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 September 13, 2021, Issue 145

Nell Rojas outkicks Jenny Simpson to win the USATF 10 Mile title

With about half a mile remaining in Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, which also served as the USATF 10 Mile Championship, Nell Rojas moved to the front of the field and then began to open up a small lead. Jenny Simpson and Caroline Rotich did the best job of covering the move, and with roughly 400 meters to go, Simpson moved up on Rojas’ shoulder. It looked like the middle-distance specialist was getting ready to unleash a big kick. But as soon as Rojas saw Simpson, she took off again. Rojas pulled away from Simpson over the final 400 meters and won the race 52:13 to 52:16.

Nell Rojas, the marathoner, outkicking Simpson, the 1500m specialist, wasn’t necessarily what either of them expected. After the race, Rojas said that outkicking Simpson was her biggest accomplishment ever. “All I could think was I really hope she is way more tired than I am,” Rojas told Simpson, too, was surprised that she didn’t have that extra gear, but she learned that trying to kick after 9.75 miles is a different skill than kicking at the end of a mile.

Rojas, 33, earned her first national title, and Simpson, 35, had an excellent race in her debut at this distance. Kenya’s Antonina Kwambai and Rotich, who did a lot of leading, finished third and fourth, respectively in 52:23 and 52:25. And Annie Frisbie, who looked great throughout, took fifth overall in 52:26 and finished third in the national championship race. All five runners were in it with a half mile to go, which made for an exciting finish. Sara Hall, who is deep into training for the Chicago Marathon, fell off the pack shortly before the nine-mile mark and finished sixth in 52:43. 

Rojas is scheduled to run next month’s Boston Marathon. Simpson called this race a fact finding mission and is making no promises regarding any kind of permanent move to the longer distances, but she wrote on Instagram after the race, “Today was fun. It was really fun. And that feels important.” (Results)

Erika Kemp racing in May

Erika Kemp wins the USATF 20K title

After Monday’s USATF 20K Championship at the New Haven Road Race, Erika Kemp’s competitors commented on the heat and humidity, but Kemp thought the weather was pretty nice, comparatively speaking. “We’ve been doing 8- and 9-mile workouts, but in 95 degrees with like 100 percent humidity, so you feel like you’re running 15 miles,” Kemp told “So coming into today, even though it was a little humid, having it only be in the 70s, I got to nine miles and that was the most alive I’ve felt in like two months.” It was a relatable comment for anyone who has trained through the New England summer, or anything similar.

Monday’s 20K was the longest Kemp had ever raced, so she ran relatively conservatively in the early stages of the race, but with two miles to go, she made a move that no one could match and won by 39 seconds, in 1:06:20. This was Kemp’s second national title, as she also won the 2019 USATF 15K title in her first year as a professional runner. Makena Morley outkicked Emily Durgin, 1:06:59 to 1:07:03, to take second. Jordan Hasay, the 2017 champion, didn’t spend much time with the lead pack. She finished 17th in 1:14:18.

Kemp said after the race that she plans to run Saturday’s Great Cow Harbor 10K and the Cooper River Bridge Run a week later before taking a break from racing. (Results)


Thanks to Tracksmith for supporting Fast Women

Tracksmith is a Boston-based running brand that crafts performance apparel for training, racing and rest days. With fall races quickly approaching they know race day is as much about reaching the finish line as it is about the consistency and determination it takes to get to the start. Gear up for going far with their Marathon Collection full of running essentials and check out the Tracksmith Journal for some marathon tips from the Tracksmith team.

Tracksmith has offered to donate 5% of the sales from every purchase utilizing the code FastWomen back to an organization of my choice. I chose Wings of America, because I love the work they do to support young Native runners and their communities. You'll get free shipping on your order, too. Visit and use the code FastWomen at checkout.

