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March 29, 2021, Issue 117


A terrifying experience for Maggie Montoya, and how you can help

A week ago Saturday, 25-year-old Maggie Montoya finished a solid seventh in a deep field at the USATF 15K Championships in Jacksonville, Florida, running 50:25. By Monday, she was back at work in Boulder, Colorado, where she’s a pharmacy technician. According to Montoya’s Instagram account, the pharmacy had been busy recently, as she and her co-workers had been working long hours to help administer Covid vaccines. (For more on Montoya’s running story, Cindy Kuzma wrote about her running success over the summer for Runner’s World.)

On Monday afternoon, a gunman entered the King Soopers grocery story where Montoya works and killed 10 people. Montoya was able to hide until the gunman was captured, at which point she was able to safely exit the store. In the past week, Montoya’s photo has been all over the national news. She talked to Colorado Public Radio about her experience in some detail. She also did a nine-minute TV interview with Anderson Cooper, which is very difficult to watch, and really drives home the fact that with such acts of violence, there are many victims, beyond the death count.

I watched that video and wanted nothing more than to help Montoya, so I was glad to learn the following day that her agent, Josh Cox, had set up a fund to help Montoya and her coworkers. The funds raised will aid in their recovery, therapy, self care, and help cover their time away from work. This article has information regarding how to help others who were affected by the shooting and their families.

British Olympic marathon trials success stories show there’s more than one way to the top

On Friday, Steph Davis secured a spot on Great Britain’s Olympic Marathon team by winning the British Olympic Marathon Trials in a personal best of 2:27:16. Only the top two women in the race were guaranteed Olympic selection, provided that they had met the Olympic standard of 2:29:30 or faster. Runner-up Natasha Cockram (2:30:03) does not have the standard, so she will not make the team, but she did set a Welsh marathon record in Friday’s race. Rosie Edwards, who ran for Butler University, took third in a nearly nine-minute personal best of 2:31:56. 

After the race, Davis talked about her training, which is somewhat unconventional for a top marathoner. She runs 60–65 miles per week and supplements that with a lot of cross training. She works part-time for an asset management company and does not have a shoe sponsor. The race’s fourth-place finisher, Becs Gentry, also got some attention for her unconventional path through the sport. Gentry is well known in the U.S. because she is a Peloton instructor with more than 96,000 Instagram followers. She teaches an average of five treadmill classes per week and hasn’t raced as much as many of her competitors. (The headline of this otherwise informative article, which requires registration to read, is misleading. This was not her first competitive race.)

The other two members of Great Britain’s Olympic marathon team will be determined by British Athletics soon. The three eligible athletes are Jess Piasecki (2:25:29), Charlotte Purdue (2:25:38), and Steph Twell (2:26:40). Trying to explain how the British marathon trials work is a reminder of why a lot of behind-the-scenes work went into ensuring that the first three athletes across the line at the U.S. trials would make the Olympic team. It’s a much more spectator-friendly format. This was the first time in 40 years that Britain held a standalone trial race to select runners for its Olympic marathon team, and the first time women have taken part, because the marathon wasn’t added to the Olympic Games until 1984. The British trials were the antithesis of the U.S. trials in many ways, with small fields, few spectators, and two male pacers helping out the women.

For more on how the race played out and the selection process, this is a helpful article from David Monti. Athletics Weekly also has a good recap. You can watch a full replay of the race here, and the results are here.

How to get involved with and support Girls on the Run

Age-old gender stereotypes and ongoing societal obstacles require a commitment to strengthening a sense of confidence in young girls while fostering care and compassion for self and others. Stressors and trauma related to COVID-19 are undoubtedly negatively affecting girls. Now more than ever, girls need to be accepted, inspired, and motivated.

Girls on the Run reaches girls at a critical stage, strengthening their confidence at a time when society begins to tell them they can’t. Underscoring the important connection between physical and emotional health, Girls on the Run programs address the whole girl.

You can be part of a movement that instills confidence, resilience, and strength in the next generation of women. Here are a few ways:

  • Sign up for the Girls on the Run Remarkable! monthly newsletter. Issues are packed with updates from Girls on the Run, empowering stories from girls and supporters, and exclusive opportunities and give back codes from partners.

