Fast Women: Heather MacLean wins at home
Issue 222, presented by Seed Retreat
A thrilling mile in Boston
Last weekend, Lucia Stafford showed that she’s ready to go this indoor season by setting a North American record in the 1,000m. So it wasn’t a surprise when Stafford moved to the lead with 100m remaining in the mile at Saturday’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston.
But Heather MacLean, who had led most of the race, was running on the track her sponsor, New Balance, built and where she trains regularly. MacLean grew up nearby, in Peabody, and her extended family was in the stands—”If you see little kids running around, they’re probably related to me,” she said afterward. And she was racing on the sixth anniversary of her father’s death. He was an ironworker, and the union he had been part of helped build the TRACK at New Balance, where the meet was held.
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MacLean was not going to lose this race, if she could help it. On the homestretch, MacLean fought hard to draw even with Stafford, and with about six strides remaining, she edged ahead and won the race, 4:23.42 to 4:23.52. Had this race been run at a neutral site, it’s possible the outcome would have been different. (You can watch the full replay of the race here.) MacLean’s time places her eighth on the U.S. all-time list indoors. Stafford moved to second on the Canadian all-time indoor list, behind her sister, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford.
Behind them, the rest of the field set a slew of personal bests and national records. Esther Guerrero, in third, set a Spanish record of 4:24.92. And Emily Mackey, MacLean’s New Balance Boston teammate and a first-year pro, had a breakthrough race, running 4:26.09. Her time was a personal best by nearly five seconds, and she became the 100th American woman to break 4:30 in the mile. (All New Balance Indoor Grand Prix results)
Femke Bol sets a 500m world best
Because the 500m isn’t run often, it’s one of those “world best” distances. But whatever you call it, the Netherlands’ Femke Bol impressed as she went out aggressively, dominated her race, and ran 1:05.63, the fastest time a woman has ever run. (Previous best: 1:06:31 by Olesya Krasnomovets, in 2006.) Bol, a New Balance athlete, was running her first indoor race in the U.S. (Race video)
Aleia Hobbs impressed in the 60m, winning in 7.02 seconds. Her time was her second-fastest ever, behind only the 6.98 she ran a week ago. Sydney McLaughlin, another New Balance athlete, also ran the 60m, which is significantly shorter than she normally races. She took fifth in her heat in 7.33 seconds and missed making the final by only 0.01 seconds. (Video of the 60m final)
Kaela Edwards ran an aggressive race in the 800m, but it’s tough to beat Ajee’ Wilson, and once again, Wilson timed her finish just right. She caught Edwards with about 150m to go, and passed her coming off the final turn. Wilson won the race 2:00.45 to 2:01.09. (Video)
Great Britain’s Laura Muir opened up what looked like a safe lead in the 3,000m and it appeared she would cruise to victory, but she slowed a bit on the final lap and just held off fellow Brit Melissa Courtney-Bryant, 8:40.34 to 8:41.09.
Gabby Thomas held off a late challenge from Poland’s Anna Kiełbasińska to win the 300m in 36.31. (Watch the race here.) Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas won the 60m hurdles in 7.87 seconds. Bridget Williams cleared 4.77m (15 feet, 7 ¾ inches) to win the pole vault.
California high school sophomore Sadie Engelhardt won a good mile race with Illinois senior Tatum David, 4:40.59 to 4:40.86. Both dipped well under the previous meet record of 4:44.02, set by Ryen Frazier in 2015. And Courtney Decker won the masters mile in 5:17.90.
Thanks to Seed Retreat for supporting Fast Women this week!
I’m excited to tell you about this week’s sponsor. Julia Hanlon and Erica Landerson are launching a business called Seed Retreat, and their first retreat will be held August 10–13, 2023 in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Seed Retreat days will be filled with exploration, community, and reflection. Each day will be slightly different but will include a running adventure, sports psychology, group coaching, opportunities for mindfulness, delicious meals, and free time.
