No doubt about it, 2013 was another great year for competitive running at all distances. With that in mind, we present Competitor’s 2013 Runners of the Year. To determine the candidates in each category, we took into account distance runners who are living and training in the U.S., regardless of where they competed. The winners were based on those who had the best overall years, not merely one or two great performances. Here’s to a great 2013!
High School Girls — Mary Cain, 17, Bronxville, N.Y.
This one is a no-brainer. Although a lot of high school girls had great years — including Colorado’s Elise Cranny, North Carolina’s Wesley Fraizer and Washington’s Alexa Efraimson to name a few — Cain rewrote the record books in 2013. Not only did she set numerous national high school records from 800m to 5,000m, the 17-year-old who is coached by Nike’s Alberto Salazar also finished 10th at the world championships in the 1500m. (She was the youngest ever American runner to compete in the world championships.) No surprise that Cain recently opted to skip college in favor of turning pro. Photo: www.photorun.net
High School Boys — Edward Cheserek, 18, Newark, N.J.
This one is a no-brainer, too. This Kenyan-born runner solidified his status as one of the top high school runners of all-time in 2013. The highlight of his season was breaking the 49-year-old national record for the 2-mile run at the Millrose Games in New York City with an 8:39.15 effort. He also ran the second-fastest indoor mile for a U.S. high school runner with a 4:02.21. He concluded his high school career with eight prep national titles while competing for St. Benedict Prep. Photo: www.photorun.net
College Women — Abbey D'Agostino, 21, Hanover, N.H./Topsfield, Mass.
Abbey D'Agostino established herself as one of the top collegiate runners of the recent era in 2013. The 5-foot-2 1/2 Dartmouth captain ran the table at three NCAA Division I championships in 2013. She won the 3,000m and 5,000m at the NCAA indoor championships (becoming the first American woman ever to win both titles in a career), and then followed up with her second straight 5,000m title at the NCAA outdoor championships. D'Agostino, who is coached by two-time U.S. Olympic runner Mark Coogan, went undefeated during the cross country season, which she capped with a dominating performance at the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Photo: Courtsey of Dartmouth College Athletics
College Men — Lawi Lalang, 22, Tucson, Ariz.
This Kenyan-born runner (pictured here running in a Diamond League 1500m race last summer) made the difficult 5,000m/10,000m double at the NCAA Division I Championships look relatively easy in June. The Arizona junior won the shorter race in 13:35.19 and the longer race in 29:29.65. Those aren’t necessarily the highlights of his career, given that he’s won numerous NCAA titles and set a couple of collegiate records, including the 13:00.95 5,000m he ran last summer in Monaco. The only downside for Lalang in 2013 was that he got hurt during the cross country season and couldn’t contend for another national title in that sport. That’s part of the reason Oregon’s Edward Cheserek deserves mention here, too. The freshman ran the table of championship meets on his schedule, wining the Pac-12 Conference title (8K, 24:36), the NCAA West Regional (10K, 29:350 and the NCAA Championships (10K, 29:41). Photo: www.photorun.net
Track Women — Jenny Simpson, 27, Boulder, Colo.
After a lackluster 2012 campaign, Jenny Simpson made a few monumental changes, the biggest of which were selling her house and moving back to Boulder, Colo., to reunite with her former college coach Mark Wetmore. The changes helped bring her back to the forefront among the world’s top middle-distance runners. The highlights of her season included earning a silver medal in the 1,500m at the world championships in Russia, winning a stacked 1500m race at the Drake Relays (pictured here), wining the 5,000m at the U.S. championships, and earning another victory at the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City. Photo: www.photorun.net
Track Men — Nick Symmonds, 30, Eugene, Ore.
For all that Nick Symmonds had become in recent years — most notably a top-tier 800m runner, a free spirit with a quirky and sometimes boisterous personality, a tan salon owner, a Paris Hilton suitor and, at times, a mouthpiece for the entire sport — he didn’t have the one thing that mattered: an international medal. After placing fifth in the fastest Olympic 800m ever in 2012, he brought home the silver medal from the 2013 world championships in Moscow. He also won the 800m at the Diamond League meet in London (pictured here) and ran the world's second fastest time of the year (1:43:03) at the Diamond League meet in Brussels to end the season. He's the biggest American personality in running and one of the top big-race performers of the recent era. Photo: PhotoRun.net
Half Marathon/Marathon Women — Shalane Flanagan, 32, Portland, Ore.
Two-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan continued her road running mastery in 2013 with a solid fourth-place finish (2:27:08) at the Boston Marathon in April and also ran the best half marathon of her career with a 1:08:31 runner-up finish to Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar at the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in February. Photo: www.photorun.net
Half Marathon/Marathon Men — Jeffrey Eggleston, 29, Boulder, Colo.
Jeffrey Eggleston quietly had a solid year with consistent efforts in three international marathons during a seven-month span. He ran a 2:14:57 at the Paris Marathon in April and then placed a very respectable 13th (2:14:23) at the World Championships in Moscow in August. If that wasn't enough for one year, he came back in November and placed 14th (second American) at the New York City Marathon (2:16:35). Photo: www.photorun.net
Cross Country Women — Neely Spence, 23, Lake Orion, Mich.
