Huddle, Rupp, Ritz On Course For Big Showing At 2018 Boston Marathon

Ever since the announcement of the Boston Marathon elite fields, it’s been hard not to get carried away with excitement. The American women’s field, in particular, has historic implications with any of four women having a legitimate chance at becoming the first American to win the women’s race since 1985. 

But pre-race enthusiasm often fades. The marathon build-up is fraught with pitfalls—injury and illness are common and can deplete a promising field. 

However, it's less than three weeks from race day and everything looks like it’s still on course for a phenomenal race. If you were looking for a reason to think your enthusiasm got the best of you, well, that reason might not ever come. With few exceptions, the Americans have looked as strong as anticipated in 2018. This certainly doesn’t mean that all will have career performances in Boston, but it keeps open the possibility that the race will produce something worthy of that initial glee when the entries were first announced. 

Here’s a look at the build-ups for six Americans racing Boston: Shalane Flanagan, Molly Huddle, Desiree Linden, Jordan Hasay, Galen Rupp, and Dathan Ritzenhein.   

Shalane Flanagan 

2018 Results: 

January 13, UW Indoor Preview 3000m (8:55, 1st place)

January 27, UW Invite 3000m (8:43, 2nd place)

Flanagan hasn’t raced longer than 5000m since her win in New York City. With three weeks remaining before Boston, there’s a chance we might see her hop in another race. But even if she doesn’t, I think the preference toward shorter races is a sign of confidence. Flanagan has been through this routine so many times that she doesn’t need a longer distance checkpoint, opting instead to sharpen up with some track races. Add in the fact that she said she was in the best shape of her life in the lead-up to New York and perhaps she didn’t want to disrupt her training by adding in another race. 

Before her New York City triumph, she only raced once: a 10K at the Beach to Beacon road race. 

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In her two 3000m races in Seattle, Flanagan ran a smooth 8:55 and a 8:43 two weeks later. In the latter race, she placed second to eventual world indoor championship medal winner Sifan Hassan. Chasing Hassan around the track makes marathon pace feel particularly slow. 

Molly Huddle 

2018 Results: 

January 14, Houston Half Marathon (1:07:25, American record, 7th place)

March 10, Gate River Run 15K (47:50, 1st place)

Huddle’s build-up has featured her superb strength on the roads. Her American record in Houston was a sensational achievement, but also not a big surprise given her history. Two weeks ago, she backed that up with a victory at the Gate River Run. In both instances she finished ahead of Jordan Hasay. These two races are about as good a preparation as Huddle could want heading into her second marathon. The added boost of beating someone who is expected to challenge for the win doesn’t hurt either. 

The only question is the same question that anyone would have coming into their second marathon. Huddle has plenty of experience on the roads, but only one prior marathon. Her debut in New York was good, but Boston could present different challenges. However, if her preparation for the race is any indication, Huddle won’t have any problem exceeding what she did in New York in 2016. 

Jordan Hasay 

2018 Results: 

January 14, Houston Half Marathon (1:08:38, 8th place)

March 10, Gate River Run 15K (48:40, 2nd place)

Of the four American women, Hasay is the least certain because of injury issues. She had a solid start to 2018 with a 1:08:38 in Houston and a 48:40 at the Gate River Run. In both races she finished one place behind Huddle. But those results were expected given Huddle’s superiority at the shorter distances. 



Hasay was scheduled to race last Saturday at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, before scratching because of a “tight plantar.” Sitting the race out meant passing on the chance to race in a global championship where she had a better than 50 percent chance of a top-five finish. 

The dropped race also signified the first detour on Hasay’s successful journey to the longer distances. The transition from the track happened so seamlessly that it was easy to forget that Hasay had only made one U.S. team during her time in the 5,000m and the 10,000m. Once she moved up in distance, she immediately became one of the country’s best in the marathon, posting consecutive third-place finishes in Boston and Chicago last year.

With so little information, it’s impossible to know if the issue with her foot was a precautionary move or a lingering issue that will impact her in Boston. 

