2019 LetsRun.com World and American Rankings: Donavan Brazier and Ajee’ Wilson are World #1s

By LetsRun.com
December 31, 2019

The year and decade have come to an end and it is time for the sixth annual LetsRun.com world and US distance rankings.

We rank the top 10 runners in the world and top 5 in the US in each distance event, excluding the 10,000m which isn’t contested much outside of the World Championships.

For the first time ever we have two Americans ranked #1 in the world in their events. Donavan Brazier, the new American record holder and world champion, topped the 800 rankings and joined Matthew Centrowitz (World #1 at 1500 in 2016) as the only US males who have been world #1s. On the women’s side, Ajee’ Wilson reigns atop the 800m rankings for the first time despite finishing 3rd at Worlds, and she joins Jenny Simpson (World #1 at 1500 in 2014) as the only US females to have been world #1s.

Since these rankings are obviously subjective, we’ll lay out the criteria we’re using for them:

  • An emphasis on performance in big races. How the athlete fared at the World Championships is obviously a major consideration but winning gold doesn’t guarantee that an athlete will earn a #1 ranking. For U.S. athletes, their performance at the U.S. championships also factors heavily in the rankings.
  • Big meet success with the Diamond League receiving emphasis.
  • Season-best times matter, and if an athlete has a bunch of fast performances, they’re more likely to be ranked highly.
  • Indoor races are considered and can help an athlete’s ranking.

Men’s 800: Donavan Brazier — World Champ, American Record Holder, and World #1

(Getty Images for IAAF)

Donavan Brazier was an obvious choice for #1 as he won Worlds and the Diamond League final. Nijel Amos had the fastest time of the year and was very good when healthy, but missed Worlds and was beaten by Brazier in the DL final. Choosing between Tuka and Rotich for #3 was difficult but we went with Tuka given the fact that they were 2-2 against each other on the year but Tuka’s silver gave him the nod. As for those #5 through #10, one could argue that Hoppel could be ranked as high as #5 but the fact is McBride ran faster than Hoppel’s PB on four different occasions.

1. Donavan Brazier, USA
1:42.34 SB (#2, American record); 3rd Doha, 1st Rome, 1st USAs, 1st Zurich DL final, 1st Worlds

Article continues below player.

2. Nijel Amos, Botswana
1:41.89 SB (#1); 1st Doha, 2nd Rome, 1st Rabat, 1st Monaco, 2nd Zurich (DL final)

3. Amel Tuka, Bosnia & Herzegovina
1:43.47 SB (#5); 6th Euro Indoors, 1st Stockholm (non-DL), 6th Lausanne, 3rd Monaco, 6th Zurich (DL final), 2nd Worlds

4. Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot, Kenya
1:42.54 SB (#3); 12th Doha, 4th Rome, 4th Rabat, 2nd Lausanne, 2nd Monaco, 1st London, 7th (Zurich DL final), 3rd Kenyan trials, 3rd Worlds

5. Brandon McBride, Canada
1:43.51 SB (#7); 3rd Rome, 4th Lausanne, 5th Monaco, 1st Canadian champs, 1st Paris (non-DL), 3rd Zurich (DL final), Worlds semis

6. Emmanuel Korir, Kenya
1:43.69 SB (#8); 2nd Doha, 2nd Rabat, 3rd Lausanne, 8th London, 4th Zurich (DL final), 2nd Kenyan trials, Worlds semis

7. Wesley Vazquez, Puerto Rico
1:43.83 SB (#11); 7th Lausanne, 6th Monaco, 5th London, 2nd Pan Ams, 2nd Paris (non-DL), 5th Worlds

8. Bryce Hoppel, USA
1:44.25 SB (t-#14); 1st NCAA indoors, 1st NCAA outdoors, 3rd USAs, 4th Pan Ams, 4th Worlds

9. Clayton Murphy, USA
1:43.94 SB (#13); 5th Rome, 3rd Rabat, 5th Lausanne, 2nd USAs, 5th Zurich (DL final), 8th Worlds

10. Wycliffe Kinyamal, Kenya
1:43.48 SB (#6); 8th Doha, 6th Rome, 1st Lausanne, 2nd London, 8th Zurich (DL final), Kenyan trials semis

