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 June 7, 2021, Issue 127 

Sifan Hassan breaks the 10,000m world record

After running well but doing nothing earth shattering in her first two outdoor races of 2021, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands was back to her record-setting ways on Sunday. Running mostly on her own, Hassan ran 29:06.82 for 10,000m at the FBK Games in Hengelo and took 10.63 seconds off Almaz Ayana’s world record, set at the 2016 Olympic Games (29:17.45).

Hassan had pacing help for about 2,000m of the race, but after that, it was just her against the pacing lights, which lit up the inside rail of the track at her target pace. Hassan went through 5,000m in 14:38.75 and ran her second 5,000m in 14:28.07 (faster than the 14:35 she ran at the Track Meet in California last month). “I never thought I would run so fast,” she told reporters after the race.

Hassan now holds outdoor world records in the mile and 10,000m. She’s not the first woman to accomplish such a feat. Mary Decker Slaney also did so, in 1982. According to the commentators, Hassan is now based in Salt Lake City but trains all over, and she’s coached by Tim RowBerry. Hassan was coached by Alberto Salazar, until he was ejected from the 2019 World Championships for anti-doping violations and banned from the sport. Despite her former coach’s sudden exit from the meet, Hassan won the 1500m/10,000m double.

Kenya’s Irine Jepchumba Kimais finished second in 30:37.24 but still got lapped by Hassan like everyone else in the field. Dom Scott Efurd finished eighth in 31:19.89, under the Olympic standard, which should give her the option to represent South Africa in the event in Tokyo.

Jemma Reekie won a tactical 800m race, in which most of the field was still in contention with 150m to go, in 2:00.77. Laura Muir, who was boxed in until late in the race, put in a late surge to take second in 2:00.95. This was Reekie’s second 800m win this week. (Results, article with short video clip of Hassan’s 10,000m)

I was first introduced to Wings of America when I attended my first USA Cross Country Championships, roughly 20 years ago, where Wings always had a strong presence in the junior race. In this photo, Sheyenne Lewis runs at the (very muddy) 2003 USA Cross Country Championships.

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Emily Infeld and Vanessa Fraser after racing at Thursday's Stumptown Twilight meet. (Photo: @tafphoto)

Progress for Infeld, Fraser, and a breakthrough for Cashin

At the Stumptown Twilight meet on Thursday night in Portland, Oregon, Bowerman Track Club teammates Emily Infeld and Vanessa Fraser returned to the 5,000m after disappointing performances at the Track Meet 19 days earlier. Both athletes made significant steps in the right direction, with Infeld kicking to win in 15:14.97 and Fraser finishing second in 15:17.26. At the Track Meet, Infeld dropped out of the race and Fraser ran 15:44.41. Marielle Hall, who also had a tough outing at the Track Meet, improved slightly, from 16:04.06 there to 15:53.41 in Portland, but she has yet to regain the form that led to her 31:21.78 10,000m in February. It will be interesting to see what all of these athletes can do with 2–3 more weeks of training and possibly a little more rest.

Amy Cashin, who represents Australia but lives in the U.S., had a huge race in the steeplechase to win in 9:28.60, which is under the Olympic qualifying standard and makes Cashin the fastest Australian currently running the event. At the start of the year, Cashin, who is a volunteer assistant coach at the University of West Virginia, had a steeplechase personal best of 9:58.75, from 2018, which she has gradually chipped away at throughout the season. Dana Klein (fifth, 9:46.01) and Caroline Austin (sixth, 9:46.06) both qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in this race.

Canada’s Natalia Hawthorn won the 1500m in 4:04.20, hitting the Olympic standard dead on, and Alicia Monson, who will run a longer distance at the Olympic Trials, looked strong finishing second in a personal best of 4:07.09. Sinclaire Johnson edged out Nia Akins to win the 800m 2:00.16 to 2:00.31. Emily Richards, fourth in 2:02.10, hit an Olympic Trials qualifier in this race.

One of the most popular stories of the night was Tara Welling’s win in the open 5,000m. Welling is 17 weeks pregnant and ran 17:03.72. She said she just missed her goal of running sub-17 at 17 weeks. (Results)

Dani Aragon runs the 1500m at the Platinum PT Qualifier on a cold day in Massachusetts.

A huge win for Aragon, and watch out for Osika

All eyes were on Jenny Simpson in the 1500m, the final event of the ESPN2 TV window, as she ran her second race of the season, hoping to improve upon the 4:10.07 she ran in her season opener. Simpson took a step in the right direction, running 4:06.18, and looking better than she did six weeks earlier. But it was Dani Aragon who maneuvered her way out of a box with 400m to go, moved to the lead, and pulled away to win in 4:05.46. The time mattered a lot to Aragon, who secured her spot in the Olympic Trials by dipping under the 4:06.00 automatic qualifying time.