The retreat team includes sport psychology coach Emily Saul, running coach Natalie Mitchell, photographer and videographer Laura Green (who has become well known in recent months, thanks to her entertaining Instagram content), and professional runner Jessa Hanson. And Molly Seidel is planning to make a guest appearance.
Registration opens today at 1:00 p.m. ET. The retreat will be capped at 20 participants. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. You can get many more details about the retreat on Seed Retreat’s website.
Jeralyn Poe leads Trials qualifiers at the Mesa Half Marathon
On Saturday, Jeralyn Poe won Arizona’s Mesa Half Marathon in 1:10:39, 13 seconds faster than her runner-up performance at this race a year ago. The time qualifies Poe for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Molly Seidel, who was sick enough in the week leading up to the race that she was asking her Instagram followers for cold remedies, finished second in 1:11:45. Seidel was already technically qualified for the 2024 Trials, because the 2020 team gets automatic entry into the race, but now she has a qualifying time, too. (The list of qualifiers is here, though updates usually take a while.)
Brittney Feivor, who already qualified for the Trials with a 2:32 marathon in Houston last year, finished third in 1:11:48. And Katrina Spratford finished fourth in 1:11:54 and earned her Trials qualifier. Laura Thweatt won the 10K in 33:04, and Autumn Ray won the marathon in 2:41:04. (Results) The Trials are less than a year away now, and Erin Strout wrote a nice piece to mark one year out.
Other News and Links
On National Girls and Women in Sports Day, Sara Vaughn announced the launch of the Vaughn Child Care Fund. Vaughn had her first child when she was in college, and she hopes to help parenting student-athletes graduate from college by providing mentorship and funds to cover their child care costs. Vaughn had already established a scholarship to help University of Colorado students with their child care costs, but her latest fund is open to student-athletes at any institution. She talked about it more on the I’ll Have Another podcast last week, and if you’re interested in contributing, you can do so at the first link.
After racing the mile at Saturday’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, Emma Coburn said that she and Heather MacLean will be representing the U.S. in the 4 x 2K relay at the World Cross Country Championships February 18 in Australia. USATF hasn’t officially announced the team yet, but I’ll be curious to hear who, if anyone, is replacing Emily Durgin on the 10K team, after Durgin said last week that she’s taking time off to heal a stress reaction.
I enjoyed this TikTok of the UA Mission Run Baltimore 800m group dancing. The woman in the video is 2:02 800m runner Danae Rivers. And it makes me wonder which pro running groups could out-dance them.
This is a good behind-the-scenes video of Keely Hodgkinson’s recent indoor 600m world best.
Sarah Lorge Butler wrote a good piece for Runner’s World about West Virginia high school senior Irene Riggs, who, until now, has mostly escaped the intense attention that sometimes goes with being a high school standout. And it’s incredible she had the season she did after her foot was run over by a car.
The London Marathon announced its elite field last week and it’s fantastic. Five women—Brigid Kosgei, Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Tigist Assefa, Peres Jepchirchir, and Almaz Ayana—have run under 2:18. Sifan Hassan, Girmawit Gebrzihair, Eilish McColgan, and Dom Scott will debut at the distance. And the last two American record holders, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato, are both in the field, along with 2:25 marathoner Susanna Sullivan.
Last week, Allie McLaughlin became the first (I assume) professional runner to announce a sponsorship deal while jumping out of a hot air balloon. McLaughlin has signed with Hoka, and you can read more about it here.
Forty-four University of Colorado alumni put out a statement last week in support of cross country and track & field coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs. (I am linking to only one of the posts, but many of the athletes posted the statement on their social media accounts.) In November, Runner’s World reported that Wetmore and Burroughs, along with the team’s head dietitian, Laura Anderson, are the subject of an investigation currently being conducted by CU. I am glad those who submitted their names had positive experiences at CU, but if I learned anything during my years in collegiate athletics, it’s that just because I had a positive experience with someone doesn’t mean everyone else did as well. Whatever the outcome, I hope that the investigation is thorough and that everyone feels that they can speak honestly about their experiences, whether they choose to come forward publicly or not.
