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Fast Women: Reekie wins on 5th Ave, Wiley’s breakthrough year
Emily Sisson wins the USATF 20K title.
Issue 256, sponsored by New Balance
Jemma Reekie earns her second 5th Avenue Mile title in three years
Thunderstorms canceled some of the races at Sunday’s New Balance 5th Avenue Mile in New York City, but after some uncertainty, the professional races were able to go off more or less on schedule. In rainy conditions, Jemma Reekie pulled away from Ireland’s Sarah Healy with less than 100m to go and won in 4:19.4. Healy finished second, in 4:20.0. (I’m giving you the un-rounded times reported on the broadcast. Officially, all road race times that don’t end in .0 get rounded up, but the official results make the gaps between the runners less clear.)
This was remarkably the third year in a row that Scottish athletes have swept the top spots at 5th Ave, with Reekie also winning in 2021 (alongside Jake Wightman), Laura Muir winning in 2022 (and Wightman repeating), and Josh Kerr joining Reekie atop the podium this year. “It was just like home,” Reekie said on NBC after the race, referring to the rain.
After a tough split from her longtime coach in March, and struggling with mono last year, Reekie, 25, is really starting to hit her stride. And her season isn’t over yet. She’ll race the Diamond League final in Eugene this weekend. This was an excellent run for Healy, 22, who just began to break through to a world-class level last year. And Great Britain’s Melissa Courtney-Bryant, who is having her best season yet at 30, finished third in 4:20.6.
Nikki Hiltz was the top American, taking fourth in 4:20.7. Hiltz ran in the pro women’s race, because there’s no nonbinary elite race, but also won the nonbinary division. They announced after the race that they’re ending their season now, because their mind and body want a break. And what a season it’s been. Jamaica’s Adelle Tracey took fifth (4:21.3), and Australia’s Jessica Hull was sixth (4:21.6).
And how about Elle St. Pierre in seventh?! A little more than six months after giving birth to her son, Ivan, St. Pierre ran an incredible 4:23.3 mile in her first race back. I can’t overemphasize how impressive it is that she’s already able to mix it up with some of the world’s best milers only six months postpartum. For more of her story, I wrote about her return to running earlier this summer.
“I definitely ran for [Ivan] and for all the other moms out there,” St. Pierre said after the race. “I think that was a big motivator for me, because there’s so many amazing moms out there that don’t give themselves enough credit.”
The event featured a number of impressive age-group performances, including Jennifer Harvey, 55, who won her age group in 5:14. Harvey set a pending American masters age-group record of 5:25.0 back in June, and ran much faster here. And Jeannie Rice, 75, who also set a pending record in June, running 6:44, ran two seconds faster here. I don’t know if the 5th Avenue course is age-group record eligible because it’s point-to-point, but both ran really strong races. (Race replay | All results)
Emily Sisson wins the USATF 20K Championships
Running in hot and humid conditions, Emily Sisson shed her competitors, one by one, during last Monday’s USATF 20K Championships in New Haven, Connecticut. But with a mile to go, Ednah Kurgat was still with her. Sisson wasn’t sure how good Kurgat’s kick was, because the two don’t race often, but it turned out Sisson had nothing to worry about.
With a bit over 1200m to go, Sisson put in a surge and quickly gapped Kurgat. By the finish, her lead was up to 30 seconds, and she won, 1:06:09 to 1:06:39. Sisson, who is deep into her Chicago Marathon training, put in a solid effort against a strong field. And Kurgat, who doesn’t usually race this far but can clearly be successful at the longer distances, held her own.
Emily Durgin, who will race the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October, finished third in 1:06:59. And Tristin Van Ord, who is also running Chicago, finished fourth in 1:07:22. Van Ord didn’t start out with the lead pack, but she worked her way up through the field. The ZAP Endurance athlete isn’t as well known as some of her competitors, but she’s quietly moving up through the ranks and ran 2:27:07 in January at the Houston Marathon. And Annie Frisbie, who will run the Berlin Marathon in less than two weeks, finished fifth in 1:07:27.
The event attracted an unusually deep field for a road championship, and the day was a mixed bag for some of the top athletes. Aliphine Tuliamuk, who finished 13th in 1:11:41, said it was probably the hardest race of her career. Later in the week, Tuliamuk posted an Instagram story about a sudden change of plans and confirmed in a live chat (Facebook link) that she’s off to Kenya for her final weeks of Chicago Marathon training.
