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Take a look back with us at some of the most memorable running moments of the year; from record-breaking performances from pros and competitive recreational runners to chart-topping race participation figures, running continued to boom in 2012.


U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

For the first time in history, the men’s and women’s Olympic marathon trials were held in the same city on the same day. Eight years removed from his Olympic silver medal and just 69 days after finishing sixth in the ING New York City Marathon, 36 year-old Meb Keflezighi won the trials over 2008 trials winner Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman, who qualified for his fourth consecutive Olympic team at the race.

In the women’s race, 2008 10,000m bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan won the race in a personal best. Joining Flanagan on the team were her training partner Kara Goucher and runner-up finisher Desiree Davila.

Bring Back the Mile Website Launches, a website devoted to glorifying what was once the most popular event at track meets, launched on January 19, generated nearly 14,000 YouTube views of the Bring Back the Mile trailer, and currently has 1,800 Likes on Facebook. Founded by Ryan Lamppa, media director at Running USA, to give devoted fans of the distance a “home” online, visitors can upload photos, videos, stories to support the I Am the Mile campaign. The site also includes a petition to state high school federations to restore the event at state championships.


Indoor Record Flip-Flop

Running at the Millrose Games in New York City’s Armory Track & Field Center, two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat smashed Galen Rupp’s indoor 5000m American record by four seconds, running 13:07.15. In an unusual twist, Rupp—running a 2-mile race at the exact same time at a meet in Arkansas—broke Lagat’s American indoor 2-mile record. Both athletes were informed that they traded records in their respective post-race press conferences, held nearly simultaneously more than 1,200 miles apart. One month later, Lagat would win his third gold medal in the 3,000m at the world indoor championships.


Record-High Temps at Boston Marathon

Forecasted high temperatures and humidity in the days before the 116th Boston Marathon prompted race organizers to offer runners the option of deferring their entry until 2013. Only 400 participants took the deferral option, and on a day that saw temperatures on the course soar into the low-90s with high humidity, Kenya’s Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop took top honors.

Claire Squires’ Posthumous Fundraising Effort at London

At the Virgin London Marathon, Britain’s Claire Squires, who was running the race for charity, collapsed and died near the finish line. Her story and fundraising effort captured global attention, and Squires—who had hoped to raise £500 for her charity—posthumously raised nearly £1,000,000 from 80,000 contributors since her passing.

London Marathon Charity Runners Score Big

At this year’s London Marathon, a record $85 million was raised for charity, the most funds ever raised at a race. “The fact that this figure increased again for the sixth year in a row, despite the well publicized economic woes, shows just how committed our runners are to raising funds for good causes,” said race director Hugh Brasher.

Siegel Selected as CEO

After an extended and messy search that lasted 16 months, USA Track & Field selected marketing consultant Max Siegel, who had been on the USATF payroll working on sponsorship development, as their CEO. Siegel previously worked in the music industry and in business development for NASCAR. Under his leadership, the USA track & field team had its most successful Olympic Games in 20 years, collecting 29 medals—11 over second-place Russia.


National Running Day

Millions of Americans celebrated National Running Day, held annually on the first Wednesday in June. Originally started in 2008 by more than a dozen running industry leaders and race organizers, National Running Day has grown at the grassroots level to include hundreds of group runs, happy hours and running clinics in every corner of the country. National Running Day 2013 will take place on June 5.

IAAF Celebrates 100 Years

With 100 NYC schoolchildren sprinting through a closed-off Times Square, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the global governing body of running, celebrated its 100th anniversary. Speaking to the assembled children, IAAF president Lamine Diack said, “Having 100 children run 100 meters to make 100 years is an appropriately symbolic way to celebrate the IAAF Centenary. The strength of our spirit today—as it was 100 years ago—is to appeal to the youth of the world.”

The First Women-Only Race Turned 40

The NYRR New York Mini 10K, the world’s original women-only race, celebrated its 40th anniversary in New York City. The race, which had only 72 participants in 1972, celebrated 6,125 finishers in 2012. Jackie Marsh, who won the inaugural race as 17-year-old Jackie Dixon, was on hand to witness reigning world championships gold medalist Edna Kiplagat win the race in a performance that was nearly five minutes faster than Marsh’s winning time 40 years earlier.

Track Town USA, Revisited

The running world turned its attention to Eugene, Oregon, for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the “do-or-die” qualifying meet for the U.S. team at the Olympic Games. Although the cool, rainy weather was more characteristic of an Oregon winter, the action at Hayward Field was piping hot, with Ashton Eaton breaking the decathlon world record on his home track (a prelude to his Olympic gold), Galen Rupp winning a historic 5,000m/10,000m double (breaking the trials records in both events), and Allyson Felix rebounding from the “dead heat” debacle in the women’s 100m to win the 200m with the sixth-fastest time in history.


Highlights From the London Olympics

Big Night For Britain

In a span of just 80 minutes, three British athletes won Olympic gold on their home soil. Kicking off the fun at 7:55 p.m. was long jumper Greg Rutherford, whose fourth-round jump of 8.31m was only the 574th-best in history, but good enough for gold.

At almost the same time as Rutherford’s gold-winning leap, Jessica Ennis was lining up for the final event of the women’s heptathlon at 8:35 p.m. In the 2:08.65 it took Ennis to complete the 800m, Britain had locked up its second gold medal of the evening.

Distance runner Mo Farah capped off the night for his country by outsprinting his training partner Galen Rupp and two-time defending gold medalist Keninisa Bekele to capture his first Olympic medal. Rupp earned silver and Tariku Bekele edged his brother for bronze. Farah would come back to win gold in the 5,000m, becoming only the second man since 1980 to win both events in the same Olympic Games.

