US Women 10,000m Top 10 Rankings - 2009

"Reign of Shalane" ends ... for the time being.

By LetsRun.com
December, 2009

LetsRun.com's year-end rankings evaluate the best US runners in every event from 800m to marathon - easily the most interesting summary you will find anywhere in the media.

Shalane Flanagan's American record of 30:22 set in 2008 is a tremendous national record (for the USA, only Kara Goucher's 30:55 and Deena Kastor's 30:50 have cracked 31:00). In 2009, only one American woman came within 60 seconds of the record, and it wasn't Flanagan (who still finished 14th at Worlds). And despite significant American improvement in many distance events, only a few more women could come within 2 minutes of the record. The American women's 10,000m runners are clumped in the 32-minute range while Flanagan and LRC #1 Amy Begley have found a way to flirt with the 30-minute range.

Video: Amy Begley after her amazing finish in Berlin.

LRC #1 Amy Begley • Nike • 31:13.78 • 6th, World Championships • USA Champion

Alberto Salazar-coached Amy Begley had a career-best year as she won the USA 10,000m Championship in a big, big upset over 2008 Olympic 10,000m medalist Shalane Flanagan.

Not done yet, Begley went over to Berlin and ran about as well as she could have to finish 6th at Worlds in a new PR 31:13. Any year where you beat the current American record holder and reigning Olympic bronze medalist twice in the most important races of the year ... that's a good year.

Begley only has a 5,000m PR of 15:24 and she hasn't run that fast in about four years. 31:13 is 15:37 5,000m pace. An NCAA 10,000m champion in 2001 (in Eugene, no less), at age 31, Begley brought her PR down from 31:43 to 31:13. Yet at Worlds she still had a tinge of disappointment for not trying to go with the lead pack when they broke it open. Begley is now no longer content to be the best of the rest? 2010 should be an interesting year for her.

LRC #2 Shalane Flanagan • Nike • 31:23.43 • 14th, World Championships • USA Runner-Up

Shalane Flanagan had a disappointing year in 2009 as far as 10,000m performances go. A year after running 30:22 in the Olympic final, she finished 2nd to Amy Begley at USAs in a great race. She went to Berlin and had a race far below her expectations (she won Beijing 10,000m bronze). Her seasonal best was over 60 seconds adrift of 2008's American record.

Video: Shalane talks to Wejo after her Berlin downer.

The best way to sum up Flanagan's year is to watch her interview after her Berlin race where she talks with LetsRun co-founder Weldon Johnson and the press. Early this year, she switched coaches in a rather ugly "breakup" with John Cook, saying, "Overall we didn't see eye to eye on many levels, personally and professionally." She now trains with Jerry Schumacher and the Wisconsin boys in Portland.

Through quotes in the press, it was easy to understand that Cook was impressed with his own work as Flanagan's coach and doubtful she would reach the same levels in another program. Cook said, "All I know is my record with her is what it is. I hope they will continue to be successful."

In a way, Cook is probably right in that Shalane has probably maxed out at the 5,000m and 10,000m. She has an Olympic medal and all the American records. She put in an enormous amount of work to achieve those ranks, and has now decided it's time for another battle to keep the sport fresh. She is scheduled to run the Houston Half Marathon in January, 2010. Her sights are set, eventually, on the marathon.

Often, athletes follow a superb year with a so-so year. Shalane seems to have done that in '08-'09. It wasn't all sub-par in '09, as she did reset the American indoor 5,000m record at 14:47. But that was when she was self-coached and the transition to Jerry Schumacher didn't go great in terms of races in 2009, even though Flanagan recently said she trained harder than ever.

LRC #3 Katie McGregor • Reebok • 32:08.04 • 17th, World Championships • 3rd, USA 10,000m Championships

Katie McGregor ran a great race at the US Championships and made the US team at 10,000m for Berlin. McGregor ran three 10,000m races on the track in '09 and they were all just over 32:00, including her 17th-place finish in Berlin.

LRC #4 Molly Huddle • Saucony • 32:07 (Road) • US 10km Road Champion • 5th, USA 10,000m Championships

We feel really good about this #4 ranking for Molly Huddle. In a race few paid any attention to, Huddle won the Tufts 10k to claim the US road 10k title. But the real headline should have been the 32:07 time, which ends up being the 3rd-best time run by an American this year whether on the track or on the road.

Huddle also placed 5th at the US outdoor champs. Huddle ended up being USATF road racer of the year. She also won the US 7-mile champs.

LRC #5 Magdalena Lewy Boulet • 32:20.45 • 4th, USA 10,000m Championships

Magdalena Lewy Boulet finished 5th at the US Championships and came back in the fall to be the first US finisher at the ING NYC Marathon.

LRC #6 Rebecca Donaghue • New Balance • 32:29 • Payton Jordan Invite Winner • USA Road 10km Runner-Up

One of the most prolific racers of all distance elites in the country, Donaghue made three stops at 10,000m in 2009 in her busy race schedule: 1 at Stanford, 1 at Beach to Beacon, 1 at Tufts at the US road championships. The results? She won Stanford, was the first American in Maine and was the runner-up at the US Road Championships in 32:29.

On the roads in '09, Donaghue raced 20k, 15k, 7-mile, 10k twice and 5k once. She also ran 8 track races, including a European season. On top of that, she ran world cross-country in Jordan representing the US after finishing 5th at the US XC Championships.

LRC #7 Desiree Davila • Hanson's Brooks • 32:25.78 • 3rd, Brutus Hamilton Invite

We're not in love with time trial performances on the West coast earning somebody a spot on the LRC Top 10, but Hanson's Brooks Desiree Davila did something special at Brutus Hamilton when she ran 32:25. This performance helped her eventually break 2:28 in finishing as the first American in the Berlin WC Marathon. It also showed that Hanson's runners can run solid track times while training ultimately for the marathon.

LRC #8 Amy Hastings • adidas • 32:56.20 • 6th, USA Championships

Amy Hastings (#8) and Serena Burla (#9) finished right next to each other at the US Championships in 6th and 7th in their track season's bests. For that, they earn top 10 rankings.

LRC #9 Serena Burla • Rhiadha • 32:56.40 • 7th, USA 10,000m Champs

Burla's year was capped by a 7th-place finish at the USA track 10,000m championships.

LRC #10 Sara Hall • Asics • 32:44 (Road) • 3rd, US Road 10km Champs

Hall had her only 10km performance at the Tufts 10k when she ran 32:44 to come in as the third American (behind LRC #3 and #6) at the US Road 10km Championships.

LRC Honorable Mention Cecily Lemmon-Lew • BYU • 33:39.97 • 1st American, NCAA 10,000m Final (2nd Overall)

BYU's Cecily Lemmon didn't run fast enough to make our top 10, but she was the first American finisher at the NCAA 10,000m finals at the age of 21. Lemmon finished 10th at the NCAA XC finals later in the year. We also saw Lemmon defeat eventual NCAA champion Angela Bizzarri at the Wisconsin Invite in cross-country, an impressive race.

More LRC 2009 10k Coverage:
LRC Amy Begley Shocks Shalane Flanagan It came down to a thrilling last lap and in the end, it was not the Olympic bronze medallist who came out in top with a Hayward Field record, but the Alberto Salazar-coached Begley.

LRC Women's 10,000m: 9,950 Meters According To Form And A Very Bizarre Finish This race had it all. Craziness, stupidity, and drama - all in the final 50 meters. Recap, photos, and video interviews, plus interviews with Americans Amy Yoder Begley (6th in a PR) and Shalane Flanagan.

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