Fast Women: Elle St. Pierre breaks her own American record
And more on the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials
Issue 278, sponsored by SOAR Running
While writing this, I heard the devastating news that on Sunday night, marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, died in a car crash in Kenya. Kiptum was 24 years old.
Elle St. Pierre leads a parade of national records at the Millrose Games
In only her second track race back after having a baby 11 months ago, Elle St. Pierre broke her own American indoor mile record, running 4:16.41 to win the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games. St. Pierre shaved 0.44 seconds off the record she set in 2020. A week after Australia’s Jess Hull outkicked her in a fantastic 3,000m in Boston, St. Pierre left nothing to chance. She ran her last quarter mile in 61.33 seconds and won the race by 2.62 seconds.
Behind St. Pierre, the next three runners—Hull (4:19.03), Kenya’s Susan Ejore (4:20.61), and Sweden’s Yolanda Ngarambe (4:23.68)—set national records. So did Spain’s Marta Perez in sixth (4:23.88). Back in eighth, Harvard’s Maia Ramsden ran 4:24.83, the second-fastest collegiate time ever, behind only Katelyn Tuohy’s 4:24.26 from last year. This was Ramsden’s second race of the weekend. On Saturday morning at the Elite Eagle Invitational in Boston, she anchored Harvard’s distance medley relay to an Ivy League record of 10:52.07. Her 1600m split was a 4:29.57.
The two mile included a lot of great performances, but the way it played out was unfortunate. The race used a double waterfall start and Ethiopia’s Medina Eisa, 19, who is running her first season of indoor track, was on the outside and didn’t understand the instructions. In the first couple steps of the race, she cut toward the inside of the track, running a shorter distance, which would ultimately lead to her disqualification. It was too bad they couldn’t (or didn’t) call the race back. Especially because she was the first across the finish line, breaking the tape in 9:04.39. Great Britain’s Laura Muir finished close behind in 9:04.84, a national record, and was declared the winner.
Ethiopia’s Melknat Wudu was the next runner across the line, finishing second (after the DQ) in 9:07.12. And Alicia Monson took third in 9:09.70, and broke St. Pierre’s American record from 2021 by 0.58 seconds. Nikki Hiltz, who rarely races this far, was really impressive, running 9:15.80 for fourth.
Allie Wilson, who is currently running unsponsored, won a close 800m in 2:01.61. Her former Atlanta Track Club Elite teammate, Olivia Baker, took second in 2:01.91. In the 60m hurdles, Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas lowered the world record by 0.01 seconds, running 7.67 seconds. And Texas high school senior Samantha Humphries won the high school mile in 4:41.43.
A number of the athletes who raced in New York City on Sunday will compete at the USATF Indoor Championships, which take place in Albuquerque starting on Friday. (Results | Mile replay | Post-race interviews)
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Things I learned about the Trials from listening to running podcasts
Most of the running world has moved on from the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, but I haven’t quite yet. First I’d like to take a moment of appreciation for all of the podcasters who rushed to get more details from the top finishers after the Trials. Running coverage would not be the same without them, and I love that women have such a strong presence in running podcasting. (But there’s always room for more!)
Regarding the gel/chafing situation that led to her finishing the race with a bloody bib: She was carrying a spare gel in her bra, in case she needed it. She was glad to have it, because she missed her bottle around mile 10. She took half of the gel and then put what was left back in her bra. She said it looked worse than it felt. And PUMA sports marketing has the bib now.
O’Keeffe said that when the pace slowed, she got nervous that someone was going to take off running 5:05 pace for the last four miles. She went when she went partially to avoid that.
The race got hard for her near the end. With the disclaimer that this might be too much information, she said that she threw up in her mouth a little with a mile to go.
The morning after the race, Aliphine Tuliamuk, who won the Trials in 2020, talked to O’Keeffe about really making sure she takes in the moment. She also said Sara Hall was supportive, and Joan Benoit Samuelson sent her a text, so she might ask her for some advice heading into Paris.
Her mileage was consistently in the low 100s leading up to the race, and it peaked around 115 miles. She ended up doing a lot of the marathon-specific work by herself, but she thinks that helped during the race, because she had practice pushing the pace on her own.
O’Keeffe went to the Pro Bowl the next day. (They put her on the jumbotron, though they spelled her name wrong.)
She said she’d like to race the new American record holder in a half marathon. “I think it would be fun to get in a race with Weini (Kelati) sometime and see what we can do,” she told C Tolle Run host Carrie Tollefson.
