Our list of the 35 Greatest American Female Marathoners was hard to cut down, as evident by our lengthy list of honorable mentions.
Here are the runners that just barely missed the cut:
Renee Metivier Baillie, 2:27:17, 8th Place, 2012 Chicago Marathon
Just 16 months removed from surgery to repair her right Achilles, Renee Metivier Baille was the top American at the 2012 Chicago Marathon and ran a 2:27:17, making her the 11th fastest American of all time with the fifth-fastest debut marathon for a U.S. runner.
Susannah Beck, 2:34:44, 4th place, 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon
Susannah Beck came within 41 seconds of third place at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials (even though the U.S. was only able to send one runner to the 2000 Olympics). Beck also finished 8th in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon (2:34:44) in the blustery cold weather of St. Louis. In 2008, she won Lithia Loop Trail Marathon (3:00:29) on a hilly course in Ashland, Ore.
Annie Bersagel, 2:28:59, 1St Place, 2014 Dusseldorf Marathon
Annie Bersagel (pictured) won the 2013 U.S. marathon championship with a 2:30:53 effort at the Twin Cities Marathon. She continued her progression into 2014 with her victory at the Dusseldorf Marathon (2:28:59, No. 21 on the all-time U.S. list) and a 13th place finish at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Denmark in a PR of 1:10:10.
Laurie Binder, 2:33:36, 1st Place, 1981 U.S. Marathon Championships
Laurie Binder won the 1981 San Francisco Marathon in 2:40:32 and won the 1982 Houston Marathon in 2:40:56. She set her PR of 2:33:36 while finishing second to Ingrid Kristiansen at the 1983 Houston Marathon. Binder, a four-time winner of the Bay to Breakers 12K race in San Francisco, placed 35th at the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.
Doris Brown Heritage, 2:47.35; 1st place, 1976 Vancouver International Marathon
Although this two-time track and field Olympian had more success at shorter distances on the track—including holding numerous national and world records between 440 yards and the mile in the 1960s—she won the 1976 Vancouver International Marathon (2:47:35) in the fastest female marathon debut in history up to that point and placed second in the New York City Marathon (2:53:12) later that year.
Nancy Conz, 2:33:23, 1st place, 1981 Avon International Marathon
Nancy Conz placed second at the 1980 Avon International Marathon in London and then won the 1981 Avon International Marathon (that doubled as the U.S. championship race). She also won the 1982 Chicago Marathon in her PR of 2:33:23.
Martha Cooksey, 2:35:42, 1st Place, 1978 Avon International Marathon
In 1978, Martha Cooksey came out of nowhere to win the Avon International Marathon and place second in the 1978 New York City Marathon (earning the U.S. title in the process) behind Norwegian legend Grete Waitz. She also won the 1979 Los Angeles Marathon, placed 13th at the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, won a pair of Pikes Peak Marathon titles in Colorado.
Bev Docherty 2:38:23, 6-Time U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon Finisher
Bev Docherty posted consistent times in the marathon for more than two decades and became the first runner to complete six U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon races. Her highest finish was 57th at the 1992 trials (2:54:19), but what’s more impressive is that she ran between 2:45:33 and 2:59:33 between 1984 and 2004. She also won three U.S. masters marathon championships and ran 2:42:06 as a masters runner.
Janice Ettle, 2:33:36, 1st Place, 1981 U.S. Marathon Championships
Janice Ettle was a five-time U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon finisher between 1984 and 2000. Her highest finish was sixth place in 1984 (2:33:41, just 75 seconds from third place), but she also placed 20th in 1988 and 10th in 1992. She also won the 1982 and 1991 Grandma’s Marathon and the 1985 Twin-Cities Marathon.
Libbie Hickman, 2:28:34, 6th place, 1999 Chicago Marathon
Although she represented the U.S. at the 2000 Olympics in the 10,000, Hickman also ran four strong marathons between 1998-2000, including an eighth-place effort at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. Her PR of 2:28:34 ranks her at No. 19 on the all-time U.S. list.)
