In this episode we take a look back at what happened in the running world in 2019 -the records, breakthroughs, and bizarre, unbelievable, and inspirational stories that made headlines.
Sub 2 Hour Marathon
In his second attempt at breaking the two-hour barrier in the marathon, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya accomplished the feat with a time of 1:59:40 in Vienna in October. The performance was not an official world record with the use of 41 pacemakers and because Kipchoge was handed his drinks from a bike. But it stands as the fastest 26.2 in history. Kipchoge also holds the official marathon world record of 2:01:39, which he ran in Berlin in 2018. He is quoted in Runner’s World as saying “I wanted to send a message to the world. No human is limited.”
New Women’s Marathon Record
On October 13th 25 year old Brigid Kosgei of Kenya made history when she won the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04. She broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16 year old record.
New Men’s Half Marathon Record
Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya shattered the world record at the Copenhagen Half Marathon in September by running 58:01 (a 4:25 min/mile or 2:45/km pace). The performance was 17 seconds faster than the previous record. The 26 year old distance star went on to prove his legs were capable of more later in the year when he won the 2019 New York City Marathon.
Age Group Win for Joan Benoit
In 1979 Joan Benoit Samuelson was a 21 year old college student and set a national and course record when she won the Boston Marathon. Now age 61 (40 years after her victory) her goal was to run within 40 minutes of her winning time at the 2019 Boston Marathon. In April at the Boston Marathon the 1984 Olympic marathon champion wore a similar singlet to honor her 1979 win and crossed the finish line in 3:04, exceeding her goal. “To be here, 40 years later and being able to run, let alone being able to run a marathon, I feel blessed,” she said in a Runner’s World article.
World Best 24-hour Run for Female Runner
In October Camille Herron won the International Association of Ultrarunners 24-Hour World Championship. She covered 167.8 miles in 24 hours and led the U.S. to an overall team victory. Earlier this year in January she survived a near fatal rollover car accident and came back less than two weeks later to win the Tarawera 100 Miler in Rotorua, New Zealand in a new course record of 17:20:52.
First Woman to Win Big’s Backyard Ultra
Maggie Guterl became the last runner standing in Big’s Backyard Ultra race by running the same 4.2 mile trail loop for 60 hours. The Colorado native ran 250 miles during that time to becoming the first woman to win the race that rewards the person who can run for the longest amount of time. A Runner’s World article quoted her as saying, “When I finished, a woman came up to me and said, ‘I didn’t want to tell you this, but you were running for all of the women and an entire gender,’” Guterl said. “That was in my head the whole race and it was so surreal when I was the last one standing.”
Fastest 10 Marathons in 10 Days
Mike Wardian set a Guinesses World Record for the fastest 10 marathons in 10 days with an average time of less than 3 hours for each marathon. He also holds the record for the World Marathon Challenge with the fastest 7 marathons in 7 continents in 7 days.
New Course Record at Western States
Ultrarunning star Jim Walmsley maintained his Western States winning streak when he broke his own course record in June. Running 100 miles from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California, Walmsley finished in 14:09, breaking his own course record by more than 20 minutes. His roommate Jared Hazen also came in under the course record in 14:26. Walmsley also had some other amazing achievements this year by qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials in January, breaking the 50-mile record in May, and winning the 42K at the World Mountain Running Championships in November.
Nick Butter became the first person in the world to run a marathon in every country. This was an unparalleled feat of logistical and physical endurance. You can hear our interview with him on episode #304.
Notable and Interesting News
One of the biggest gear trends this year was the evolution of the Nike Vaporfly shoe with the curved carbon fiber plate. There has been a lot of buzz about the Zoom Vaporfly 4% and this year they released the Next% with 15% more foam in the midsole. After the shoe was released this year it quickly became the fastest shoe on Strava, clocking up an average pace of 5:02 /km (8:06/mile).
32.7C (90.1 degrees F) was the temperature during the women’s marathon at the World Championships in Doha. Twenty-eight athletes pulled out in total because of the extreme heat.
1 billion pounds is The London Marathon’s overall fundraising total since its inception in 1981. Their motto this year was “Thanks a billion!” We appreciate everyone who donated as we raised money for a MTA forever forest for the John Muir Trust in Scotland.
Cynthia Arnold, age 35, of Montana ran a time of 3:11 (7:20 min/mile or 4:32/km pace) at the Missoula Marathon while pushing a triple stroller with her three kids (a total weight of 185 pounds).
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned Alberto Salazar, the famous track coach of the Nike Oregon Project and former marathon champion, for four years. The USADA says Salazar was involved with trafficking testosterone, infused a prohibited amount of L-carnitine, and tried to tamper with doping controls.
