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Fast Women,  January 7, 2019, Issue 1

Sarah Brown retires

Sarah Brown, who made headlines when she attempted to make the 2016 Olympic Team in the 1500 meters four months after giving birth, announced on January 1 that she is retiring from competitive running. Brown (née Bowman) was a standout runner for Fauquier (VA) High School and a four-time NCAA champion and nine-time All-American for the University of Tennessee before going on to run professionally for New Balance. Brown announced that she is pregnant with her second child, due in April.

2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials watch

The U.S. Olympic marathon team will be decided at a trials race February 29, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks to the depth of U.S. women’s marathoning right now, competition for the three spots on the team should be tighter than ever before.

  • After running 2:23:00 (Boston 2017) and 2:20:57 (Chicago 2017) in her first two marathons, but spending much of 2018 injured, Jordan Hasay is back in training. She told on New Year’s Day that she ran 10 miles that morning and had five more planned for later in the day. Four days later, she posted about mile repeats.

  • Another U.S. Olympic marathon hopeful, Sara Hall, is also coming back from injury. She recently shared this post with tips, some more serious than others, on cross training while injured.

  • Jonathan Gault tweets that Sally Kipyego is scheduled to run the Houston Marathon January 20, which should tell us a lot about her fitness. Kipyego won silver medals for Kenya in the 10,000 meters at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games, but she’s now a U.S. citizen. The matter may be settled, but I haven’t seen any definitive statements about which country she’ll represent going forward. If she chooses to represent the U.S., she should be a top contender to make the team. Kipyego’s marathon best is 2:28:01, which she ran in finishing second to Mary Keitany at the 2016 New York City Marathon. She found out after the race that she was about one month pregnant.

  • Shalane Flanagan's past comments have suggested retirement might not be far off. Should she choose to pursue a spot on the 2020 Olympic team, she would be an obvious contender. Flanagan reported last week that she is injured with tears in her patellar tendons. She wrote that she attributed the pain she experienced during her 2018 New York City Marathon buildup to old age before realizing she was injured.

'Tis the Season to go to altitude

Though there are some notable exceptions, it seems like just about every professional runner who doesn’t already live at altitude is currently training at altitude in preparation for the upcoming track season and/or a spring marathon.

Athletes tell their own stories

We used to talk about the ways in which the internet has changed high-level running, now we talk about the ways social media has influenced it. One of the biggest improvements is professional runners’ ability to tell their own stories, rather than solely relying on others to tell their stories. I believe this is particularly important for women runners, who have a history of disproportionately having their stories told by men in a less-than-ideal manner.

Allie Kieffer has been doing an effective job of getting her story out ever since her surprise fifth-place finish at the 2017 New York City Marathon. She and her coach, Brad Hudson, recently started a YouTube channel, which provides detail about their process. Gwen Jorgensen and Alexi Pappas have also shared parts of their lives through YouTube. Emma Abrahamson led the way for high-level female runners when she provided an inside look at being a member of the University of Oregon’s cross country and track & field teams during her senior year at the school.


Katelyn Tuohy to race the pros

High school junior Katelyn Tuohy is scheduled to race professional runners Heather Kampf and Amy-Eloise Neale in the 3,000 meters at New York City’s Armory on January 26. Her race is being billed as a high school record attempt. Mary Cain currently holds the indoor record of 9:04.51, Katie Rainsberger holds the outdoor record at 9:00.62, and Tuohy has a personal best of 9:05.26.

Stephanie Bruce tweets, “I’m not steering her path but I would note that many of the previous HS phenoms who began competing in pro races too early in their career did not help prolong their running future. Hope there’s good people in her corner.” My opinion on high school phenoms is that we should let them be. I’m in favor of cheering their successes—because ignoring them would be unnatural—but not scrutinizing their every move.

The topic of talented young female runners tends to bring out lots of opinions. This Outside article from last June comes to mind.


Listening on the run

Running-themed podcasts have exploded in recent years, and this is an area where it’s great to see so many women involved and doing so much to expand the women’s running audience. Carrie Tollefson, Ali Feller, Lindsey Hein, and Tina Muir are just some of the women making an impact in this space. Mario Fraioli, Chris Chavez, and Matt Chittim have also done some good interviews with high-level female runners.

One of the episodes I enjoyed recently was Ali Feller’s interview with Sarah Cummings, who qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials at the California International Marathon in December after coming back from a potentially career-ending injury. She talks about her unexpected journey from figure skater to runner, balancing a demanding career in the finance industry with high-level training, and running fast on lower (for her) mileage.

2004 Olympian Carrie Tollefson's latest episode features Emma Bates, who recently won the USA Marathon Championship in her debut at the distance. The previously-unsponsored Bates revealed that she now has a sponsor, though she couldn't say who yet. I also liked Tollefson's recent episode with Cory McGee.


Other news

  • Great Britain's Laura Muir had a fast start to the new year, running 14:52.02 for 5,000 meters at the GAA Miler Meet in Glasgow on Friday. Muir's training partner, Gabriela Stafford, took second in a Canadian indoor record of 14:57.45.
  • Brittany Peterson (9:26:59) and Ladia Albertson-Junkans (9:37:44) went 1-2 in the Bandera 100K over the weekend to earn spots in this year's Western States 100. I think I'd intentionally finish second just to avoid having to accept the trophy.
  • Two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya says that given the opportunity, she will run the marathon the 2019 World Championships in Doha. It would be her fifth World Championship appearance, and the marathon takes place 12 days after her 40th birthday. 

About me

This newsletter will mostly not be about me, but I want to provide a bit of background regarding who is behind it.

I am a longtime runner and fan of the sport. In 2000, while working for New York Road Runners, I became frustrated with the lack of quality coverage of high-level women’s distance running, so I started a website in my spare time, and called it fast-women. One of my bosses at work, Mary Wittenberg, in her early years at NYRR, took an interest in what I was doing. She decided the organization would buy the website from me, and create an equivalent men’s site, mensracing. For about five years, running those sites for NYRR was my job. It took me around the country to many amazing events and was a dream job in many ways.

I left NYRR at the end of 2005 to pursue collegiate cross country and track & field coaching. When my coaching career ended in 2013, I spent a handful of years writing for, mostly about the non-professional side of the sport.

In the latter months of 2018, I decided it was time to get back to the part of running that has always interested me the most—women’s competitive distance running. There’s never been a better time to follow women’s running, and this and other factors have inspired me back into a more active role in this space.

I wouldn’t have had the idea to do so in newsletter form were it not for Mario Fraioli’s Morning Shakeout Newsletter, which recently hit its third year of existence. And I’m happy to see more women putting out their own newsletters, specifically the Women’s Coaches Collective and Molly Mirhashem’s recently-launched The Kick.


That’s all for this week. If you have additions, suggestions, or corrections, please let me know by replying to this email or via Twitter.


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