Desiree Linden

2018 Results: 

January 6, S.Giorgio Legnano Cross Country 6K (20:44, 8th place)

January 13, Great Edinburgh Cross Country 6K (22:28, 24th place)

March 18th, New York City Half Marathon (1:13:33, 8th place)

When forecasting marathon performance, it’s hard to read too much into 6K cross country races. Linden did two of them in January with little fanfare. Her first major result was the New York City Half Marathon. The pace lagged because of the conditions so, in typical Linden fashion, she took to the front of the pack. 



Linden ultimately finished eighth in 1:13:33. Half marathons have never been Linden’s strength (her emphasis is on the marathon portion of half marathon) and, combined with conditions, there weren’t many takeaways. 

The race did reinforce that her racing style hasn’t changed and that she will be in the mix. And that matters. If you position yourself well in enough marathons, everything will eventually align for you. The marathon is that type of race, and the people who run it, even the best, are vulnerable to wild fluctuations in performance. Or, as she wrote more succinctly on Twitter, she’s going to keep showing up.



Dathan Ritzenhein

2018 Results: 

March 18th, New York City Half Marathon (1:02:42, 2nd place)

Ritzenhein answered questions about his health and competitiveness with his run at the New York City Half Marathon. 

Yes, he’s healthy. And yes, he’s very much still competitive. 

On that windy and cold day two weeks ago, Ritzenhein led late in the race before being outkicked by Ben True. On the long list of things to be concerned about in a marathon prep, getting outkicked by someone with Ben True’s speed isn’t one of them. All told, Ritz’s run in New York City was a resounding success. It wasn’t one of the fastest times of his career but considering the conditions and the field, it was a great effort to take second. 



Now he turns his attention turns to the marathon. He hasn’t finished one since 2015, and it’s been over five years since his personal best of 2:07:47. But we are in a marathon world that has seen Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan win marathons late in their careers. Not everyone is Meb and Shalane Flanagan, but Ritzenhein did run well enough in New York to signal that he is going to go away quietly. 

Galen Rupp 

2018 Results: 

January 27, UW Invite 5000m (13:34, 2nd place)

February 3, U.S. Cross Country Championships 10K (29:18, 2nd place)

March 11, Rome Half Marathon (59:47,1st place)

Rupp is the only one in this group who has competed on three different surfaces in 2018. He’s run a 5,000m on the track, a 10K cross country race, and a half marathon on the road. He’s progressed in distance in each competition, culminating with that half marathon in Rome that was the second-fastest time ever by an American. 

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By all accounts, Rupp’s build-up has gone exactly to script. He’s raced both quickly and consistently, getting exactly what he wanted out of all three races. Not that his place matters, but the people he’s finished behind are good in their own right. Yomif Kejelcha crossed the finish line slightly before Rupp in Seattle in the 5,000m (though the two were clearly running together). Kejelcha went on to win the world indoor championship in the 3,000m. Leonard Korir beat Rupp in the U.S. cross country championships; he’s coming off a sub 60-minute half marathon last fall and is 3-0 in races he’s finished in 2018. 

Speaking of that half marathon: Rupp was only four seconds off Ryan Hall’s American record. Hall ran that race during his preparation for the 2007 London Marathon, where he ran 2:08:24. The next year, Hall didn’t run a half marathon before the spring marathon season and put up a 2:06:17 in London—the best non-Boston time of his career. It's more evidence that predicting marathon performance is fraught will all sorts of speculation and loose extrapolations. 

Craig Engels Is Off And Running In 2020 As Only He Can

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By itself, Craig Engels’ weekend in Boston was routine enough— the 2019 U.S. 1500m champion was tasked with pacing the men’s 5,000m on Friday night before racing the mile the next day. His training partners Paul Tanui and Eric Jenkins ultimately missed the 13:13.50 standard as Engels strained to get through 2600m— “I definitely underestimated what 4:12 pace felt like”, he said— and yet he came back on Saturday to win the mile in 3:56.85 on tired legs.

