Fast Women: No one can hang with Hellen Obiri in NYC
Kara Goucher sets the record straight in her new memoir.
Issue 228, presented by Puma
Hellen Obiri wins the NYC Half
In cold, windy conditions, Kenya’s Hellen Obiri pulled off a convincing win at Sunday’s NYC Half, running an event record 1:07:21, which earned her $20,000.
Five women broke away from the start. Obiri and Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi jumped out to the lead, and Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal, the Netherlands’ Diane van Es, and Great Britain’s Jess Warner-Judd followed. They hit the mile in 5:19, but dropped down to 5:00 in the second mile, which quickly whittled the pack down to only Obiri and Teferi.
The duo ran together for most of the race, with Obiri setting the pace and Teferi running behind, letting her block the wind. A couple of times, Obiri opened up a small lead, but Teferi managed to close it back up. Around nine miles in, Obiri opened up another gap and that time it stuck. Once she made her move, she quickly gapped Teferi, and there was no suspense about who would win the race. Teferi finished second in 1:07:55, Grøvdal was third in 1:09:53 (despite being a bit sick), and van Es was fourth in 1:10:43.
To get a sense of how slow a day it was, Obiri’s half marathon PR is 1:04:22, and she regularly runs in the 1:04–1:05 range. Teferi’s PR is 1:05:32.
The Americans in the race started more conservatively, with Dakotah Lindwurm leading the chasers through 20K. Des Linden and Molly Huddle caught Lindwurm in the closing stages, and Linden won the three-way battle, finishing fifth in 1:12:21. Lindwurm (sixth, 1:12:25) and Huddle (seventh, 1:12:27) finished close behind.
Linden measured her effort well on the tough course in tough conditions (a theme throughout her career). She went through 5K and 10K in 13th place, moved up to 10th by 15K, and picked up five more spots by the finish. She also ran a relatively steady pace, while almost everyone else in the elite field slowed throughout. Huddle, too, ran more evenly than most, starting in 12th at 5K and working her way up. She told Race Results Weekly after the race that her training was interrupted when she got Covid last month, and she also sprained her ankle stepping in a pothole, a real hazard this time of year in the Northeast. (Side note: I appreciated Huddle’s openness in her pre-race post about what it takes to go to a race sans baby, while still breastfeeding.)
Canada’s Natasha Wodak finished eighth in 1:12:33, and, at 41, was the top masters runner. Jeralyn Poe (1:12:46) and Erika Kemp (1:13:18) rounded out the top 10, and Warner-Judd had a rough day and faded to 12th (1:13:28). Eilish McColgan was originally scheduled to run, but she pulled out in the week leading up due to bursitis in her knee.
Susannah Scaroni and Switzerland’s Manuela Schär went through 5K together in the wheelchair race, but by 10K, Scaroni had pulled away. Scaroni won the race in 55:47. Schär never let Scaroni’s lead get too big, though, and at the finish, she was only nine seconds back. Her compatriot, Catherine Debrunner, finished third in 1:01:10, well back. (NYC Half Results | Race replay)
Kara Goucher sets the record straight
Kara Goucher’s book, The Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike's Elite Running Team, was released on Tuesday. Goucher’s day started off with a segment on Good Morning America, in which she revealed that she was the person behind the allegations that led to SafeSport’s ban of her former coach, Alberto Salazar. (Content warning: All of these links include discussion of sexual assault.)
Goucher was determined to tell her story in her own words, because she was tired of others telling it inaccurately or incompletely. Though the book includes many shocking details, I can’t say that I was surprised by any of it, based on other things she has shared publicly in recent years.
I thought Goucher’s appearance on Chris McClung’s Running Rogue podcast was interesting, because she provided a few more details than I’ve heard elsewhere. I appreciated her honesty in the book about her contracts and appearance fees over the years. Lauren Fleshman was also open about such topics in her book, and it made me wonder if their non-disclosure agreements expired at some point, but apparently not. Goucher told McClung, “That’s the one thing I might get sued for. Because it says in my contract that it has to be secret for the life and beyond.”
I also thought Des Linden interviewing Goucher on Nobody Asked Us was good, and it was interesting to hear Goucher talk in some detail about compartmentalizing, because that’s a word Lynn Jennings used as well, when discussing her experience with sexual abuse. (Boston Globe). If you prefer reading, Women’s Running and Sports Illustrated both published Q&As.
The recent explosion in the number of women’s running books is fantastic, and I love seeing their stories getting mainstream attention. (People apparently did a four-page spread.) Hopefully this is just the beginning. Here’s a discussion question for the comments section at the bottom: Who would you like to see write a book next?
