Best of 2017: FloTrack's Top Upsets

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From the roads to the track, 2017 was filled with surprises. Here are FloTrack's top five upsets from the running world this year.

5. Kyra Jefferson wins NCAA 200m title.

University of Florida’s Kyra Jefferson ran 22.02 to set a NCAA record and defeat 2016 Olympian Deajah Stevens of Oregon at the NCAA Championships in Eugene.

Stevens, who entered the meet with the second fastest time in NCAA history, led the race off the curve. Jefferson worked her way even, and with 50 meters remaining the two were in lock step. Jefferson opened up a slight lead before Stevens crashed to the track with 10 meters remaining. 

Jefferson got the win and the NCAA record. Stevens was disqualified, depriving the Ducks of important team points, but setting in motion Oregon’s dramatic 4x400m race for the team title. Stevens rebounded nicely, winning the U.S. title in the 200m and finishing runner-up in the 100m.

Women's 200m, Final - Kyra Jefferson NCAA record!, Deajah Stevens goes down!

4. Gatlin, Coleman beat Bolt in his final 100m.

Since 2008, Usain Bolt’s dominance has been so routine that it felt inevitable. Even a lackluster season would be forgotten by the time the Olympics or World Championships come around. Slow times, poor starts, a bad back. It always got cleaned up when there were medals on the line. “Bolt is ready when it counts,” was the common refrain among track fans. 

His greatest escape came in 2015 when all signs pointed to Justin Gatlin finally dethroning Bolt at the World Championships. Gatlin was red hot that year and Bolt was his most vulnerable. Bolt needed to have his best race of the year and he needed Gatlin to falter. He got both, winning by .01 seconds and holding on to his title. After that season, it was fair to assume that Bolt would cruise to retirement. Gatlin wouldn’t be able to pose a greater threat than he did in 2015 and Bolt could keep any younger stars at bay before for two more years. 

Those assumptions proved to be wrong. In the final in London, Bolt’s top speed wasn’t nearly enough to make up for his slow start out of the blocks. Bolt’s main challenge appeared to come from Christian Coleman in the middle of track. But late in the race, Gatlin held his form from lane seven to fly past both men to win gold in 9.92. Coleman edged Bolt 9.94 to 9.95. After the race, Gatlin gave a deferential bow to Bolt. It had been nine years since Bolt lost a championship race that he started. The only thing more strange than seeing Bolt finish second is to see him finish third.

3. Muktar Edris snaps Mo Farah’s streak.

In his last championship on the track, Mo Farah hoped to run his gold medal total to eleven 5000m and 10,000m gold medals. Earlier in the meet, he won a fast, competitive 10,000m for his 10th straight major championships medal. The pace in the 5000m wasn’t as ambitious, leaving a large group at the bell. 

Going into the final lap, Farah uncharacteristically wasn’t at the front. With 300 meters remaining, he trailed Yomif Kejelcha and Muktar Edris. Farah was still close enough to close down on the two Ethiopians, but the gap was larger than we’ve been accustomed to seeing during Farah’s reign. With 100 meters remaining, Edris swung wide and had a clear run at the finish line. Farah was bottled up behind and eventually had to pass Kejelcha on the inside — a move that earned him silver, but wasn’t enough to catch Edris.

2. Phyllis Francis topples the form charts at the World Championships.

Entering the World Championships, the big question in the women’s 400m was Shaunae Miller-Uibo or Allyson Felix for gold. The two traded wins in the last two global championships and there didn’t look to be any indication that someone else could crack into the top two this season. No two athletes had as firm a grip on their event as Felix and Miller-Uibo.

That prognosis held right up until the final 100 meters at the World Championships. Racing on a wet London night, Miller-Uibo entered the homestretch in first. Felix trailed by a manageable striking distance, but then began to fade. Francis, who hadn’t beaten either Felix of Miller-Uibo in her previous 12 attempts, began to close fast. With 30 meters remaining it was clear Francis had enough to get past Felix for silver. Then, Miller-Uibo stumbled, lost her momentum and Francis found herself in front. The crowd was still stunned at Miller-Uibo’s fate as Francis crossed the line in a lifetime best of 49.92.

