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Fast Women: Chilly B.A.A. Half draws top runners
The fields are set for Saturday’s NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Issue 265, sponsored by Oiselle
Fotyen Tesfay tops a strong field at the B.A.A. Half Marathon
Ethiopia’s Fotyen Tesfay has an impressive running resume, including a fifth-place finish at the World Cross Country Championships earlier this year, but she’s inexperienced at the half marathon distance. Heading into Sunday’s B.A.A. Half Marathon, she had the 18th-fastest half marathon personal best in the field, a 1:10:26. But late in the race, the 25-year-old Tesfay pulled away from a pack of accomplished runners to win in 1:08:46, a whopping PR on a tough course, on a very chilly day.
Because the race, held in Boston, is a local event for me, I took advantage of the opportunity to watch in person. To maximize spectating opportunities, I picked a mid-course location, and the last time I saw the leaders was at the 11-mile mark (pictured above). At that point, there were still 11 women in the lead pack. But given the 1:46 spread between first and 11th place at the finish, it’s likely the field started to break up soon after. (There’s unfortunately no broadcast of this race, even though ESPN and WCVB Channel 5 signed a contract to become the exclusive broadcast partner for B.A.A. events. WCVB posted only a 45-second video of the women’s finish.)
Ethiopia took four out of the top five spots, with Senbere Teferi finishing second in 1:09:00. (Side note, Tesfay and Teferi had a memorable finish at the Peachtree Road Race in July, when Teferi made a wrong turn very late in the race and Tesfay, running close behind her, took the win.)
Tsigie Gebreselama, the reigning world cross country silver medalist, took third in 1:09:06. And Keira D’Amato took fourth in 1:09:12, an impressive performance competing against some heavy hitters. (She coincidentally matched her finish place from the USATF 5K Championships eight days earlier.) Mestawut Fikir took fifth in 1:09:17.
Lindsay Flanagan and Puma Elite teammates Fiona O’Keeffe and Natosha Rogers ran together much of the way and O’Keeffe won their race within the race, taking 13th in 1:10:45. Flanagan finished 14th, two seconds back, and Rogers finished 15th in 1:10:57.
Rogers originally had a tentative plan to run a fall marathon to qualify for February’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. But when she made the world championships team in the 5,000m and 10,000m, the plan changed. In this race, by virtue of breaking 1:12:00, she qualified for the Trials.
It was fun to watch a pair of recent NCAA stars compete amongst the pros. Reigning NCAA 10,000m champion Everlyn Kemboi, formerly of Utah Valley University, finished 16th in 1:11:11. And Mercy Chelangat, a two-time NCAA champion for Alabama, made her pro debut for HOKA NAZ Elite, finishing 18th in 1:11:37. (Until I read her NAZ Elite bio, I had no idea she had a four-year-old daughter.)
Rachel Smith, runner-up at last week’s USATF 5K Championships, finished 21st in 1:12:36. She doesn’t race this distance often, but she shaved just over three minutes off of her PR.
With two miles remaining in the wheelchair race, Jenna Fesemyer and Yen Hoang were right together, but Fesemyer pulled away to win by nine seconds, in 1:01:47. Liz Willis won the T61–T64 division (lower limb impairment) and set a world record of 1:45:19.
The B.A.A. Half used to be in October, but last year, it moved to November, and brrr. Tesfay called it the coldest race she has ever run. Last year’s race was cold and rainy, and this year’s was fortunately dry but very cold. The temperature was 31 degrees at the start, with a wind chill of 25 degrees. Though the scenery won’t be as nice, this one made me thankful that the next race I attend in Massachusetts will be indoors. (Results)
Regional races set the stage for a fantastic NCAA showdown
For the top teams and individuals, the main goal of Friday’s NCAA DI Cross Country Regional Championships was to advance the NCAA Championships, while saving their best effort for the following week. Some teams held out some of their top runners to rest their legs, knowing they could qualify without them, and others knew they’d need their best effort to advance.