Her team, NAZ Elite, has yet to announce a permanent replacement after former head coach Alan Culpepper’s departure in July. Jenna Wrieden is serving as the team’s interim head coach. (Results)
Thanks to New Balance for supporting Fast Women this month
It was an exciting weekend in New York City for New Balance, with 19-year-old Coco Gauff winning her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open. New Balance is now selling the shirt that Gauff donned shortly after her win, which reads, “Call Me
Coco Champion.” I love some of the work New Balance has done to promote its stars. Earlier this year, the brand put out a commercial starring Gauff and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.
And the following day was the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile, a fitting place for New Balance athlete Elle St. Pierre to make her return to racing. She expressed gratitude to her sponsor after the race, saying, “I just feel so supported.” New Balance also sponsors the New York City Marathon and last week, they released more of this year’s New York City Marathon gear.
Amid concerns from the running community, Addy Wiley becomes one of the fastest American teenagers ever
In a five-day span last week, Addy Wiley, 19, produced the fastest combined 800m/1500m times ever by an American teenager. On Monday, in Bellinzona, Switzerland, she finished second to Jamaica’s Natoya Goule, running 1:57.64 for 800m (video | results), a 1.36-second PR. And running in her first Diamond League meet in Brussels, Belgium, on Friday, she took eighth in the 1500m in 3:59.17, a 4.05-second PR, and she became the 16th American woman to break 4:00 (results).
Mary Decker Slaney was previously the youngest American woman to break 4:00, having first done so nine days after her 22nd birthday. Now Wiley, who will turn 20 on October 24, is. And there’s only one American woman who has run faster in the 800m while younger, and that’s American record holder and Olympic and world champion Athing Mu. Wiley is the 10th-fastest American ever in the 1500m and the 11th-fastest in the 800m.
Wiley has made dramatic progress. At the start of the year, her PRs were 2:04.40 in the 800m and 4:11.43 in the 1500m, though she had run an equivalently faster 1600m (4:26.16). And her story is all the more incredible because she is a cancer survivor. To celebrate being cancer free for 10 years, and in honor of childhood cancer awareness month, she recently donated toys and school supplies to the hospital that treated her. And she is also raising money, and matching donations up to $5,000.
But if you don’t see more celebration of Wiley’s accomplishments, that’s in part because of the widespread concern about her situation. Wiley’s association with former Huntington University (HU) coaches Nick and Lauren Johnson has cast doubt on her accomplishments. Wiley, who attended high school in the same town as HU, began working with the Johnsons when she was in ninth grade. It’s not Wiley’s fault that the local college coaches happened to be bad seeds. That was just poor luck. But her decision to continue to associate with them has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny.
Nick pleaded guilty to a felony charge of identity deception, but the child seduction and kidnapping charges against him, for taking a teenager to Oregon on a fake recruiting visit, were dropped. He spent 30 days in jail and 550 on probation, being electronically monitored for 150 of them. SafeSport banned him for life, and HU fired him. Many of the horrible details are in this police report, which is a tough read and needs all kinds of content warnings. One of the most heartbreaking details was the 16-year-old he sexually abused saying she didn’t want him to get in trouble because she believed Nick was the one coach who could take her talents to the next level.
Nick also admitted to having sexual relationships with student-athletes at HU (one of them has accused him of rape). Lauren said she was aware of it but kept it quiet, out of concern that she and Nick would lose their jobs.
But that’s not all. Nick has also been accused of surreptitiously doping athletes, making them think they were participating in a legitimate scientific study. David Woods broke this story last fall, when he was still with the Indianapolis Star, and I’ve gone into more detail about all of it in the past.
But this police report, which I didn’t see until more recently, when Steve Magness linked to it in July, includes additional details about the accusations. In it, Lauren admits Nick had prescriptions for EPO (because he has only one functioning kidney, she said) and testosterone cream (due to fatigue, she said) and gave the HU athletes L-carnitine injections. The police determined they couldn’t prove anything, but the report included several mentions of a U.S. Anti Doping Association (USADA) investigation of Nick, so I’m curious what came, or will come, of that.
The number of times an athlete is drug tested is out of their control. But as of the end of August, Wiley had only been drug tested by USADA twice—once last year and once this year. But there are other testing agencies and she said on Twitter in August that she has had eight clean drug tests.