Also worthy of consideration: Marco Arop, Canada
1:44.25 SB (t-#14); 2nd NCAA indoors, 2nd Canadian champs, 1st Pan Ams, 7th Worlds

US Rankings

1. Brazier, Nike
2. Murphy, Nike
3. Hoppel, University of Kansas/adidas
4. Isaiah Harris, Nike
1:45.55 SB (#6); 4th USAs, 3rd The Match
5. Brannon Kidder, Brooks Beasts
1:45.39 SB (#5); 6th USAs, 5th The Match

Women’s 800: Ajee’ Wilson Comes Out On Top

Halimah Nakaayi goes by Ajee’ Wilson for gold (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for IAAF)

Ajee’ Wilson picked the wrong time to lose a race to a non-intersex athlete, but she was the best non-intersex athlete on the year overall. Caster Semenya only raced twice but when she did she was incredible — running 1:54 and 1:55 in her two races. However, since she didn’t do Worlds and is no longer eligible to compete in the women’s category without lowering her testosterone, we’re not ranking her in the top 3. Wilson gets the overall #1 over world champ Halimah Nakaayi because Nakaayi was pretty unheralded until her stunning World Championships.

1. Ajee’ Wilson, USA
1:57.72 SB (#2); 3rd Doha, 1st Stockholm, 2nd Pre, 1st Monaco (non-DL), 1st USAs, 1st Birmingham, 1st Brussels (DL final), 3rd Worlds

2. Halimah Nakaayi, Uganda
1:58.04 SB (#5); 1st Oslo (non-DL), 5th Rabat, 2nd Lausanne (non-DL), 5th Monaco (non-DL), 8th Birmingham, 3rd All-Africa Games, 1st Worlds

3. Raevyn Rogers, USA
1:58.18 SB (#6); 5th Doha, 4th Stockholm, 3rd Stanford, 6th Monaco (non-DL), 3rd USAs, 3rd Birmingham, 6th Paris, 2nd Brussels (DL final), 2nd Worlds

4. Caster Semenya, South Africa
1:54.98 SB (#11); 1st Doha, 1st Pre

5. Winnie Nanyondo, Uganda
1:58.83 SB (#12); 3rd Paris, 3rd Brussels (DL final), 4th Worlds

6. Natoya Goule, Jamaica
1:57.90 SB (#4); 6th Pre, 2nd Monaco (non-DL), 7th London (non-DL), 1st Pan Ams, 6th Birmingham, 2nd Paris, 5th Brussels (DL final), 6th Worlds

7. Hanna Green, USA
1:58.19 SB (#7); 4th Pre, 2nd USAs, 1st Paris, 7th Brussels (DL final); first round Worlds

8. Eunice Sum, Kenya
1:58.99 SB (#13); 1st Zurich (non-DL), 2nd Kenyan trials, 5th Worlds

9. Nelly Jepkosgei, Bahrain
1:59.00 SB (#14); 4th Doha, 3rd Stockholm, 1st Rabat, 1st Lausanne (non-DL), 9th Monaco (non-DL), 10th Paris, 9th Brussels (DL final)

10. Olha Lyakhova, Ukraine
1:59.13 SB (t-#16); 3rd Euro Indoors, 11th Doha, 3rd Rabat, 9th Birmingham, 4th Paris, 4th Brussels (DL final), Worlds semis

Others we considered: Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, Great Britain
1:59.83 SB (#24); 1st UK Indoors, 1st Euro Indoors, 7th Oslo (non-DL), 4th London (non-DL), 1st UK champs, Worlds semis

Lynsey Sharp, Great Britain
1:58.61 SB (#9); 5th UK Indoors, 9th Doha, 6th Stockholm, DNF Oslo (non-DL), 4th Rabat, 4th Monaco (non-DL), 1st London (non-DL), 2nd Birmingham, 2nd UK champs, 6th Brussels (DL final), first round Worlds

US rankings

1. Wilson, adidas
2. Rogers, Nike
3. Green, Nike Oregon TC
4. Ce’Aira Brown, HOKA ONE ONE NJ*NY TC
2:00.12 SB (#6); 6th Rabat, USA semis, 3rd The Match, 8th Worlds
5. Kate Grace, Nike Bowerman TC
1:59.33 SB (#4); 7th Birmingham, 5th Paris, 2nd Zurich (non-DL)

Men’s 1500/mile: Timothy Cheruiyot Dominates

Embed from Getty Images

With defending world champ Elijah Manangoi missing Worlds and much of the year with injury, Timothy Cheruiyot dominated the milers in 2019. On one draft of these rankings, we had American Craig Engels as high as #7, but we ended up rewarding Samuel Tefera for his indoor world record and Josh Kerr for beating Engels both at Millrose and Worlds and running faster than Engels.