Julie Isphording, 2:30:54; 1st place 1990 Los Angeles Marathon
Julie Isphording placed third in the inaugural women’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in 1984, earning a place on the first U.S. Olympic marathon team. She also placed seventh in Boston in 1982 and sixth in Boston in 1986, as well as finishing ninth in the trials in 1988 (2:33:46) and 15th in 1992 (2:39:47). Her biggest marathon moment came in 1990, when she won the Los Angeles Marathon in 2:32:25.
Kristy Johnston, 2:29:05, 1st Place, 1993 Houston Marathon
Kristy Johnston won the Houston Marathon in 1993 in her PR of 2:29:05, as well as the Chicago Marathon the following year in 2:31:34. She placed fifth in the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials and second in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, but she wasn’t able to compete in the Olympics because she hadn’t earned the Olympic “A” qualifying standard.
Christine McNamara, 2:28:18, 5th Place, 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon
Living and training in Boulder, Colo., the then 31-year-old Christine McNamara ran 2:28:18 (No. 18 on the all-time U.S. list) at the 1997 London Marathon to finish seventh overall. She also finished fifth at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon (2:34:35).
Kim Merritt, 2:37:57, 1st Place, 1975 New York City Marathon
Merritt won the 1975 U.S. Marathon Championship while winning the New York City Marathon (2:46:15), ranking her as the fourth fastest woman in the world that year. In 1976, she earned victories at the 1976 Boston Marathon and Honolulu Marathon and placed second in the Waldneil Women’s Marathon in West Germany. She later set the American record of 2:37:57 at the 1977 Nike/Oregon Track Club Marathon. She had numerous other top-10 finishes in her career and also placed 53rd in the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.
Tera Moody, 2:30:53; 17th place, 2011 IAAF World Championships
Amid struggles of insomnia, Moody has twice placed among the top 30 in the world championships (28th in 2009, 17th in 2011). She also placed fifth in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and placed 10th in the 2010 Chicago Marathon in her PR of 2:30:53.
Sue Petersen, 2:42:32, 1st place, 1979 U.S. Marathon Championships
Petersen gained national acclaim as a marathoner in the 1970s and early 1980s, partially because she and her husband, Pete, finished side by side in most of them. Sue won 44 marathons between 1976 and 1985, including nine in both 1978 and 1979. She won the 1979. U.S. title in Houston (2:46:17) and also placed seventh in the New York City Marathon that year.
Arlene Pieper, 9:16:00, First Official U.S. Female Marathon Finisher
In 1959, at the age of 29, Pieper ran a fledgling event known as the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, Colo. In doing so, she became the first official female finisher of a U.S. marathon, seven years before Bobbi Gibb ran the Boston Marathon for the first time.
Blake Russell, 2:29:10, 3rd place, 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon
Blake Russell led for most of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in St. Louis, but faded in the final miles and wound up fourth overall. She earned her redemption in 2008 by placing third at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Boston (2:32:40). At the Beijing Olympics later that year, she was the only American runner to finish, placing 27th in 2:33:13.
Joy Smith, 2:34:20; 13th place, 1991 IAAF World Championships
In addition to placing 13th at the 1991 world championships (2:39:16), Joy Smith also placed sixth at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials (2:35:09)and ninth at the Boston Marathon in 1993 (2:38:35). Smith set her PR of 2:34:20 at the 1991 London Marathon. Later in her career she won the Athens Classic Marathon in Greece (2:50:52) and had success as an ultrarunner.
Jane Welzel, 2:33:24, 1st place, 1990 U.S. Marathon Championships
Jane Welzel, who passed away this past summer at the age of 59 after a brief battle with cancer, is one of only a handful of women to qualify and run in five or more U.S. Olympic Trials Marathons. Her highest finish was ninth (2:35:55) in 1992 in Houston. She also won the 1990 U.S. championships, placed 10th in Boston in 1992 (2:36:21) and finished 19th in the 1993 world championships in Stuttgart, Germany.