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Sara Vaughn Chases Her Passions
(This Q&A is sponsored by PUMA)
After a career as a middle-distance runner, Sara Vaughn, 36, won her marathon debut at the 2021 California International Marathon, running 2:26:53. She improved her personal best to 2:26:23 at the 2022 Chicago Marathon.
Vaughn is preparing to run next month’s Boston Marathon, after a rough outing at the 2022 event, where she finished 21st in 2:36:27 and later found out she had Covid. She lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and coach, Brent Vaughn, and their four children, ages 16, 12, 7, and 3. Vaughn also works as a realtor and recently launched the Vaughn Childcare Fund, which provides support for undergraduate student-athletes, including helping cover their child care costs. It’s a cause near to Vaughn’s heart because she had her first child at the start of her junior year of college.
Vaughn spoke to Fast Women on March 13 after a run with some members of Team Boss. This interview has been edited and condensed.
How is your Boston buildup going so far?
It’s been good. It’s been a lonely buildup because my husband, who has been my primary training partner for the last couple of years, has shifted his focus to weightlifting, so I’ve been on my own a lot. That’s why it was really refreshing to match up with some other women today, because I don’t get to run with other women very often. It’s been nothing spectacular or special, but I’ve hit every workout and checked all the boxes so far and I’ve done exactly what we set out to do, which, talking to more and more marathoners, that’s all you can ask for.
Judging from your social media, it looks like there have been a few factors outside of training that have challenged you recently.
Our 3-year-old went through a weird sleep regression with sleepwalking and night terrors. That coupled with a teenager with a late curfew. I feel like we were struggling for a few weeks to get in a good rhythm. And they’ve all been sick. It has settled down a lot the last couple weeks.
And then this winter has been a harsh one in Boulder. I’ve been here for almost 20 years, and I feel like this is the yuckiest winter we’ve experienced. It’s put me in a bit of a seasonal affective funk, which I’m not used to in Boulder, because it’s so sunny here. I found myself defaulting to my treadmill more than normal and not being excited to run outside. The sun’s out today, and it’s been a lot nicer the last couple weeks, so I feel myself coming out of it. It’s almost like a fog is lifting, even though I’m still doing 120-mile weeks.
Are you planning to do any racing leading up to Boston, aside from your 3K/mile double at the University of Washington?
No, I don’t plan on racing beforehand. I’ve learned the hard way that I don’t do well with mid-buildup races. I’ve learned that when I do them, I spend the rest of the buildup trying to get my confidence back, so it’s more of a distraction than anything
(Continue reading here.)
Raven Saunders gets an 18-month ban
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced last week that shot putter Raven Saunders, who won Olympic silver in 2021, has been banned from the sport for 18 months after accumulating three whereabouts failures in less than 12 months. Athletes in the testing pool must keep USADA informed of where they’ll be, so they can be tested without notice. Saunders didn’t fail a drug test, but she missed too many tests. Saunders’ ban began August 15, 2022 and will end February 15, 2024, so she’ll be eligible to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games.
I appreciated that Saunders hasn’t made excuses, and she has taken responsibility for her missed tests. Her competitor, Chase Ealey, who won gold in the shot put at last summer’s world championships, weighed in, saying it’s easier to miss tests than people realize. And hurdler Alaysha Johnson tweeted, “It’s 2023… Put location services on the USADA app so clean athletes can compete. We taking out the wrong ones!!!!!” I don’t know how easy it is or isn’t to miss a test or what the barriers are to adding location services to the app. (Johnson is not the first athlete to call for this.) But I’m in favor of anything that cuts down on accidental missed tests, to remove doubt when athletes do receive whereabouts-related bans.
Other News and Links
Keira D’Amato announced last week that she has withdrawn from the London Marathon, because a setback in January delayed her buildup. She said she’s back at full strength now, just behind her original schedule, so she’ll be running some shorter races, to be announced soon. (I’m curious if we’ll see her at the USATF 10 Mile Championships, a local race for her. There’s a $50,000 bonus for anyone who can break the women’s-only world record of 51:23, which D’Amato holds.) D’Amato told Runner’s World that she hopes her next marathon will be at the world championships in August. Given that the team is selected based on who has the fastest time, and D’Amato’s 2:19:12 was inside the qualifying window, some big things would have to happen for her to not make the cut.
Sarah Lorge Butler did a good Q&A with Sara Vaughn for Runner’s World, about the Vaughn Childcare Fund and Vaughn’s experience having her first child while she was still a student at CU. (Because I knew this was in the works, I made sure my Q&A covered different topics!)
I enjoyed this Track & Field News feature on Britton Wilson, who said she broke records at NCAAs by focusing on racing, not time. Wilson said that she seriously considered going pro last summer, but Arkansas coach Chris Johnson convinced her to come back for another year and build her resume. She was reluctant at first, but she said she’s glad she did now.