On Marathon Talk, Deena Kastor said that a week out from the race, O’Keeffe wasn’t even sure she was going to run, because she was having some health problems. That hasn’t come up yet in any of her interviews, though.
Trials runner-up Emily Sisson has been on only Citius Mag so far. It was a good episode, and I enjoyed hearing what her thought process was when O’Keeffe took off. She also said:
She and Keira D’Amato originally planned on trading off the lead every two miles, running 5:25 pace. And her coach, Ray Treacy, didn’t want it to go slow, because he was concerned about the race being bunched and Sisson not being able to get to her bottles at the early aid stations.
As she did at the Chicago Marathon, Sisson got another side stitch, this time at mile eight. She had to abandon the pace-sharing plan at that point (which she explained to D’Amato later via a text). At first, Sisson was very concerned, but she started making goals to see how long she could hold on. She was elated when she finished because she had some serious doubts along the way.
Especially because her buildup coincided with cold and flu season, in the final month before the race, she stopped doing a lot of things with friends, or she did them outdoors, not wanting to get sick leading up to the race. Given the number of people who did get sick, it was a smart move.
When she saw Betsy Saina, Sara Hall, and Emily Durgin run away from her, chasing the third spot on the team, after O’Keeffe started to break things open, part of her feared the team was running away from her. But Caroline Rotich came up on Lindwurm, encouraged her, and told her it wasn’t over yet. They worked together to bridge the gap, and by the 21st mile, they were the ones duking it out for the third spot.
The other thing that gave Lindwurm some confidence was the advice her Minnesota Distance Elite coach, Chris Lundstrom, gave her before the race. She said he told her, “If a move is made late and it’s a big one, people are probably going to come back. People try to cover those moves, and then they break apart. Just don’t be that person. Be patient.”
During her Trials build, Lindwurm bumped her mileage up into the 130s. It helped that she spent most of her buildup in Florida, moving down there the day after Thanksgiving. She said she usually struggles with seasonal depression, and it’s tough for her to train through Minnesota winters. The miles were less taxing in Florida.
She has never been to Europe, but she might go to Paris to check out the course in April. It’s a tough one, so it’s worth seeing in advance.
When Lindwurm’s agent, Hawi Keflezighi, took her on, she had run about 2:30 in the marathon, and he said he was going to be honest with her, he wasn’t sure how much financial help he could get her. “I feel like they’ve just been along for the ride of a lifetime with me,” she said. “I felt super happy that I could [make the team] for them, also.”
Fourth-place finisher Jess McClain was on Long Run Lactic (recorded pre-Trials, but released after), Citius Mag, and I’ll Have Another last week. It was interesting to hear what she had to say before the Trials, because it was an interesting snapshot before her moment in the spotlight.
In all three episodes, she talked about restoring balance in her relationship with the sport after she left professional running, and how much she’s enjoying her life and her running now.
On Long Run Lactic, she said she ran her first marathon, the 2022 Mesa Marathon, under her married name partially because if it went poorly, no one had to know. She had a short buildup, and she bought the Vaporflys she wore during the race at Dick’s Sporting Goods the night before. (So much for nothing new on race day.) She barely fueled, she made two bathroom stops along the way, and she still ran 2:33.
She trained for the California International Marathon later that year, but ended up injured. That was when she realized she had to fuel and recover better, and approach the sport with a little more structure again, if she wanted to get the best out of herself.
Her mileage leading up to the Trials maxed out at 72 per week. She did one quality workout, one quality long run, and one or two strength sessions each week.
She said the weather felt fine to her during the race. (She has lived in Phoenix most of her life.)
She expanded on her post-race comments about being interested in working with a sponsor, but not wanting to do things the traditional way. (And she noted that more companies have become increasingly flexible.) “Why should somebody tell me where I need to live? And why should a company tell me that I’m going to lose $10,000 if I don’t run a certain time? It’s just not for me,” she said. “I’m at a point where you can’t tell me what to do anymore.”
Laura Thweatt, who dropped out of the race and discovered she had Covid, was on Relay, and it was one of my favorite post-Trials episodes so far. She was very open about how heartbreaking the experience was, but she takes a little bit of comfort in knowing why she felt so rotten on race day.
Andrea Pomaranski, who finished 27th, was on I’ll Have Another. She seemed to have a great time during the race. And I was amused that when she found herself in a pack with Molly Huddle at one point, she had the energy to thank her for everything she is doing for moms in the sport. (Side note: In an Instagram story, Huddle, who dropped out, said she found out she had Covid three days after the race.)