Two-time Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo announced last week that she’s pregnant with her first child.
This article provides an update on 2014 Bowerman Award winner Laura Roesler, who now has a baby.
The Endless Mileage Project announced last week that 64 American athletes earned trees in the Fast Forest last year by running sub-4:00 (men) or sub-4:30 (women) in the mile. And if there’s any question if those are equivalent times, 62 of them are men and only two of them—Allie Wilson and Elly Henes—are women. But the numbers are already looking better in 2023.
Ethiopia’s Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu, who won 2021 Paralympic gold in the T13 (visual impairment) category, won the Granollers Half Marathon in 1:06:41, despite falling while going over a speed bump during the race.
Faith Kipyegon won the Sirikwa Cross Country Classic, held Saturday in Eldoret. She covered the 10K course in 33:50 and finished 62 seconds ahead of Jackline Chepkoech.
Pauline Kamulu, a Kenyan athlete based in Japan, won the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in 1:07:22. Sarah Pagano of the U.S. finished fifth in 1:10:15. (Recap)
Texas’ Julien Alfred, who represents Saint Lucia, lowered her own collegiate 60m record from 7.02 seconds to 7.00 seconds. (Video)
The University of Washington’s distance medley relay team traveled across the country to see how fast they could run on BU’s super fast track, and the result was a collegiate record. Sophie O’Sullivan (1200m, 3:16.24), Marlena Preigh (400m, 54.21), Carley Thomas (800m, 2:01.93), and Anna Gibson (1600m, 4:34.26) combined to run 10:46.62, more that two seconds faster than the previous record. Fun fact: The previous record was set by Oregon in 2017. That team was also coached by UW’s director of track and field, Maurica Powell.
NAZ Elite’s Abby Nichols won the mile at BU’s Scarlet and White Invitational in 4:29.12, her first sub-4:30 mile. Harvard’s Maia Ramsden finished close behind, running 4:30.19. High school senior Sophia Gorriaran ran 1:10.42 to take second in the 500m, which ranks her third on the all-time U.S. high school list. And Kennesaw State’s Sarah Hendrick won the 800m in 2:02.00, finishing just ahead of Washington’s Thomas (2:02.15), who had raced the DMR the night before. (Results)
Hannah Steelman won the 3,000m at the Camel City Elite meet in 8:58.41. The races are held on a fast but flat 200m track, and the winners of the elite events at this meet earned $6,000, as long as they weren’t collegians. Steelman also earned a $1,000 time bonus. Steelman’s former teammate, NC State’s Kelsey Chmiel, was the top collegian, taking third in 8:59.25. Brenna Detra won the 800m in 2:04.44, holding off Virginia Tech’s Lindsey Butler (2:04.55), who was running her first 800m after winning the 2022 NCAA 800m title and then missing the outdoor season due to injury. And Huntington’s Addy Wiley and Duke’s Amina Maatoug had a great race in the mile (last lap video here), and Wiley won in 4:32.15 and set an NAIA record. Maatoug finished second in a school record of 4:32.54. (Results)
At Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational, Olivia Howell of Illinois won the mile in 4:33.77. Michigan’s Aurora Rynda won the 800m in 2:02.99 and Notre Dame’s Siona Chisholm won the 3,000m in 9:04.48. (Results)
It’s tough to keep track of all of Maegan Krifchin’s marathons! On January 29, Krifchin ran her fifth marathon since the start of November, finishing third at the Miami Marathon and running 2:41:24 in hot, humid conditions. Ethiopia’s Damaris Areba won the race in 2:33:51. (Results)
Molly Huddle interviewed Betsy Saina, who was fresh off her 1:08:25 half marathon in Seville, on the Keeping Track podcast. Saina said that while it’s customary in Kenya to take time off from running during pregnancy, she decided to follow what the Western elite runners tend to do, and she was able to run pretty consistently until she was seven months pregnant. Saina, who finished fifth in the 10,000m at the 2016 Olympic Games (in 30:07.78) while representing Kenya said her biggest goal is to make the 2024 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon. And, like Sally Kipyego, she said that part of the reason she is spending a lot of time in Kenya right now is that it’s so much more affordable to raise a child there. Huddle and Saina are both still breastfeeding, and their conversation about how it affects performances was interesting. They both hope to see a performance jump when they stop.
