Fastest Winners in the LRC Puma Faas Challenge

By LetsRun.com
March 6, 2012

Last week we announced the final winners in the LRC Puma Faas Challenge. Puma wanted to prove its Faas line is for hard-core runners and what better way to do it than give away 100 pairs of shoes to LetsRun.com visitors. The winners (people like you) are simply amazing and their stories show the cool people who come to LetsRun.com. We've had a guy with incurable cancer who just wants to run 16-minute miles, a guy who was hit by car going 35mph while running and still wants to break 4:00 in the mile, Nick Symmonds' college teammate, a guy who has run 50,000 miles and never run in Pumas, a 69-year-old who won marathons in the '60s, '70s, and '80s and made the 1980 Olympic Marathon Trials, a former LetsRun.com cult hero, and a woman who has a 5-year running streak going that includes two pregnancies and two births.

You can read the stories of last week's winners here and the first 55 winners we announced here.

We said last week's winners were the final winners, but that was only the partial truth. We also selected a few pro runners who do not have shoe contracts as winners. These guys are LetsRun.com visitors, extremely fast, trying to make the Olympics, and no one is sponsoring them. So they just like you entered the LRC Puma Faas Challenge. Without further ado...

Mark Wieczorek, David McNeill, Ricky Flynn Your Super Fast Puma Faas Winners
In looking at the entries this time around, we were amazed at some of the studs who entered the contest. In the LRC Puma 55 we had some pretty fast guys (including 1:46.69 Iraqi War vet Golden Coachman)  but this time we've got even faster ones from 800 to the marathon. Once we saw their entries we didn't even put them up for vote. If you're this fast and you're want to put the Pumas to the test, you've earned the opportunity.

Iraqi War vet and 1:46.69 800m runners Golden Coachman already was a Puma Faas winner. However, he no longer is the fastest Puma Faas winner as that title now goes to Mark Wieczorek a 1:46.00 800 guy who made the USATF final last year. Mark formerly ran for Team XO and then the Oregon Track Club. After making the USATF final last year, he got this RRW profile and this thread on LetsRun.com: "How is Mark Wieczorek not sponsored??" He's still unsponsored as shown by the jersey on the right he sported at USATF indoors where he finished third. Mark's now moved to Washington where he's the head cross country coach and mid-distance coach at Gig Harbor High School.

Mark also is a fan of LetsRun.com and clearly gets what the site is about:

     I love your week in reviews, I love that you guys respond with your thoughts and opinions about decisions and performances and what is happening. I turn on espn to watch Kornheiser and Wilbon debate their opinions on whats happening on PTI, or around the horn, etc. Sure its great that you have a centralized place for finding everything you want to know with current events and competitions, but you really are the only site that provides intelligible analysis and isn't afraid to voice your own opinions on athletes and the sport. As far as the boards go, yeah you are right on there (he's referencing our previous email on how it's natural for athletes to not read what is said about them on the message boards or not to like it), and I think that most athletes don't get beyond the boards and seeing their own critics to see the original content you provide. I think that every athlete wants justification of their abilities and performances and in a sport that is small as this one its easy to understand avoiding negative feedback (whether its accurate or not) as much as possible.

(We didn't realize Mark is also a big fan of Dr. Pepper and was on Let's Make a Deal)


David McNeill

Aussie Star and Former Two Time NCAA Runner-up Champion David McNeill
Moving up in distance Aussie 5000m star David McNeill wants to take the Puma Faas Challenge. McNeill is an Australian national champion, a two time NCAA champion, and a World Championship team member. He also is constantly overlooked as he doesn't have a shoe contract. To show how overlooked he was when we first posted this piece we called him an NCAA runner-up to Galen Rupp. Embarrassingly we forgot he won two NCAA 5000m titles the next year, one indoors and one outdoors. The guy gets no respect yet he just keeps running at the highest level.

Now he's training with Bernard Lagat's group in Tucson. Instead of complaining about not having a sponsor, David is out to run faster. He said to us, "The sponsorship game is an interesting one, and although frustrating, I can understand the reasons for not having a sponsor.  It took a little while to understand and accept, but I'm grateful I do understand it now.  I continue to love running, and I continue to strive to be an Olympian.  And in place of a financial sponsor, I have an incredibly supportive family - both in blood and in running.  It would be impossible to overstate the generosity and humility of James Li and Bernard Lagat.  There support has been beyond words.  If any sponsorship things change in the future, it will be a bonus, but for the moment, I'm happy scrapping by and trying to run faster."

