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Fast Women: Big runs from Krissy Gear, Josette Andrews
Katelyn Tuohy breaks another collegiate record.
Issue 236, sponsored by New Balance
The Track Fest foreshadows a great season to come
The women’s 5,000m was the most anticipated event at Saturday night’s Track Fest, held at Mt. San Antonio College, in Walnut, California, but in terms of dramatic racing, the steeplechase stole the show. With two laps remaining, pre-race favorite Courtney Wayment led Marisa Howard. There was a small gap back to Alicja Konieczek, and then another small gap to Krissy Gear, who was in fourth.
Maybe the race looked less dramatic in person, when one could see the full picture. But watching from home, when Gear dropped back far enough that she wasn’t on the screen anymore, it looked like she was out of contention. In reality, Gear was only three seconds behind Wayment with two laps to go, but pro runners can cover a fair amount of ground in three seconds.
First Gear picked off Konieczek, and then Howard, and with one lap to go, she was in second place, but still 2.74 seconds back. It looked like Wayment was going to cruise to the win, but at the same time, if there’s anything Gear is becoming known for in her short pro career, it’s her ability to win races.
Wayment’s last lap, 71.00 seconds, was her fastest of the race, but it was no match for Gear’s 67.41. Gear flew past Wayment on the homestretch, just before the final barrier, and won the race in a 15-second PR of 9:23.55. Wayment finished second in 9:24.39, a solid season opener.
Gear, who runs for NAZ Elite, finished her eligibility at the University of Arkansas last spring. She occasionally ran the steeplechase during college, to score points for her team, but it wasn’t her main event. She thought she had left it behind when she graduated, but she decided to try it out on Saturday night, to see if it was a viable option going forward. It turns out it is.
Gear hasn’t yet decided which events she’ll focus on this season, but it looks like if she chooses the steeple, the U.S. has a new contender to make the World Championships team. Konieczek finished third in 9:31.35, and Howard took fourth (9:32.10), in her first steeplechase back after having a baby 11 months ago. (Post race interview with Gear | Results)
Josette Andrews moves to No. 6 all time, and Katelyn Tuohy sets a collegiate record
Much of the drama in the Track Fest 5,000m happened before the race. For months, Alicia Monson had been planning to pace Josette Andrews to a fast 5,000m time, returning the favor after Andrews paced her in a quick 10,000m in March. But less than a week before the 5K, Monson announced that she had tested positive for Covid, which thwarted her plans.
Dani Jones, who raced the 800m earlier in the evening, agreed to step in, but at the last minute she was unable to pace, reportedly due to illness. So in the final minutes before the race, Whittni Orton Morgan agreed to be a backup pacer for the backup pacer. Micaela DeGenero also helped pace the race, leading through 1600m, but Orton Morgan and the rest of the field hung back a few strides. Orton Morgan went through 1K in 2:58, 2K in roughly 5:56, and 3K in 8:57 before exiting the race with 1800m remaining.
At that point, Andrews took over, and she was ready to go. She ran her last four laps in 69, 71, 68, and 64 seconds, for a final 1600m of 4:34.35. Andrews won the race in 14:43.36, taking nearly eight seconds off her PR and becoming the sixth-fastest U.S. woman of all time outdoors (seventh overall, because Elise Cranny has run faster indoors).
Her coach, Dathan Ritzenhein, said he thought she could have run mid-14:30s with slightly different pacing, and I believe it. Major kudos to Orton Morgan for stepping in, but I think this could have been an even bigger race for Andrews if Monson had been there. But this just leaves room for further improvement down the road. It’s clear the move to the On Athletics Club is working out well for Andrews, and it seems like she’s just getting started.
Venezuela’s Joselyn Brea had a fantastic run to take second in 14:47.76. She shaved more than 17 seconds off the national record she set two weeks earlier. Mexico’s Laura Galván took third in 14:49.34, also lowering her own national record by just under two seconds. Emily Infeld had a strong run in fourth (14:50.90), setting a small PR.