Nikki Hiltz, Jemma Reekie, and Shannon Osika (Photo courtesy of NYRR)

Jemma Reekie wins Fifth Avenue Mile in her debut

Alicia Monson jumped out to the early lead at Sunday’s Fifth Avenue Mile and earned a $1,000 bonus for leading at halfway, but roughly 30 seconds later, the chase pack, led by Marisa Howard, caught Monson and things started to heat up. Nikki Hiltz made a big move with just over 200m remaining, but when Jemma Reekie, the pre-race favorite, made her move, it was all over. Scotland’s Reekie, 23, stormed to the finish in 4:21.6. Hiltz held on for second (4:23.0) and Shannon Osika took third, in 4:23.2. (Women’s results, nonbinary results)


Hellen Obiri holds off Eilish McColgan to win the Great North Run

Around 5K into Sunday’s Great North Run half marathon, Hellen Obiri broke out on her own and opened up a lead over the chase pack. Only Eilish McColgan went after Obiri, gradually reeling her in. Obiri controlled the race throughout, opening up gaps on McColgan a couple times, but McColgan kept closing them. With roughly half a mile remaining, Obiri finally built a lead McColgan couldn’t close, winning the race in 1:07:42 to McColgan’s 1:07:48 debut. It was a busy week for Obiri, who also ran the 5,000m at the Diamond League Final on Wednesday. This race is normally run on a point-to-point downhill route, but this year’s edition was more of an out and back from Newcastle, with a few variations, which made for a much tougher course.

Charlotte Purdue, who was left off Great Britain’s Olympic marathon squad despite having one of the faster times, finished third in 1:08:49. Kenya’s Sharon Lokedi and South Africa’s Dom Scott, both of whom run for U.S.-based teams and were debuting at this distance, finished fourth (1:09:53) and fifth (1:10:42), respectively. Molly Seidel went out with the lead group through 5K but faded to seventh in 1:11:55. She said on Instagram that she struggled a bit bouncing back after the Olympic Marathon, and that’s no surprise, both because of the emotional rollercoaster and the fact that it was only about five weeks ago.

Faith Kipyegon (Photo by @tafphoto)

Faith Kipyegon continues her reign, top U.S. runners perform well in the Diamond League Final

Some of this year’s top stars ended their seasons before the Diamond League Final rolled around, but last week’s meet, in Zurich, still featured some excellent matchups. Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan continued their rivalry in the 1500m, with Kipyegon getting the edge once again, 3:58.33 to 3:58.55. Hassan won their first matchup of the season, in June, but Kipyegon has won three straight since then. It was a good battle up the homestretch, and Josette Norris had possibly the best race of her excellent season to take third in 4:00.41.

Norris came into this season with a 1500m personal best of 4:10.82, a time that wouldn’t have even qualified her for the Olympic Trials, and she finishes it having run 3:59.72 (1500m) and 14:51.32 (5,000m), and holding her own against two of the best 1500m runners of all time. Hannah Borenstein wrote a nice article about Norris’ breakout season last week. Helen Schlachtenhaufen also ran well, finishing fifth in 4:02.30. Hassan will end her season here, while Kipyegon is planning to compete at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi on Saturday.

Having finished her season at the Prefontaine Classic, Athing Mu was notably absent from the 800m, but Olympic silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson took the win in 1:57.98. Kate Grace edged Natoya Goule to take second, with both runners timed in 1:58.34. (Look at that photo finish!)

Norah Jeruto, who couldn’t compete in Tokyo because she’s in the process of changing her citizenship, earned her second victory in a row over the Olympic steeplechase podium finishers, winning in 9:07.33. Hyvin Kiyeng was right with Jeruto on the final water barrier but stumbled and had to fight to hold on to second (9:08.55). Courtney Frerichs, who isn’t known for her kick, looked like she might be in trouble late in the race, but she ran an excellent final 200m to move from fifth to third at the finish (9:08.74). Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai finished seventh in 9:20.16. While she’s a world class runner, nothing Chemutai did in her races either before or after the Olympic Games predicted that she would win gold, but she ran a superb race when it counted most.

The 5,000m was run one day ahead of all of the other running events, on a temporary 560m track near the Zurich Opera House. In the interest of time and space, I’m not going to debate all of the pluses and minuses of moving this race off the standard track. But one thing that I liked about it was that Francine Niyonsaba had already beaten Ejgayehu Taye and Hellen Obiri twice each recently. It seemed likely that Niyonsaba would win, and she did (14:28.98), so the setting made an otherwise relatively predictable race more interesting. Obiri was second in 14:29.68 and Taye third in 14:30.30. Elise Cranny had a rough one and finished 10th in 15:55.17. You can read more about the other events here and the results are here.


