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Fast Women, January 13, 2020, Issue 54
Presented by Oiselle

Molly Huddle, who is scheduled to run next weekend's Houston Half Marathon, competes in the 10,000m at the 2008 Olympic Track & Field Trials.

A near-world record in Valencia

On Sunday in Valencia, Kenya’s Sheila Chepkirui ran 29:46 for 10K, which is the second-fastest performance ever by a woman. Her time was originally reported as 29:42, which would have been a world record by one second, but it was later corrected. (Rhonex Kipruto did set a pending world record in the men’s race.) Chepkirui had to run that fast just to win the race, as fellow Kenyans Rosemary Wanjiru and Norah Jeruto were close behind, both running 29:51.

Brigid Kosgei headlines the London Marathon field

World record holder Brigid Kosgei will defend her London Marathon title on April 26. She won the 2019 race in 2:18:20 before setting a world record of 2:14:04 in Chicago. She’ll have to get past world champion Ruth Chepngetich, New York City Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei, three-time Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono, 2018 London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot (2:18:31), and 2:18:30 marathoner Roza Dereje, among others, to repeat as champion. Australia’s Sinead Diver, who finished seventh in last year’s race, is also in the field.

Pre-Trials status check at the Houston Half, and a last chance for OTQs

The Houston Marathon and Half Marathon announced competitive fields for the January 19 races. Kenya’s Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui, who has run 1:05:07, leads the half marathon field, but she should have some good competition as four others in the field have run under 1:07.

When the field was announced on Tuesday, Jordan Hasay was included, which would have been a good showdown, but by Saturday, her name was no longer on the entry lists. American record holder Molly Huddle (1:07:25) is still in there, as are Aliphine Tuliamuk (1:09:16 PB), Sara Hall (1:09:27), Laura Thweatt (1:10:17), Katy Jermann (1:10:27), Molly Seidel (1:10:27), and many others. Other top U.S. marathoners will be racing at the Phoenix Rock ‘n’ Roll Half the same day, but I haven’t seen an announcement of the full fields. (And Seidel used the hashtag #marathontraining the other day, but I couldn’t tell if she was serious. If so, that would be an exciting debut.)

Bruktayit Degefa Eshetu, who has run 2:22:40, leads seven other Ethiopians at the top of the marathon field. Canada’s Malindi Elmore and Greece’s Alexi Pappas will be trying to run fast enough to make their respective countries’ Olympic teams. Neely Spence Gracey, who has faced injury setbacks since giving birth, will run her first postpartum race, with the goal of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials (links to a good update by Barbara Huebner).

In addition to the women in the elite field, there are 32 women entered in the Athlete Development Program who are within five minutes of the Olympic Trials qualifying time of 2:45:00. Additional runners, not part of the ADP, will also be going for the standard, on the final day of the qualifying window. If you happen to be one of them, or know one of them, there’s an informal shakeout run with the 2:45:00 pacer the day before the race.


Memory lane: Christine Clark’s epic Olympic Marathon Trials upset

I recently read an article about an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier who would be a longshot to make the Olympic team. I don’t think the writer who wrote about her fully grasped her odds, but that’s the appeal of a Trials race. Even when the odds are low, there’s still a chance.

My doubt made me think of one of the bigger Olympic Marathon Trials upsets of all time: Christine Clark winning the 2000 race. Clark was 37 years old, from Alaska, had trained about 70 miles per week, mainly on a treadmill, and she had a marathon best of 2:40:38 going in. She had two children, worked 25–30 hours per week as a pathologist, and thought finishing in the top 10–20 would be a good day. But she won the race, held in Columbia, South Carolina, on a nearly 80-degree day, in 2:33:31 (despite her 9-year-old son’s mid-race prediction that she’d hit the wall).

With each subsequent marathon trials race, an upset of that degree has seemed increasingly unlikely. The fastest runners are faster than they were in 2000, and the depth up front has increased significantly. To pull off such an upset, one would have to have a really good day, or rely on many top runners to have really bad ones.

But then again, the 2018 Boston Marathon happened. So anything is still possible, especially with an assist from extreme weather.


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Other Results

  • Kenya’s Hellen Obiri won the Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza in Elgoibar, Spain, on Sunday.

  • Scotland’s Eilish McColgan interrupted her sightseeing tour of the U.S. once again to run in and win the Disney 10K in 32:29. She and her family didn’t realize they’d be at Disney World while the race was happening until a few days before the race. Her mom, Liz McColgan, once a world champion and Olympic silver medalist at this distance, ran 43:00 at age 55.

  • High schooler Brynn Brown ran 10:08.11 for two miles at Texas A&M over the weekend, which is a U.S. high school leading time.