He also had some kind words for LRC saying, "It goes without saying, the running world would be a very different and less developed one without LetsRun.  Your website is an institution."


Ricky Flynn at the Trials

Marathoner and Surprise 12th Place Finisher at Olympic Trials Ricky Flynn
Two months ago the name Ricky Flynn probably didn't turn many heads. Now it is starting to. Flynn a former DIII National cross country champion at Lynchburg College turned a lot of heads at the Olympic Marathon Trials where in his marathon debut he ran 2:13:41 for 12th place. Flynn was the only athlete in the top 20 to negative split the course. (For a nice profile on Flynn by friend of LRC Jon Gugala click here).

Before the Trials, Flynn just like many of you entered the Puma Faas Challenge. Since the founders of LetsRun.com went to non-scholarship schools and were unsponsored we're honored guys like Ricky are still coming to little LetsRun.com.

Because of his run at the Trials Ricky now is considering joining a training group or signing a sponsorship deal. Puma is not one of the shoe companies in the running so Ricky wants to give his shoes to his roommate to put to the test. That's perfectly fine with us. Ricky has earned that right for sure.

So the next time you're looking for someone to cheer for in a race, maybe root for Mark, David or Ricky. They'll appreciate the support and their entries show what the spirit of LetsRun.com is about.

And don't forget to checkout the cool stories of the winners announced previously below. If you're looking for a little inspiration in your day you'll find it below.

Thanks to Puma for putting its shoes to the test on LetsRun.com.

LRC The Amazing People Who Are The Final Winners Of The LRC Puma Faas Challenge The final winners in the LRC Puma Faas Challenge whom you helped us select are simply amazing. We've got Olympic Trials runners, a guy with incurable cancer who just wants to run 16-minute miles, a guy who was hit by car going 35mph while running and still wants to break 4:00 in the mile, Nick Symmonds' college teammate, a guy who has run 50,000 miles and never run in Pumas, a 69-year-old who won marathons in the '60s, '70s, and '80s and made the 1980 Olympic Marathon Trials, a former LetsRun.com cult hero, and a woman who has a 5-year running streak going that includes two pregnancies and two births. Crazy Unbelievable people. Puma wanted to prove its Faas line is for hard-core runners and what better way to do it than give away 100 pairs of shoes to put to the test.

The First 55 Winners
LRC 12 Days of Puma Archives:

Day 12
: Some of the Faster Guys and Gals Including a 1:46 Iraqi War Vet
Day 11:
A "Brotha" Who Wants To Break 13:30, An All-American Getting Back On The Roads, A 58-Year-Old Female Marathoner Who Was Winning Marathons Before Most Of You Were Born, A Cancer Survivor Who Happens To Be Caitlin Chock's High School Coach, And A Lady Who Entered To Cheer Her Husband Up
Day 10:
 A Football Player Turned 31:30 10k Runner, A Cop Inspiring His Family to Run, A Collegiate Runner Constantly Injured, A Woman Who Thinks Puma is Sexy and a Guy Who Showed Up to Practice in Allen Iverson Basketball Shoes
Day 9:
A Girl Who Helps LRCers Get Dates, A Guy Who Wants a Shoe That Doesn't Suck, A Dog Lover, and a Sprinter Turned Distance Runner (Because of a Car Wreck)
Day 8:
A 34-Year-Old Who Wants To Go Sub-4, A 26-Year-Old Who Grew Up With LRC, "The" Running Autograph Collector, A Guy Whose Pumas Were Stolen 13 Years Ago, And A Girl At A Nike School
Day #7:  
Read It To Believe It: A "Cigarette Smoking, Pill Popping, Booze Drinking Slob" Who Now Runs 90 Miles a Week, a 12 Year Old, A Women Who Trolls the Message Boards..
Day #6: Rest
Day #5:
The Coaches
Day #4
Married Guys and a Guy Whose Wife and Kids Left Him
Day #3: Winter Wonderland:
South Dakota, A National Champion Coach, Valdez, Alaska, and TxRUNNERgirl Represent
Day #2:
A 27:31 10ker,  A Marine Corps Marathon Champ, A Girl From Our Favorite High School, And a Guy Who Loves Asics, And a (Shoe) Geek
Day #1:
A Boxer Who Runs 100 Miles a Week, A Guy Sick of Getting Free Nikes, A Soldier Doing Intervals With Incoming Rounds, A 16 Year Old Aspiring Champ

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