Silver For Rupp, Manzano

Galen Rupp became the first American since Billy Mills (in 1964) to win a medal (he won silver) in the men’s 10,000m. Adding to Team USA’s silver medal tally, Leo Manzano’s nail-biting finish in the men’s 1500m catapulted him to the honor of first American to medal in that event since Jim Ryun in 1968.

Bolt’s Triple Double

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became the first man in history to defend his Olympic 100m title. For good measure, Bolt defended his 200m title four days later, and anchored Jamaica to its second straight 4x100m relay Olympic gold two days after that. Bolt’s Olympic accomplishments earned him millions in endorsements and bonuses, and the title of IAAF Male Athlete of the Year for the fourth time in his career.

Rudisha’s Dominance

Kenya’s David Rudisha did not disappoint in his 800m final. Running from the front, Rudisha won the gold medal and broke his own world record in 1:40.91, becoming the first man ever to run under the 1:41 barrier. His victory by .82 seconds—an eternity in the 800m—was considered by many experts to be the greatest distance race ever run.

At Long Last, Felix Golden

After finishing in silver-medal position in Athens and Beijing, Allyson Felix won Olympic gold in the women’s 200m, and followed that up with gold medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays to become the first female track athlete since 1988 to win three gold medals in the same Olympic Games. Felix was named IAAF Female Athlete of the Year.

Merrit’s Dream Season

In a two-and-a-half month span to cap his 2012 season, American hurdler Aries Merritt won the final 12 races he started, including the U.S. Olympic trials and the Olympic Games. In his final race of the year, Merritt, who had never even won a USA title until this year, broke the world record in the 110m hurdles, running 12.80 in Brussels. Merrit was also the world indoor championships gold medalist in the 60m hurdles in March.


New American Records in the 24-Hour Run

Mike Morton of Florida and Connie Gardner of Ohio broke the American records for the 24-hour run, and set the master’s 24-hour run records for their respective genders at the IAU 24-Hour World Championships in Katowice, Poland. Morton, a master sergeant in the Army, won the world championship race less than eight weeks after winning the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race to survive the scorching heat in Death Valley, California. Morton bettered ultra legend Scott Jurek’s previous American record (165 miles) by seven miles. Gardner ran a total of 149 miles, finishing second among women and helping the women’s team win the champonship title.


More World Records for Ed Whitlock

Ed Whitlock, 81, of Milton, Ontario, the cotton-topped distance runner known for his consistency, perseverance and habit for smashing age-group world records, was the first person over the age of 70 to run a sub-three-hour marathon (2:59:10) in 2003. Last year, after he lowered his 80+ world marathon record to 3:15:54, he slipped on ice and broke a rib and missed a couple of months of training. He came back strong in 2012 to set two new world records: the 80+ half marathon record in 1:38:59, and the age-81 marathon record in 3:30:26 at the Tornoto Marathon in October.

Costumed Runners Defy Logic, Set Records

October: Keith Levasseur finished the Baltimore Marathon in 2:46:28 … wearing flip flops. After the race, Levasseur told reporters that he has no plans of repeating this feat, even if a challenger were to better his time.

October: Adam Campbell smashed the world record for running a marathon in a business suit by finishing the Victoria Marathon in British Columbia in 2:35:53, good for sixth overall. The previous record was 3:24:46.

November: Camille Herron won the women’s race at the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2:48:51 wearing a Spiderman costume. Herron’s time was 20 minutes faster than the previous Guinness Book of World Records mark for a women’s marathon in a superhero costume.


New York City Marathon Participants Volunteer

Although disappointed by the cancellation of the ING New York City Marathon for the first time in the race’s 43-year history due to the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy, thousands of runners in town for the race poured their energy into helping victims of Sandy, particularly on Staten Island, site of the race’s start line.

More: The 2012 New York City Marathon: An Alternative Finish Line


Pros Getting Faster in the Marathon

It’s official: Marathon times are getting faster at the top of the fields, according to numbers compiled by running statistics guru Ken Nakamura, and 2012 was an exceptional year for both male and female elites. As of early December, 43 men broke 2:07, and 33 women ran 2:24 or faster this year. Even more staggering: 11 men ran under 2:05 this year, compared to seven in 2011. Looking back farther reveals just how competitive distance running at the professional level has become. In 1999, only 81 men had run 2:11 or better, compared to 235 men in 2012. In 1999, only 56 women had broken the 2:30 barrier, compared to 148 this year.

Kenya’s Patrick Makau holds the world marathon record, 2:03:38, and Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain holds the women’s world marathon record with her 2:15:25 finish at the 2003 London Marathon.

The Second Running Boom Crescendoes

Running USA reports that participation in road races has grown 170 percent since 1991—there were 13.9 million road race finishers in 2011, and 55 percent of those runners were female, compared to just 25 percent in 1990. More women are toeing the line next to men at 5K races, which remains the most popular distance in the U.S., followed by the half marathon. Mud runs, obstacle races and off-road events are becoming wildly popular; their numbers have ballooned to nearly 1 million participants.

According to reports from the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, 50,061,000 people ran at least once in 2011, up 7.3 percent from 2010, and 19,008,000 individuals ran 100 days or more last year, a 9.3-percent increase over 2010. Of course, more runners means more shoe sales, and consumers spent $2.46 billion on shoes in 2011, compared to $2.32 billion in 2010.

1 Comment

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