Aragon had looked fantastic in recent races, but she hadn’t been in one that had gone fast enough yet. This one looked like it might be too slow as well, until Aragon covered her last lap in 61.41 seconds. Her previous best, 4:07.66, might have been fast enough to get her into the Trials, because not everyone who qualifies will enter the event, but now she doesn’t need to sweat it out or keep chasing faster times. The 1500m easily has the toughest qualifying standard of all of the women’s middle-distance/distance events at the Trials, and it’s the only one where those without the auto qualifying mark are likely to get in.

Shannon Osika edged past Chanelle Price in the homestretch to win the 800m, 2:00.60 to 2:00.87. A month ago, Osika ran 4:00.73 for 1500m, and she had good finishing speed here. She’ll be one to keep an eye on at the Trials. Skylyn Webb won the developmental heat of the 800m in 2:02.49, and qualified for the Olympic Trials with 0.01 seconds to spare. That brings the unofficial count of Trials qualifiers in the 800m to 54.

On Friday night, running in hot conditions, Carrie Verdon won the 5,000m in 15:34.30. And last but most definitely not least, Sydney McLaughlin ran, and won, her first 400m hurdle race since 2019. She looked strong running a world-leading 52.83, only 0.6 seconds off her personal best. (Results, YouTube replays)


Eilish McColgan and Jessica Judd make Great Britain’s 10,000m team

The British 10,000m Olympic Trials/European Cup were run simultaneously, which meant it featured an international field. It also included pacers (Alli Cash of the U.S. was one of them), and pacing lights on the rail, to let the runners know how close they were to the 31:25.00 Olympic standard. Israel’s Selamawit Teferi got out to a big lead and ran solo for most of the race, with the pack of British runners running what seemed to be a separate race.

With 1200m to go, Teferi had a 15-second lead, but Eilish McColgan and Jessica Judd closed well. With a 64-second last lap, McColgan caught Teferi down the homestretch and won, 31:19.35 to 31:19.50. Judd also closed well, and dipped under the Olympic standard, running 31:20.96 for third. The top two British runners with the standard were guaranteed Olympic qualification, so McColgan and Judd are officially on the team.

Verity Ockenden and Amy-Eloise Markovc, who were fourth and fifth here and did not hit the standard, will have a shot at making the 5,000m team. Watching this race, which included a lot of lapped runners (with 33 starters), made me think that USATF’s decision to make the women’s 10,000m at the U.S. Olympic Trials a two-heat final is the right move. (Results, Judd’s post-race interview)


Another 2016 Olympic gold medalist banned, but she can compete at the Trials

On Friday, the Athletics Integrity Unit announced that Brianna McNeal, the 2016 Olympic Gold medalist in the 100m hurdles, has been sanctioned for five years for tampering with the results management process. You can read more about here, and the statement that her lawyer put out here (Track & Field News). McNeal, who has not competed in 2021, will be allowed to compete at the Olympic Trials while she waits for her appeal to be heard.

If McNeal’s appeal is not successful, she’ll join fellow 2016 Olympic gold medalists in women’s running events Ruth Jebet (steeplechase) and Jemima Sumgong (marathon) in not being able to defend her title due to a doping ban. Other than reporting a positive test or ban here or there, I don’t write a lot about doping here, and that’s not because I don’t think it’s happening. It’s mainly because most of what I could add would be purely speculative. As long as I’ve been following the sport, doping has been a major problem. I’m certain that some of the athletes I celebrate in this newsletter will someday be banned for doping and others will dope but finish their careers without ever getting caught.

It’s a depressing aspect of the sport, and discouraging for clean athletes, but I remain a fan of the elite side of the sport because I’m confident that many of the athletes I write about are clean. Though there have been some pretty major scandals during the time that I’ve followed the sport, there hasn’t yet been a case that’s caused me to lose all faith.


Additional Results

  • Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran 10.63 for 100m on Saturday, which makes her the second-fastest woman of all time, behind Florence Griffith Joyner. (Video)

  • It won’t count as a Norwegian record because she had male pacers, but Karoline Grøvdal ran 8:30.84 for 3,000m, which is faster than the 8:31.75 record Grete Waitz ran in 1979.

  • World and Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad, who is returning from a hamstring injury, ran her first 400m hurdles race since 2019 last Monday in 55.01. She raced the event again five days later and improved to 54.50. (Results from the latter meet)

  • Francine Niyonsaba ran 14:54.38 for 5,000m, which puts her under the Olympic standard and makes her eligible to represent Burundi at the Olympic Games. Niyonsaba won a silver medal in the 800m at the 2016 Games, but she’s no longer allowed to run events between 400m and the mile without suppressing her testosterone levels, due to a change in World Athletics’ rules. Beatrice Chebet won the race in 14:52.06. (Results)

  • Mercy Kipchumba won the Eldoret City Marathon in 2:28:10, and Judith Korir finished 21 seconds back, in second. Eldoret is 6800 feet above sea level. (Results)

  • Amanda Eccleston won the women’s mile at the HOKA Festival of Miles in a meet record of 4:30.06. (Results)

  • Running in a mixed gender field, Pennsylvania high school junior Juliette Whittaker ran a 2:01.15 800m, a personal best, over the weekend.

