Athletics Weekly - - Contents - Ja­son Hen­der­son, ed­i­tor

AMER­I­CAN dis­tance run­ning is on a roll af­ter firstly

Galen Rupp’s win in the Chicago Marathon last month and now Sha­lane Flana­gan’s vic­tory in the New York City Marathon last week­end. It is no overnight suc­cess story, though, as the ori­gins can be traced back to the turn of the mil­len­nium.

Signs of a resur­gence on the US en­durance run­ning scene were ev­i­dent at the 2001 World Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in Os­tend when Dathan Ritzen­hein and Matt Te­genkamp in­ter­rupted the African dom­i­nance in the ju­nior men’s race by plac­ing an eye-catch­ing third and fifth. Then, 12 months later at the World Cross in Dublin, Deena Kas­tor and Colleen de Reuck won mi­nor medals be­hind Paula Rad­cliffe as the US women’s squad beat Kenya, among oth­ers, for team sil­ver medals, while their ju­nior and male team-mates also ex­celled.

Given this, I wrote a fea­ture in AW head­lined “The se­cret of Amer­i­can cross coun­try suc­cess” which ex­plained how the coun­try was on track to re­dis­cover the golden days of Frank Shorter, Craig Vir­gin, Bill Rodgers, Al­berto Salazar, Mary Decker and Joan Benoit.

This grow­ing suc­cess in 2002 was at­trib­uted to the birth of the ‘Team USA Dis­tance Run­ning Pro­gram’ two years ear­lier. It en­cour­aged groups of ath­letes to train to­gether at al­ti­tude camps and the phi­los­o­phy has sim­ply snow-balled in the last 17 years.

Two of the cross-coun­try suc­cesses at Dublin 2002, Kas­tor and Meb Ke­flezighi, won Olympic marathon medals in 2004. This was fol­lowed by the emer­gence of stars like Kara Goucher, Evan Jager and, of course, Rupp and Flana­gan. Last year Matt Cen­trowitz won Olympic 1500m gold and then Emma Coburn and Court­ney Frerichs spec­tac­u­larly beat the Africans to fin­ish one-two in the steeplechase at Lon­don 2017.

For sev­eral years the US sys­tem has been a model that Bri­tish athletics has tried to fol­low. Now, af­ter Flana­gan’s run in New York (p16-17), we can see why.

I WAS sad to hear my men­tor dur­ing my early days at AW, Trevor Freck­nall, lost his bat­tle with cancer. I am not alone ei­ther as so­cial me­dia has been full of trib­utes and I’ve re­ported some of them in our obit­u­ary on page 27.

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