Kate Grace wins her last race of the season

After placing a disappointing seventh in the 800m at the Olympic Trials in June, Kate Grace has been on a tear, finishing near the front of races and setting personal bests. She has run the 800m six times since the Trials, and had just finished second in the event in the Diamond League Final, so it made sense to finish out the season with something different.

Running the 1500m at Sunday’s ISTAF Berlin meet, Grace executed well, and when she made her move, the race was over. She ran a personal best of 4:01.33, improving her previous best by 1.16 seconds, and won by more than three seconds. At the same meet, Valarie Allman broke the North American discus record, throwing 71.16 meters in the first round. (Results)


Senbere Teferi and Agnes Tirop set world records, Adidas shoes make headlines

There was good news and not-so-good news from athletes wearing Adidas shoes on Sunday. First the good: Running at the Adizero Road to Records event in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Senbere Teferi broke the 5K road world record, running 14:29, and Agnes Tirop broke the women’s-only 10K road record, running 30:01. Teferi broke both the outright (14:43) and women’s-only (14:44) 5K records, and helped bring the road record closer to the track record (14:06.62).

Tirop broke Asmae Leghzaoui’s record (30:29) that had stood since 2002. (Leghzaoui served a two-year suspension after testing positive for EPO in 2003.) On Sunday, Sheila Chepkirui finished second in 30:17, also surpassing the former record. You can read more about the races here and watch all of them here.

Now the not-so-good news, which comes from the men’s side of the sport but can serve as a cautionary tale for all. Derara Hurisa crossed the finish line first at the Vienna Marathon on Sunday, in 2:09:22, but he was disqualified for wearing the Adidas Adizero Prime X shoes. They have a stack height of greater than 40mm, which is a violation of the rules. The second man across the line, Leonard Langat, wore the Adizero Adios Pro 2, and has been declared the winner of the race. Imagine running an entire marathon only to find out it didn’t count, but at the same time, it seems like this situation could have easily been avoided.

Join the Fast Women team for a one-mile challenge!

The Fast Women team has somewhat accidentally found itself among the top teams in Under Armour’s All Out Mile challenge, and if we can crack the top three, we get to choose a youth sports charity to receive a donation. (As I write this, we’re in third, but nine more people will move us into first.) The winning team gets to donate $15,000! I’m not being paid to promote this, I’d just love to be able to make a donation, and this is good motivation to do some speedwork. 

Entry is free, the registration deadline is September 30, and you can sign up here. Participants must download the MapMyRun app, and run a “benchmark” mile by September 30. And then run another mile between October 1 and 11. (And to join the Fast Women team, you need not be fast or a woman.

Syncing your results isn’t the most user-friendly process, but you can join the Fast Women Facebook group for tech support (mention the newsletter in your response to the security question) or just reply to this email and I’ll help you out. A big thanks to Nancy Sherwood Johnson for spearheading this effort!


Additional Results

The start of the 2001 New York City Marathon

Other News and Links

  • Anna Cockrell did a great episode of Track Girl Summer last week. At the end, Cockrell gave a much-deserved shout out to hosts Natasha Hastings and Kori Carter. “We so desperately need our voices in these spaces, telling our stories, and it really is a different experience to have a conversation with people who have so many things in common, and you bring a new perspective and a new voice to the sport, to the culture that is too often left out,” Cockrell told the hosts. “I really admire and respect you guys for creating this lane for yourselves and taking the space, not waiting for it to be given to you, because it’s necessary.” Amen.

  • Marielle Hall shared on Sunday that she’s leaving the Bowerman Track Club, but she did not say what’s next, other than a quick trip home to New Jersey. She follows Colleen Quigley, Kate Grace, and Gwen Jorgensen, who left the team earlier this year. While the team has had a good deal of success this year, it’s also been a tumultuous year for them, with the news of Shelby Houlihan’s four-year ban from the sport.