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  • Check out current give backs with Girls on the Run, including a virtual 5K opportunity in the fall that you can register for now.

  • Already involved with Girls on the Run? Share your story here!

Be sure to follow Girls on the Run on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. By supporting the organization, you are making it possible for more girls to unlock their power and potential.

Sonja Friend-Uhl after setting a pending American 50–54 age-group record in the 1500m.

Results Highlights

  • At the Hurricane Collegiate Invitational in Coral Gables, Florida, Sonja Friend-Uhl, 50, finished fourth in the 1500m, racing a field of collegians, in 4:41.21. In hot and windy conditions, Friend-Uhl set a pending American 50–54 age-group record five days after entering her new age group. She took 6.2 seconds off Karolyn Bowley’s record, set in 2019. “I finally felt like I did years ago, when going out with the leaders in an open race felt good!” Friend-Uhl wrote on Instagram. “I remembered I could fly for just under five minutes and it was a high I’m still coming down from! This performance reminded me to not put limits on myself.”

  • At the Raleigh Relays, NCAA cross country champion Mercy Chelangat won the 10,000m in 32:31.43. She broke Alabama’s school record in her debut at the distance, and she covered her last 1600m in a speedy 4:45, indicating there will likely be more in the tank when she needs it. Notre Dame grad student Katie Wasserman (formerly of Columbia) won the 5,000m in 15:33.35, only a few seconds off of Molly Huddle’s school record. Virginia graduate student Michaela Meyer won the 800m in a personal best and school record of 2:02.20. Just before the pandemic began, she ran an indoor 800m PR of 2:03.40 for the University of Delaware. Furman’s Gabrielle Jennings won the steeplechase—a race we’ve seen very little of in the past year—in 9:56.30, and Notre Dame’s Olivia Markezich was not far behind in 9:58.18. Hannah Segrave won the 1500m in 4:12.24 and URI’s Lotte Black was the top collegian, finishing second in 4:16.40. (Results)

  • At the Texas Relays, Texas’ Tara Davis broke the outdoor collegiate long jump record two weeks after breaking the indoor record. She surpassed Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s 6.99m (22-11¼) from 1985, jumping 7.14m (23-5¼). Davis is not just one of the best in the NCAA, she is also one of the best in the world in the event. You can watch a video of her record-breaking jump here. She received a nice congratulatory tweet from Joyner-Kersee. Allie Wilson of the Atlanta Track Club won the invitational 800m in 2:02.56. Sarah Lancaster won the invitational 1500m in 4:14.87. Baylor’s Aaliyah Miller won the college 1500m in 4:23.73 less than two weeks after becoming the NCAA indoor 800m champion. She edged Oklahoma State’s Sivan Auerbach by 0.21 seconds, and both ran the last 400m in 63 seconds, after a slower start. Gabby Thomas won the invitational 200m in 22.17 and Shamier Little won the 400m in 50.19. (Results)

  • Natoya Goule won the 1500m at the Florida Relays in 4:14.56.

  • Penn State’s Danae Rivers, the 2019 NCAA indoor 800m champion, opened up her season with a 2:05.14 win at the Maryland Invitational. (Results)

  • Catriona Bisset and Linden Hall went 1–2 in the Queensland Track Classic 800m, running 1:59.12 and 1:59.22, respectively. Genevieve Gregson won the steeplechase in 9:54.62 after running a 4:10.86 1500m earlier in the week.  (Results)

  • Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu won her second World Athletics Cross Country Permit race in two weeks, by taking Sunday’s Cinque Mulini in San Vittore Olona, Italy. It’s worth clicking on this article just to see the two accompanying photos of the unusual race course.

  • At the end of the article I wrote about Samantha Palmer last week, I mentioned that she had trained a group of women to run the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon. Well, she jumped in the race and won it outright in 1:15:46 (with a chip time 10 seconds faster).

  • Brittany Charboneau won the Behind the Rocks 10 mile trail race outright in 1:11:46.

Gwen Jorgensen

Other News

  • In Gwen Jorgensen’s latest YouTube video, she talks about her last two races, a rough 10,000m race, and a much better 5,000m race. She is candid about wanting to quit the sport after the former, and she talks about why she will no longer train at altitude.

  • This was a good article about what went into BYU’s NCAA Cross Country win.

