Scroll through the photos below to see why the U.S. has more women’s depth than ever in the marathon.
When it comes to fast women marathon runners in the U.S., Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Desiree Linden, Deena Kastor and Joan Samuelson have gotten most of the attention over the past several years. And with good reason. They’re the five fastest runners in U.S. history and they account of the 10 fastest times ever run by American runners. While Flanagan, Linden and Goucher finished 1-2-3 in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics, Samuelson is still running strong at age 56. The 1984 Olympic champion set a new U.S. 55-59 age-group record by running 2:52:10 at the Boston Marathon on April 21.
But the U.S. has more depth in the women’s marathon than it has in a long time—perhaps ever.
Other American runners who have run under 2:30 in the past three years include Amy Hastings (2:27:03), Renee Metivier Baillie (2:27:17), Serena Burla (2:28:01), Lauren Kleppin (2:28:48), Annie Bersagel (2:28:59), Stephanie Rothstein (2:29:35), Janet Bawcom (2:29:45) and Clara Santucci (2:29:54).
Becky Wade (2:30:41), Adriana Nelson (2:31:15), Alissa McKaig (2:31:56), Wendy Thomas (2:32:49), Esther Erb (2:33:15) and Melissa Johnson-White (2:32:37) have also run fast times in recent years that suggest they, too, could be on the verge of sub-2:30 efforts. Using 2:33 as a benchmark time, the current era is quite possibly the deepest collection of women marathoners the U.S. has ever had.
Of those runners, Nelson already owns a 2:28:52 PR from 2008 but she ran a solid 2:31:15 in Boston on April 21, the same race where Thomas and Erb lowered their PRs. Bersagel, the 2014 U.S. half marathon champion, won the Dusseldorf Marathon on April 27, while the PR efforts of Kleppin and Wade came in their debut marathons over the past several months.
Plus, although she says she might be done with the marathon from a competitive standpoint, Deena Kastor, now 41, ran a 2:32:39 in March 2013. And there’s Tera Moody, 33, who ran 2:30:53 in Chicago in 2010 but was sidelined with injuries for most of 2012 before coming back to run 2:39:10 in 2013 at a 1:13:25 at the 2014 U.S. half marathon championships.)
Scroll through the photos below of some of the country’s top women marathoners as of this spring.