Elaina Tabb lined up for the Trials knowing she wouldn’t make it far
Elaina Tabb, who had her first child exactly five months before the Trials, started the race but ran only about 100 meters. About two weeks earlier, her back tightened up during her long run. When it didn’t get better, she got an MRI, which showed early signs of a sacral stress fracture. Tabb was surprised, because she’s never had a bone injury before, and she hadn’t run longer than 18 miles. But she is also nursing her daughter, and it’s well documented that while nursing, people are more susceptible to bone injuries. (Runner’s World) Tabb got her MRI results while she was boarding the plane to Orlando.
She debated whether she should start the race, but a conversation with Steph Bruce, who had her third child 4+ months ago, convinced Tabb she wanted to be part of the energy. “Ultimately, it was important for me to line up, because I spent the fall building back my core and endurance and I wanted to be able to race with my daughter there,” she wrote in a message to Fast Women. “I loved getting to push myself again after giving birth and my improvements each week were motivating.”
She enjoyed having a close-up look at her fellow qualifiers as they prepared to race. “Every person on that start line has a unique story of how they got there, so it can be emotional if you really step back and think about it,” she said. Tabb ran to her family and then pulled over to the side of the course. (Daughter Kalliopi was sporting an adorable Adidas tracksuit.) Tabb spent the next few hours cheering on all of her friends in the race.
Celebrating a bride-to-be while cheering on the country’s best
I never had a bachelorette party, but if I had recognized it as an opportunity to make my friends watch a running event with me, maybe I would have. If you were in Orlando last Saturday and saw 15 spirited women along the course, dressed in red, white, and blue, led by Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam, that was probably Emily Lowe and her friends.
Lowe, who lives in Buffalo, New York, had the genius idea to have her bachelorette party at the Trials. The attendees came from all over and about half of them were her former cross country and track teammates from Ithaca College. Most of the guests were already big running fans, and if the rest of them weren’t converted during the race, there’s little hope for them. Fittingly, Lowe and her future husband will spend their honeymoon in Eugene, Oregon, at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials.
The most spirited award goes to Mill City Running
I first heard of Mill City Running, a running store and race team in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when I talked to Gabi Rooker in 2022. She couldn’t say enough good things about their supportive community. The race team has about 900 members, and it’s for goal-oriented people of all speeds. The team’s motto is, “The front supports the back, the back supports the front.” They have a pep band, which they refer to as “The nation’s only race team pep band (probably).” And they hold a team prom each year.
Roughly 60 members of the race team were in Orlando to cheer on Rooker, Kim Horner, Heather Kampf, and Danny Docherty. And Mill City jointly hosted a series of events throughout the weekend. Staying true to the team’s motto, two days after her race in Orlando, Kampf attended the team’s group run, to cheer on some of the runners who had supported her. And on Wednesday, Horner and Rooker showed up to the team’s 6:15 a.m. track workout to do the same. Everyone should have such a supportive community.
Other Trials notes
Several people told me that the biggest cheers of the day went to Des Linden, and Maegan Krifchin, who ran seven months pregnant, was the next most popular athlete on the course.
A touching moment: Ari Hendrix was in a dark place around mile 22. She stopped for a hug when she saw a group of her supporters from Oiselle, and she wasn’t sure she could get started again. But then Kir Selert ran by and extended her hand. Hendrix grabbed it, Selert pulled her back onto the course, and they ran the remaining miles together. Selert finished 113th and Hendrix was 114th. And nice job by the photographer who captured it all.
After the race, Keira D’Amato’s family and supporters serenaded her with a song they wrote to the tune of “Sweet Caroline.” (I was glad Ali Feller pointed out those were, “Go Keira” hats.) And D’Amato’s reaction was extremely touching. She has a fantastic support system.
I love that these adorable husky puppies have been named after Emily Sisson and Dakotah Lindwurm. (The post explains why not Fiona O’Keeffe.)
