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Presented by 
Oiselle

September 28, 2020, Issue 91

This year has been challenging in countless ways, but during this quieter news week, I’m taking a step back and looking at some of the highlights of 2020. It’s easy to focus on what we’ve lost, but in many ways, runners have done an impressive job of coming together, persevering, and using their creativity. This is a completely subjective list, and it also reflects the focus of this newsletter—mainly women’s competitive middle-distance and distance running, with a U.S. focus. Reviewing some of the top moments of the year has been uplifting for me, and hopefully it is for you, too.

If you’re missing the usual news, I’ve left some of the week’s biggest news at the bottom, and the rest of it is on the Fast Women Twitter and Instagram accounts.

 

Fifty Highlights of Women’s Running in 2020

  1. The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Aliphine Tuliamuk ran her best marathon when it counted most (and promptly sold out of the hand crocheted beanies she makes for her Etsy shop). Molly Seidel pulled off a surprise. After a rough return from childbirth, Sally Kipyego showed she was back. Tuliamuk and Kipyego became the first two Black women to qualify to represent the U.S. in the Olympic marathon. A record number of women—more than 500—earned the opportunity to race for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Marathon team, spectators came out in large numbers, and the event was a huge celebration of the sport and women’s running.
     

    More than four hundred women run in a pack at the start of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta.
    (Photo by @tafphoto)
     

  2. Rachel Hyland and Lauren Philbrook, two of the pregnant runners in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, ran together, and the crowd loved it.

  3. After retiring from running, Malindi Elmore made a comeback and set a Canadian marathon record of 2:24:50 at age 39 at the Houston Marathon. 

  4. Elle Purrier didn’t know what the American indoor mile record was in advance, but she destroyed it, running a 4:16.85 at the Millrose Games.

  5. Also at the Millrose Games, Ajee’ Wilson broke her own American indoor record in the 800m.

  6. Dawn Harper-Nelson, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist and 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 100m hurdles, told her story on the Keeping Track podcast, and it was one of the must-listen episodes of the year. 

  7. Women showed strength in coming forward about abuse in mistreatment in college cross country and track & field programs, with the aim of making a better future for others. This includes Megan Brown, Wesleyan University alumnae, former University of Texas athletes, Emma Roedel, Kellen Smith, and University of Arizona athletes.

  8. Nia Akins ran a 2:00.71 800m indoors, just 0.02 seconds off the collegiate record. Later in the year, she went pro and wrote a powerful piece about why runners need to talk about race (Runner’s World)

  9. Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh ran a world record 1:04:31 half marathon in February. That’s 4:55 per mile!

  10. Karissa Schweizer pulled off an upset in setting the American indoor 3,000m record indoors (8:25.70), and the best part may have been her family’s reaction
     

    Karissa Schweizer, a blond, white woman smiles after winning a 3,000m race in American record time.
    Karissa Schweizer sets the American indoor record in the 3,000m.
     

  11. Rebecca Mehra went viral for buying an older couple’s groceries at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  12. Sabrina Little’s humor: “There's nothing quite so vexing as when the man on the neighboring treadmill tries to race me. The only consolation is that now I am more visibly pregnant, it is clear that there are two people beating him.”

  13.  On one day in February, three high school girls ran 2:03 in the 800m indoors. Roisin Willis, a sophomore, ran 2:03.05, Sophia Gorriaran, a ninth grader, ran 2:03.98, and later that day, Juliette Whittaker, a sophomore, ran 2:03.01.

  14.  The drama of Japanese Olympic marathon team selection. Mao Ichiyama, 22, pulled off a surprise ending by running a 2:20:29 at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon and bumped Mizuki Matsuda off of the team.

  15.  Raevyn Rogers became a permanent part of Hayward Field.

  16. There was a puppy boom among elite runners (and lots of other people in the U.S.).

  17. We learned the story of the Klecker family in more depth, including Janis Klecker, a 1992 Olympian in the marathon.

  18. Emma Coburn stepped into the role of entertainer, keeping fans engaged by going live on Instagram nightly at the start of quarantine.

