February 9, 2015
Before we get too deep into 2015, we at LetsRun.com wanted to officially close the book on 2014 by handing out our year-end awards. Some of you may recall that last month, we asked you, the loyal LRC visitors, to vote for the best in a number of categories, including Male Distance Runner of the Year, Race of the Year and Best Record-Breaking Performance.
The polls are closed and the results are now final. So without further ado, here are the 2014 LetsRun.com Awards, as voted on by you, LRC Nation.
Male Distance Runner of the Year: Dennis Kimetto
This was the closest race of any of the categories, with Kimetto barely edging out countryman and fellow marathon ace Wilson Kipsang, 40 percent to 38 percent. In the eyes of LRC visitors, Kimetto’s epic 2:02:57 world record in Berlin mitigated his DNF earlier in the year in Boston and was superior to Kipsang’s course record in London and victory in New York last fall.
Anyone who thinks Kipsang got jobbed (that group might include us as we ranked him #1 in our 2014 marathon rankings) won’t have to wait long for redemption: the two will face off as part of a stacked field at the London Marathon on April 26.
2014 Male Distance Runner of the Year
Female Distance Runner of the Year: Genzebe Dibaba
Dibaba, who turned 24 on Sunday, enjoyed a season for the ages last year indoors, setting indoor world records at 1500, 3000 and 2 miles within a 15-day span. She also won two Diamond League races, including a world-leading 14:28.88 for 5000 in Monaco on July 18. Dibaba will go for another indoor record — Meseret Defar‘s 14:24.37 5000 mark from 2009 — at the XL Galan in Stockholm on February 19.
Dibaba was not world ranked #1 at either 1500 or 5000m outdoors, but she rightfully was the #1 athlete of the year because decades from now people will be talking about her amazing indoor campaign.
2014 Female Distance Runner of the Year
American Male Distance Runner of the Year: Meb Keflezighi
Keflezighi’s historic win at the Boston Marathon — he was the first American in 31 years to win the legendary road race — and his fourth-place finish at the New York City Marathon seven months later gave him a comfortable victory over American record holders Galen Rupp and Evan Jager and 2014 USA 1500 champ Leo Manzano.
2014 American Male Distance Runner of the Year
American Female Distance Runner of the Year: Jenny Simpson
Simpson was the only American mid-d/distance runner to win a Diamond League title in 2014, grabbing dramatic wins in Stockholm and Zurich to clinch the crown. She’ll go for a third World Championship medal in 2015.
2014 American Female Distance Runner of the Year
College Male Distance Runner of the Year: Edward Cheserek, Oregon
Cheserek, who took home four NCAA titles in 2014 including the all-important NCAA XC crown (his second straight) was an easy choice for this award.
2014 College Male Distance Runner of the Year
College Female Distance Runner of the Year: Leah O’Connor, Michigan State
O’Connor, won NCAAs in the steeplechase in June and her 17th place finish at NCAA XCs helped Michigan State win its first national title ever in cross country. O’Connor wasn’t always winning in the athlete of the year voting, but then the Michigan State faithful* went into overdrive and a late surge in votes let O’Connor coast to the win over NCAA indoor/outdoor 800 champion Laura Roesler of Oregon who was justly in the lead before then thanks to her undefeated senior season at 800m.
Good for them. Our sport needs all the publicity it can get, O’Connor has her own blog to stay in touch with fans, and the Michigan State fans showed at XC nats they are great ones:
*Leah’s mom may have been the mastermind behind the surge in votes. We got an email from her asking when the voting was closing, saying, “The story link is going viral w/in my daughter’s support community.” Maybe Leah or her mom should run USATF’s marketing department.
2014 College Female Distance Runner of the Year
Best Record-Breaking Performance: Dennis Kimetto Marathon WR
As you might have guessed after seeing Kimetto take home Male Distance Runner honors, the LRC faithful ranked his 2:02:57 marathon in Berlin as the year’s Best Record-Breaking Performance. Renaud Lavillenie‘s pole vault world record and Genzebe Dibaba‘s troika of indoor records each garnered around a quarter of the vote, but came up well short of Kimetto’s 47 percent.
2014 Best Record-Breaking Performance
Race of the Year: Monaco DL Men’s 1500
One of the greatest 1500s in history earned the nod over Kimetto’s WR in Berlin as the best race of 2014. An astounding seven men dipped under 3:30 in Monaco (previously, no more than three had done it in the same race), led by Silas Kiplagat‘s 3:27.64, the fastest time in the world since the heyday of Hicham El Guerrouj in 2004.
We guess the fans were voting based on performance, not drama, as anyone who saw the men’s 5000 at NCAAs in person was blown away by it.
2014 Race of the Year
Doha women's 3000
Monaco men's 1500
NCAA outdoor men's 5000
USA outdoor women's 5000
NCAA indoor women's 4x400
African Champs men's 1500
Moment of the Year: Meb Wins Boston
Predictably, Meb’s historic win at the Boston Marathon won in a landslide; his performance garnered 84 percent of the vote, the most of anyone in any category.
2014 Moment of the Year
Meb wins Boston
Cain World Junior gold
Rupp American 10k record
Price World Indoor gold
USA women 4x800 World Relays gold
Unusual Moment of the Year: Alysia Montano Runs USAs While Pregnant
In 2014, Alysia Montano ran the 800 meters at the USATF Outdoor Championships, just as she had in the previous eight years. For just the second time in that span, Montano went out in the first round. Of course, she also happened to be eight months pregnant. That incredible feat (she ran 2:32) impressed you more than the steeple antics from Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad and Jairus Birech.
2014 Unusual Moment of the Year
Mekhissi-Benabbad's steeple DQ
Birech's sideways hurdle
Montano runs USAs while pregnant