US Marathon Women Having Record Year

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

— As a group, American women are having their best-ever year in
marathon running, according to statistics compiled by Race Results
Weekly with assistance from the Association of Road Racing

Eighteen USA women have combined to break the
2:35 mark 26 times so far this year, the highest annual total by
American women in history. The previous high was 24 by 19 women in
2012; the highest year before that was in 1988 when 16 women combined
to break 2:35 22 times.

The lowest year was 2007 when not a single American woman broke 2:35.

to coaches, the reason for the record number of quality performances
vary from financial incentives, to better coaching, and even a
psychology shift.

“I think that what we see happening with the
U.S. distance runners on the women’s side is not too dissimilar to
their African counterparts,” commented Terrence Mahon, who coaches the
high performance team of the Boston Athletic Association. He continued
in an e-mail: “The women are realizing that if you aren’t among the
very best on the track and vying for a top-3 spot to make either a
World Champs or Olympic team, then there are not a lot of opportunities
to stay afloat economically around the oval. So instead, these women
are exiting college and making their living on the roads.”

considering appearance fees and financial support from sponsors,
American women in the middle of the sub-2:35 group are earning solid
prize money and bonus payments at domestic marathons. For instance, Amy
Hastings earned $22,500 for her fifth place finish in Chicago
(2:27:03); Esther Erb banked $26,500 for winning the USA title at the
Twin Cities Marathon (2:34:01); and between her second place finish at
Grandma’s Marathon and her third place at Twin Cities, Brianne Nelson
pocketed $19,100 (2:34:44 and 2:34:24, respectively). In addition,
these women all earned prize money at various USA Road Circuit (USARC)
events which offer prize money to only to American athletes, a key form
of ongoing financial support.

Alberto Salazar, who coaches the
Nike Oregon Project training group in Portland, said that another
reason was a new belief among American women that they can be
competitive in mid and upper tier events.

“Just thinking about
it over the last couple of days, I believe that in the marathon… they
can be competitive,” Salazar told Race Results Weekly in a recent
telephone interview. He added: “They believe it more than the American
men do. I think American women think they are closer to being on the
podium than USA men. How many men are that close? How many American men
can say that? We have a lot more American women that are close to the
podium than the American men. I think there is just more hope there,
more examples, that they are closer.”

Salazar also said that
women are getting better coaching now, and that coaches are less afraid
to give women hard workouts. There used to be a fear of pushing women
too hard in training, he said.

“My belief is that women
shouldn’t be coached any different than men, other than the fact that
women, as a whole, can’t do the same amount of mileage. If you took the
top women in the world and compared the weekly mileage, it might be a
little less. I think the relative intensity, how hard they push, it
should be the same as men. In 1980 and 1990 that may not have been

At the top of the pyramid, five USA women –Shalane
Flanagan, Desiree Linden, Amy Hastings, Lauren Kleppin and Annie
Bersagel– have combined to break 2:29 seven times, which is only one
short of the record year of 2012 (that year included both the Olympic
Trials and the Olympic Games). Andrew Kastor, who coaches the Asics
Mammoth Track Club, thinks we’ll be seeing more improvements, driven in
part by the “inspiration phenomenon” on social media.

“I know
that the girls I coach all follow Kara, Shalane, Desi (on social
media), and read about the workouts they are doing, the quantity and
quality, and believe they can do it too,” Kastor said in an e-mail.
“The two Lauren’s on our club (Jimison and Kleppin) are trying to keep
up with Deena (Kastor) on a daily basis. This is making them stronger
and they have the mental attitude that they too can be an Olympian one

2014 USA Women’s Marathon Performances Sub-2:35:00

Time Place Name Date Venue
2:21:14 (3) Shalane Flanagan (OR) 28 Sep 2014 Berlin GER
2:22:02 (7) Shalane Flanagan-2 21 Apr 2014 Boston MA/USA
2:23:54 (10) Desiree Linden (MI) 21 Apr 2014 Boston MA/USA
2:27:03 (5) Amy Hastings (RI) 12 Oct 2014 Chicago IL/USA
2:28:11 (5) Desiree Linden-2 02 Nov 2014 New York NY/USA
2:28:48 (3) Lauren Kleppin (CA) 09 Mar 2014 Los Angeles CA/USA
2:28:59 (1) Anne Bersagel (MN) 27 Apr 2014 Dusseldorf GER
2:31:15 (15) Adriana Nelson (CO) 21 Apr 2014 Boston MA/USA
2:32:21 (6) Clara Santucci (WV) 12 Oct 2014 Chicago IL/USA
2:32:25 (1) Clara Santucci-2 04 May 2014 Pittsburgh PA/USA
2:32:27 (18) Serena Burla (VA) 21 Apr 2014 Boston MA/USA
2:32:44 (7) Sarah Crouch (NC) 12 Oct 2014 Chicago IL/USA
2:32:49 (19) Wendy Thomas (CO) 21 Apr 2014 Boston MA/USA
2:33:02 (10) Annie Bersagel-2 02 Nov 2014 New York NY/USA
2:33:15 (20) Esther Erb (NJ) 21 Apr 2014 Boston MA/USA
2:33:18 (11) Deena Kastor (CA) 02 Nov 2014 New York NY/USA
2:33:54 (9) Adriana Nelson-2 26 Oct 2014 Frankfurt GER
2:34:01 (1) Esther Erb-2 05 Oct 2014 Saint Paul MN/USA
2:34:09 (2) Heather Lieberg (MT) 05 Oct 2014 Saint Paul MN/USA
2:34:19 (9) Melissa White (MI) 12 Oct 2014 Chicago IL/USA
2:34:22 (1) Jodie Robertson (NY) 12 Oct 2014 Albany NY/USA
2:34:24 (3) Brianne Nelson (CO) 05 Oct 2014 Saint Paul MN/USA
2:34:38 (10) Lauren Jimison (CA) 12 Oct 2014 Chicago IL/USA
2:34:44 (2) Brianne Nelson-2 21 Jun 2014 Duluth MN/USA
2:34:47 (11) Sarah Cummings (NY) 12 Oct 2014 Chicago IL/USA
2:34:57 (22) Sarah Cummings-2 21 Apr 2014 Boston MA/USA

26 performances by 18 performers

Shalane Flanagan finishing the 2014 Boston Marathon in 2:22:02, the
fastest time ever by an American woman at Boston

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