  • Rebecca Mehra was on Ellen Degeneres’ Game of Games on Sunday night and this article released in advance of the show’s airing includes a Q&A with Mehra.

  • Last week I mentioned that Wisconsin high schooler Roisin Willis ran 2:04.64 to win an 800m race, but it turns out that wasn’t the whole story. On Monday, DyeStat shared that because the wrong starting line was used in the race, Willis ran closer to 815 meters. According to the math in the article, that error might have cost Willis an Olympic Trials qualifier. While the whole situation is unfortunate, hopefully she’ll have more chances to get the 2:02.5 standard. Willis won the 400m at the NSAF USA Meet of Champions on Sunday in 53.87.

  • Earlier this week, Loyola Marymount University runner Rosie Cruz shared Instagram and Twitter posts in which she discussed her experience with what she calls psychological abuse as a member of LMU’s cross country and track & field teams. Since then others have chimed in with their experiences. Cruz says the responses she’s received to her post indicate that such issues are widespread within the collegiate system. I haven’t yet seen a public response from LMU’s head coach or athletic director, but I believe we’ll see more reporting on this soon. In the past, college athletes had few channels for reporting their grievances, other than going through official channels at their institutions. But social media has changed that, starting with the Wesleyan (NY Times) and UAB cases, and now this one.

  • Erin Strout wrote about how Emily Sisson worked on her weaknesses over the past year.

  • Hannah Steelman's hometown paper wrote about her recent success.

  • Mary Albl wrote about the breakthrough season UMass Lowell’s Kaley Richards just had.

  • &Mother announced last week that Allyson Felix has joined the organization’s board of directors.

  • Drake University will host the USATF 1-Mile Road Championships on Wednesday, April 21.

  • TrackTown USA is offering unpaid communications internships during the 2021 outdoor track & field season (which include working the Olympic T&F Trials). Applications are due this Friday, April 2.

  • World Athletics, the sport’s international governing body, is conducting a survey to help shape the future of the sport. There’s more information here, and you can take the survey here.

Mary Cullen races at the 2006 Big East Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Podcast Highlights

  • Sally Kipyego talked about her experience with pregnancy, motherhood, and elite-level competition on Strides Forward.

  • Sarah Lorge Butler talked with Matt Chittim about why there aren’t more female coaches in charge of pro running teams and added some insights beyond what went into her Runner’s World article. She comes on at the 54:40 mark of this episode.

  • Shalane Flanagan had a good conversation with Mario Fraioli on the Morning Shakeout.

  • I enjoyed learning more about sprinter Jasmine Todd on Unscripted with Akeem Haynes.

  • Mary Cullen talked about her career and her experience with cancer on Keeping Track.

  • Jinghuan Liu Tervalon had a good conversation with Megan Flanagan about diversity and representation in running on Strong Runner Chicks.

  • Even if you’ve listened to Carolyn Su on a bunch of other podcasts, I thought her conversation with Sidney Baptista on Fitness in Color was really good and covered some new ground.

  • At the 2007 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Amherst College’s Shauneen Garrahan won the 10,000m, steeplechase, and 5,000m. She talked about that, and everything that led up to it, on the DIII Glory Days podcast.

  • I thought the Burn It All Down take on the discrepancies between the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments was excellent and the hosts made many good points that go well beyond college athletics. Because cross country and track & field operate more as combined sports at the collegiate level, it would be harder to identify such obvious discrepancies between men’s and women’s experiences (aside from the fact that there are more scholarships on the women’s side), in my opinion, but I’d be curious if others disagree here.

  • Alexa Efraimson shared a lot about her career thus far on Convos Over Cold Brew.

  • Dana Giordano provided a running update on the Road to the Trials podcast. Her injury is much improved and she’s focusing on the 5,000m for now.

  • Emma Zimmerman talked to Andy Kucer and C.C. Tellez about the potentially industry-altering changes coming to the Philadelphia Distance Run. (ICYMI, there was an article about this earlier.)


This was a lighter week of racing domestically, especially at the professional level, but I expect things to gradually ramp up again in the coming weeks. Thank you so much to Girls on the Run for sponsoring this newsletter this month. Thanks, also, to those of you who support Fast Women via Patreon. I hope you all have a good week.


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