Nico Young To Chase American Junior 3k Record At Millrose Games

Nico Young will begin his final track and field season with quite the record attempt. 

Five Takeaways From The Weekend: Jessica Hull On The Rise

The 2020 track season got started in earnest over the weekend as droves of top professionals debuted and many impressive collegiate performances took place. Here were the takeaways from Boston, Albuquerque and New York:

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The 2020 track season got started in earnest over the weekend as droves of top professionals debuted and many impressive collegiate performances took place. Here were the takeaways from Boston, Albuquerque and New York:

Donavan Brazier Is Still In Monster Shape

At the risk of overanalyzing a season opener in an off distance, Donavan Brazier’s 1:14.39 600m in Boston on Saturday was further proof that the 2019 world champion remains in a league of his own among 800m runners. Although his competition at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix was overmatched as expected, Brazier hammered away alone to the second-fastest indoor 600m ever, behind only his 1:13.77 world best from 2019. And it was easy. So easy that the 22-year-old managed a shrug across the line as if to say sorry, not my best but it will have to do.

Just look at this gear change as he assumes control of the lead:

Word is that Brazier isn’t planning to run World Indoors this year, but his brief indoor campaign could still bring more fireworks as he next targets the Millrose Games 800m on Feb. 8. A lowering of his 1:44.41 indoor American record will be the expectation given his dazzling season opener.

A New Name Emerges In The NCAA Women’s 60m

Texas sophomore Julien Alfred wasn’t expected to be a contender in the women’s 60m dash this season after posting just a 7.36 best as freshman. But after running 7.10 (#6 NCAA all-time) over the weekend in Albuquerque, the St. Lucia native is in the thick of the title hunt. Just 18 years old, Alfred had a modest freshman season highlighted by a second place finish in the Big 12 100m. That’s why her defeat of reigning NCAA 60m champion Twanisha Terry is such a surprise.


Tyler Day Puts Edwin Kurgat On Notice With 13:16 5k In Boston

The race featuring Olympic silver medalist Paul Tanui and 13:05 man Eric Jenkins disappointed in that no one hit the 13:13.50 Olympic standard (Tanui won in 13:15), but the silver lining was the performance of Northern Arizona senior Tyler Day, who ran 13:16.95 to surpass Galen Rupp as the third-fastest collegiate all-time indoors. It’s not like the time was a total shock— Day ran 13:25 in May— but eclipsing arguably the greatest distance runner in U.S. history carries significantly more weight than simply a nine-second PB.

Naturally, the question now becomes whether Day can translate his stellar performance into an NCAA title in March. Although he’s a standout cross country and 10k runner, Day was just 13th in the 5,000m at NCAA indoors last year and then failed to qualify for nationals outdoors despite his 13:25 being the fastest mark of the season. A great time-trialer, but it remains to be seen if he can thrive in a championship 5k setting.


That, and the presence of 2019 NCAA XC champion Edwin Kurgat, will make winning in Albuquerque a tough task come March, but this just might be a different version of Day than we’ve seen before. He did push a 12:58 man to the line, after all. Add in NCAAs being held at 5300 ft. above sea level (he trains at 6900 ft.), and it would seem that Day has a real chance to avenge past shortcomings in the 5,000m this March.

BYU’s Whittni Orton Remains On A Tear

It will be interesting to see which events BYU star distance runner Whittni Orton competes in at NCAAs, as Orton secured another outstanding mark on Saturday (4:29.76 mile at Dr. Sander Invite) to go along with her 15:22.98 5k from December. Orton, who placed seventh at NCAA XC in November, continued her ascent over the weekend from solid collegiate runner to stud collegiate runner by finishing just a step behind 2019 World Championship finalist Nikki Hiltz and breaking the Cougar school record.

Orton has previously been a miler, so her running the mile-DMR double at NCAAs seems most likely. The 5k is also stacked with Katie Izzo (15:13 PB), Weini Kelati (15:14 PB) and defending champion Alicia Monson representing significant roadblocks. All three beat Orton at nationals in cross country. The mile could ultimately feature four-time NCAA champion Dani Jones, so it’s not like any path to the top will be easy. But Orton’s continued rise should make her a threat in any event that she chooses, and whichever route she takes will have a significant impact on the distance races at nationals.