1. Timothy Cheruiyot, Kenya
3:28.77/3:50.49 SB (#1/#3); 2nd Doha, 1st Stockholm, 1st Pre, 1st Lausanne, 1st Monaco (non-DL), 1st Brussels (DL final), 1st Kenyan trials, 1st Worlds

2. Marcin Lewandowski, Poland
3:31.46/3:52.34 SB (#10/#9); 1st Euro Indoors, 1st Oslo, 11th Monaco (non-DL), 10th Paris, 6th Brussels (DL final), 3rd Worlds

3. Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Norway
3:30.16/3:51.30 SB (#2/#5); 2nd Euro Indoors, 3rd Stockholm, 6th Oslo, 4th Pre, 2nd Lausanne, 2nd Monaco (non-DL), 4th Paris, 2nd Brussels (DL final), 4th Worlds

4. Ronald Musagala, Uganda
3:30.58 SB (#3); 5th Lausanne, 3rd Monaco (non-DL), 1st Birmingham (non-DL), 1st Paris, 4th Brussels (DL final), Worlds semis

5. Ayanleh Souleiman, Djibouti
3:30.66/3:51.22 SB (#5/#4); 11th Doha, 2nd Stockholm, 3rd Oslo, 2nd Pre, 3rd Lausanne, 5th Monaco (non-DL), 2nd Paris, 2nd All-Africa Games, 7th Brussels (DL final), Worlds semis

6. Filip Ingebrigtsen, Norway
3:30.82/3:49.60 SB (#6/#2); DQ Euro Indoors, 9th Oslo, 3rd Pre, 4th Lausanne, 7th Monaco (non-DL), 2nd London (non-DL), 3rd Paris, 3rd Brussels (DL final), Worlds semis

7. Taoufik Makhloufi, Algeria
3:31.38 SB (#7); 7th Paris, 2nd Worlds

8. Jake Wightman, Great Britain
3:31.87/3:52.02 SB (#7/#14); 9th Lausanne, 3rd London (non-DL), 3rd UK champs, 5th Worlds

9. Samuel Tefera, Ethiopia
3:31.39/3:49.45 SB (#8/#1) plus 3:31.04 indoor WR; 5th Stockholm, 8th Pre, 6th Lausanne, 1st London (non-DL), 4th Birmingham (non-DL), 9th Paris, 9th Brussels (DL final), Worlds semis

10. Josh Kerr, Great Britain
3:32.52/3:53.88 SB (#16/#20); 4th Millrose, 8th London (non-DL), 2nd UK champs, 6th Worlds

Close, but no cigar: Craig Engels, USA
3:34.04/3:51.60 SB (#24/#6); 5th Millrose, 1st USA indoors, 5th Pre, 1st USAs, 3rd Birmingham (non-DL), 5th Brussels (DL final), 10th Worlds

Bethwell Birgen, Kenya
3:31.45/3:54.32 SB (#9/#21); 3rd Doha, 4th Stockholm, 10th Oslo, 9th Pre, 11th Lausanne, 5th Paris, 10th Brussels (DL final), 9th Kenyan trials

US rankings: Craig Engels over Centrowitz

1. Engels, Nike
2. Matthew Centrowitz, Nike Bowerman TC
3:32.81/3:52.26 SB (#1/#2); 6th Pre, 2nd USAs, 8th Worlds
3. Josh Thompson, Nike Bowerman TC
3:35.01/3:58.39 SB (#3/#17); 8th USA indoors, 3rd USAs, 1st ISTAF Berlin, 1st The Match
4. Ben Blankenship, Nike Oregon TC
3:36.22/3:52.51 SB (#7/#3); 7th Pre, 4th USAs, 3rd The Match, Worlds semis
5. Henry Wynne, Brooks Beasts
3:35.14 SB (#4) plus 3:51.26 indoor mile; 2nd USA indoors, 8th USAs, 11th ISTAF Berlin

