Discover more from Fast Women
Fast Women: Wins for Nikki Hiltz on and off the track
Runners with local ties win at Penn Relays
Issue 235, sponsored by New Balance
Nikki Hiltz has a productive week in Iowa
Nikki Hiltz won the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships on Tuesday and the Drake Relays 1500m on Saturday, both held in Des Moines, Iowa. What they did between the two races was similarly impressive.
As a trans nonbinary runner, Hiltz was initially hesitant about racing in Iowa, a state that banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth in March, but they opted to do so anyway. “I’ll be racing for the trans community,” they wrote in an Instagram story. “To show that even in a state dedicated to erasing trans lives, we belong everywhere we decide to be.”
Hiltz held off Sinclaire Johnson and a deep field to win the road mile title, 4:28 to 4:29, and said on Instagram that the number of pride flags they saw in the homestretch buoyed them to the win. After discussing trans rights in a post-race interview, Hiltz was invited to the Iowa State Capitol to meet with some of the people who are advocating on behalf of LGBTQ+ people. On Thursday, they met with State Representative Jennifer Konfrst, the leader of the Iowa House Democrats. Hiltz told Fast Women that they gave Konfrst the starting gun bullet casing from their road mile win “as a reminder of a win for trans people in Iowa.”
Hiltz earned $5,000 for the win and an additional $2,500 for setting an event record, and on Friday, they announced that they had donated the $2,500 bonus to the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund and encouraged others to contribute as well.
And on Saturday, in cold and rainy conditions, Hiltz kicked to another win, taking the Drake Relays 1500m in 4:09.02. Hiltz said after the race that a year of living at altitude and training under coach Mike Smith has really improved their strength, which is allowing them to access their speed at the end of races. Between this pair of wins and their 1:59.03 800m two weeks ago, Hiltz’s season is off to a fantastic start.
Other standouts: NAIA star Addy Wiley, 19, finished third in the road mile in 4:31 before taking fourth in the Drake Relays 1500m in 4:12.53. In her first race in some time that didn’t include any swimming or biking, Colleen Quigley took fourth in the road mile in 4:32, called it a huge success, and said she raced above her fitness level.
And it was great to see Shannon Osika back out there. In her first race in nearly a year, Osika finished fifth in the road mile in 4:32 before taking ninth (4:15.92) in the Drake 1500m. Utah’s Simone Plourde had a strong race in the 1500m, taking second in a 4-second PR of 4:10.04 in less than ideal conditions. (Road mile results | Drake Relays results | Nice article about Hiltz from the Des Moines Register)
Runners with local ties shine at Penn Relays
Allie Wilson, who grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, thinks she first raced at Penn Relays when she was nine years old (swipe for a cute photo). And on Friday, 18 years later, she finally earned her first Penn Relays watch, splashing to a convincing win in the 800m, running 2:01.13 in the rain. (Here’s a good article about Wilson from the Daily Times.)
The following day, New Jersey native Josette Andrews, who raced at Penn Relays during high school and college, earned her first watch as well. Andrews dominated the 1500m, winning in 4:04.88. Her On Athletics Club teammate Sintayehu Vissa took second in 4:07.27.
And Ajee’ Wilson, who now lives in Philly and has been running at Penn Relays since she was a New Jersey high schooler, also pulled off a win. One year after fading to sixth in the 600m, she ran a beautifully paced race to win this year’s edition in 1:24.45. Jamaica’s Natoya Goule got out to a lead, but Wilson caught her on the homestretch. Goule held on for second (1:24.96) and Sage Hurta-Klecker took third (1:25.33). You can read more on Andrews’ and Wilson’s wins here.
Running in steady rain on Friday, Stanford pulled off a win in the distance medley relay, with a time of 10:50.56, just over two seconds off the meet and collegiate record set by Villanova in 1988. You can watch the full race replay here. Their lineup was the same as it was when they won the NCAA indoor title in March. Melissa Tanaka led off on the 1200m leg (3:19.93), followed by Maya Valmon (400m, 52.15), Roisin Willis (800, 2:04.83), and Juliette Whittaker (1600m, 4:33.67). This was Tanaka’s second Penn Relays DMR win—she also helped Penn win a historic title in 2019, running the 800m leg. Tanaka graduated from Penn in 2021 and is using her remaining eligibility while getting a graduate degree at Stanford.
Side note: One day after racing at Penn Relays, Tanaka, Valmon, and Willis were back in California, competing at the Big Meet, Stanford’s dual meet with Cal. Tanaka won the 800m (2:04.51), and Valmon won the 400m in a school record of 52.07. (Results)
Back in Philly, Providence College’s team of Alex O’Neill (4:24.9), Shannon Flockhart (4:16.7), Jane Buckley (4:17.8), and Kimberley May (4:11.9) earned an exciting win in the 4x1500m relay, with May edging out Oklahoma State’s Billah Jepkirui, 17:11.35 to 17:11.70, on the anchor. It was PC’s first win in this event since 1991. Jepkirui also anchored Oklahoma State’s DMR, which finished second to Stanford the day before.
