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Top-10 Moments For U.S. Distance Running

The American silver at the World XC Champs is a the top of the list.

The American silver at the World XC Champs is at the top of the list.

What follows is an excerpt from Running USA’s Ryan Lamppa:

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!

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