While all of this was going on, Wiley, who had planned to attend the University of Colorado, made a last-minute decision to stay home and attend HU. She was initially coached by Lauren, who had replaced Nick when he was fired, but once Woods’ story brought more attention to what was happening at HU, and there was public outcry, HU fired Lauren, too.
HU has a new set of coaches, who Wiley says are coaching her, but Wiley has remained close with Lauren. Beyond that, there are many accusations flying, but I don’t know if Wiley has remained in touch with Nick. I don’t know how involved Lauren is in Wiley’s running. I don’t know if Nick and Lauren are still together. Wiley’s choice not to put more distance between herself, the Johnsons, and HU has resulted in doping accusations and a lot of criticism, which would be hard for anyone to deal with, especially a 19-year-old.
And as long as she remains associated with HU, there will be this elephant in the room. HU’s director of track & field and cross country, Austin Roark, told DyeStat that Wiley has been approached by shoe companies, training groups, and agents, but she intends to represent HU this year. She could stay in college and sign an NIL deal, but I’m curious if shoe companies will want her to extricate herself from the HU situation before they sign her.
Either way, there are some heartbreaking aspects to this story. Wiley has been through more than any teenager should have to, and some of the adults in her life have really let her down.
Other News and Links
Great Britain’s Clare Elms, 59, ran 4:57.10 for 1500m and according to Athletics Weekly, that makes her the oldest woman ever to break 5:00 in the event.
Emma Coburn said that an MRI revealed a tear in her hamstring, but it’s one that she expects will heal without surgery.
Grayson Murphy posted a concerning update about her health, saying she’s been experiencing a range of symptoms, including “a wild heart rate” and permanent hearing loss in one ear. She is still in search of a diagnosis.
Board member Jim Estes has filed a defamation lawsuit against USATF, claiming damage to his reputation after the disqualification of Chattanooga’s Olympic Marathon Trials bid. (Runner’s World)
Sarah Lorge Butler also points out that the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials are about nine months away and USATF still has not announced where and when they will take place. But coaches and agents are operating on the assumption that they’ll be June 21–30 in Eugene, Oregon. Looking at the hotel availability in Eugene around that time, either they’re right, or everyone is operating on the same wrong assumption. (Runner’s World)
The B.A.A. announced last week that the 2024 Boston Marathon will include two additional Para Athletics categories, and they’ve increased the prize money for the wheelchair race significantly. The wheelchair race winners will now receive $40,000, which I believe leads the way among the World Marathon Majors races. The winners of the open races still receive significantly more ($150,000).
Gwen Jorgensen won her second Olympic-distance triathlon in as many weeks, this time in a sprint finish.
At Sunday’s Trunsylvania 10K in Romania, Kenya’s Agnes Ngetich broke the world record for a women’s-only 10K race, running 29:24. Ngetich went through the first 5K in 14:25, which is four seconds faster than the women’s-only world record, and covered the second half in 14:59. The late Agnes Tirop held the previous record, at 30:01. Ngetich, who won bronze at the world cross country championships in February and was sixth in the 10,000m at the recent World Athletics Championships, said she was going after a PR and a course record, but she was surprised to break the world record. (Race replay | Results) Update, a couple weeks later: The course was short, so Ngetich’s record will not be ratified.