And Penn State’s 4x800m relay team of Maddie Ullom (2:07.70), Allison Johnson (2:06.20), Hayley Kitching (2:06.54), and Rachel Gearing (2:03.38) dominated the 4x800m relay with a win in 8:23.81. (Penn Relays results)
Thanks to New Balance for supporting Fast Women
I’ve been wearing New Balance shoes for a couple of years now, and I don’t know where I’d be without them. As I’ve aged, I’ve found that I need a wider shoe, and I appreciate that New Balance has many options for runners with a range of foot widths. And for those who care about shoe color, runners with wide feet get just as many color options as everyone else.
I’m just getting back into running again after a health setback and I’ve been doing all of my miles in the Fresh Foam X 880v13. (And, to be honest, I wear an old pair to walk around in pretty much all the time as well.) I am someone who values comfort above all else in my footwear, and these shoes are so comfortable.
I’ll tell you more about them in the coming weeks, but if you’d like to try them out, you can order them via newbalance.com or visit a local run specialty store. And before I get back to running news, did you know that New Balance Nationals Outdoor will be held at Philadelphia’s Franklin Field (home of the Penn Relays) again this year? It’s going to be the place to be June 15–18.
Other News and Links
Arkansas’ sixth-year senior Lauren Gregory had foot surgery March 15 and will miss the outdoor season. Gregory went into the NCAA Indoor Championships with some foot pain but helped Arkansas finish second in the distance medley relay. The following day, while earning a runner-up finish in the mile, she heard a pop, and it turned out she had fractured the navicular bone in her right foot. The points she scored helped Arkansas win the team title, but Gregory’s collegiate career is over. According to this, Gregory has signed or will soon be signing a pro contract that will allow her to focus on both track and mountain racing.
For the first time in her career, Olympian Val Constien has a shoe sponsor. She announced last week that she has signed with Nike. You can read about it here or listen to her talk about it on the More Than Running podcast (the latter is better). She said that switching agents made a difference in getting a contract and that if she had 50,000 followers on Instagram, she knows she would have gotten a contract a lot sooner. Constien said her contract is such that she still wouldn’t be able to survive without her full-time job. This is true of quite a few sponsored athletes—they’re not just keeping their jobs because they love them—but it’s not something that gets discussed often.
Sara Vaughn recapped her Boston Marathon with a YouTube video titled, “Today was not my day.” Jump to the 6:40 mark if you want to hear what she had to say about the race.
If you were disturbed by the police response at mile 21 of the Boston Marathon, consider signing this letter to the B.A.A. Last week, WBUR did a good 18-minute segment on what happened (it’s available in podcast form, search for Radio Boston) that includes a conversation with Liz Rock of TrailblazHers and Sidney Baptista of the Pioneers Run Crew.
Sarah Lorge Butler looked at who is likely to run the World Championships marathon for the U.S. this summer (Runner’s World).
Betsy Saina, who ran a marathon PR of 2:21:40 14 months after giving birth, shared her advice for returning to competition postpartum with Runner’s World. The biggest takeaway? Take your time and listen to your body. A little easier said than done.
Des Linden said that she needed 34 stitches in her right hand after a boating incident.
Elizabeth Weil wrote an interesting piece about some of what goes into being a professional runner for Aisha Praught Leer. While some pros live a regimented life like the one Praught Leer describes, plenty of athletes have been showing in recent years that there’s more than one way to the top. And I guarantee you that any pro who has kids and spends a decent amount of time taking care of them does not live such a running-centered life. But pro or not, you might find some helpful tips in there.
Kelyn Soong wrote a good article for The Washington Post about the Black women who are making history by breaking 3:00 in the marathon.
Tara Davis-Woodhall was stripped of her USATF indoor long jump title after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in cannabis, at the meet. She was given a one-month ban, which is already over, because her cannabis use was unrelated to sport performance. In their press release announcing the ban, USADA basically said that they don’t agree with the current rule, writing, “USADA has advocated and will continue to advocate to WADA, the rule maker, to treat marijuana in a fairer and more effective way to identify true in-competition use.”
Lori Riley’s Hartford Courant article about Stephanie Blozy selling the Fleet Feet store in West Hartford, Connecticut, does a nice job of illustrating how a running store can be so much more to a community than just a place to buy stuff.
Grayson Murphy dominated at the USATF Mountain Championships, winning both the vertical race and the up/down race, hosted by the Sunapee Scramble in New Hampshire. In Saturday’s vertical race, Murphy covered the roughly four-mile course, which climbed 1900 feet, in 35:47. She qualified to represent the U.S. at June’s World Trail & Mountain Running Championships in Austria, along with Rachel Tomajczyk (second, 40:28) and Alexandra Lawson (third, 41:03). As reigning world champion, Allie McLaughlin had an automatic bid and will also be on the team. (Vertical results | Murphy’s race reports: day one and day two)
The following day, Murphy had the chance to race McLaughlin in the up/down race, which was about 9 miles and had more than 3,000 feet of ascent and descent. Murphy won by nearly three minutes (1:08:56), with McLaughlin finishing second (1:11:53). The top four made the World team this time, so they’ll be joined by Tomajczyk (third, 1:16:35) and 43-year-old Kasie Enman (fourth, 1:16:40). (Up/down results) Allie Ostrander was originally scheduled to run as well but she pulled out due to nagging shin pain.