  • The B.A.A. High Performance Team’s women’s roster had gotten so small (just Erika Kemp) that I thought maybe they were phasing out their team, but apparently not. Last week, they announced that Annie Rodenfels and Abbey Wheeler are joining the team. Another Boston-based team, Team New Balance Boston, announced the addition of both Canada’s Julie-Anne Staehli and Great Britain’s Sarah McDonald last week. 

  • Keely Hodgkinson won an Olympic silver medal in the 800m and the Diamond League final this year, but she told Athletics Weekly that driving James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 was the coolest thing she has ever done. Hodgkinson had the opportunity to do so because she receives support from tycoon Barrie Wells, who sponsored her last year after she missed out on British Athletics funding.

  • Forbes published a lengthy piece about Nikki Hlitz’s journey, including their decision to come out as transgender nonbinary earlier this year.

  • “In 2017 I remember watching Kori Carter win the 400-meter hurdles out of lane nine,” Courtney Frerichs told Erin Strout. “The determination she had to just go for something, that was so cool. I walked away from that thinking you can step it up even if on paper you’re not supposed to win a medal.”

  • Francine Niyonsaba told The Star that as soon as she learned, in 2019, that she needed to move to the longer distances in order to keep competing, she decided to move from the U.S. to Kenya, because of the country’s success in long distance running. “Meeting (Eliud) Kipchoge in the morning, it gives you motivation!” she said.

  • Concussions forced Rachel Butler to stop playing collegiate soccer, so she went out for Xavier University’s cross country team. The senior recently competed in, and won, her first race, running 17:19 for 5K, the second-fastest in school history.

  • In this piece by Michelle Hamilton, Deena Kastor reflects on what it was like making her marathon debut at the 2001 New York City Marathon, 54 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Reading it made me think back to what I remember about that day, because I was an NYRR employee at the time and rode on one of the women’s lead vehicles during the race. My strongest memory is that there was fear that the start of the race would be the target for another attack, and it was a tremendous relief when it wasn’t. I don’t remember Joan Benoit Samuelson being among the early leaders, but looking back at my photos, like the one above, apparently she was, which I love.

  • Emilia Benton wrote a nice article about record-setting runner Ida Keeling, who died last month at age 106. There’s a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for scholarships in Keeling’s memory for high school runners who show promise in the 100m.

  • Athletics Canada is taking a tougher stance on vaccination than USA Track & Field has thus far. Anyone over the age of 12 who wants to attend an Athletics Canada event in any capacity must be fully vaccinated.

Carmela Cardama Baez

Podcast Highlights

  • On Convos Over Cold Brew, Carmela Cardama Baez spoke frankly about the challenges of having multiple coaching changes during her collegiate career, during which she transferred from Florida State to Oregon. She said that she and Oregon head coach Helen Lehman-Winters didn’t really get along that well at first, but in the end, they worked things out and had a lot of success together. She said that when choosing a professional running team, she picked the On Athletics Club because the vibe within the team “just felt really healthy.”

  • Philosophy professor and elite ultrarunner Sabrina Little will have you thinking about the role running plays in your life by the end of this episode of the Morning Shakeout.

  • On I’ll Have Another, Amanda Eccleston talked about shifting her focus from professional running to full-time collegiate coaching.

  • It was good to hear from Teahna Daniels on the Citius Mag podcast. Daniels had the best season of her career, running 10.83 in the 100m, making the Olympic 100m final, and winning silver in the 4x100m relay.

  • On DIII Glory Days, Carmen Graves talked about her transition from a college soccer player, sprinter, and jumper to a 9:41 steeplechaser.


Things that made me laugh, smile, or cry

  • Molly Seidel posted a photo from the Great North Run with Edward Cheserek (make sure to swipe). Seidel and Cheserek both won Foot Locker Cross Country titles in 2011.

  • Magda Boulet’s post about becoming a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2001


Sunday had to be the biggest day of elite racing since before the pandemic began. It’s kind of a nice feeling, spending my day frantically trying to keep up with it all. Thanks to Tracksmith for sponsoring Fast Women this month and to all of you who support this newsletter via your Patreon contributions. I hope you all have a good week.


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