Mary Cain comes out with allegations about the questionable coaching techniques of Alberto Salazar related to weight shaming. This resulted in her dealing with some serious issues with depression and quitting the Nike Oregon Project team. A bright side to what she went through means that it is bringing to light problems with abusive coaches and sponsorship deals. More athletes are talking about mental health and eating disorders including Amelia Boone who openly shared about her long-time eating disorder and the treatment that she’s gone through.
Another Nike related controversy that was brought to light was their pregnancy clause in contracts with women athletes. Alysia Montano shared an issue few knew about. Female athletes were being punished for getting pregnant. Montaño said that when she told Nike that she wanted to have a baby, the brand told her it would pause her sponsorship deal and stop paying her. She left Nike to sign with Asics, who she said also threatened to stop paying her during her recovery after childbirth. Other athletes including Allyson Felix and Kara Goucher have also spoken out about what they experienced. Nike has said that it would waive performance-pay reductions for 12 months for athletes “who decide to have a baby” and will add terms that reinforce the policy for female athletes into contracts.
Shalane Flannigan announces her decision to retire from elite running.
Gabriele Grunewald, pro middle distance runner, who trained and raced through treatment for a rare cancer, died in June at the age of 32 in her home state of MN. She inspired fans with her message of hope and resilience and that it was okay to struggle. She is quoted in Outside Online as saying, “In my previous cancer experiences, it wasn’t easy but I tried my best and I was able to do so many things that I would not have done had I just given up on my life when it was hard. So I guess my message is that it’s okay to struggle, but it’s not okay to give up on yourself or your dreams. My story is about cancer, but anybody has tough stuff in their life.” Her message and the mantra “Brave like Gabe” continues to inspire runners to be their best and her husband Justin plans to continue her foundation Brave Like Gabe.
Kara Goucher debuted in trail races with the Leadville Marathon in Colorado. Bouts of vomiting from altitude sickness made the Olympian consider dropping out but she pushed through for a fifth place finish and first in her AG with a time of 3:54. She calls it the “hardest thing I ever accomplished.”
The movie “Brittany Runs a Marathon” was released this year. It’s a drama/comedy about a woman who gets a wake up call when she realizes how unhealthy her body and lifestyle have become. With a motivation to lose weight she starts running with the eventual goal of completing the NYC Marathon.
The Bizarre and Unbelievable
31-year-old Travis Kauffman from Colorado was trail running when he was attacked by a mountain lion. He managed to fight back and killed the lion in self-defense. The attack required 20 plus stitches to puncture wounds on his face, legs, and arms. He gave an interview 10 days after the attack and said that he’s recovering well, has been running three times since the incident, and has been back to the scene of the attack.
In June a trail runner was attacked and gored by bison in a Utah State Park where he has run hundreds of times. One animal impaled Kyler Bourgeous with its horns and left hoof prints on his back and head. “I thought I was gonna die right there” he said. “I thought my situation was just a freak accident,” Bourgeous told The Washington Post on Monday night. “But apparently, they’re a lot more aggressive than I ever thought.” After recovering from a collapsed lung and cracked rib he worked up the nerve to return a few months later bringing his girlfriend Kayleigh Davis along for a hike. Unfortunately she became the park’s second bison attack of the year. An enormous animal turned on her and charged, throwing her about 15 feet in the air. Although in tremendous pain, she tried not to move or make any noise once she hit the ground. “He was hanging over me, sniffing me for a minute, and he was digging like he was about to charge again,” Davis said. When Bourgeous found her, Davis was bleeding from her left thigh, where the bison had gored her. She had also broken her right ankle, ruining her plans to run in a spring half-marathon. She was airlifted to a local hospital. Kyler said he’s not sure he’ll ever return to the park.
Caitlin Keen, age 26, was running along Fort Worth’s Trinity Trails when a pit bull mix attacked her. The dog repeatedly jumped on her and bit her on the back and arms before a passerby was able to rush to her aid and subdue the dog. The attack caused injuries requiring 21 stitches in six spots. After healing up Keen stayed focused on her goal races which includes looking forward to the upcoming US Olympic Trial marathon.
A running club in Philadelphia helped chase down an alleged thief near the University of Pennsylvania during their midday run. Runner’s World reports that the Annenberg Lunchtime Running Group saw a “very fast man” sprint by them, “probably running a 7:15 pace,” said group member Kyle Cassidy. But they quickly realized the man had allegedly stolen a phone and laptop. “We all looked at each other and sprinted off after the person,” Cassidy said. Other members in the running club gave chase and the running group tracked the man down on the streets of Philadelphia. The chase ended when the suspect ran into the path of responding University of Pennsylvania officers. “We heard the first officer yell to the other officers, ‘It’s a running club,’” Cassidy said. “‘This guy tried to run from the running club.’