  • Obsie Birru won the Utah Valley Marathon in 2:37:35. (Results)

  • Minnesota Distance Elite’s Annie Frisbie returned from injury to win the Brian Kraft 5K in 16:02.

  • In case you missed it, rumor has it that Shelby Houlihan ran a 3:57 1500m time trial the day before the Portland Track Festival.

Malindi Elmore runs for Stanford at the 2002 Penn Relays.

Other News

  • If you read one thing this week, I recommend Sarah Lancaster’s story. She played varsity tennis at the University of Texas, then she joined the basketball team. Now she has qualified for the Olympic Trials in both the 1500m and 5,000m. (Runner’s World)

  • The most exciting news of the week might be that Elle Purrier now officially has a cheese sponsor. I also appreciate that it was someone’s job to write an article about it.

  • Dayna Pidhoresky earned her spot on Canada’s Olympic marathon team in 2019, but Athletics Canada announced last week that Canadian marathon record holder Malindi Elmore and Tasha Wodak will be joining her. Elmore represented Canada in the 1500m at the 2004 Olympic Games, and one retirement, two kids, and 17 years later, she’s back. Andrea Seccafien, who recently broke the Canadian 10,000m record, was named to the team in that event. Additional selections are yet to come.

  • Sinead Diver, Lisa Weightman, and Ellie Pashley have been named to Australia’s Olympic marathon team. The linked article says Diver dislikes the focus on her age, so I won’t mention it!

  • I enjoyed hearing more from Makenna Myler (and her daughter, Kenny Lou) in this DyeStat video interview. She got pregnant shortly before the pandemic began and thought she wouldn’t have a shot at running the Olympic T&F Trials, so she’s thrilled to unexpectedly have the opportunity. She was also featured in this short video from espnW last week. Yes, the stories of women who do exceptional things during and shortly after pregnancy get attention, because they are outliers. Their experiences are not representative of what the majority of women experience. But even as someone who struggled mightily during and after pregnancy, I am still interested to hear about those who have experiences opposite of mine. 

  • Stephanie Garcia, who placed fifth in the steeplechase at the 2016 Olympic Trials, announced that while she plans to continue racing, she's stepping away from the track for now.

  • Dawn Harper-Nelson learned last week that she had already qualified for the Olympic Trials under Rule 8, which gives those who have earned an individual Olympic or World Championships medal in the last four years an automatic entry. This means that all three athletes &Mother is supporting have made it to the Trials, as Sara Vaughn qualified in the steeplechase, and Olicia Williams qualified in the 800m.

  • I enjoyed this conversation between Tianna Bartoletta and Carrie Verdon in which they compare their experiences in track & field.

  • Aliphine Tuliamuk says her postpartum training is going well and you can get some specifics from her training log, which is public. Tuliamuk posted about balancing high-level training with breastfeeding on Sunday, and if you’re aware of any, she’s looking for research on the topic. Tuliamuk said she hopes to be at her best in Sapporo, but she also wants to continue breastfeeding.

  • The Boston Globe featured Molly Seidel, who knows her Olympic experience will be non-traditional, but she’s just thankful to have one at all.

  • Colleen Quigley told the St. Louis Post Dispatch,  “[Nike] did a campaign supporting mothers, but I know for a fact they have a history of not supporting female athletes who have become mothers. You can’t say anything when you’re sponsored by them. Now I can say whatever I want.”

  • Lindsay Crouse wrote about Naomi Osaka and though it definitely wasn’t the point of the article, it included the detail that “[Mary Cain] is starting a new kind of women’s track team, in which the athletes are employees of a nonprofit instead of working for a corporation,” so I’ll be looking forward to hearing more. (New York Times)

  • Red Bull featured Camille Herron. Embedded in the article is a 53-minute video interview with Herron.

  • This short article on Julia Rizk (who has been running well recently) mentions that she considered representing Egypt but is sticking with the U.S.

  • Cindy Kuzma wrote about Lauren Paquette’s decision to join HOKA NAZ Elite for Runner’s World.

  • Kelyn Soong wrote about Claudia Saunders of the District Track Club, who has returned from injury and is hoping to represent France at the Olympic Games.

  • Aisha Praught Leer shared that she started taking a medication because her blood pressure was creeping up, but she now thinks the medication caused more problems for her.

  • Hopefully this is just a small and temporary setback for Leah Falland.

