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October 31, 2022, Issue 208

Katelyn Tuohy congratulates Sam Bush after a track race last year.

College conference meets provide an NCAA preview

Most college teams had their conference meets over the weekend, and it was an opportunity to see some of the top teams at or near full strength before the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships take place on November 19. The USTFCCCA has detailed recaps of the top races here, you can access more results here, and here are some of the things that stood out to me:

  • NC State is vulnerable: NC State is undefeated this season and deserves their No. 1 ranking, but they are by no means a shoo-in to repeat as NCAA champions in a few weeks. They won the ACC title, but finished only four points ahead of No. 6 Notre Dame, 34–38. And two weeks before that, NC State’s race against New Mexico at the Nuttycombe Invitational came down to a tiebreaker. (ACC results)

  • Tuohy vs. Valby: The NCAA individual race is shaping up to be a showdown between NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy and Florida’s Parker Valby. Both runners have won all of their races this season convincingly. Tuohy took the ACC title on Friday, while Valby showed that her super-fast run at the Arturo Barrios Invitational two weeks earlier was no fluke. Valby won the SEC title, finishing nearly eight seconds ahead of 2020 NCAA cross country champion Mercy Chelangat of Alabama, another runner who could challenge for the individual title. Valby covered the 6K course in 18:25.9, supposedly splitting 15:24 for 5K en route. It’s possible that that’s a legit time, but it’s more likely that the course is a bit short. It doesn’t really matter, because this is cross country, where head-to-head competition is much more important than times. The NCAA championships will be held on a much tougher course, at Oklahoma State, which could factor into the outcome.

  • Alabama breaks an Arkansas streak: Led by Chelangat, Alabama won its first SEC title since 1987, breaking Arkansas’ nine-year winning streak. I love this photo of the team posing with the baby of coaches Will and Samantha Palmer. (SEC results)

  • A breakout race for Hertenstein: The Pac-12 championships were even closer than ACCs, coming down to a tiebreaker between Colorado and Utah. Colorado, led by Bailey Hertenstein’s individual victory, earned the narrow win. Hertenstein is a graduate transfer who spent the last four years at Indiana University. She came in with stellar credentials, having run 4:14 for 1500m and 15:38 in the 5,000m, but this was her biggest win yet. (Pac-12 results | Hertenstein’s finish)

  • McCabe edges out Roe: West Virginia’s Ceili McCabe won a tight race over Oklahoma State’s Taylor Roe at the Big 12 meet, but Oklahoma State dominated the team race with 22 points. Both McCabe and Roe, who will be racing on her home course, should be contenders for the NCAA individual title. (Big 12 results)

  • Dominant wins: Some of the other top teams also had a relatively easy path to conference wins. Led by Amelia Mazza-Downie’s win, No. 2 New Mexico dominated the Mountain West, putting five runners in the top 10 (results). No. 4 NAU won the Big Sky championships with 22 points, led by Elise Stearns’ individual win (results). And No. 5 BYU, led by Aubrey Frentheway’s win, took the West Coast Conference title with 30 points (results).


Thanks to Tracksmith for supporting Fast Women this month

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Kate Grace in 2021. (Photo by Randy Miyazaki)

Kate Grace announces she’s pregnant

Kate Grace announced last week, on her 34th birthday, that she’s pregnant. (Her mother, fitness guru Kathy Smith, broke the news in a humorous manner first.) Grace went on the Coffee Club podcast to provide an update, and it was a fun episode. Grace, who is having a boy, said that when she found out she was pregnant, she reached out to other pros for advice. She said she was able to keep up her regular training until last week, and she told a funny story about supporting her teammates during a long run and needing but not having snacks. Out of desperation, to avoid nausea, she consumed what was left of her left of their discarded energy gels. (It’s gross, but early parenting is full of disgusting experiences you never would have previously imagined, so it’s also good preparation.)

Grace also said that she told the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) she was pregnant before she told her husband, because they showed up to test her and she was worried that something natural going on in her body due to her pregnancy would trigger a positive test. She joked about racing Elle St. Pierre, Abbey Cooper, and Brenda Martinez when they’re all eight months pregnant or so and said that she thinks this mini baby boom among runners has a lot to do with the fact that 2023 is the closest thing to an off year pro runners will have for some time. (This year was supposed to be a year without an outdoor track World Championships or Olympic Games, but when the Olympics and Worlds got pushed back, that made it so there’s no off year until 2026. If American athletes are going to skip something right now, it makes more sense for it to be the 2023 World Championships than the Olympics or Worlds in Eugene.)

Grace talked about missing the 2022 season due to long Covid and said that while she didn’t always want to run professionally through 2024, she wants to now.

Additional Results

  • I expect/hope that Devon Yanko’s win at the Javelina Jundred will get a fair amount of attention, because Yanko ran a fantastic race after being diagnosed with lupus about three weeks earlier. Yanko has struggled with her health over the past few years, but her diagnosis is new and something she’s still processing. For a deeper dive regarding her health issues, check out her Substack. Yanko won the 100-mile race in 14:36:10 and Riley Brady (they/them), took second in 14:45.43, with both earning golden tickets for Western States. Nicole Bitter finished third in 15:16:25. Lotti Brinks won the 100K in a course record of 8:36:01. (Results)

  • Kenya’s Selly Kaptich won the Frankfurt Marathon in 2:23:11. Kaptich went out hard, trying to break the 2:19:10 course record, but she faded in the heat. Kaptich was clearly spent at the finish. She got tangled in the finish tape and fell. But she eventually popped back up with a smile on her face.