And back in seventh, NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy ran 15:03.12 and took 4+ seconds off of Jenny Simpson’s outdoor collegiate 5,000m record (15:07.64) from 2009. Simpson still holds the indoor record, though, and at 15:01.70, it’s a little faster than the outdoor record. Tuohy said on the broadcast that it was a little bittersweet to come so close to the 15:00 barrier and miss the World Championships standard (14:57.00), but her run came at the end of a very tough week, during which she was feeling overwhelmed and finishing up her exams for the year.
Tuohy said that she’s considering focusing on the 1500m at regionals and NCAAs, a decision that would likely give her a little more competition and help her work on the speed she’ll need beyond the NCAA season. In an interview with David Monti prior to the meet, Tuohy made it sound like it won’t be long before she goes pro. "I haven't decided when yet, whether it's now or after the fall,” she said. “I'm still weighing my options, so there hasn't been a decision made yet.”
Sage Hurta-Klecker looked strong holding off Gabriela DeBues-Stafford in the 1500m, 4:06.34 to 4:06.71. This was DeBues-Stafford’s first race in nearly a year, due to injury. Oregon’s Izzy Thornton-Bott finished fifth and improved her PR slightly, to 4:08.33. She’s the second-fastest in the NCAA this season, behind only Tuohy. Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi won the 800m in 2:00.21, finishing 0.60 seconds ahead of BYU’s Claire Seymour.
Germany’s Lea Meyer led a PR parade in the “B” section of the 5,000m, running 15:06.39. And a pair of Australian 18-year-olds excelled, with Claudia Hollingsworth winning the “B” section of the 1500m in 4:08.66 and Amy Bunnage finishing fourth in the “B” section of the 5,000m in 15:21.76. Bunnage has committed to Stanford and will start in the fall.
The 10,000m field was unfortunately rather small, and the race was held after most of the spectators had gone home. Fiona O’Keeffe won the race in 30:52.77, a 2+ second PR. It was a solid effort, but she was hoping to run under the World Championships standard of 30:40. This seemed like a tough environment to do it in, with the small field and a relatively quiet track, but she’s inching closer to that goal. Diane Van Es of the Netherlands, who ran 30:29 on the roads in February, finished second in 31:02.24.
Thanks to New Balance for sponsoring Fast Women!
Have you ever gotten used to running in one particular shoe, only for it to change so much that you can no longer wear it? I’ve been running (and crosstraining) in New Balance’s Fresh Foam X 880v13, having recently switched from v12, and I love that it’s been a seamless transition. New Balance is making subtle changes to the shoe all the time, to make it incrementally better, but they’re small enough that I can always count on the shoe feeling good.
It’s a great shoe for easy- to moderate-pace miles. It’s neutral, very comfortable, and has a medium level of cushioning. (Pre super shoes, I would have called it highly cushioned, but my cushioning scale has been completely recalibrated.) Everyone’s different, but the next time you’re in the market for a new trainer, I recommend checking it out either online or at your local run specialty store.
I’ll be giving away a pair of New Balance shoes of your choosing over the next couple days. Check out the Fast Women Instagram account later today for details on how to enter the contest.
Faith Kipyegon picks up where she left off
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon looked strong and in control, kicking off her season with a 1500m win on Friday at the Doha Diamond League meet. Most of the field was still in contention with a lap to go, but by 200m remaining, Kipyegon and Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji had broken away. Kipyegon didn’t shake Welteji until the last 50m or so. She took a look back and then switched gears again, pulling away to win, 3:58.57 to 3:59.34. Kipyegon ran her last 400m in about 58.8 seconds.
Kipyegon said after the race that she’s looking to defend her world title in the 1500m this year, and she has her eye on the world record (Genzebe Dibaba’s 3:50.07) as well. Welteji, who turns 21 this week, is one to watch going forward. She finished fourth in the 800m at the World Championships last year, and she won the world U20 800m title when she was only 16. Cory McGee, the only American in the race, was in the large lead pack at the bell, and she finished 10th in 4:06.03.
In an eventful steeplechase race, Bahrain’s Winfred Mutile Yavi and Ethiopia’s Sembo Almayew were together going over the final water barrier, but Yavi came out of the water a little quicker and began to open a small gap. She maintained it to the finish, winning 9:04.38 to 9:05.83.