Neely Spence wasted no time making an impact as a professional runner in 2013 after a standout college career. She placed fifth at the U.S. cross country championships on Feb. 2 in St. Louis and then ran a strong race to place 13th at the World Cross Country Championships in Poland, helping the U.S. women to a fourth-place team finish. Unfortunately, an injury derailed her season, but her cross country efforts shows she has plenty of potential to be a top-tier pro. Photo: www.photorun.net
Cross Country Men — TIE— Chris Derrick, 23, Portland, Ore. and Ben True, 27, Hanover, N.H.
Ben True finished sixth and Chris Derrick placed 10th in the senior men’s race at the March 24 World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, leading the U.S. to an unexpected team silver medal. Derrick won the U.S. cross country championships on Feb. 2 in St. Louis, where True placed fifth. Photos: www.photorun.net
Masters Men — Brian Pilcher, 57, Ross, Calif.
Pilcher returned to running at age 50 and has been on fire ever since. In 2013, the 57-year-old age-graded out at 90 percent or higher in nearly every race he entered. In his final race of 2013, Pilcher won his age group at the U.S. 12K Championship in November, crossing the line in 42:03 and age-grading out at 93.57 percent. Also worth mentioning are Lee Troop (40, Boulder, Colo.) for wining the Boston Marathon masters title and placing 15th overall in 2:17:52, Tracy Lokken (48, Marquette, Mich.) for his 2:21:34 PR effort at Grandma’s Marathon, Kevin Castille (40, Nicholasville, Ky.) for winning the U.S. masters half marathon title in 1:06:43, and Mike Morton (40, Mike Morton, Lithia, Fla.) for winning the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon within a minute of the course record. Photo: USATF
Trail Running Women — Stevie Kremer, 29, Crested Butte, Colo.
Stevie Kremer lived overseas for part of 2013, honing her competitive mettle on the Euorpean circuit. Her highlights included a dominating win at the rigorous Mont Blanc Marathon on June 30 in Chamonix, France, her second straight runner-up finish at the historic, 19-mile Sierre-Zinal trail race in Switzerland and a course-record win at the Oct. 13 Limone Extreme 23.5K trail race in northern Italy (pictured here). She also won the U.S. Trail Marathon Championships at the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, Colo., coming very close to a record-setting performance, and the the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in Moab, Utah. Photo: DrozPhoto
Trail Running Men — Joe Gray, 29, Renton, Wash./Colorado Springs, Colo.
Gray had an outstanding year that spanned all types of trail running. He won the U.S. Mountain Running Championships title in July, as well as his fifth consecutive NACAC Mountain Championships title. He was the top American at the World Mountain Running Championships in Poland, finishing seventh, and also raced well in several other European trail races. He also won the U.S. Trail Half Marathon Championship in November. In December he won the Lyndon Ellefson Memorial Award as the USATF’s 2013 men’s mountain runner of the year and a week later won the USATF Club Cross Country National Championships in Bend, Ore. Photo: Xterra Photos
Ultrarunning Women — Pam Smith, 38, Salem, Ore.
Pam Smith earned this title by winning the Western States 100 and setting a new 100-mile world record (14 hours, 11 minutes) on the track at the Desert Solstice event in early December in Phoenix. She cut 14 minutes off the 11-year-old world record (held by Hungary's Edit Bérces) and beat Ann Trason's longstanding U.S. record from 1989 by 18 minutes. Michele Yates (Littleton, Colo.) also had a very strong year, with big wins at the Bandera 100K, Run Rabbit Run 100 and The North Face 50. Also in the mix was Rory Bosio (Truckee, Calif.), who turned in arguably the performance of the year with her record-setting win at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Photo: Glenn Tachiyama
Ultrarunning Men — Rob Krar, 36, Flagstaff, Ariz.
Plenty of runners turned in amazing performances in this category (Tim Olson, Zach Bitter, Ian Sharman, Sage Canaday, Zach Miller, Nick Clark, etc.), but the Canadian-born Rob Krar had a truly amazing year. Although he had an off day at the JFK 50 in late November and finished second to Olson at the Western States 100, Krar dominated just about every other race he entered — Leona Divide 50, UROC 100K, TransRockies and The North Face 50 — and he also shattered the rim-to-rim-to-rim record for running 42 miles across the Grand Canyon and back in an amazing 6 hours, 21 minutes. Photo: Brian Metzler | Competitor.com
FILED UNDER: News / Photos TAGS: Abbey D'Agostino / Ben True / Brian Pilcher / Chris Derrick / Deena Kastor / Edward Cheserek / Jeffrey Eggleston / Jenny Simpson / Joe Gray / Lawi Lalang / Mary Cain / Neely Spence / Nick Symmonds / Pam Smith / Rob Krar / Shalane Flanagan / Stevie Kremer