Others: Johnny Gregorek, Asics/NJ*NY TC (lost to Wynne at USA indoors and outdoors)
3:35.32/3:52.94 SB (#3/#4) plus 3:49.98 indoor mile; 8th Millrose, 3rd USA indoors, 4th Oslo, 11th Pre, 10th USAs, 2nd Pan Ams, 8th Brussels (DL final)

Sam Prakel, adidas
3:37.20/3:54.90 SB (#10/#6) plus 3:50.94 indoor mile; 10th Millrose, 4th USA indoors, 6th USAs

Women’s 1500/mile: Kipyegon Was Better Than ever, But Hassan Is Our Definite #1

Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon returned from pregnancy and was better than she has ever been, running a national record at the World Champs. The only problem was she ran into the buzzsaw of Sifan Hassan, who ran 3:51.95 to win Worlds after winning the 10,000m. Unbelievable.

1. Sifan Hassan, Netherlands
3:51.95/4:12.33 WR SB(#1/#1); 5th Shanghai, 2nd Rabat, 1st Monaco, 1st Zurich (DL final), 1st Worlds

2. Faith Kipyegon, Kenya
3:54.22 SB (#2); 1st Pre, 1st Kenyan trials, 2nd Worlds

3. Gudaf Tsegay, Ethiopia
3:54.38/4:18.31 SB (#3/#4); 2nd Shanghai, 3rd Rome, 3rd Rabat, 4th Pre (non-DL), 4th Monaco, 9th Zurich (DL final), 3rd Worlds

4. Laura Muir, Great Britain
3:55.76 SB (#6) plus 4:18.75 indoor mile; 1st Euro indoors, 1st Stockholm (non-DL), 2nd Rome, 2nd Pre (non-DL), 1st London, 5th Worlds

5. Shelby Houlihan, USA
3:54.99 SB (#4, American record); 2nd USA indoors, 3rd Pre (non-DL), 1st USAs, 4th Worlds

6. Genzebe Dibaba, Ethiopia
3:55.47 SB (#5); 1st Rome, 1st Rabat, 4th Zurich (DL final)

7. Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, Canada
3:56.12/4:17.87 SB (#7/#3); 5th Rome, 8th Rabat, 6th Pre (non-DL), 3rd Monaco, 3rd London, 1st Canadian champs, 2nd Birmingham, 3rd Zurich (DL final), 6th Worlds

8. Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Germany
3:59.02/4:21.11 SB (t-#11/#10) plus 4:19.98 indoor mile; 1st Millrose, 5th London, 1st Birmingham, 2nd Zurich (DL final)

9. Winnie Nanyondo, Uganda
3:59.56/4:18.65 (#13/#7); 3rd Shanghai, 6th Rabat, 5th Pre (non-DL), 7th Monaco, 4th London, 5th Zurich (DL final), 11th Worlds

10. Winny Chebet, Kenya
3:58.20 SB (#8); 7th Shanghai, 10th Rome, 13th Rabat, 14th Pre (non-DL), 2nd London, 6th Zurich (DL final), 7th Worlds

US Rankings

1. Houlihan, Nike Bowerman TC
2. Jenny Simpson, New Balance
3:58.42 SB (#2); 4th Rome, 7th Rabat, 2nd USAs, 8th Zurich (DL final), 8th Worlds
3. Nikki Hiltz, adidas/The Mission AC
4:01.52 SB (#3); 5th USA indoors, 3rd USAs, 1st Pan Ams, 12th Worlds
4. Sinclaire Johnson, Oklahoma State University/Nike
4:03.72 SB (#9); 1st NCAAs, 4th USAs
5. Kate Grace, Nike Bowerman TC
4:02.49 SB (#7); 3rd Millrose, 10th USA indoors, 5th USAs, 1st The Match

Men’s 3000/5000: Selemon Barega #2 x2 = World #1

Embed from Getty Images

Muktar Edris did nothing until Worlds but there he not only won gold, he also broke 13:00. However, the #1 spot goes to Selemon Berega, who was second at Worlds and second fastest on the year.

