More records, world titles, medals and depth mark another noteworthy year.
Written by: Ryan Lamppa, RunningUSA
As the following will show, it was another impressive year for U.S. distance running. Every year since 2005, it has been harder and harder to select the 10 best moments in U.S. distance running and 2010 was no exception. In fact, despite a non-Olympic / Outdoor World Championship year (or because of it?), U.S. distance runners had another historic, record-setting year, and based on the discipline depth below, perhaps the best one over the past decade of their resurgence.
Since 2001, the triumvirate of better training environments, coaching and funding has produced more top U.S. distance runners, and as a result, when fellow Americans are doing well, breaking records and winning medals and major races, similar competitive runners logically think: “Why not me?” and work towards that higher standard. In short, success has led to more success for U.S. runners, and this success continued its upward trend in 2010.
In selecting the “best moments”, the criteria goes beyond just running fast or setting records, but also the context of the moment is considered.
Palmiero-Winters Wins Run to the Future 24-Hour
Below-the-knee amputee Amy Palmiero-Winters, 37, finished first, ahead of all the men and women, at the Run to the Future 24-Hour race in Glendale, Ariz. on December 31 and January 1. The Hicksville, N.Y. resident covered 130.4 miles to win by 14 miles as well as earning a spot on the World 24-Hour team. The 2009 Sullivan Award winner, who has a custom-made prosthetic lower limb, was a high school track and swimming star whose left leg was crushed in a 1994 motorcycle accident. After amputation and a decade of rehabilitation, she became a triathlete, marathoner and ultramarathoner.
Team USA Women Earn World XC Bronze Medal
At the World Cross Country Championships hosted by Poland in late March, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, who finished 12th in 25:20 over the 8K course, led Team USA to the bronze medal (76 points), the first U.S. medal since 2005 at these global turf championships, and it is was the only medal won by a non-African country. Scoring teammates were Molly Huddle (19th), 25:59; Magdalena Lewy Boulet (20th), 26:01 and Amy Hastings (25th), 26:20.
Hall, Keflezighi, Lehmkuhle – 4th, 5th, 9th at Boston
At the 114th Boston Marathon in April, three Americans Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Jason Lehmkuhle finished fourth, fifth, and ninth in 2:08:41, 2:09:26 and 2:12:24 respectively. Hall’s time was the fastest by an American at Boston, and it was the first time since 1983 – the last time a U.S. male has won the storied race – that two Americans broke 2:10 at Boston. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya crushed the course record with his jaw dropping 2:05:52.
Lagat Wins 3,000m World Indoor Title
At the World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar last March, two-time Olympic 1500m medalist Bernard Lagat won his second 3000m world indoor title (also 2004) in 7:37.97 with a controlled race and strong finishing sprint. Galen Rupp finished fifth in a PR 7:42.40.
Flanagan Successful Debut at ING New York City Marathon
Two-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan, 29, made her highly-anticipated marathon debut a successful one, placing second in 2:28:40, just 20 seconds behind winner Edna Kiplagat at New York City on November 7. Flanagan, 10,000m bronze medalist at Beijing 2008, ran a smart, in contention race. Flanagan’s runner-up position was the highest place by a U.S. woman at New York since 1990 when Kim Jones also was runner-up.
Jurek Silver Medal, U.S. Record at 24-Hour World Championships – Team Bronze
After a few fallow years, ultra superstar Scott Jurek regained his old form with a silver medal and U.S. record performance at the 24-Hour World Championships in Brive, France last May. Jurek, 36, covered 165.70 miles to break the 11-year-old U.S. road record of Mark Godale (162.46 miles) and the 7-time Western States 100 Mile champion also went beyond the 20-year-old U.S. track mark of Rae Clark as well (165.24 miles). The Minnesota native led the men’s Team USA to a bronze medal too.
Huddle Nips U.S. 5,000m Record in Brussels
In Brussels, Belgium at the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme on August 27, Molly Huddle ran 14:44.76 to break Shalane Flanagan’s three-year-old U.S. 5,000 meter record by .04 seconds. Overall, under ideal running conditions and a packed stadium, Huddle, 25, placed tenth in a deep women’s field. It was also her third sub-15 minute 5,000 of the year.
U.S. 5,000m Record by Lagat in Oslo
At the Bislett Games on June 4, Bernard Lagat, 35, ran 12:54.12 to break Dathan Ritzenhein’s 5000 meter record (12:56.27) from 2009. In race that had 10 men under 13 minutes, Lagat finished third, while Chris Solinsky also dipped below 13 minutes with his PR 12:56.66, good for 6th.
Lagat Becomes First U.S. Sub-7:30 3,000m Man
Bernard Lagat added to his 2010 U.S. record haul by setting the U.S. 3000 meter record at Rieti, Italy on August 29. The two-time Olympic 1500m medalist ran 7:29.00 to become the first American to break the 7:30 barrier for the distance; he finished second overall behind Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele, who ran a world leading 7:28.70.
Solinsky Smashes U.S. 10,000m Record – 26:59.60!
