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Fast Women: The track season heats up
Welteji, Wilson, Boreman, and Lipari win in LA
Issue 239, sponsored by New Balance
Fast Women merchandise is now available
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Welteji, Wilson, Boreman, and Lipari are among the winners in LA
The inaugural USATF LA Grand Prix produced some strong performances, as did the accompanying USATF Distance Classic on Friday night. Highlights included:
Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji ran a 59.34-second final lap to win the 1500m in 3:57.84, which was a world lead at the time. Great Britain’s Katie Snowden had a really strong run to take second in 4:00.04, agonizingly close to breaking the 4-minute barrier for the first time. And Josette Andrews led the Americans, taking third in 4:00.77. “Third 4:00 flat in my career. First one in May, though,” Andrews wrote in her Instagram stories. Behind Andrews, both Canada’s Lucia Stafford (4:02.03) and Kenya’s Susan Ejore (4:02.20) ran personal bests.
The night before, Emily Mackay (featured here last week) won the B heat of the 1500m in impressive fashion. The reason athletes often choose not to strike out on their own during a race, even when it’s slow, is that it often backfires. But 800m into the race, Mackay started to go after the rabbit, who dropped out 200m later. She ran the final 500m alone, with a large pack trying to chase her down, but she held them off, winning in a personal best of 4:07.03, with Krissy Gear second (4:09.13) and Colleen Quigley third (4:10.59). Mackay said after the race that she was hoping to go a little faster, and I’m sure she will once she gets in the right race.
Ajee’ Wilson has won every race she has run in 2023, and she continued the streak with a 1:59.01 800m win on Saturday. Wilson will now head to Europe for some races, where she’s likely to face even deeper competition. Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda, the 2019 world champion in this event, finished second in 1:59.35. You can watch a replay of the race here.
After looking strong in her 1500m/800m double at the Bryan Clay Invitational last month, Elise Cranny got in a bit over her head during Friday night’s 5,000m. Paced by her Bowerman Track Club teammate Karissa Schweizer, Cranny opened up a gap on the field. But with 1200m to go, she began to fade, dropping from mostly 72-second laps to 75, 77, and 75 for her last three laps. Emily Lipari caught Cranny with 500m to go, not by putting in a big surge, but by continuing to run the same pace she had been running. Lipari won in 15:08.87. She ran 15:42.47 on May 6 at the Track Fest and said that she had a really big setback over the winter. But taking 33 seconds off her time in three weeks is impressive. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Cranny, who finished fourth in 15:16.72, make similar progress. Australia’s Lauren Ryan took second in a personal best of 15:11.84, and Bethany Hasz also PRed, taking third in 15:14.08. Courtney Frerichs, who is returning to racing after having ankle surgery in December, paced the race through 3K in 9:08. The Bowerman crew still has work to do, but they could benefit from the fact that the USATF Championships, which begin July 6, are a little later than usual this year.
There are some question marks in the U.S. women’s steeplechase right now, which opens the door ever so slightly for some new stars to emerge this season. Madie Boreman, 24, could be one of them. The first-year pro used a strong kick to win the steeplechase in 9:22.99, a 10-second personal best. (All results)
Thanks to this month’s sponsor, New Balance
Thanks to New Balance for sponsoring Fast Women this month and through the end of October. Their shoes have helped me get in my morning workouts during this stressful time as the school year winds down, and I see them on the feet of many runners in the area. I especially like the Fresh Foam X 880v13 when I’m on the treadmill and can’t get out of the house.
On a larger level, their commitment to women’s distance running in the U.S. is admirable, and they’re supporting some of the country’s most talented athletes. I’m looking forward to watching these women in action at the U.S. Outdoor Nationals in July and the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August.
NCAA first rounds set up exciting NCAA Championships
The purpose of the NCAA East and West First Rounds, held over the weekend, is to narrow down the fields for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will take place June 7–10 in Austin, Texas. So while a win or a fast time can provide a confidence boost, advancing to the next round is the main goal. Some things that stood out to me in the first rounds include:
In the East First Round, held in Jacksonville, Florida, NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy unsurprisingly looked very strong winning her heat of the 1500m (4:14.09) and then winning the 5,000m (15:31.00) a few hours later.
At the West First Round, held in Sacramento, California, Utah Valley’s Everlyn Kemboi pulled off an impressive double winning the 10,000m on Thursday (32:05.56) and the 5,000m on Saturday (15:30.25). Those are the two events where competitors are most likely to hold back, saving themselves for the finals, so we’ll find out who has more in them in Austin.
There was no clear-cut NCAA favorite in the steeplechase for much of the season, with a small handful of top athletes running similar times. But now there might be. Two weeks ago, at the Western Athletic Conference Championships, California Baptist’s Greta Karinauskaite, who is a Lithuanian national champion, lowered her PR from 9:46.72 to 9:35.55. And at the West First Round, she lowered it further, running 9:26.88, which is 13 seconds faster than anyone else has run this season.