  • At the Wolverine Invitational, Shannon Osika ran to a solo mile win in 4:34.40 and Canada’s Melissa Bishop-Nriagu won the 600m in 1:29.89. (Results)

  • Mary Cain completed her first track race in more than three years last Thursday, competing in a low-key 3,000m race at New York City’s Armory, where she ran 9:25.50 (results | brief finish video | Cain's post-race reflections). She and women’s winner Nuhamin Bogale Ashame, who ran 9:19.78, competed in a men’s heat. Like Cain, Bogale Ashame, now 26, was a World U20 champion. She won 1500m gold for Ethiopia in 2010, in a race where Jordan Hasay finished fourth. She’s making her way back from injury with the support of the West Side Runners. Cain is scheduled to race a more competitive field on the same track January 25 at the Dr. Sander Invitational.

  • England’s Kate Avery, who ran for Iona College, won the Run Stirling Cross Country International in tough conditions.

  • Canada’s Ailsa MacDonald and Michigan’s Michelle Magagna went 1–2 at the Bandera 100K and earned golden tickets for Western States. Ashley Brasovan, who will run next month’s Olympic Marathon Trials, won the 25K race outright. (Results)

  • Thanks to reader Deserae Clarke for making me aware of the fact that the Across the Years ultra has a 10-day race, and a woman won it outright last week. Annabel Hepworth, 47, of Australia covered 740.78 miles over the course of 10 days. (Scroll way down for the 10-day results.)

  • I was pleased to see Missy Rock (formerly Buttry) winning the 3,000m at the Minnesota Open in 9:39.08. This 2016 article mentions that she was forced into retirement from professional running by a torn labrum.


Other News

  • Former IAAF/World Athletics president Lamine Diack’s trial begins today in Paris. Among other things, he’s accused of extorting $1.5 million from Russian athletes to keep their positive doping tests quiet. Yes, it sounds like something out of a crime novel, and yes, this is the recent history of our sport’s international governing body.

  • Des Linden was the latest guest on the Clean Sport Collective podcast, and it was a good episode. I particularly enjoyed hearing Kara Goucher ask Linden what it felt like to get less of the pre-race attention and then beat Goucher in the 2011 Boston Marathon. I also enjoyed hearing Linden’s comments on the current shoe arms race. She also said, “It’s one of those things that you can’t think about it too much while you’re in it. Maybe I’ll shake my fist afterwards.” She said that Atlanta’s hilly, challenging course might be a bit of an equalizer to offset any shoe advantage.

  • Kate Ackerman, Trent Stellingwerff, Kirsty Elliott-Sale, Amy Baltzell, Mary Cain, Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman, and Margo Mountjoy published an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine calling for a “revolution” in terms of education around RED-S.

  • Women’s Running unveiled its “Power Women of the Year” honorees. I particularly appreciated this follow-up tweet from Nikki Hiltz, who has figured out a good part of the formula for running success at any level, especially if longevity is a priority.

  • I enjoyed listening to Amy Yoder Begley, who coaches eight Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers, on the latest episode of Carrie Tollefson’s podcast. I wanted to hear more at the end, when she said she’s surprised more former NCAA athletes haven’t come out and exposed misconduct by their collegiate coaches, because I agree.

  • And on that note, I thought this episode of The Appetite podcast involved some really good discussion of what makes a good coach. It’s applicable and potentially of interest to people involved at all levels of sport, from youth to professional.

  • 100m hurdler Dawn Harper-Nelson is one of five professional athletes talking about pregnancy in professional sports in this 20-minute Players’ Tribune video.

  • Runner’s World’s Taylor Dutch wrote about 44-year-old Ruth Brennan Morrey, who qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2000, and then not again until 20 years later. She broke her 24-year-old personal best at the 2019 California International Marathon.

  • World Championships medalists Raevyn Rogers and Ajee’ Wilson will race the 800m at the Dr. Sander Invitational on January 25. World Championships 1500m finalist Nikki Hiltz will run the mile. Katelyn Tuohy will take on the pros in the 3,000m, and Athing Mu will run the 400m.

  • Rogers, Jenny Simpson, and Mu are among those who will compete at Camel City Elite on February 8.

  • Last week, I linked to an article about Faith Kipyegon, the 2016 Olympic 1500m champion. This article is similar, but it goes into a little more detail. Kipyegon says she was running on an injury when she earned silver in the 1500m at last summer’s World Championships, but it has since healed.

  • This Track & Field News article about Ajee’ Wilson provided a brief update on her training. She said she’s not yet sure if she’ll compete at World Indoors, should she make the team. Her top priorities are the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games.

  • Gwen Jorgensen posted a video of a Bowerman Track Club fall workout, with explanation of the workout in the second half of the video. 

  • Melody Fairchild, who has won national titles at the high school, collegiate, and masters levels, has a new column for Podium Runner with writer and runner Elizabeth Carey. Last week, they wrote about how to periodize your year and your career.