It was a rough race for the two Americans. First Emma Coburn essentially got body checked mid-air going over a barrier early in the race and fell. She got up pretty quickly but said she used quite a bit of energy trying to work her way back into position, and she faded over the last 500m. She finished 10th in 9:29.41.
Getting Coburn to the line in the proper attire took a heroic effort after her carry-on bag, with her uniform and spikes in it, was lost on the way to Doha. She had to gate check it on a direct flight, but the bag didn’t make it to Qatar. After reviewing the options, her sponsor determined that the best way to get Coburn the things she needed was to hand deliver them. So Kimarra McDonald, a former pro runner who now works in sports marketing for New Balance, flew to Doha on short notice to hand off a uniform, spikes, and other gear. At least McDonald got to stay and watch the meet before flying back to Boston.
Val Constien had an even rougher trip to Doha. In her first race since signing with Nike, Constien landed badly coming off the second water jump of the race and fell to the track, clutching her knee. She walked off the track in tears, but she later posted in her Instagram stories, “It’s probably just a sprain! I’m OK, just very scared.” And hopefully she’s right.
Sha’Carri Richardson continued her fantastic early season running, winning the 100m in a world leading 10.76 seconds. Katie (Nageotte) Moon won the pole vault, clearing a world leading 4.81 meters (15 feet, 9.25 inches). Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won the 100m hurdles in 12.48 seconds. Alaysha Johnson and Nia Ali of the U.S. went 2–3 in 12.66 and 12.69 seconds. Johnson pointed out after the race that she was the only unsponsored runner in the field. Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic won the 400m in 50.51, and Shamier Little of the U.S. finished second (50.84). (Results)
Other News and Links
Last week, Tori Bowie’s management company shared the tragic news that the Olympic and World Championship gold medalist died at age 32. At the 2016 Olympic Games, Bowie won silver in the 100m, bronze in the 200m, and anchored the gold medal winning 4x100m relay. At the 2017 World Championships, she won the 100m and helped the 4x100m relay team win gold. (And the 100m meet record Sha’Carri Richardson broke on Friday in Doha was previously held by Bowie.) I appreciated this series of posts from Bowie’s former relay teammate, Tianna Madison, last week, discussing some of the struggles pro T&F athletes face.
During a visit to NYC for Mental Health Awareness Month, Molly Seidel told Citius Mag that her glute injury was slow to heal. She’s going to focus on shorter races for now, and she’s hoping to run the B.A.A. 10K, and maybe the Falmouth Road Race or the Beach to Beacon 10K. “We’ll see if the butt holds up,” she said, laughing. Beyond that, she’s hoping to get in a good fall marathon.
The New York Times published an article (gift link) about Erika Kemp and the lack of diversity in women’s distance running in the U.S. Her story has been covered in depth in recent podcasts (I especially enjoy her chats with Tommie Runz on the Run Eat Sleep Show) but it’s good to see the topic reach a wider audience.
In this BBC article, Boston Marathon champion Hellen Obiri talked about her family’s move to the U.S., saying she was worried that her daughter’s teachers and classmates would treat her poorly because she’s from Kenya.
Oklahoma State first year Natalie Cook, who finished seventh at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall, announced that she’s transferring to the University of Colorado.
Tara Davis-Woodhall long jumped a world-leading 7.07m (23 feet, 2.5 inches) at Friday’s Arkansas Twilight meet. Last week, she put out a YouTube video addressing her recent one-month ban after testing positive for THC (without specifically saying what happened). “What did you think I was doing? Just sitting on my ass for 30 days? No. I was working.” she said.
At the USATF Masters 10K Championships on April 30, Jan Holmquist, 78, ran 50:01. She shaved 10 seconds off the American 75–79 age group record, according to USATF.
This was a good article about Emily Venters and Simone Plourde, two University of Utah transfers who are excelling this year.
Des Linden provided a hand update and said elsewhere that she’ll be telling the full story on her podcast this week. And speaking of Linden, this was a good article about how she has changed her training as she approaches age 40 (Runner’s World).
The Colorado Sun published a nice feature on Team Boss 800m runner Aaliyah Miller.
Leah Falland’s baby is here, and it sounds like it was an eventful arrival.