Jessica Hull Might Be On The Cusp Of A Breakout

No performance at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday was more expertly crafted than Jessica Hull’s 4:04.14 1500m win, as the former NCAA champion let training partner Konstanze Klosterhalfen do all the work before cutting her down in the final 10 meters.

It is just one race, of course, but beating someone of the caliber of Klosterhalfen-- the 2019 World Championship 5k bronze medalist and 4:19 miler-- proves that Hull’s finishing speed is elite. The 23-year-old missed the 1500m World Championship final last October, but only after she ran a 4:01.80 PB. The type of form she showed in Boston indicates she could be a medal threat at March’s World Indoor Championships. 

Beyond that, it’s going to be tough to make serious noise in an event as deep as the women’s 1500m outdoors in just year two as a pro, but Saturday suggests that the best of Hull is yet to come.

Brazier Solos #2 All-Time 600m, Hull Kicks Down Klosterhalfen At NBIGP

(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Three Events To Watch At BU: Jenkins/Tanui/NAU 5k, Engels In The Mile

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The 2020 BU John Thomas Terrier Classic is this Friday and Saturday (Jan 24-25) in Boston and will be Live on FloTrack. A fast men's 5k and the season debut of Craig Engels in the mile are among the top events to watch this weekend:

Weekend Watch Guide: Fast Boston 5k, Elite Sprints In New Mexico

Several of the top distance runners and sprinters in the country will be on display this weekend on FloTrack as we stream two days of action at the BU John Thomas Terrier Classic in Boston and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque this Friday and Saturday. U.S. Olympic hopeful Eric Jenkins and training partner Paul Tanui will chase the 13:13.50 Olympic 5k standard along with several NAU stars on Friday at BU, while reigning 60m hurdles world champion Keni Harrison will face 2019 NCAA champion Chanel Brissett in the hurdles at New Mexico on Saturday. That, and so much more, can be seen on our live slate Jan. 24 - 25:

As Trials Approach, Three Contenders Speak On State Of Shoes

As the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials rapidly draw near, tensions surrounding the fate of Nike’s controversial Vaporfly shoes are at an all-time high. Reports in recent weeks that World Athletics is set to ban the shoe have led to speculation of when a potential rule change would be made and what specifically the governing body seeks to outlaw. With less than 40 days until Atlanta, both action or inaction by World Athletics will be a major storyline in the race for Tokyo. 

Eight Sub-2:21 Women Set To Contest 2020 Boston Marathon

(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Houston Organizers Award 'Top U.S. Male' Prize Money To Two Runners

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The Houston Half Marathon organizers decided to award their "top U.S. male finisher" prize money ($2,000) to two athletes this year.

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The Houston Half Marathon organizers decided to award their "top U.S. male finisher" prize money ($2,000) to two athletes this year.

At first glance, the top American at the 2020 Houston Half Marathon appeared to be Jared Ward, who crossed the finish line first in 1:01:36. Finishing less than two seconds behind him was former BYU runner Nico Montanez, who currently trains with the Mammoth Track Club under Andrew Kastor.

Heading into this race, Montanez's resume (1:04:29 PB) wasn't enough for the elite field; therefore, he was relegated to the American Development Program field. As a result, Montanez had to start in the second corral behind the elites.

The initial results recorded Montanez's chip time as four seconds faster than his gun time. Nico confirmed in his post-race interview that he took about five seconds to get to the starting chip mat. 

Here's a screenshot of Montanez's splits after the race—his start time is set to 7:01 a.m. and 3 seconds (the time of day when he crossed the starting mat).

Because Montanez's chip time of 1:01:34 was faster than Ward's chip time of 1:01:36, the Houston organizers took a page out of the Boston Marathon's book and decided to award the 'top U.S. male' prize money to both Ward and Montanez.

Niiya Sets Japanese Record In Dominant Houston Half Performance

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