There are always some big names who don’t advance, and this time around that included Oklahoma State’s Taylor Roe and Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker in her individual event. Roe, the 2022 NCAA indoor 3,000m champion, finished seventh in her heat of the 5,000m in 15:50.70 and was the fastest runner not to advance, missing out by 0.95 seconds. Whittaker was in a huge pack with one lap to go in her 1500m quarterfinal and it took a 61- to 62-second final lap to advance from that heat. Whittaker finished eighth, one place behind teammate Melissa Tanaka, who has also had a strong season. But Whittaker returned later in the evening and helped Stanford’s 4x400m relay advance. (West First Round results | East First Round results)
Hannah Becker qualifies for the Olympic Marathon Trials with only two seconds to spare
Hannah Becker, 24, produced one of the more dramatic races of the weekend, winning the Bayshore Marathon in 2:36:58 and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials by two seconds.
“Around 18 to 20 (miles), oof, I didn’t think I had it in me,” Becker told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “I was hurting pretty bad. And then at 24 to 25, I saw I still was where I was supposed to be at. That last two miles, I just really gave it literally everything I had. I was sprinting it out to the finish line. I knew it was going to be close.”
Becker’s time was a personal best by more than 11 minutes, but her performance didn’t come out of nowhere. She was the 2021 NCAA DII cross country champion for Grand Valley State University, and she finished her college career last year with personal bests of 10:16.88 in the steeplechase and 16:13.95 in the 5,000m. Traverse City was her second marathon; her first was the 2022 Twin Cities Marathon, where she ran 2:48:30.
Other News and Links
Paige (Stoner) Wood announced that she is unexpectedly expecting.
I thought Kara Goucher’s transparency about her pay throughout her professional running career was one of the more interesting aspects of her book, especially how wildly it varied at times. Sarah Lorge Butler wrote an article for Runner’s World that highlights the numbers Goucher shared.
It’s heartbreaking to hear that two trans runners withdrew from the California state meet due to online vitriol and transphobia. I can’t blame them, because I’ve seen how ugly such things can get, and it’s particularly painful to see such hate directed at children.
Sidney Baptista told Emilia Benton that the Pioneers Run Crew will be back at mile 21 of the Boston Marathon next year (Runner’s World). He’s hoping that the B.A.A. will make their cheering station an official cheer zone, much like the Wellesley Scream Tunnel.
Diribe Welteji ran a world-leading 1500m on Saturday in LA and fellow Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay erased it on Sunday in Rabat, running 3:54.03 for the Diamond League win. Ethiopia swept the top four spots with Freweyni Hailu (3:57.65) and Birke Haylom (3:57.66), who is only 17, also breaking 4:00. Cory McGee took fifth in 4:03.09. Kenya’s Mary Moraa won the 800m in 1:58.72. Australia’s Catriona Bisset (2:00.11) and Sage Hurta-Klecker (2:00.62) took second and third. (Results)
Anna Hall scored 6988 points in the heptathlon at the Hypo Meeting in Götzis and moved to fifth on the world all-time list. I was impressed that she closed her competition with a 2:02.97 800m, a PR.
Ethiopia’s Waganesh Mekasha won the Ottawa Marathon in 2:24:48. And Canada’s Malindi Elmore summoned a strong kick at the end to take second in 2:27:45, just six seconds ahead of Germany’s Melat Kejeta. Jackie Gaughan was the top American, taking fifth in a PR of 2:31:38. Sarah Pagano ran 2:33:53. And I was impressed by Alyssa McElheny, who PRed by six minutes to run 2:37:31, and Tammy Hsieh, who ran 2:37:44. Both just missed qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials but made big leaps in the right direction. (Results)
Maegan Krifchin won a warm Vermont City Marathon in 2:33:40. Her consistency continues to impress—this was her third marathon this year after running Houston in January (2:30:16) and Boston last month (2:32:46). She told the Burlington Free Press that she’s at a point in her running career where she just wants to have fun. You can watch a post-race interview with her here. (Results)
Loras College’s Kassie Parker won the 10,000m (33:03.53) and the 5,000m (16:18.30) at the NCAA DIII Track & Field Championships. Washington University’s Emma Kelley won the 800m (2:06.47), Emory’s Annika Urban won the 1500m (4:22.16), and Wartburg’s Aubrie Fisher won the steeplechase (10:15.34). (Results)
Winona State’s Lindsay Cunningham won the 10,000m (33:55.79) and 5,000m (16:23.08) at the NCAA DII Track & Field Championships, with the times slowed by the fact that the meet was held at altitude, in Pueblo, Colorado. West Texas A&M’s Eleonora Curtabbi won the steeplechase (10:22.76), Lee University's Celine Ritter won the 1500m (4:36.09), and Embry-Riddle’s Ukeyvia Beckwith won the 800m in 2:06.73. (Results)
I don’t usually include performance-related podcasts, but I enjoyed listening to Dr. Kayla Balcom, the Atlanta Track Club’s sports psychologist, on More Than Miles.
It was fun to hear Amy Yoder Begley talk about her career so far on Starting Line 1928.
I was interested in the women’s 100 x 1 mile record attempt coming up soon, as discussed by Vanessa Fraser on Women’s Running Stories.
In the four-plus years I’ve been putting out Fast Women, I’ve never missed a Monday. But there have been a couple weeks during which I have had to drop almost everything, and this was one of them. So if you notice things missing here, that’s why. (That includes photos, which I didn’t have the time to chase down.)
Thanks to New Balance for their support of the Fast Women newsletter and to everyone who helps keep this newsletter going via their support on Patreon and Venmo. I appreciate you all so much. I hope you all have a good week.