Sweden’s Ida Nilsson, 42, won the Canyons by UTMB 100K in 9:51:07, and she and Canada’s Priscilla Forgie (second, 10:00:20) earned golden tickets for the Western States 100, though iRunFar says it’s TBD if Forgie will accept hers. Nilsson said on Instagram that she made a wrong turn and lost around 10 minutes and many places one-third of the way into the race. Heather Jackson won the 50K in 4:09:36, and Alyssa Clark won the 100-miler in 20:13:21.
Kenyans Purity Komen (1:06:30) and Ruth Chepngetich (1:07:18) went 1-2 at the Istanbul Half Marathon. (Results)
At the Adizero Road to Records in Germany, Ethiopia’s Medina Eisa and Senbere Teferi went 1–2 in the 5K, both running 14:46. Katie Izzo, the lone American, ran 15:33. Kenya’s Irine Kimais won the 10K in 30:23. And Bertukan Welde and Nigsti Haftu produced another Ethiopian 1–2 in the half marathon, both running 1:07:44. Emily Durgin finished 10th in 1:10:55. (Results)
Kenya’s Cynthia Limo, who has been cleaning up at U.S. road races recently after a maternity break, won Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run in a course record of 50:55. Philly’s own Amber Zimmerman, whom I profiled last fall, finished second in 52:16. (Results)
Sara Lopez won the Eugene Marathon (Register-Guard link) in 2:33:50 and qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Hiruni Wijayaratne finished second in 2:40:09. The half marathon winner, Rosa Moriello, also qualified for the Trials, but she cut it very close. With a gun time of 1:11:59 and a chip time of 1:11:58, she made it in with two seconds to spare. Maya Weigel finished second in 1:12:05. (She has already qualified for the Trials with a marathon performance.)
On April 23, Sarah Pagano won the women’s race and finished third overall at the NYCRUNS Brooklyn Half Marathon in 1:12:58.
Gabby Thomas ran 49.68, a big PR, in winning the 400m at the Texas Invitational. Her time is the second-fastest in the world so far this year.
Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell (9:39.45) and Grace Fetherstonhaugh (9:45.24) ran quick steeplechase times at a high performance meet hosted by their university. Mitchell’s time puts her second on the NCAA list, just 0.06 seconds behind Elise Thorner. (Results)
Melissa Hardesty, 45, was the top finisher at the USATF Masters 10K Championships on Sunday, hosted by the James Joyce Ramble in Massachusetts, in 37:26.
Illinois high school senior Tatum David set a state 3200m record of 9:48.94 last week. She’ll attend the University of Virginia in the fall.
Dani Moreno, who just missed qualifying for the Olympic Trials in her road marathon debut, discussed her Boston Marathon on the Road to the Trials podcast. It was fun to hear her talk about being part of the pro field, and it’s funny that she was concerned pre-race that she might make a wrong turn, because such things happen often in trail racing. Moreno is going to focus fully on the trail season now, but she’s thinking of running the California International Marathon as a last-chance Trials qualifier. Moreno also discussed her race with Nienke Brinkman, on The Sub Hub.
Also: A live episode of Des Linden and Kara Goucher’s podcast, Nobody Asked Us, recorded in Boston | Former NYRR CEO and president Mary Wittenberg on Starting Line 1928 | A live episode of Run Farther & Faster with pioneers Jacqueline Hansen, Marilyn Bevans, and Patti Catalano Dillon | Allie McLaughlin on The Sub Hub | Australian marathoner Ellie Pashley on For the Kudos | Diane Nukuri on the Suite Run podcast | Aisha McAdams and Katherine Burgess, founders of Rhoam Creative Studio, on the Ali on the Run Show | Brooke Feldmeier on the Lactic Acid podcast
The first Diamond League event of the 2023 season takes place on Friday in Doha, and the meet will air on Peacock beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET. Faith Kipyegon headlines the 1500m and the schedule and complete entry lists should be posted here soon. (Val Constien said she’ll be running the steeplechase.)
The domestic track season will really heat up on Saturday when the Track Fest takes place in Los Angeles. You can see the full fields here—the women’s 5,000m looks like it will be particularly good. Alicia Monson was originally planning to pace Josette Andrews, but Monson said she’s out now after getting Covid. And you can watch the livestream here for $5.99.
The same day, stars including Ajee’ Wilson, Aleia Hobbs, Gabby Thomas, Anna Hall, and Allie Wilson will compete at the Atlanta City Games. You can see a full schedule here. Watching the meet in person is free, and there will be a free livestream of the meet on Adidas’ YouTube channel.
Thanks again to New Balance for their support of Fast Women and to all of you who help keep this newsletter (and Fast Women’s social media) afloat via your contributions on Patreon and Venmo. You can also support this newsletter by sharing it with a friend who might be interested. I’m hoping to put a more formal referral program in place before too long, but in the meantime, you can share Fast Women via the link below.
I hope you all have a great week.