1. Selemon Barega, Ethiopia
7:32.17/12:53.04 SB (#1/#2); 2nd Shanghai, 2nd Rome, 1st Oslo, 3rd Pre (non-DL), 2nd Lausanne, 5th Zurich (DL final), 2nd Worlds

2. Telahun Bekele, Ethiopia
7:39.83/12:52.98 SB (#10/#1); 5th Shanghai, 1st Rome, 1st Hengelo, 3rd Lausanne, 4th Zurich (DL final), 4th Worlds

3. Joshua Cheptegei, Uganda
7:33.26/12:57.41 SB (#2/#6); 7th Shanghai, 2nd Oslo, 1st Pre, 4th Lausanne, 1st Zurich (DL final)

4. Muktar Edris, Ethiopia
7:39.52/12:58.85 SB (#9/#10); 11th Oslo, 18th Lausanne, 1st Worlds

5. Hagos Gebrhiwet, Ethiopia
12:54.92 SB (#3); 3rd Shanghai, 3rd Rome, 10th Lausanne, 1st London (non-DL), 2nd Zurich (DL final)

6. Moh Ahmed, Canada
7:44.71/12:58.16 SB (#20/#9); 6th Rome, 4th Pre (non-DL), 1st Canadian champs, 3rd Worlds

7. Yomif Kejelcha, Ethiopia
13:00.56 SB (#13); 1st Shanghai, 1st Lausanne, 6th Zurich (DL final)

8. Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Norway
13:02.03 (#14); 1st Euro indoors, 2nd London (non-DL), 5th Worlds

8. Paul Chelimo, USA
7:38.96/13:04.60 SB (#8/#19); 12th Shanghai, 2nd Pre (non-DL), 6th Lausanne, 2nd USAs, 8th Zurich (DL final), 7th Worlds

10. Nicholas Kimeli, Kenya
7:34.85/12:57.90 (#3/#7); 6th Shanghai, 3rd Oslo, 8th Lausanne, 3rd London (non-DL), 3rd Zurich (DL final), 3rd Kenyan trials, 8th Worlds

US rankings: Chelimo over Lomong
Chelimo’s international body of work was much better than Lomong’s.

1. Chelimo, Nike/American Distance Project
2. Lopez Lomong, Nike Bowerman TC
13:00.13 SB (#2); 1st USAs
3. Woody Kincaid, Nike Bowerman TC
12:58.10 SB (#1); 15th USA indoors, 3rd USAs
4. Hassan Mead, Nike Oregon TC
7:59.90/13:22.11 SB (#14/#9); 16th Shanghai, 4th USAs, 6th The Match, 11th Worlds
5. Drew Hunter, adidas/Tinman Elite
7:39.85/13:21.18 SB (#2/#7); 1st USA indoors, 7th Oslo, 5th USAs

Women’s 3k/5k: Hellen Obiri World Champ and World #1

Embed from Getty Images

Hellen Obiri had the fastest time (14:20) and won the World Championship, so she is an obvious choice for World #1. Yet we shouldn’t forget that Obiri almost didn’t run the 5,000m at Worlds, as she was contemplating calling it a season after not medalling in the 10,000m. Fortunately for Obiri, Hassan was not in the 5,000, so Obiri gave it a go and she got the World title to go with her World XC title from earlier in the year.

1. Hellen Obiri, Kenya
8:25.60/14:20.36 SB (#5#1); 1st Doha, 12th Stockholm, 6th Pre, 1st London, 4th Brussels (DL final), 1st Worlds

2. Sifan Hassan, Netherlands
8:18.49/14:22.12 SB (#1/#3); 1st Pre, 3rd London, 1st Brussels (DL final)

3. Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Germany
8:20.07/14:26.76 SB (#2/#4); 2nd Euro indoors, 2nd Pre, 1st German champs, 3rd Brussels (DL final), 3rd Worlds

4. Margaret Kipkemboi, Kenya
8:32.96/14:27.49 SB (#14/#5); 6th Stockholm, 10th Pre, 4th London, 5th Brussels (DL final), 2nd Kenyan trials, 2nd Worlds