  19. Rosalie Fish gave a great TED Talk on running for missing and murdered Indigenous women.

  20. The Quarantine Backyard Ultra entertained, when little else was going on in running, or any other sport (Runner’s World). Sweden’s Anna Carlsson finished third overall, covering 187.5 miles on a frozen lake.

  21. Carrie Tollefson did a great podcast episode with 1973 Boston Marathon champion Jacqueline Hansen, who played a major role in creating the opportunities that exist for women who run today.

  22. The runner statue mask movement

  23. Lindsay Devers ran 26.2 miles to spell out “Boston Strog” accidentally missing an n, on the day the Boston Marathon would have taken place in April. She was a great sport about the whole thing. 

  24. Daniel Romanchuk organized a virtual Boston Marathon time trial for amateur and professional wheelchair racers, including Manuela Schär and Tatyana McFadden (Runner’s World).

  25. Corey Jurgensen couldn’t work as a massage therapist during quarantine, so she ran around her neighborhood in a unicorn costume to spread joy instead.

  26. Brooks introduced Des Linden coloring pages.

  27. First Molly Seidel impressed us by running fast, then she impressed us with her slow mile challenge.

  28. As the U.S. faced a reckoning on the topic of racial injustice after the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, so did the running industry. Alison Désir wrote about the whiteness in running, which led to much more discussion.

  29. Deena Kastor wrote a beautiful piece on being adopted.

  30. Texas high schooler Brynn Brown ran a hand-timed 3200m time trial in 9:39.67, which is faster than the high school record over that distance.

  31. Pole vaulter Sandi Morris and her father built their own pole vaulting setup so she’d have a place to train during the pandemic, and the Washington Post wrote a really nice account of their story.

  32. Emma Bates ran a 32:45 10K in jean shorts while supporting Johnny Gregorek’s blue jeans mile (Runner’s World).

  33. Kamilah Journét wrote an important piece titled, “Your Black Teammate.”

  34. Emilia Benton compiled an article for Runner’s World in which 11 BIPOC runners discussed race and racism in the sport. Chris Chavez compiled a similar and equally eye-opening piece for Sports Illustrated, featuring Black professional athletes.

  35. Marielle Hall, who is a beautiful writer on top of being an Olympian, wrote about racism in running (Runner’s World).

  36. Keira D’Amato, who took a long time off of competitive running, showed she was faster than ever by running a 15:04 5,000m time trial, more than a minute faster than her previous best (Runner’s World). She also ran a solo 4:33 mile.

  37. Olympian and Paralympian Marla Runyan told her incredible story on More Than Running with Dana Giordano.
     


    Marla Runyan leads Carrie Tollefson, Shalane Flanagan, and Missy Buttry at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials.
     

  38. Nikki Hiltz put on a Virtual Pride 5K and raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Trevor Project, and a couple of participants used the race to come out to their friends and family.

  39. In an intrasquad meet, with not much of a crowd cheering them on, Shelby Houlihan and Karissa Schweizer ran 14:23.92 and 14:26.34 for 5,000m, becoming the two fastest U.S. women ever at the distance.

  40. Francesca Muccini, 52, won the Vol State 500K (314 miles) in a course record three days, 10 hours, and 49 minutes (Runner’s World).

  41. The women’s basketball mile is having its moment. First Lauren Johnson ran a 5:16, then high schooler Sydney Masciarelli ran 5:08, and finally (for now), Whittni Orton ran a 4:58 at altitude. (Orton broke four of BYU’s school records during the indoor season, but got more attention for her basketball mile.)

  42. The entire Big Friendly series was a highlight, at a time when competition opportunities were hard to come by.

  43. In her first competition of the season, Val Allman set an American record in the discus, throwing 70.15 meters, and the throw was mesmerizing.

  44. Sara Hall ran a 1:08:18 half marathon in Oregon, taking 40 seconds off her personal best. Her daughters Hana, 20, and Mia, 16, also shined, running 1:20:03 and 1:23:18, respectively (Runner’s World).

