Ten Great Moments in US Distance Running for 2007, by Ryan Lamppa

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Ryan Lamppa is the prolific writer, manager of propaganda for Running USA. His magnum opus is the Running USA wire, one of the most useful compendiums of all that is American distance running today. On December 17, just as I was thinking vacation, Ryan penned one of his best columns of the year.

Read the column and consider this: the potential of athletics in North America is understood of by every other country in the world but the U.S. With the focus of many, including such coaches as Terrance Mahon, but also Brad Hudson, the Hanson Brothers, Zap Fitness, Minnesota's training group, and many of the top collegiate coaches in our country, the U.S. has strong middle and long distance runners, ready for some suprises in Beijing!

December 17, 2007
By Ryan Lamppa / Running USA Wire

What a difference 7 years can make. Back in the "Dark Ages" of U.S. distance running circa 2000, there wasn't a lot to cheer about or acknowledge, or put simply, U.S. distance running was in a funk. And now, in 7 short years, due mainly to training groups, dedicated athletes and coaches, increased financial support, more promotion and success (think Meb & Deena) begetting more success (see the below), the United States has dramatically more to cheer about and moreover, has inspiration and a foundation for current and future stars. From a shortage of best moments 7 years ago to a surfeit of best moments, here are the best of 2007 for U.S. distance running:

#10 Rupp Runs 27:33.48, New U.S. Collegiate Record
At the Cardinal Invitational on April 29, University of Oregon's Galen Rupp, 20, continued his 10,000 meter development with a solid, negative split win against a deep field (15 went sub-28) and moreover with a new U.S. collegiate record in 27:33.48. Dathan Ritzenhein from Colorado held the previous record (27:38.50) at the same meet in April 2004.

#9 Team USA Wins Silver Medal at Yokohama Int'l Women's Ekiden
At the 25th Yokohama International Women's Ekiden marathon road relay in late February, led by 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Team USA earned the silver medal in 2:16:04 to hold off host Japan who finished third (2:16:07). Russia won the event in 2:14:48.

Their performance was the fastest marathon ekiden by a U.S. women's team. Previous best was 2:17:09 at Chiba, Japan 1988 (also silver medal). The 2007 team - Jen Rhines, Kastor, Carrie Tollefson, Amy Rudolph, Katie McGregor and Elva Dryer - also tied for the second best place at a women's ekiden (Yokohama 1986 and Chiba 1988). Team USA won the 1989 Kagome-Ekiden International for Women (2:19:22) in Barcelona, Spain.

#8 Tegenkamp Breaks U.S. 2 Mile Record at Pre
With his third place 8:07.07 in the 2 mile, Matt Tegenkamp, at the Prefontaine Classic in June, set his first U.S. record (unofficial because the 2 mile is not an official USATF record distance). Tegenkamp, who broke Alan Webb's 2005 record (8:11.48), ran a controlled negative split (4:05/4:02).

#7 Goucher Beats Radcliffe, Runs Fastest U.S. Half-Marathon at Great North
At the BUPA Great North Run in late September, Kara Goucher beat marathon great Paula Radcliffe, 1:06:57 to 1:07:53, and in the process, the Portland, Ore. resident ran - on the point-to-point, downhill course - the fastest half-marathon time ever by a U.S. woman.

#6 Flanagan Sets U.S. 5000m Record at Mt. SAC Relays
Friday the 13th was not bad luck for North Carolina grad Shalane Flanagan as she broke the U.S. 5000m record with her 14:44.80 last April at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. (near Los Angeles). Flanagan surpassed Regina Jacobs's mark of 14:45.35 from the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento that July.

#5 Hall Shatters Long-Standing U.S. Record at Aramco Houston Half Marathon
Ryan Hall of Big Bear Lake, Calif. started the year off with a "bang" as the Team Running USA athlete shattered the long-standing U.S. half-marathon record with his scintillating and solo 59:43 at Houston on January 14. Hall's Splits: 5K - 14:05, 10K - 28:21, 15K - 42:21, 10 miles - 45:33 and 20K - 57:06

#4 Hall Sets U.S. Marathon Debut Record at Flora London
On April 22, at the Flora London Marathon, against a top international field, Ryan Hall ran like a veteran to finish 7th in an impressive 2:08:24 to set the U.S. marathon debut record. The old record was 2:09:41 by Alberto Salazar (New York City 1980) and Alan Culpepper (Chicago 2002). Hall now is the second fastest U.S. marathoner all-time - behind only Khalid Khannouchi.

#3 Lagat Makes History with 1500m / 5000m World Title Double
In Osaka, Japan, at the World Championships, Bernard Lagat became the first runner ever to win the 1500m / 5000m double, and only the third in the history of global championships - Hicham el Guerrouj in 2004 and Paavo Nurmi in 1924 also won Olympic doubles. In addition, Lagat, 32, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist for Kenya, won the first gold medals at both distances for the U.S. by one athlete.

#1 - TIE Goucher Earns First U.S. 10,000m Medal at World Championships
At the World Championships in Osaka, Japan in late August, Kara Goucher, 29, ran a smart race under challenging conditions - warm and humid weather as well as pushing and shoving in a tight, large pack - to earn a surprise bronze medal in the 10,000 meters. Over the final laps, Goucher battled Briton's Jo Pavey and New Zealand's Kim Smith and the three-time NCAA champion at Colorado produced the best kick and a less-than-two-second edge over Pavey, 32:02.05 to 32:03.81, for the coveted hardware and a spot on the podium. Goucher's medal was the first for the U.S. at the distance in eleven World Championships. Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia defended her world title with a 31:55.41 clocking.

#1 Hall Sets U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Record for Beijing Berth
With seeming ease, Ryan Hall, 25, floated over the 5-loop Central Park course to become Olympic Marathon Trials champion on November 3. His awe-inspiring 2:09:02 performance set a Trials and USA Championship record and against one of the best U.S. marathon fields assembled, it was the largest men's Trials victory margin ever: 2 minutes, 5 seconds. On the challenging course, the Team Running USA athlete produced a huge negative split: 1:06:17 (first half) vs. 1:02:45 (second half), 3 minutes, 32 seconds, and the first sub-2:10 at the Trials and USA Championship.

From 5K to 35K, Hall ran each successive 5K faster than the previous one. His progression went: 5K - 16:51, 10K - 15:35, 15K - 15:26, 20K - 15:12, 25K - 15:05, 30K - 14:48 and 35K - 14:28. His final 5K - where he celebrated the last 400 meters - was 14:57.

(More Blogger comments: I saw Kara and Ryan do their things this year. Goucher was amazing in her presence of mind and her thoughtful comments on her competition-Jo Pavey and Kim Smith, two of the class acts in our global sport. Watching Ryan drop that 4.32 mile on the Central Park big loop was like watching a surgeon perform a perfect surgery-fascinating to watch, but so efficient, so skillful, and so masterful, that no one dared match the move!)

For more on the sport, please click: http://www.usatf.org

1 Comment | Leave a comment

We should all be extremely excited about how we will be represented in Beijing! This will be a very intoxicating ride through the Trials and into the Games. As a huge fan of the sport, personally I cant wait for the unveiling of Team USA. The current US Club system, developed by Bill Roe and Andy Martin, is showing great promise.
"Lets Roll"

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