1. Shalane Flanagan makes history in New York.

After years of being at the front of major marathons and track races, Shalane Flanagan got her signature victory. It came at an unlikely time in her career (in the spring she had to withdraw from the Boston Marathon due to a fracture in her back) and against a field that featured the best women’s marathoner in the world, Mary Keitany. 

In sum, if you were trying to predict when Shalane Flanagan would win a major marathon in her career, this wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But the marathon is a strange, wild, and unpredictable race. Opportunities can arise at the most counterintuitive moments.

Flanagan spoke confidently entering the race that she was in good enough shape to win the whole thing. On race day, she stayed with the pack, only taking the lead in the 23rd mile. From there, she inched away until the victory was secured, beating Keitany by over a minute and becoming the first American woman in 40 years to win in New York City. 

Josh Kerr Smashes NCAA 1500m Record!

New Mexico’s Josh Kerr broke the NCAA 1500m record on Friday night, running 3:35.01 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. The mark eclipses Sydney Maree’s 3:35.30 that has stood since 1981.

Phyllis Francis Double, Spicy Men’s 4x400 On Tap At Michael Johnson Invite

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Some of the NCAA’s best sprinters will descend on Waco, Texas, looking for fast times at the Michael Johnson Invitational. Joining the top talent from Arkansas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Baylor will be several professional athletes—including 2017 world 400m champion Phyllis Francis. You can watch the meet live on FloTrack and find the full schedule and entries here. 

After Year-Long Layoff, Marathoner Laura Thweatt Is Back

Photo Run

There's at least one top U.S. marathoner who didn't compete in Boston this week.

Dominique Scott-Efurd Joins Forces With Emma Coburn

South African national record holder and five-time NCAA champion Dominique Scott-Efurd announced on Friday that she is joining the training group that includes world championship gold medalist Emma Coburn. The group, which is coached by Coburn’s husband Joe Bosshard, is based in Boulder, Colorado, and also includes Aisha Praught-Leer and Kaela Edwards.

House Of Run: What Will Be The Legacy Of The 2018 Boston Marathon?

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

On the latest episode of the House of Run podcast, Jason and Kevin discuss Desiree Linden becoming the first American woman to win Boston since 1985, Yuki Kawauchi's comeback victory, the bizarre top five in both races, the panoply of DNFs, and the horrific weather in Boston.

Mary Keitany, Tirunesh Dibaba To Chase World Record At London Marathon

Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly

It's hard to imagine a 26.2-mile race topping the drama of Monday's Boston Marathon, but the high-profile athletes assembled in London and lofty goals vocalized for this Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon indicate that track fans may very well get two of the best marathons ever in a span of six days. 

London Marathon Men's Preview: Eliud Kipchoge Could Break World Record

Photo Run

The only athletic accomplishment that reigning Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has left to garner is an official world record in the marathon. His 2:00:25 at the Nike Breaking2 Event in Monza last May didn't count for official record-keeping, but the race did prove he is more than capable of bettering Wilson Kipsang's 2:02:57 world record—given the conditions are cooperative.

After Winning The Boston Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi Heads Back To The Office

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of the post-race parties on Monday night, Yuki Kawauchi had a call to make. The surprise winner from Japan had been Boston Marathon champion for less than 12 hours but was concerned about work obligations back home. Kawauchi's victory meant that he was scheduled to attend the Tuesday-morning press conference in Boston, delaying his travel back to Japan. 

Bowerman Bonaza And Josh Kerr: Five Events To Watch At Bryan Clay

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 By Lincoln Shryack

University Of Texas, Oregon Will Host 2019-2022 NCAA Outdoor Championships

The next two editions of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are officially coming to Austin, Texas, at the University of Texas' Mike A. Myers Stadium— a scant three miles from FloSports HQ. We'd like to think that the NCAA took our article picking ATX as the best potential new host venue into consideration, but the truth is much simpler than that: the Longhorns' stadium is badass.