The following teams earned regional titles: NAU (Mountain), NC State (Southeast), Stanford (West), Tennessee (South), Oklahoma State (Midwest), Notre Dame (Great Lakes), Arkansas (South Central), Georgetown (Mid Atlantic), and Syracuse (Northeast).
And the individual winners were NAU’s Gracelyn Larkin (Mountain), NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy (Southeast), Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell (West), Florida’s Parker Valby (South), Oklahoma State’s Billah Jepkirui (Midwest), Notre Dame’s Olivia Markezich (Great Lakes), Arkansas’ Sydney Thorvaldson (South Central), Villanova’s Sadie Sigfstead (Mid Atlantic), and Harvard’s Maia Ramsden (Northeast).
I was impressed by No. 15 Tennessee’s convincing win over No. 6 Florida in the South (though Florida ran without Amelia Mazza-Downie, one of their top runners) and unranked Boston College taking second in the Northeast to earn an auto qualifier. That’s a 14-place improvement from last year.
But the real test comes on Saturday. This year’s championship will take place at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it will air live on ESPNU and the ESPN app beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET. (The women race at 10:20 and the men race at 11:10.) The full list of qualifying teams and individuals is here.
Based on their racing so far this season, Valby and NAU head in as the favorites, but they’ll have some stiff competition, and history has shown that just about anything can happen at this meet. If you have a chance to watch on Saturday, this is always one of the best races of the year.
Thanks to Oiselle for supporting Fast Women in November
I’m a huge Oiselle fan and I wear their clothing almost every day, whether I’m running or not. I’m currently eyeing some items in their holiday shop, including the Lux Hoodie and the Unicorn Hoodie.
Bethany Sachtleben is feeling good again, gets a win in Richmond
Bethany Sachtleben won Saturday’s Richmond Marathon in 2:40:26. She missed her goal of running faster than 2:37:00 and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, but she accomplished something bigger by feeling good in a race again. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Sachtleben is a 2:31 marathoner who earned silver in the event at the 2019 Pan Am Games marathon. But in 2021, she went into treatment to address the eating disorder she’d been dealing with for as long as she could remember. Since then, it’s been a long road back. She had a tough race at the USATF 20K Championships in September, but she rebounded nicely in Richmond.
“I did this for all my people who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” she wrote on Instagram. And the rest of the post is worth reading, too. And now it sounds like we might see her on the starting line at next month’s California International Marathon. (Results)
Other News and Links
Atlanta Track Club Elite announced some new signees last week, including former University of Florida standout Gabrielle Wilkinson. They also announced their returning athletes, and Allie Wilson and Emma Grace Hurley were notably absent from the list. Gemma Finch had already announced that she was leaving the team, and she has moved to Indianapolis to be coached by former Atlanta Track Club Elite coach Andrew Begley, who is starting a new group.
This article doesn’t include many women, but it was interesting to hear comments from some current members of the Bowerman Track Club about the current vibe within the team.
Sarah Lorge Butler reported last week that the local organizing committee and USATF do not yet have a signed contract for February’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, meaning that Orlando could back out of hosting if they aren’t happy with USATF, although that seems unlikely at this late date. (Runner’s World) One document that has been signed, however, is USATF CEO Max Siegel’s contract extension through 2028. The press release announcing it seemed pretty out of touch, given the relatively widespread criticism he has faced. (Runner’s World)
Betsy Saina wrote in an Instagram story last week that it made her feel better to hear that Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle weren’t accepted into the Chicago Marathon field, because she wasn’t either. I was really surprised by that, given that Saina ran 2:21:40 this year. I knew that the 2:29ish marathoners were having trouble getting into races, but I’m told this is a bigger issue—it’s not just Chicago, and it’s affecting other top American women as well.
Emma Bates said that she tore her plantar fascia during the Chicago Marathon. One of the top comments on her post is from reigning Olympic Marathon Trials champion Aliphine Tuliamuk, who is also coming back from an injury heading into the Trials.