Lucia Stafford had a good conversation with Emma Abrahamson on Convos Over Cold Brew after setting the North American record in the 1,000m. It was interesting to hear Stafford talk about her experience with Graves’ disease and her decision to treat it with radioactive iodine. For more on Stafford, Lori Ewing wrote a nice article last week.
Carrie Tollefson did a good interview with Ednah Kurgat, who recently won the USATF Cross Country Championships. It was fun hearing about Kurgat’s love of the piano. In Kenya, she never had access to one, but in 2017, after moving to the U.S., she got her first piano and started learning to play. Kurgat says she thinks she’ll eventually move to the marathon. She is currently working on a master’s degree, and she’s interested in studying infectious diseases.
In a candid conversation on the Citius Mag podcast, New Balance Boston’s Kristie Schoffield discussed how she handled butting heads with her college coach, Corey Ihmels, before going on to become the 2022 NCAA champion in the 800m. She said she didn’t have a good sense of the steps she needed to follow to become a professional athlete, and she is already on her third agent since starting the process. Schoffield also said that professional running is humbling and she regularly gets dropped on runs. For more from Schoffield and her teammates, Citius Mag posted a video featuring the team last week.
Lauren Fleshman was on Des Linden and Kara Goucher’s new podcast, Nobody Asked Us, and I appreciated their discussion about the uniforms women race in. As Linden pointed out, most elite women have a choice regarding what they wear, whether or not they feel like that’s the case. And I laughed when Fleshman said that if wearing briefs was faster, Eliud Kipchoge would have worn them during his sub-2:00 marathon attempts.
More Episodes: USATF Masters XC champion April Lund on Run Farther & Faster | Lauren Fleshman on Trail Society | Sara Slattery discussed leaving collegiate coaching on Running for Real | 1987 Leadville 100 champion Randi Bromka Young on Starting Line 1928 | U.S.-based Canadian Olympic sprinter Maddy Price on the Lactic Acid podcast | Nicole Bitter on Women of Distance | A new season of the Road to the Trials podcast is under way, and this episode is an overview of who will be taking part. (The women are Nell Rojas, Sara Vaughn, Dani Moreno, Carmen Graves, and Jereny Rivera, and they’ll each do an intro episode.)
Saturday’s Millrose Games will be broadcast live on NBC and Peacock from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. Events outside of the broadcast window will be streamed on USATF.tv (subscription required). I’m also excited to see who is headed to the Valentine Invitational at BU. The entries and final meet schedule should be out in the middle of the week and they’ll be posted here when they’re ready. The women compete on Friday and I expect some fast performances, as usual. The meet will stream live on FloTrack (subscription required).
Whew. I’m tired. In many ways, this newsletter is easier to write (and it’s easier to keep up with Fast Women’s social media) when I don’t attend events. This is a busy time for indoor track in the Boston area, though, and I can’t pass up the chance to see lots of fast people run and stock up on photos for this newsletter. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks sifting through thousands of photos (and then dealing with a lot of photo requests in my Instagram DMs).
I imagine the best photographers are good enough that they can be more targeted about what they shoot. My goal is to get a newsletter-worthy photo of as many fast women as possible. So my strategy is just to shoot like someone who has unlimited disk space and editing time, and then deal with the mess later, which means spending a lot of time deleting everyone’s downstep photos. It’s been exhausting, but I’ll miss it when the indoor season is over.
Thank you to Seed Retreat for sponsoring Fast Women this week, and remember that registration opens at 1:00 p.m. ET today.
Have a great week!