  • When sprinter Brittany Brown won a silver medal in the 200m at last summer’s world championships, she was unsponsored. She announced last week that she has signed with Adidas.

  • The International Olympic Committee released guidelines detailing what types of political gestures will not be allowed at the 2020 Games. I appreciated Nancy Armour’s editorial on the topic. She argues, “You cannot celebrate the spirit of the individual athlete while demanding part of it be buried or ignored.”

  • This statement from the University of Guelph has a little more information about the firing of coach Dave Scott-Thomas, who also coached top Canadian runners through the Speed River Track Club. It sounds like they’ve done the right thing, 13 years later than they should have. And the Speed River Track Club has suspended operations.

  • I appreciated David Roche’s article about the potential long-term risks of fasted training, especially for women, as well as his inclusion of transgender runners.

  • Johanna Gretschel wrote about some of the things that went into the season that culminated in the Arkansas women’s first-ever cross country national title.

  • The University of Colorado’s Sage Hurta, who has run 2:00.99 for 800 meters, announced she has a tibial stress fracture and will have to miss the indoor season.

  • On the latest episode of the Keeping Track podcast, the hosts were critical of for their race of the decade poll. I try, whenever possible, to avoid giving LetsRun any space, so I’d ignored this topic until now, but maybe they’re too big and influential to ignore. Alysia Montaño said on the podcast, “I, personally, as a black woman, feel like I cannot be a fan or support LetsRun because they have not protected me, [or women, women of color, or people of color].” And Molly Huddle asked what a woman would have to do for the LetsRun audience to vote her performance as the best of the decade. They also interviewed Celeste Goodson, who has helped many top runners through their postpartum return to activity.

  • Articles about Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers: Ann Mazur (Runner’s World), Rachel Viger, Allison Krausen, Maura Linde, and Gabrielle Russo

  • Little Wing’s Carrie Mack wrote about the village that has helped her get to where she is today (and deal with a poorly-timed avulsion fracture in her big toe).

  • Sophie O’Sullivan, daughter of Irish running legend Sonia O’Sullivan, will run for the University of Washington.

  • Team USA Minnesota had their name for about 20 years, but the USOPC only recently took notice, apparently, and they requested that the group change its name. They will be Minnesota Distance Elite going forward.

  • Dana Giordano was on the For the Long Run podcast, and my ears perked up when she said, "I want high school girls to care about professional running. How does that happen?" We had some discussion about this, prompted by that comment, in the Facebook group. Let me know if you have answers! I generally enjoyed hearing from Giordano, who is coming off a tough stretch in her career but has a lot to give the sport.

  • This study found that at distances over 195 miles, women are marginally faster than men, on average. However, the same study supported the already-established fact that women are underrepresented in ultrarunning. We know that as participation increases, the average pace slows. So once women are better represented at the longest distances, will they still hold their advantage over men? This article poses the theory that it comes down to estrogen.

  • Ohio State graduate Julia Rizk, who won the 2019 NCAA indoor mile title, has joined the District Track Club.

  • Magda Boulet offers some solid running advice.

  • Sascha Scott, who recently won the masters race at the USATF Club XC Championships, was on the Masters Milers podcast. She talked about how she’s modified her training following a diagnosis of osteoarthritis but has still had success.

  • Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Sarah Cummings told her dramatic comeback story on the Runners of NYC podcast.

  • I enjoyed learning more about recent Trials qualifier Katrina Spratford on the Road to the Olympic Trials podcast. Matt Chittim also introduced a new podcast, Re-Run, which will take a look back at past races. In the first episode, Carrie Tollefson and Jen Rhines share their recollections of the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.

  • Natosha Rogers seems to still be figuring out how to tell her story and how much of it she wants to tell, but she filled in some of the gaps on her sister’s podcast last week. If you like highly polished podcasts, this isn’t the one for you, but if you just want to know more, you might find it interesting. She maintains that social media is a lie and talks about the pressure to participate in a certain way as professional athlete.

  • Do you have a favorite book on women’s running or women who run that hasn’t yet made this list?



Next weekend’s Houston Marathon and Half are scheduled to have some level of television coverage. The USATF Cross Country Championships are scheduled to be streamed live on for subscribers ($12.99/month or about $120/year). As of Sunday afternoon, the entries are kind of light, and we’ll find out soon if that’s because runners are focused on other goals this year, or if some of the heavy hitters just aren’t listed yet.


Something that made me laugh, smile, or cry

Thanks for reading. I’m hoping that this is the last “quiet” week for a long time. Thanks to Oiselle for sponsoring the newsletter this month, and I am eternally appreciative of those of you who support this endeavor via Patreon. If you’re reading this and you don’t already subscribe to this newsletter, you can do so here. And you can follow Fast Women on social media at the links below. If you want to correspond with me directly, just hit reply.

Have a good week!


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