People were shocked when Harvard University junior Kieran Tuntivate managed to win two races in this year’s Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, despite an injury that left him with a large open wound on the bottom of his foot. Tuntivate, age 22, was in the first lap of a 3,000 meter race at an indoor meet when another runner stepped on his foot causing him to lose a shoe. Runner’s World reports that Tuntivate, who’s been running competitively since age 12, said he only had two options in the moment: stop to recover his shoe and likely lose the race or keep running and risk an injury. He decided to keep going and he ended up winning the race without his left shoe. But the victory came at a bloody and painful price. “It felt kind of natural at first, but I kind of expected it to start hurting eventually with the really abrasive surface of the track,” Tuntivate told ABC News in an interview. “Around 2,000 meters — about two-thirds into the race — is when it really started to hurt.” Tuntivate said he lost a lot of skin by running on what “felt like sandpaper.” He said his doctor compared the skin loss to what one experiences after a third-degree burn, but he didn’t let it stop him and managed to win in the 5,000 meters event the following day.
Anna McNuff of the UK took on a huge adventure by running nearly the whole of Britain barefoot! She posted this on Facebook, “A total of 2,352 MILES RUN (equivalent to 90 marathons) from The Shetland Islands to London, in my bare feet.”
Ernie Lacroix celebrated his 100th birthday at the Cowtown 5K in Fort Worth, Texas. This was the 20th year in a row that Lacroix completed the 5K race. Lacroix ran with his family and friends under the team name Smoky’s Posse, named after the plane he flew during World War II. Lacroix flew 76 missions in a B-25 Bomber over Italy and France during the war, earning him the Flying Cross medal. “I have no idea of what prompted me to give the Cowtown a go,” Lacroix told Runner’s World. “I knew beforehand that I didn’t have a chance to win anything, but all the people obviously enjoying the competition looked like fun, so I gave it a go. I can’t think of any other reason.” Running (or walking, as he refers to his not-so-brisk pace) was not something Lacroix has always done, though he did exercise a lot while in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Now, at 100, he says he is “in the worst shape of (his) life at the present time”—but he is looking to see what he can do to change that.
It’s tough enough to push one child in a running stroller but imagine pushing five children. 37 year old Chad Kempel did just that at the Surf City Marathon in February. The father of seven pushed his quintuplets to the finish line in 5:45 and then continued for a total of 27.3 miles to honor the amount of weeks that his wife carried the quintuplets before they were born prematurely. When the babies were born in 2018, they each only weighed three pounds, and had to be immediately treated with oxygen and feeding tubes to survive. The quintuplets’ fragile health conditions required them to stay in the intensive care unit for 73 days, Kempel said in a Runner’s World article. “It was a long, scary pregnancy, and even after they were born, we couldn’t rest. Finally, we were able to take them home, but then our schedules just got busier. It’s been a long, crazy year, between parenting and working and finding time to run.” To train for the Surf City Marathon, Kempel woke up each morning at 4:00, put on his running clothes plus a headlamp and reflective gear, and then left the house at 4:30 to run. During the race he had to deal with making sure the babies weren’t hungry. He said, “My biggest concern was how many diapers I’d need to change.” Luckily, the dad had the genius idea to dress each baby in two diapers, so when one was soiled, it could be quickly ripped off and the other could slide in place. “It was smooth sailing.”
49 year old Dave Mackey was an accomplished ultra runner until a fall while running left him with a tibia broken in eight places. Due to complications and continual pain he chose to have a below the knee amputation. Since then he’s been building back his running and completed the Leadman series last year. This year he ran the Leadville Trail 100 in 25 hours, 54 minutes, roughly six hours slower than his pre-injury 2014 time. Mackey says in Outside Online, “I just want to get out there and make the most of it. I’m more appreciative now of every individual run or ride. Or skiing with my kids. It feels so good. With the accident I had, I could’ve died.” There’s a new film out about his story called Leadman.
British ultra runner Jasmin Paris wins a 268 mile race at the Montane Spine Race (which traverses from England into Scotland on rugged terrain). She was the overall winner by over 15 hours with a time of in 83 hours 12 minutes. There were 126 other athletes who also battled rain and 50 MPH winds. But she only stopped for 7 hours total to eat, sleep, and pump breast milk as she is still nursing her baby girl. All athletes were required to carry their own supplies and navigate which adds to the challenge.
5-Dog attacks Olympic Trials qualifier: https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a26736114/dog-attacks-olympic-trials-qualifier-caitlin-keen/?source=nl&utm_source=nl_rnw&utm_medium=email&date=030819&src=nl&utm_campaign=16093092&utm_term=AAA%20–%20High%20Minus%20Dormant%20and%2090%20Day%20Non%20Openers
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