  • This post from Karisa Nelson was a reminder that results don’t tell the whole story.

  • “Changing the Game,” a documentary about young transgender athletes, is now streaming on Hulu, and it includes Connecticut sprinter Andraya Yearwood. And last week, Netflix released the trailer for “Sisters on Track,” featuring the Sheppard sisters, which premieres on June 24.

  • This week’s New York Times running newsletter looked at what Trials of Miles has done to create racing opportunities during the pandemic, despite the organizers having no prior race directing experience. I’d add shoutouts for organizations like Portland Track and Sound Running as well, even though they already put on meets pre-pandemic. Without Sound Running, there might have only been one heat of the women’s 10,000m at the Trials!

  • The New York Times wrote about CeCe Telfer, a transgender 400m hurdler who is blazing a tough trail. Telfer has until Sunday to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

  • The Natasha Hastings Foundation is offering scholarships to girls who qualify for Nike’s Outdoor Nationals in individual events.

  • Alexi Pappas is everywhere, including a Times Square billboard last week.

  • Tiffany Haddish will play Florence Griffith Joyner in the upcoming biopic about the world record holder and Olympic champion’s life. Al Joyner, Flo Jo’s widower, is helping Haddish prepare for the role.

  • If you’re curious about the Olympic Marathon course profile, here you go


Amy Cragg (right) competing at the USA Junior Championships when she was in high school.

Podcast Highlights

  • Josette Norris was great on C Tolle Run, where she talked about her path through the sport, the injuries that held her back, and seeing the hard work she’s put in since turning pro in 2019 pay off this season. Norris is delightful and positive, in the way you’d expect from someone who has unexpectedly found herself in contention for an Olympic berth.

  • As far as I can tell, Amy Cragg has only ever done three podcasts, so it was good to hear from her in her own words on last week’s episode of I’ll Have Another. Cragg, who recently announced her retirement from professional running, talked about initially being unsure how involved she’d be with Puma’s new training group, before ultimately deciding to join her husband, Alistair Cragg, in a coaching role. She also considered working with USADA and putting on races, the latter of which it sounds like she still plans to pursue. She also talked about how the marathon at the 2017 World Championships, in which she won a bronze medal, played out.

  • It was great to hear more of SUNY Geneseo senior Emily Pomainville’s story on the DIII Glory Days podcast. In her first year of college, her best 1500m time was 4:55, and last week, she ran 4:13.69 to set a Division III record. She talked about prioritizing fun in her running, and eventually deciding that running fast would be fun, too. She only runs about 35 miles per week and said she doesn’t follow the sport, so she doesn’t know much about what opportunities lie ahead, but she does have some remaining collegiate eligibility she would consider using. (Attention, DI coaches!) Pomainville won a B heat of the 1500m at the Music City Track Carnival on Sunday night and improved her personal best to 4:13.45.

  • This conversation with Malindi Elmore was recorded in May, before she was officially selected for Canada’s Olympic team, but it was good to hear from her on the Shakeout Podcast

  • Vanessa Fraser was on the Injured Athletes Club podcast, where she talked about coming back from double Achilles surgery just over a year ago. Fraser said she overdid things in November and December and ended up with a stress reaction in the shaft of her left femur. Since this podcast was recorded, she ran a 15:44.41 on the one-year anniversary of her surgery, and, as mentioned above, she improved to 15:17.26 on Thursday night.

  • Tianna Bartoletta was insightful and inspiring on For the Long Run.

  • Kim Conley provided an update on the Dying to Ask podcast. She said she hasn’t yet decided if she’ll double in the 5,000m and 10,000m at the Trials and that she plans to move to the marathon after this year.

  • Grace Gonzales, a founding member of Angel City Elite, was great on the Hear Her Sports podcast. She talked about the many ways in which Brooks has supported ACE and its mission, and the challenge of building the group while also holding full-time jobs. Gonzales’ teammate, Sabrina De La Cruz, was also on Social Sport last week.

  • Beatie Deutsch has shared her story many times before but this telling of it, on the Strides Forward podcast, is great. If you’re more of a reader, this is a lengthy article about her, from last week.

  • Triathlete and marathoner Sika Henry shared more of her background on Running for Real, including going from barely breaking 4:00 in her first marathon to winning her second one.

  • Charlie Lawrence, who paced Des Linden to her 50K record, was on the Ali on the Run Show.


Something that made me laugh, smile, or cry


Thanks again to Tracksmith for sponsoring Fast Women this month and remember to use the code FastWomen so that 5% of your purchase will support Wings of America, and you can get free shipping.

The NCAA Championships begin on Wednesday, with the first women’s events on Thursday. It’s going to be a fantastic meet. The schedule/start lists/results are here (all times are Pacific), and all of the broadcast information is here.

I hope you all have a great week! Thanks for reading.


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