Some Trials competitors are still taking time off after the race, but not Neely Gracey. Don’t try this at home, but a week after finishing 42nd at the Trials in 2:37:09, she won the Mesa Marathon in 2:35:28. She wrote in an Instagram post that she was proud of her Trials finish but said she survived instead of thrived. Gracey said she recovered “annoyingly well” after the Trials, and on Thursday, she decided to run Mesa. “I wanted to end the season with a race that I could enjoy!” she wrote. Dom Scott won the half marathon in 1:09:26, and Dani (Shanahan) Polerecky won the 10K in 32:40. I was also impressed by Kate Landau, 47, who finished second in the marathon in 2:44:25. (Results)
Distance talent flocks to Boston
Two high level track meets took place in Boston over the weekend. I spent an exhausting but fun 14 hours at Boston University’s indoor track on Friday, taking way too many photos. (I’ll post details on Instagram about where you’ll be able to see those.) But being there meant missing the Elite Eagle Invitational, a new meet, at the TRACK at New Balance, less than two miles away. (Valentine Invite results | Elite Eagle results)
BU’s Valentine Invitational generally had the faster times and deeper fields, but the Elite Eagle Invite gave it a run for its money, and a much more streamlined, less crowded meet certainly has its advantages. Some highlights from both:
At BU, LSU’s Michaela Rose ran her first 800m of the year and it was an NCAA-leading (and U.S.-leading) 1:59.49. She’s now second on the NCAA indoor all-time list, behind only Athing Mu. Her time was 0.69 seconds faster than she ran at the same meet a year ago. (And for more on her, I featured her just over a month ago.)
Six days after running an 8:38.94 3,000m at BU, Canada’s Regan Yee, who runs for Dark Sky Distance, won the mile in a big PR of 4:24.95. Great Britain’s Ellie Leather, of Mission Run Baltimore Distance, finished second in 4:25.23, taking almost five seconds off her PR. And Florida’s Flomena Asekol took third in what was an NCAA-leading 4:26.47, until Maia Ramsden ran faster at Millrose. There are now 18 women in the NCAA who have run 4:30 or faster this season.
Over at the TRACK, Oklahoma State’s Taylor Roe (who was also entered in the BU meet but chose not to run) ran a solo 15:12.71 5,000m to move to third on the NCAA all-time list. But later in the day, back at BU, Alabama’s Doris Lemngole ran 15:04.71 and moved to second on the NCAA list (which bumped Roe to fourth).
It was great to see Courtney Frerichs win the 5,000m at BU in 15:01.06. It was her first race since she left the Bowerman Track Club, and she wrote on Instagram that it was the first time in two years that she felt like herself during a race. (For more on her story, I talked to her last month.) Great Britain’s Hannah Nuttall ran a PR of 15:03.39 for second, three months after unexpectedly losing her father.
Also at BU, Australia’s Lauren Ryan, of Mission Run Baltimore Distance, won the 3,000m in a PR of 8:42.31. Madie Boreman took second in 8:45.50, also a PR. Alabama’s Hilda Olemomoi was the top collegian, running 8:50.07 for seventh. And Gracie Hyde of Adams State took more than seven seconds off the NCAA DII record, running 8:58.33.
At Saturday’s World Indoor Tour meet in Liévin, France, Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay just missed the 3,000m world record (8:16:60), running 8:17.11. Tsegay came even closer to the record last year. Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu won the 1500m in 3:57.24. (Results)
Four days earlier in Toruń, Poland, Hailu won the 1500m in a world-leading 3:55.28. And Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu ran a world-leading 1:57.86 to win the 800m. (Results)
At the Don Kirby Elite Indoor meet in Albuquerque, Nia Akins won the 600m in 1:24.32. (Results)
At the University of Washington’s Husky Classic, Chloe Foerster won the mile on her home track, running 4:28.14. BYU’s Lexy Halladay-Lowry (8:51.00), Riley Chamberlain (8:51.21), and Sadie Sargent (8:54.12) swept the top three spots in the 3,000m. And their teammate, Meghan Hunter, edged out NAU’s Maggi Congdon to win the 800m, 2:02.17 to 2:02.20. Canada’s Briana Scott won the 5,000m in 15:23.76. (Results)
At the Tyson Invitational, Shafiqua Maloney of St. Vincent and the Grenadines won the 800m with an impressive 1:58.69. Arkansas’ Sanu Jallow finished second in 2:01.77. (Results)
At the Music City Challenge, Virginia Tech’s Lindsey Butler and Star Price went 1–2 in the 800m in 2:02.86 and 2:03.66. (Results)
Passing on running the Olympic Marathon Trials worked out well for Rachel Drake. She won the Black Canyon 100K in 8:47:23. Becca Windell finished second (8:52:46), and Lauren Puretz took third (9:06:58). All three earned golden tickets to the Western States 100, which takes place in June. (More from iRunFar)
Something that made me smile
This reel Makenna Myler made, summing up her road to the Trials, is incredible. She ends it with, “Have kids and dreams.
Thanks, again to SOAR Running for sponsoring Fast Women this month (remember to enter our giveaway here), and thanks to everyone who helps keep this newsletter going via your support on Venmo and Patreon. I hope you all have a good week.