  • Chelsea Baker won the Marine Corps Marathon in 2:42:37. (Results)


Other News and Links

  • The New York Times ran a piece last week that pointed out that Nnenna Lynch, who is to take over as chairperson of the New York Road Runners in June, failed a drug test in 1996 and served a three-month ban. While there are quite a few formerly banned athletes working in the sport, the article points out that this is incongruous with NYRR’s zero-tolerance policy toward doping. I’ll be interested to hear how NYRR handles the situation. They said they would provide further comment on the matter shortly, but I imagine they’re busy planning the New York City Marathon at the moment. Lynch’s positive test was for pseudoephedrine, and she said at the time that her doctor accidentally gave her asthma medication containing the substance. Lynch was a guest on the C Tolle Run podcast last week. The episode came out less than 24 hours after the article, but has since been deleted. Nothing in the Times article came up during Lynch’s conversation with host Carrie Tollefson, but Lynch did mention that she had long been misdiagnosed with asthma and only learned in recent years that she has exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction (EILO). Lynch believes that that was what led to her eventual retirement from the sport.

  • The NN Running Team has long done a good job telling the stories of its team members, and I’m glad that’s including the women more now, too. They put out a nice 4+ minute video with Letesenbet Gidey, who will make her marathon debut on December 4 in Valencia.

  • World Athletics profiled Ethiopian star Yalemzerf Yehualaw, also of the NN Running Team. The article said that she hopes to race at the World Cross Country Championships on February 18 in Australia.

  • Leah Falland said on Instagram that she is no longer training with the On Athletics Club. She stressed that it wasn’t a retirement post, because she can’t confidently say she won’t want to get back to racing in the future.

  • Russia’s Natalia Antyukh, the 2012 Olympic champion in the 400m hurdles, was finally banned and stripped of her Olympic title last week, which means that more than 10 years later, Lashinda Demus is an Olympic champion.

  • More than a year after her murder, Agnes Tirop’s former husband, Ibrahim Rotich, has yet to stand trial. Tirop’s parents are frustrated that they’re still waiting for closure.

  • I love that Team Boss is offering Colorado high school runners the opportunity to be paced to personal bests on the track, as part of a fundraiser for the Sachs Foundation. (There are open and middle school races, too.) While most people are too far from Colorado to take part, I love the idea, and I’d love to see other pro teams do something similar.

Vanessa Fraser

Additional Podcast Highlights

  • Though I talked to her not long ago, it was good to get a more in-depth update from Marielle Hall on The Morning Shakeout.

  • I loved hearing from Lacena Golding-Clarke, who coached Tobi Amusan to a world record in the 100m hurdles over the summer, on the World Athletics podcast. I appreciated that though she has accomplished so much as a coach, she acknowledged that she always has more to learn, and she’s not afraid to ask for help.

  • Christina Aragon said on the Running New Mexico podcast that after dealing with injuries for a couple of years, she was running only 25–30 miles per week during the outdoor season, using cross training in place of easy mileage. As for joining the Bowerman Track Club after Shelby Houlihan’s suspension, Aragon said, “I feel like I’m in the right hands with Jerry, and I know where my values are at. I feel like I don’t really need to know anything other than that.”

  • On the Convos Over Cold Brew podcast, Vanessa Fraser talked about her running career in recent years, saying she would feel glimmers of hope about her fitness, but it was very easy for her to cross the line to overtraining, especially because she was surrounded by so many excellent athletes while she was with the Bowerman Track Club. Fraser is currently targeting Saturday’s USATF 5K Championships. 

  • After paying more attention to this year’s Beer Mile World Classic, I enjoyed listening to this Beer Mile podcast episode with champion Melanie Pozdol and Elizabeth Laseter, the first woman across the finish line. They take their running seriously, but it’s clear they also have a lot of fun.

  • Deena Kastor did a good interview with wheelchair racer Susannah Scaroni on the Marathon Talk podcast. It begins around the 31:00 mark.

Also: Talitha Diggs on Real Talk | Kim Conley on Distance Daddies 



The New York City Marathon is finally (almost) here. But first, the USATF 5K Championships will take place on Saturday, also in New York City. Weini Kelati, Emily Infeld, and Jenny Simpson are among the headliners in a deep field. There will be a free livestream at 8:20 a.m. ET (races go off at 8:30 and 8:35) here. If you can’t watch live, the replays will require a subscription.

And in even more exciting news, New York Road Runners announced last week that all four pro races at the New York City Marathon, the pro men’s and women’s open and wheelchair races, will be streamed live in their entirety via the race’s app. This sounds incredible, and I hope they are able to execute it all smoothly and set a new standard for marathon coverage. The race will also be on ESPN2 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. ET, with an extended broadcast on ESPN3. The pro wheelers start at 8:00 a.m., and the pro women’s open race begins at 8:40.

Sara Hall made it clear in a previous post that her IT band had been a problem during her marathon buildup, and she announced last week that she had run out of time and had to pull out of New York. Pre-race favorite Peres Jepchirchir previously withdrew, which means the race is wide open. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, Gotytom Gebreslase, Keira D’Amato, and Edna Kiplagat come in with the fastest seed times, but I’m curious to see what Senbere Teferi (whose best marathon is only a 2:24:11, but she’s run a 1:05:32 half) can do. Or if Viola Cheptoo, who finished second by five seconds last year, can produce another strong run. Hellen Obiri, the subject of a nice feature last week, will be making her much-awaited marathon debut, and her new coach, Dathan Ritzenhein, told Citius Mag that he thinks she’s fit enough to go well under the 2:22:31 course record, if the race goes out quickly enough. I’m also interested to see what Sharon Lokedi can do in her debut.

Thanks to Tracksmith and all of you who support Fast Women via Patreon. I hope you have a good week. Running-wise, it's going to be an exciting one.


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