Track Shorts: Best of 2015

We’ve certainly had fun this year here at Track Shorts covering the track and field/road running/off road running scene.  I’m thrilled that my contract was re-upped with no salary decrease and am looking forward to an Olympic year sure to be packed with great stories.  But before we do that, TS staff takes a look at some of the more interesting moments of 2015.

Best Excuse Since “My Dog Ate My Homework”

After a disappointing showing at the US Champs and a string of sub-par performances in Europe, Sarah Brown decided she needed a blood test to get an explanation.  Turns out, she was running for two; yep, she was pregnant.  This does not mean an end to her plans for the Olympic Trials, just some adjustments.  She’s all set for the comeback story of 2016.

Age Is A Number, Not an Excuse

Deena Kastor (AB board member) and Meb Keflezghi defied all assumptions about the effect of aging, racking up at least 9 masters records between them in the second half of ’15.

Jack of All Trades

Is usually followed by the phrase Master of None.  Not so for Tyler Pennel. Tyler might be the Ashton Eaton of distance running.  His performances in 2015 range from a 3:58 mile to a 2:13 marathon debut.  Don’t forget he closed with points in the last four events of the season (at varying distances) to take third place in the USATF Running Circuit.  Master of none my a…

Most Important Meet Nobody Heard Of

Who knew that the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (or NACAC to those in the know) championships was a second route to the World Championships?  Certainly Riley Dolezal did.  Under IAAF rules, the winner of an Area Championship is entitled to a spot at the World Championships; since the US had an open spot in the javelin, Dolezal’s win there got him a ticket to Beijing.  Five other ABers took firsts, making it an impressive outing for the group.  Okay, sure, ABers did really well at the US Champs (six gold, 10 silvers) but everybody knows about that meet.

82+meters or win the meet and I earn a trip to Beijing

A photo posted by spearit241 (@spearit241) on

Rookie of the Year

Tough competition for this award as several athletes had impressive debut pro seasons.  Jasmin Stowers captured the most ballots as she tore through both the indoor and outdoor seasons with just a few bumps in the road and is now the 8th fastest hurdler EVER.  Too bad for Sandi Morris – it was like breaking in the same year as Cal Ripken Jr.; clearly she made a smooth transition from college to the pros.

Ho Hum, Another PR

Kaitlin Goodman came damn close to having a dream year in which every time she competed, she came home with a personal best. In the last 13 months she set PRs from 1500m to the marathon.  Best of all she’s hungry for more, and set a (you guessed it) a PR for weekly training mileage last week.

Ho Hum, Another World Record

Between January 31 and May 3, US squads set world bests for all four combinations of the distance medley relay – men’s and women’s, indoors and outdoors.   And ABers were there, including Erik Sowinski for the men’s indoor, Sarah Brown (running for one at the time we presume) and Brenda Martinez for the women’s indoor, Sanya Richards-Ross for the women’s outdoor and Kyle Merber for the men’s outdoor. Yes, Kyle, Brenda, Sarah, Sanya & Erik have “World Record holder” on their resume.

Photo of the Year

The judges simply could not break the tie here.  Sharing first place are “Does Your Mudder Know You’re Doing This?” WD2015 and “Hey Mom, Look What I Did!” Mackey2015 Bridget Franek and Kimber Mattox (center left and center right respectively) were celebrating their Warrior Dash World Championship performances, where it’s okay to play in the dirt.  Katie Mackey has the look of joy after winning the Diamond League 3000 in Stockholm with a PR, a welcome result to move past the fall at the US Champs.

Barriers Broken…Or Not

Molly Ludlow broke 2:00 so many times we stopped counting.  Jon Peterson came so close to breaking 4:00 so many times we stopped counting but Jon was moved to say:

 

Best Career Move Since Harrison Ford Gave Up Being A Carpenter

Though we don’t know  just how good a carpenter Harrison Ford was, we do know that Camille Herron was a pretty good marathoner.  Turns out she is an awesome ultra-marathoner, capturing just about every major honor available in her debut season.  We doubt Ford ever looked back and hope Camille won’t either. Runner up – and to be clear, we’re not suggesting he quit his day job ‘cos he’s pretty good at it – is Kyle Merber, who may have a future as a meet director. We base that on the results of the inaugural Hoka One One Long Island Mile.

We’re Gonna Need More Bandwidth

ESPN does this “body issue” every year displaying the magnificent specimens out there in the sporting world.  The photos of hammer thrower Amanda Bingson and of Chantae McMillan basically shut down the site due to too many hits.

Amanda’s Interview | Chantae’s Interview

The Dr. Emmett Brown We Don’t Need Roads Award

The TS panel just threw its collective hands in the air on this one.  So we decided to give the award to Joe Gray and Maria Dalzot and trust me we could have added many others.  We never ceased to be amazed at this crew, always exhibiting what Mario Fraioli calls a “certain kind of calculated recklessness.”

Usain Who?

The marquee performer at the adidas Grand Prix meet in NYC was supposed to be some Jamaican but the star of the show turned out to be Tori Bowie who elicited an audible gasp from the crowd as she smoked a loaded 200m field.

Pheidippides Did Not Run 27.21 Miles

But Samantha Bluske did.  After being allowed to go the wrong way, Bluske still won the Glass City Marathon; crossing the finish line she exclaimed “rejoice, we have run an extra mile and thus missed the Olympic qualifying time.”  Maybe she didn’t but we can start our own modern myths.  Fortunately, she got another shot at it in December and got her qualifier.

Worth the Wait

We shifted our gaze outside the competitive arena for this one. Adam Nelson earned a standing ‘O’ from the 70+ athletes in the room at the USATF conference after he passionately shared his 9-year-delayed gold medal story and his views and vision regarding the critical need for the athlete voice re: anti-doping.

No Bored Members Here

Maybe playing off the energy of the athlete, AB Board Members put up some pretty good performances too.  Deena clearly had the best competitive performance with her 2:27 marathon. Hawi Keflezighi’s abilities and insights have not only dazzled the AB team but got named as one of the top 50 most influential people in the sport of running by Runners World.  Bob Fleshner maybe impressed us most as the lead organizer of the Old Glory Relay in support of our nation’s veterans.

Quote of the Year

ABers are masters of social media – it’s kind of part of the deal – so we had hundreds of  quotes to work with.   Very difficult to pick one but we settled on Riley Masters‘s compliment to Garrett Heath:

We’ll recap more of our 2015 social media favorites shortly.

Here’s to all the athletes who provided us with so many great moments in 2015.  We can only hope 2016 is as entertaining and inspiring.

Related Reading: Best of 2015 from the Athlete Social-Sphere
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