RunnerSpace released part one in a four-part series about the Gallup (NM) High School cross country team, and the five-minute video is really well done. The training footage is beautiful.
Emilia Benton wrote about marathoner Ariane Hendrix, for Outside.
Rolling Stone wrote about singer and songwriter Margaret Glaspy, who had a down week between tours, so she entered a 50 miler. The longest she had raced previously was 13 miles, but she made it 29 miles before dropping out. (Here’s her Instagram post about it.) Glaspy gathered inspiration and advice from Addie Bracy and Courtney Dauwalter, and she said that running has helped her become a better songwriter. And she’s already planning her next ultra.
It’s been fun to see 1500m Olympian Morgan Uceny racing on the trails recently. She won a local race this past weekend.
Gwen Jorgensen earned another World Triathlon Cup win over the weekend, but it was a controversial one as she crossed the finish line third, but filed a protest that led to four of the top five women getting disqualified due to a wrong turn. (For more, this article includes a quote from Jorgensen about what happened.)
Pre-race favorite Beatrice Chebet was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s Cross Internacional de Italica in Seville, and fellow Kenyan Edinah Jebitok edged out Ethiopia’s Senayet Getachew for the win. If you read this race recap, it sounds like the finish was quite dramatic, with Getachew almost beating Jebitok, after the Kenyan misjudged the finish line.
Polina Hodnette won the Tunnel Hill 50 Mile, in Vienna, Illinois, in an event record of 5:54:14. Hodnette finished fourth overall and almost three minutes ahead of Allison Mercer, 40, who ran 5:57:12 and set an American masters record. (Results) Micah Morgan, 40, won the 100 miler in 15:14:14. (Results)
Kenya’s Joyline Chemutai won the Monterey Bay Half Marathon in 1:10:23. Neely Gracey finished second in 1:12:22, and Jennifer Sandoval took third (1:12:50). (Results)
Calli Doan won the Richmond 8K in 26:24, and Emma Rogers won the half marathon in 1:15:43. (Results)
Oregon high school junior Emily Wisniewski narrowly edged out Logan Hofstee, a senior from Washington, to win the 5K race at Nike Cross Regionals Northwest, 16:53.1 to 16:53.7. (Results) At the Heartland regional, Minnesota junior Norah Hushagen fought off a late challenge from Kansas junior Katelyn Rupe to win, 17:07.3 to 17:07.6. (Results) And Michigan senior Rachel Forsyth pulled off a dominant win at the Midwest regional, running a course record of 16:31.1. (Results)
I enjoyed Des Linden and Kara Goucher’s New York City Marathon recap on Nobody Asked Us, and though it sounds scary, you don’t want to miss Linden telling the story of her harrowing ride to the starting line of the race. (It starts around the 44:40 mark.)
I appreciated NYRR’s brief interview with Hellen Obiri following her New York City Marathon win on Set the Pace. They talked to four of the champions, and Obiri’s interview is first.
And another NYC champion, Catherine Debrunner, the winner of the wheelchair race, was on the Marathon Talk podcast. She’s had so much success so quickly that it’s easy to forget how new she is to marathoning. She comes on around the 34:30 mark.
I loved listening to Rachel Smith talk about her runner-up finish at the USATF 5K Championships on Women’s Running Stories.
Additional Episodes: Elle St. Pierre on the Ali on the Run Show | Dom Scott on The Drop | Kellyn Taylor on C Tolle Run (recorded prior to the NYC Marathon) | Nikki Hiltz on The Run Eat Sleep Show | Rachel Drake on The Sub Hub Podcast | Maor Tiyouri on For the Long Run | Lucy Bartholomew on the BeRAD podcast
Something that made me smile
I love this brief video of Sha’Carri Richardson having fun with members of her high school’s track & field team.
Thanks, again, to Oiselle for supporting Fast Women this month. And I also appreciate all of you who keep this newsletter going via your support on Patreon and Venmo. I hope you all have a good week!