From high school track to 100-mile races on rugged trails, memorable moments abound in the world of competitive running in 2014. But who stood out from the rest?
Competitor’s 2014 Runners of the Year took into account the calendar year of performances among runners who are living and training in the United States, regardless of where they competed.
Here are our winners:
High School Girls: Alexa Efraimson, 17, Camas, Wash.
Since her state and national championship victories in 2013, Efraimson maintained her record-breaking speed well into the 2014 track season. She kicked off this year's indoor and outdoor season with a new set of American high school records—breaking recent high school graduate Mary Cain's 9:02.10 record in the indoor 3,000 meters with a time of 9.00.16, and shaving .53 seconds off Christine Babcock's 1,600-meter record (4:33.82) set in 2008. She also ran a 1,500-meter personal best (4:07.05) racing against pros at the adidas Grand Prix in New York. It only seems fitting that the Camas High senior signed with Nike this past August in favor of turning pro, becoming the second high school female distance runner in two years (after Cain) to turn professional before graduating from high school. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
High School Boys: Grant Fisher, 17, Grand Blanc, Mich.
Fisher had an incredible cross-country season last year, but this season may have proven to be even better for the Grand Blanc High senior. His most notable achievement in 2014 was winning the Foot Locker Nationals title a second year in a row, which made him the fifth boy ever to be a two-time Foot Locker national champion. Although Fisher didn't break any national records this year, he established a new 5,000-meter PR of 14:43 at the Portage Invitational—just a second short of the course record set by Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein in 2000. His track season was equally as impressive, snagging speedy wins in the adidas Dream Mile (4:02.2)—another personal best—in New York and the 2-mile (8:51) at the Brooks PR Invitational. (Photo: Scott Draper)
College Women: Laura Roesler, 22, University of Oregon
Roesler, a 17-time All-American at the University of Oregon, won NCAA 800m titles at both indoors and outdoors in 2014, and also ran on the winning 1,600m relay team that helped the Ducks clinch their fifth national indoor team championship. At the U.S. Track & Field Championships in June, Roesler finished second to Ajee Wilson, clocking 1:59.04. In December, the senior was awarded the 2014 Bowerman Trophy, collegiate track & field’s highest honor, presented annually by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
College Men: Edward Cheserek, 20, University of Oregon
Just a sophomore, Cheserek kicked off 2014 by winning indoor NCAA titles in both the 3,000m and the 5,000m. Outdoors, he wowed the home crowd at Hayward Field with a 53-second final lap to win the NCAA 10,000m title in a personal best 28:30.18. Cheserek came back a few days later to run a personal best 13:18.71 in the 5000m final, but it wasn’t enough to outkick Lawi Lalang of Arizona, who won the NCAA title in 13:18.36. In November, Cheserek won his second straight NCAA cross-country title, clocking 30:19.4 to help the Ducks finish sixth amongst teams. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Track Women: Jenny Simpson, 28, Boulder, Colo.
Simpson tore up the track again in 2014, kicking off the season with a 1,500m win at the Tokyo World Challenge on May 10. A week later she ran 4-flat to finish second in the 1,500m at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai. In June, Simpson clocked 4:04.96 to win her first national 1,500m title in Sacramento. Just a couple weeks later, she finished second in the 1,500m at the Paris Diamond League meet, running a personal best 3:57.22, the No. 2 U.S. mark of all time (narrowly missing Mary Slaney’s 1983 American record of 3:57.12). She captured the 2014 Diamond League title in the 1,500m, amassing 17 points over the course of the seven-race season. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Track Men: Leo Manzano, 30, Austin, Texas
Manzano came back to life on the track in 2014 with a new sponsor, a new agent, a new coach and a renewed sense of motivation. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist won his second national 1,500m title in June, cementing his status as one of the best tactical middle distance runners the U.S. has ever seen. Manzano is also one of the fastest, evidenced by his 3:30.98 1,500m clocking at the Diamond League meet in Monaco in July, the seventh-fastest time ever posted by an American athlete. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Half Marathon/Marathon Women: Shalane Flanagan, 33, Portland
A triumphant 2014 further cemented Flanagan’s status as one of America’s greatest marathoners. Flanagan made an inspired run at the 2014 Boston Marathon title, leading at 19 miles before eventually finishing seventh. However, her 2:22:02 was a PR and the fifth-fastest marathon ever run by an American woman. She bettered that five months later in Berlin, placing third with a time 2:21:21, another PR and the second-fastest marathon ever run by an American. In between, Flanagan won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago ½ Marathon in 1:09:45. Desi Linden had strong showings in both Boston and New York, but 2014 was Flanagan’s year. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Half Marathon/Marathon Men: Meb Keflezighi, 39, San Diego
Our Runner of the Year criteria takes the total year into account and not just one race. But Meb’s inspiring performance in winning the 2014 Boston Marathon made him nearly impossible to beat for this honor. His 2:08:37 was a PR and moved a nation still reeling from the bombings the year before. Meb became the first American winner of the Boston Marathon since 1983. At the New York City Marathon in November, he was the top American finisher, placing fourth in 2:13:20 against a strong field. In addition to his marathon success, he won the U.S. Half Marathon Championship in January in 1:01:23. Meb has had a long and illustrious career, but 2014 may have been his best year yet. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Cross Country Women: Amy Van Alstine, 27, Flagstaff, Ariz.
