (see above), is just the third athlete to win four CA state XC titles, joining Sara Hall (nee Bei) and Jordan Hasay.
Over a March weekend (22-24) in Landover, MD at the USA Masters Indoor Championships, Orville Rogers of Dallas, TX set six World indoor records (60m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1 mile and 3000m, clocking 30:19.33 for the latter). His age? A mere 95 years young!
On September 28 at the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Ultra Classic in Ottawa, Canada, Jon Olsen, 39, smashed the nearly quarter century old U.S. 100 mile record, running 11 hours, 59 minutes, 28 seconds. The Californian covered 402 laps on an indoor track, hitting each mile between 7:05 and 7:15. The previous mark was 12:12:19 set by Rae Clark in 1989.
Mo Trafeh battled Josephat Boit and Matt Tegenkamp through 13 miles at the USA 25K Championships in Grand Rapids, MI last May before pulling away and stopping the clock at 1:14:18, a new U.S. record, three seconds faster than Fernando Cabada's 2006 mark. Boit was runner-up in 1:14:34 with Tegenkamp third (1:14:43).
At the Indianapolis Monument Marathon in November, four-time Olympian Colleen De Reuck, 49, won in 2:39:22, becoming the second oldest qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, while 16-year-old Alana Hanley finished fourth in 2:41:56 to qualify as the second youngest for the OMT.
Last September, Mandy Ortiz won the Junior gold medal at the World Mountain Running Championships in Poland. Mandy's mother is Anita Ortiz, a world class mountain runner.
In January, Coloradoan Libby James, 76, completed the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon in Orlando in 1:45:56, smashing the 75-79 age-group world record of 1:55:19 set by Ginette Bedard in 2009. James' time age-graded to 103.58%!
At the Bronx 10 Mile on September 29, Rae Baymiller, 70, of New York City, set a 70-74 age group world record with her 1:16:11 performance.
On June 8 at the Portland Track Festival, Mary Cain broke the U.S. high school 5000m record, clocking 15:45.46; her 10th record of the year.
Not quite distance events, but worth noting:
Mary Cain's 4:32.78 indoor mile at the New Balance Games in NYC on January 26 broke Debbie Heald's national high school indoor mile record of 4:38.5 set 40-plus years ago (the oldest U.S. high school girls' track & field record, indoors or outdoors). Cain also shattered the overall girls HS record of 4:35.24 by Polly Plumer outdoors at UCLA in Westwood, CA (05/16/82). Also, en route she broke the 35-year-old HS national indoor 1500m record with her 4:16.11.
At the BU Terrier Invitational on January 26, Galen Rupp ran 3:50.92 for the mile, a Massachusetts state record and the #2 U.S. indoor mile all-time and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist is now the fifth fastest man indoors all-time.
At the IAAF World Championships in Moscow last August, Olympians Jenny Simpson and Matthew Centrowitz took home 1500 meter silver medals, while in July at the IAAF World Youth Championships in the Ukraine, Alexa Efraimson earned bronze in the 1500 meters.