I happened to get this photo of Heidi Bock serving as a guide runner to a visually impaired runner at this year’s Boston Marathon. (You can see about 1700 other Boston Marathon photos I took at that link as well, and the rest are on Instagram.) I was interested to learn some of Bock’s story last week. She has had a strong return to racing after being hit by a car and tearing her ACL, MCL, and meniscus and breaking her elbow in 2020. She just ran four marathons in a seven-month span, breaking 3:00 in two of them, and guiding visually impaired runners in the other two. She’s grateful to be out there again after thinking she might never run again.
Ajee’ Wilson won the 600m at the Atlanta City Games, held mostly on the roads, in 1:27.00, holding off Jamaica’s Natoya Goule (1:28.18) for the second week in a row. Taryn Rawlings won the road mile in 4:40.11. (600m replay | Mile replay | Results)
Ethiopia’s Buze Diriba won the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in 1:10:43, and Carrie Verdon took second, only four seconds back, after leading much of the way. Margo Malone won the marathon in 2:41:56. (Results)
Ethiopia’s Yeshi Kalayu kicked away from Kenya’s Cynthia Limo to win the Bloomsday 12K 38:49 (5:13/mile) to 38:51. Limo has been cleaning up on the U.S. road racing circuit recently, so this halted her streak. Keira D’Amato was the top American, finishing fourth in 39:42 (5:20/mile). Susannah Scaroni won the wheelchair race in 30:02. (Results)
Ethiopia's Workenesh Edesa won the Prague Marathon in 2:20:42.
Brittany Charboneau won the USATF Marathon Trail Championships, and she and runner-up Bailey Kowalczyk qualified to represent the U.S. in the 40K at the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships next month.
Nineteen days after running 2:30:52 at the Boston Marathon, Anna Rohrer won the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, which is a half marathon, in an impressive 1:11:31. Kaitlyn Peale finished second in 1:13:08. (Finish video & post-race interview | Results)
Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell looked strong kicking to a 1500m win at Friday’s Oregon Twilight meet. Mitchell used the race as a tuneup heading into the championship season. Meanwhile Courtney Frerichs, who was running her first race since having ankle surgery in December, used the race as a rust buster. She finished sixth in the mostly collegiate field in 4:18.05. (Results)
Raevyn Rogers won the 800m at the Portland Twilight meet in 2:03.53.
Caitlin Keen won a stormy Flying Pig Marathon, her third title, in 2:45:34. Last year, this race faced controversy because a six-year-old was allowed to run the marathon. (They’ve since changed their rules.) This year, they’re facing criticism over the fact that the race went ahead despite dangerous weather conditions. Keen said that she saw a lot of lightning in the first eight miles. (Results)
In a mixed gender race, which she won, Oregon high school junior Mia Brahe-Pedersen ran 11.08 seconds for 100m. Only two U.S. high school girls have ever run faster wind-legal times. Brahe-Pedersen also ran 22.61 for 200m, while it was hailing, later in the day. (100m video)
It was interesting to hear Sifan Hassan’s coach, Tim Rowberry, talk about all of the challenges she faced preparing for the London Marathon on the Bad Boy Running podcast. He starts to get into it more around the 68:45 mark.
Nikki Hiltz and Emma Gee talked about everything and anything on Convos Over Cold Brew. Following her on Instagram, I’ve become invested in Gee’s goal of qualifying for the USATF Championships in the steeplechase.
Additional Episodes: Konstanze Klosterhalfen on the Mind Set Win podcast | TrackGirlz founder and Olympian Mechelle Lewis Freeman on Running for Real | Christine Yu discussed her upcoming book, Up to Speed, on I’ll Have Another | Eloise Wellings on For the Kudos
The USATF 25K Championships will take place on Saturday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. RunnerSpace/USATF.tv subscribers will be able to watch the race live here, starting at 8:10 a.m. ET. I haven’t seen the elite fields yet, but Betsy Saina has said she’s running.
It’s also conference meet weekend for most major conferences in the NCAA, which should bring some fantastic competition. And if you have access to the right channels, many of the meets will be streamed live. (For example, the SEC Championships will be on the SEC Network+ and the ACC Championships will be on the ACC Network Extra.)