The pre-race hype around hometown favorite Jenny Simpson didn’t faze the 26-year-old Van Alstine at last February’s U.S. Cross Country Championships in Boulder, as she ran a strong last 2K to capture the senior women’s 8K title in 27:35—22 seconds ahead of Simpson, the runner-up. Van Alstine, a member of Northern Arizona Elite, will be hoping to make her first national team in February 2015 when the U.S. Cross Country Championships return to Boulder. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Cross Country Men: Chris Derrick, 24, Portland, Ore.
Derrick dominated the senior men’s 12K race at the U.S. Cross Country Championships this past February in Boulder, clocking 36:14 to defeat runner-up Luke Puskedra by 25 seconds. It was the second-straight national cross-country title for the Portland-based Derrick, who finished 10th at the world championships in 2013 to help the U.S. men to a silver medal in the team race. Derrick will be looking to three-peat as champion next February in Boulder, where a spot on the world championship team in China will be on the line. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Masters Women: Deena Kastor, 41, Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
In September, Deena Kastor smashed the masters half-marathon world record by 20 seconds with her 1:09:36 finish at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia 1/2 Marathon. En route she also set records at 10K, 15K and 10 miles. It was yet another impressive title for the 41-year-old, who holds the American record in the marathon and won an Olympic bronze medal in 2004. And there may be more to come—Kastor has her sights set on the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in 2016. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Masters Men: Mbarak Hussein, 49, Albuquerque, N.M.
Hussein showed incredible versatility that’s rare at any age. In August, Hussein won the men’s race at the USATF Masters 1-Mile Championships in Flint, Mich., with a time of 4:38. He then won the men’s race at the USA Masters Marathon Championships in Minneapolis in October, running 2:22:27. The Albuquerque, N.M., resident and naturalized American is the younger brother of three-time Boston Marathon champ Ibrahim Hussein. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
Trail Running Women: Allie McLaughlin, 23, Colorado Springs
After battling years of injuries, Allie McLaughlin turned in a stunning season on the trails in 2014. The 23-year-old former University of Colorado cross country All-American won the U.S. Mountain Running Championships at New Hampshire’s uber-steep 5-mile Loon Mountain Race in June by more than a minute and then earned the bronze medal in the 8.4K uphill race at the World Mountain Running Championships in Casette di Massa, Italy (helping the U.S. women’s team to a third-place finish in the process). McLaughlin, who lives in Colorado Springs, also won the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships on her home turf at the Pikes Peak Ascent in August and placed second at the XTERRA 21K Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii in December. (Photo: Joe Viger Photography)
Trail Running Men: Joe Gray, 30, Colorado Springs
Joe Gray had another great season racing on the trails, both in the U.S. and overseas. Not only did he win the U.S. mountain running championships for the third time—winning the crazy-steep Loon Mountain Race in 45:52—he also set a course record while winning the grueling 12-mile Kendall Mountain Run in Silverton, Colo., in July, placed second in the historic 19-mile Sierre-Zinal Mountain Race in Switzerland in August and placed 18th at the World Mountain Running Championships in Casette di Massa, Italy, and helped the U.S. team to a fourth-place team finish. Finishing as a close runner-up in this category was Patrick Smyth, a former road and track runner who turned in some great results in his first full season racing on the trails. The 28-year-old from Salt Lake City placed second in the U.S. mountain running championships in June, finished 10th at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy, won the U.S. trail half marathon championships in Bellingham, Wash., in October (by almost 3 minutes!) before winning his second consecutive XTERRA 21K Trail Run World Championship in Hawaii in December. (Photo: Joe Viger Photography)
Ultraunning Women: Rory Bosio, 30, Truckee, Calif.
Bosio might have sealed this category with her second consecutive win at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race in late August. The 30-year-old pediatric intensive care nurse from Truckee, Calif., won that 104-mile race through parts of France, Italy and Switzerland in 23 hours and 20 minutes. But Bosio also won the 73-mile Lavredo Trail race in the Dolomites in Italy in late June and also won two 50-mile races at The North Face Endurance Challenge events in New York and Utah. (Photo: Michael Cottin)
Ultrarunning Men: (tie) Max King, Rob Krar, Sage Canaday
The three-way tie in this category is not a sign of indifference, it’s a show of respect for the amazing seasons Max King, Rob Krar and Sage Canaday put together this year.
King, 34, of Bend, Ore., won Washington’s rugged Chuckanut 50K in a course-record 3:35:42 in March, won Wisconsin’s Ice Age 50 in a course-record 5:41:07 in May, placed fourth in California’s Western States 100 in 15:44:45 in June (his first 100-miler) and won the IAU 100K World Championships in Doha in an American-record time of 6:27:43 in November.
Krar, 37, a Canadian who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., won three of the country’s wickedest 100-milers of the year in the span of just 10 weeks. After placing second in the competitive Lake Sonoma 50 in April (just a minute behind Zach Miller’s record-breaking time), he won the Western States 100 (Auburn, Calif.) in late June in 14:53:22 (the second-fastest time ever), won the Leadville 100 (Leadville, Colo.) six weeks later in 16:09:32 (the second-fastest time ever) and then won the small but challenging Run Rabbit Run 100 (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) in 17:40:05 (also the second-fastest time ever).
Canaday, 28, Boulder, Colo., didn’t race quite as often, but he won two of the hardest ultras of the year—Utah’s Speedgoat 50K in July in 5:12:30 (not far off his own 2013 course record) and The North Face 50 on Dec. 7 near San Francisco (6:07:52)—and placed second to Kilian Jornet at The Rut 50K (5:20:26) in September in Montana. (Photos, from left: XTERRA, Glen Delman, Scott Draper)