  45. While many national championships have been canceled, the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships were able to take place in Iowa, and Emily Lipari won in 4:29.3.

  46. After calling out Runner’s World for the lack of diversity, Alysia Montaño was on the cover of the September issue of the magazine. The cover story, by Nicole Blades, was excellent.

  47. Faith Kipyegon’s has run only four races, but she has been dominant. She almost broke the 1,000m world record, running 2:29.15 (watch here). Then last week, she ran a world-leading 1:57.68 800m (watch here).

  48. Personal bests all around for the HOKA NAZ Elite women in their 10,000m race in California. Kellyn Taylor won with a 31:07.60, Steph Bruce ran a 25-second personal best of 31:34.87, and Lauren Paquette ran 31:53.72 in her debut at the distance.

  49. Hammer thrower Gwen Barry did a powerful New York Times Op Ed on why she believes Rule 50, which bans political and religious protests in Olympic venues, needs to go.

  50. Tatyana McFadden starred in and helped produce Rising Phoenix, a really well done Netflix documentary about the Paralympics.
     

Thanks to Oiselle for sponsoring this month's newsletter

First: a huge congrats to all of the Womxn Run the Vote virtual relayers, who completed the 686-mile course yesterday, from Atlanta to DC. A running community event that energized participants from coast to coast, along with donating $270,000 to Black Voters Matter!

Time to celebrate: Oiselle's biggest fall event, the What the Fall Sale, is in progress now (thru 9/30) with 25% off many of our best sellers. Thank you Fast Women, and head up, wings out!


 

Highlights from the past week

  • In case you missed the mention up above, Faith Kipyegon ran a world-leading 1:57.68 800m in Doha at the last Diamond League meet of the season. Kipyegon’s times are impressive, but so is how quickly she leaves her competition behind once she decides to go.  (Video, results)

  • At the same meet, Hellen Obiri ran tough to win the 3,000m in a world-leading 8:22.54 and Kenya swept the top five spots in the fast-paced race. Jess Hull was 10th in the race but set an Australian record of 8:36.03. (Video)

  • Dani Moreno won the USATF Trail Half Marathon Championships in 1:21:28, and you can read about how the race played out here.

  • Grayson Murphy won Montana’s Jim Bridger Trail Run and finished second overall.

  • The December elite marathon in Arizona is a go as of now, and you can learn more details about the race here (Runner’s World) and here. Atsede Baysa, the 2016 Boston Marathon Champion, Kellyn Taylor, Steph Bruce, Emma Bates, Kate Landau, Keira D’Amato, Bethany Sachtleben, and Julia Kohnen are planning to compete. Des Linden and Sara Hall are considering the race, which is scheduled for December 20.

  • ICYMI, this ESPN piece featuring Molly Seidel discussing her ongoing mental health struggles is very well done.

  • Last week marked 20 years since Cathy Freeman became the first Indigenous Australian to win Olympic gold when she won the 400m in Sydney. In recognition of the anniversary, the Sydney Opera House’s sails were lit with images of Freeman’s race.

  • Allyson Felix was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

  • Last week, 10,000 people logged activity for Womxn Run the Vote, a virtual relay to raise money for Black Voters Matter. This NBC News article has more details, and if you’re up for a podcast, Alison Désir, Lauren Fleshman, and Dr. Amira Rose Davis discussed the relay on Burn It All Down.

Correction: Last week, I erroneously wrote Callie Logue when the Iowa State runner’s first name is Cailie.

 ---

That’s all for this week, but I am so excited for the London Marathon on Sunday. This has information about where the broadcast will air around the world. (It says NBCSN/The Olympic Channel for the U.S.) The women go off first, at 7:15 a.m. local time, which is 2:15 a.m. ET!

A huge thanks to Oiselle for sponsoring this month’s newsletter, and thanks to all of you who support this newsletter via Patreon. And it will be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week. I hope you have a good week.

Alison

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