This was a nice feature on shot put world champion Chase Ealey.
Taylor Dutch talked to Alicia Monson about her American 3,000m and 10,000m records. (Runner’s World)
Puma Elite’s Allie Schadler said on her Instagram account, which she has set to private, that she recently had Haglund’s surgery after tearing part of her Achilles. She wrote that the surgery “means I’m one step closer to running pain free for the first time in four years and I couldn’t be more excited!”
ESPN+ will air an investigative documentary on former University of Utah track & field athlete Lauren McCluskey, who was murdered on campus in 2018. The 90-minute documentary, titled LISTEN, premieres March 28 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
It’s a touching gesture that Spencer, the Boston Marathon dog who died last month, is included on some of the race banners this year.
Kenya’s Caroline Nyaga won the 5K at the Semi Marathon De Lille in France in a speedy 14:35, and runner-up Mekides Abebe of Ethiopia was also clocked in 14:35. Doris Lengole Cherop of Kenya finished third in 14:40. Kenya’s Dorcas Kimeli won the 10K in 30:48 and Kenya’s Emily Chebet won the half marathon in 1:07:52. (Results)
Ethiopia’s Zeineba Yimer Worku won the Barcelona Marathon in 2:19:44. (Results)
Kenya’s Stacy Ndiwa held off men’s champion, Jemal Yimer of Ethiopia, to win the equalizer race at the LA Marathon, in 2:31:01. (The women got a head start of 18 minutes and 19 seconds this year.) Ndiwa earned $5,000 for winning the women’s race, plus the $10,000 equalizer bonus. Alexi Pappas ran the race in 3:55, with Diplo and Cloonee. (Results)
Maegan Krifchin won the New Bedford Half Marathon in Massachusetts in 1:12:43, which earned her $1,000. Hansons-Brooks athletes Jessie Cardin (1:13:15), Anne-Marie Blaney (1:13:48), and Olivia Pratt (1:14:06) took the next three spots. (Results)
The Podium Underground 5K took place on an underground go-karting track in London, and the coverage made it look like a cool event. Great Britain’s Meg Davies won, and she was followed closely by Holly Archer and Holly Dixon. I haven’t seen any results, but the racing seemed like the more important thing here.
Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka won a tactical 1500m at the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland, New Zealand. She edged out Rebecca Mehra, 4:14.46 to 4:14.75. Mehra said on Instagram that she’s encouraged by her recent racing. (Results)
Former Notre Dame and Ole Miss runner Maddie King, 23, won Virginia Beach’s Shamrock Marathon in 2:44:42. Conditions looked incredibly windy in the finish line video she posted. (Results)
The story of Allyson Felix founding Saysh has been well covered at this point, but I really enjoyed her appearance on How I Built This and some of the extra details that she shared.
It was great to hear from Athing Mu on the Pivot Podcast, especially because she does so few interviews. (The hosts pronounced her last name wrong the whole time, though.) Mu talked about how much her life has changed in just two years and how she has handled the pressure. She discussed her passion for modeling: “I don’t know if I should say this—I make jokes all the time about me retiring within the next two years and going to walk the runway.” She said she still has plenty of goals on the track, but she might be okay with a shorter track career, because she has plans off the track as well.
I thought Lauren Fleshman’s appearance on More Than Running was one of her best podcast episodes yet, and it was interesting to hear host Dana Giordano discuss how much she could relate to what she read in Fleshman’s book, and how she could have done a better job of being there for her teammates in the past.
Lindsey Hein did a good interview with Sanya Richards-Ross on I’ll Have Another.
Additional Episodes: Nell Rojas discussed learning from past mistakes on the Sweat Elite podcast | Jenna Wrieden on I’ll Have Another | Sabrina Little on Singletrack | Julie-Anne Staehli on Lactic Acid | Andrea Pomaranski on C Tolle Run | Julia Lucas on Keeping Track | Amanda Basham on Women of Distance | Amber Zimmerman on More Than Miles | Chris McKenzie on Starting Line 1928
I am looking for someone to potentially help handle sponsorships for Fast Women, and I’m mentioning it here—at the very bottom—first, because I’d like to work with someone who really gets what Fast Women is about and reads to the end of the newsletter. I am also still looking for potential advisory board members, especially those who have business or web development experience, or any other expertise that you think could be beneficial to Fast Women. If you’re interested, you can reach me at email@example.com.
Thanks again to PUMA for supporting Fast Women this month, and look for a Boston Marathon-related contest on our Instagram account later today. Thanks, also, to all of you who support Fast Women via Patreon and Venmo.
Have a great week!