At Sunday’s Continental Tour meet in Zagreb, Kenya’s Beatrice Chelpkoech ran a world best in the rarely-run 2,000m steeplechase. She ran 5:47.42, taking more than five seconds off of Gesa Krause’s 5:52.80 from 2019. Spain’s Esther Guerrero won the 1500m in 4:02.88, and Josette Andrews finished 13th in 4:11.14. (Results)
Great Britain’s Laura Muir held off Ireland’s Ciara Mageean to win the 1500m at the Brussels Diamond League meet, 3:55.34 to 3:55.87. That’s two Diamond League wins in a row for Muir, and Mageean shaved 0.74 seconds off the Irish record she set at worlds. Addy Wiley, mentioned above, was the top American and Sinclaire Johnson finished right behind her (ninth, 3:59.19). Cory McGee finished 14th in 4:02.32. Kenya’s Lilian Kasait Rengeruk won the 5,000m (14:26.46), Ethiopia’s Medina Eisa took second (14:28.94), and Nozomi Tanaka took third in a Japanese record of 14:29.18. Elise Cranny finished 11th in 14:57.52. Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson dominated the 200m, running 21.48 seconds. Jackson has now run the second-, third-, and fourth-fastest times ever in this event, without much wind helping her. I’m hoping she gets a nice 2.0 m/s tailwind, right at the allowable limit, one of these days. (Results)
Peres Jepchirchir won Sunday’s Great North Run half marathon, held in warm conditions, in 1:06:45. Sharon Lokedi, who hadn’t raced since winning last year’s New York City Marathon, finished second in 1:07:43, a PR. Jessa Hanson, the only American in the elite field, finished fifth in 1:14:12. (Race highlights | Results)
At Wednesday’s Palio Città della Quercia meet in Rovereto, Italy, 18-year-old Wubrist Aschal of Ethiopia held off Ireland’s Sophie O’Sullivan to win the 3,000m, 8:44.13 to 8:44.72. O’Sullivan, who still runs for the University of Washington, has had a breakthrough year and should be a force in the NCAA this year (race video). Kenya’s Vivian Chebet Kiprotich won the 800m in 1:59.56, and Sage Hurta-Klecker finished sixth in 2:00.50. (Results | 800 replay)
In her first race since January’s USATF Cross Country Championships, Makena Morley won the Bozeman Half Marathon in 1:13:00. (Results)
Jessie Cardin led a parade of Hansons-Brooks runners at the Mackinac Island (MI) Eight Mile, winning in 43:22, which is 5:26/mile. (Results)
Running her first race since January’s Houston Half Marathon, Jenny Simpson won the Plaza 10K in Kansas City, her first 10K race ever, in 33:00. (Results)
Heather Kampf won the City of Lakes Half Marathon in 1:14:58. (Results)
Emma Bates and Dom Scott made a fun joint appearance on the Ali on the Run Show. They talked about how their Chicago Marathon training is going, and Bates provided more details about her two goats, Thelma and Louise, which she introduced to the world via Instagram earlier in the week.
On I’ll Have Another, Lindsay Flanagan said she’s toying with the idea of doing her Olympic Marathon Trials buildup in Australia, where it will be summer. It helps that her coach, Benita Willis, lives there. Flanagan talked about really struggling with past races in the heat, but realizing that she’s not bad in the heat, she just needs to approach her races differently when it’s hot. She also said that she has signed with Asics for four more years. Flanagan was also on The Run Eat Sleep Show last week.
Krissy Gear was on the Convos Over Cold Brew podcast last week, and I appreciate how open and unfiltered her interviews are. She talked about being frustrated with her performance at the World Championships but not understanding exactly what went wrong. She said she wanted to run the 5th Avenue Mile, but she got sick after worlds and decided it was time to shut her season down. She said she wasn’t planning to run the steeplechase as a pro, but HOKA reworked her contract to include steeple time bonuses once she started doing the event.
Katie Schide was on the Hurdle podcast—the episode was recorded before her recent runner-up finish at OCC. It was interesting to hear Schide talk about the fact that when she was first getting into ultrarunning, at least in the U.S., she felt like it was cool to not care about how one did. She said going to Europe, where there’s a slightly more serious approach, has helped her.
Julie-Anne Staehli, of Canada and New Balance Boston, did some interesting reflecting on her season and where she is in her career on Women Run Canada.
Additional Episodes: Ciara Mageean talked about finishing fourth in the 1500m at worlds on the Citius Mag podcast | Kara Goucher answered questions about the broadcasting side of the world championships on the Relay podcast | I enjoyed hearing about the work Jessie Zapotechne, founder of Girls Run NYC, is doing on Multiple Perspectives | OCC champion Toni McCann on The Sub Hub (she comes on around 36 minutes in)
The Diamond League Final takes place this weekend in Eugene, Oregon. The schedule is here and the start lists and results will eventually be here. According to this, the meet will be on NBC and Peacock from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. On Sunday, the entire meet will be on Peacock, with the first hour, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., on CNBC and the last two hours, 4:00–6:00 p.m., on NBC.
And I’m excited to see how Betsy Saina does at the Sydney Marathon on Sunday (Saturday in the U.S.). I imagine there will be better information about where and how to watch the race by the end of the week, but if nothing else, the race will be streamed on Facebook.
Thanks, again, to New Balance for their support of Fast Women, and to all of you who contribute via Patreon and Venmo. This newsletter would not be possible without your support. I hope you all have a great week!