Remember the date – Saturday, May 1, 2010 – when Chris Solinsky smashed the 9-year-old U.S. 10,000 meter record with the first sub-27 minute 10,000 clocking by an American with his historic 26:59.60 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on the Stanford campus. Solinsky (left, PhotoRun), 25, a Wisconsin grad, pulled away from the deep field with a commanding 1:56 final 800 meters to win unchallenged in his debut at the distance.
2008 Olympian Galen Rupp, who led most of the race, finished 4th in 27:10.74 also under the old U.S. mark of 27:13.98 set at the same meet by Meb Keflezighi in 2001. For some, Keflezighi’s record was the start of the U.S. distance running resurgence.
In perhaps the greatest 10,000 on U.S. soil, two national records (also Canada) and a collegiate record were set and eleven men broke 28 minutes with the first eight finishers all setting PRs. For the year, Solinsky’s time also held up as the second fastest 10,000m time.
In past years, many of the below would have made the top 10 best moments.
* At the Boston Indoor Games on February 6, two-time Olympic 1500m medalist Bernard Lagat, 35, led from the front to win the 5000 in 13:11.50 to break Galen Rupp’s one-year-old U.S. record by nearly 7 seconds. Rupp also broke his PR with a solid 13:14.21 to finish fourth.
* Iowa State Senior Lisa Koll, at the Stanford Invitational in March, crushed the NCAA 10,000 meter record with her winning 31:18.07 (previous record was 31:25.45 by Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech). Koll became the 6th fastest U.S. woman at the distance all-time.
* At the Herculis Meeting in Monaco last July, 2008 Olympian Shannon Rowbury finishes third in 8:31.38 for 3000 meters to become the second fastest U.S. woman all-time; only Mary Decker Slaney is faster.
* In August at the DN Galan Meet in Stockholm, Chris Solinsky finishes 5th in another sub-13 for 5000 meters in 12:55.53, a PR and second fastest American all-time. Later in August at Weltklasse in Zürich, Solinsky ran another sub-13 to become the first American to record three sub-13 minute 5000m in a season.
* In late June, Geoff Roes shatters Western States 100 Mile record with his 15:07:04. Anton Krupicka’s runner-up 15:13:52 was also under the old record (15:36:27, Scott Jurek, 2004).
* In early September, Bernard Lagat used his lethal kick to sweep the 3000m and 5000m at the IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup (former World Cup). Lagat also became the first athlete to win three different events (also 1500m in 2002) at the competition.
* Michael Wardian took the individual bronze medal, leading the U.S. men’s squad to a team silver medal Sunday at the IAU 100K World Championships in Gibraltar on November 7.
* At World Mountain Running Championships hosted by Slovenia in September, the U.S. men’s team won the silver medal – their highest placing ever at the Worlds.
* At the Prefontaine Classic in early July, Shalane Flanagan finished second in the 5000m (14:49.08). Amy Begley also cracked the 15-minute barrier in a PR 14:56.72, good for fifth.
* For the first time, Molly Huddle and Lisa Koll broke 15 minutes for 5000 meters in 14:51.84 (#4 U.S. woman) and 14:55.74 (#7), respectively, at Meeting Areva in Paris.
* At the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October, Desiree Davila finished fourth in 2:26:20 to become the fourth fastest U.S. woman over 26.2 miles.
* At the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon last April, Magdalena Lewy Boulet finished second in 2:26:22 to become the fourth fastest U.S. woman for the distance (at the time).
* With his 2:10:36, Brett Gotcher produced the 4th fastest U.S. debut marathon at the Chevron Houston Marathon in January, while 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan won the USA Half-Marathon title in 1:09:41, in her 13.1 mile debut.
* At the 25th Marathon des Sables, a 151 mile, six day endurance race across the Sahara in Morocco last April, Michael Wardian finished third in 23 hours, 1 minute, 3 seconds, the best place ever by an American male at the event.
* Missouri prep Emily Sisson broke the national high school 5000m at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Canada with her 15:48.91 to take sixth. The previous HSR was 15:52.88 by Caitlin Chock at the World Juniors in Italy 2004.
* Dan Huling became the fifth fastest U.S. steeplechaser with his 8:13.29 – good for 4th overall – at the Athletissima Meet in Lausanne, Switzerland in early July.
* Jamie Donaldson broke her course record and three-peated at the challenging AdventureCORPS Badwater Ultramarathon (135 mile) in 26:16:12. She was third overall.
* Houston awarded 2012 U.S. Men’s and Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials; the first time a city will host both races at the same Olympic Trials.
* At the NCAA Indoor Championships, Angela Bizzarri of Illinois edged another rising young star Lisa Koll of Iowa State to win the 3000 meters in 8:57.40 to 8:57.52.
* The masterful running of Linda Somers Smith, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Mbarak Hussein and Doug Winn.
* Renowned distance running coach Joe Vigil was honored at his alma mater Adams State College, where he coached and taught for nearly three decades, with a tribute and an unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue in November.
* Although the mile is not a distance event, it is worth noting that Bernard Lagat won his record 8th Millrose Games Wanamaker Mile on January 29 in 3:56.34.