5. Agnes Tirop, Kenya
8:27.51/14:20.68 SB (#7/#2); 1st Stockholm, 7th Pre, 2nd London, 6th Brussels (DL final)

6. Lilian Rengeruk, Kenya
8:29.02/14:36.05 (#8/#8); 3rd Doha, 3rd Stockholm, 12th Pre, 8th London, 1st All-Africa Games, 1st Kenyan trials, 5th Worlds

7. Letesenbet Gidey, Ethiopia
8:20.27/14:29.54 (#3/#6); 3rd Pre, 10th London, 2nd Brussels (DL final)

8. Fantu Worku, Ethiopia
8:32.10/14:40.47 SB (#13/#14); 2nd Stockholm, 9th Pre, 8th Brussels (DL final), 6th Worlds

9. Caroline Kipkirui, Kenya
8:29.89/14:36.10 SB (#10/#9); 5th Doha, 5th Stockholm, 8th Pre, 5th London, 10th Brussels (DL final)

10. Laura Weightman, Great Britain
8:26.07/14:44.57 (#6/#14); 5th Pre, 12th London, 3rd UK champs, 7th Worlds

US rankings: Houlihan #1
Schweizer may have run faster but we’d still pick Houlihan 100% in a head-to-head match-up.

1. Shelby Houlihan, Nike Bowerman TC
15:15.50 SB (#12); 1st USA indoors, 1st USAs
2. Karissa Schweizer, Nike Bowerman TC
8:42.15/14:45.18 SB (#1/#1); 14th Pre, 2nd USAs, 9th Worlds
3. Elle Purrier, New Balance Boston
14:58.17 SB (#2); 3rd USA indoors, 3rd USAs, 11th Worlds
4. Rachel Schneider, Under Armour
9:00.77/15:06.71 SB (#3/#6); 4th USAs, 2nd The Match, Worlds semis
5. Marielle Hall, Nike Bowerman TC
15:02.27 SB (#3); 5th USAs

Too close to call for Kipruto in Doha (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for IAAF)

Men’s steeplechase: El Bakkali is #1, but Kipruto is the King

Soufiane El Bakkali gets the #1 ranking but Conseslus Kipruto came out of nowhere to win yet another gold and run the fastest time on the year.

1. Soufiane El Bakkali, Morocco
8:03.76 SB (#3); 1st Doha, 11th Rabat, 1st Monaco, 1st Paris, 3rd All-Africa Games, 2nd Brussels (DL final), 3rd Worlds

2. Getnet Wale, Ethiopia
8:05.21 SB (#5); 2nd Rome (non-DL), 1st Rabat, 3rd Monaco, 2nd All-Africa Games, 1st Brussels (DL final), 4th Worlds

3. Lamecha Girma, Ethiopia
8:01.36 SB (#2); 3rd Paris, 3rd Brussels (DL final), 2nd Worlds

4. Conseslus Kipruto, Kenya
8:01.35 SB (#1); 5th Paris, DNF All-Africa Games, 7th Brussels (DL final), DNF Kenyan trials, 1st Worlds

5. Benjamin Kigen, Kenya
8:05.12 SB (#4); 8th Doha, 1st Rome (non-DL), 3rd Rabat, 2nd Monaco, 2nd Paris, 1st All-Africa Games, 4th Brussels (DL final), 2nd Kenyan trials, 6th Worlds

6. Abraham Kibiwot, Kenya
8:05.72 SB (#8); 5th Doha, 17th Rome (non-DL), 7th Rabat, 5th Monaco, 9th Paris, 6th Brussels (DL final), 3rd Kenyan trials, 7th Worlds

7. Hillary Bor, USA
8:08.41 SB (#10); 2nd Doha, 5th Rabat, 6th Monaco, 1st USAs, 5th Brussels (DL final), 8th Worlds

8. Fernando Carro, Spain
8:05.69 SB (#7); 5th Rome (non-DL), 4th Monaco, 8th Brussels (DL final), 11th Worlds

9. Djilali Bedrani, France
8:05.23 SB (#6); 8th Rabat, 7th Monaco, 10th Paris, 10th Brussels (DL final), 5th Worlds

10. Leonard Bett, Kenya
8:08.61 SB (#11); 3rd Doha, 4th Rabat, 11th Monaco, 1st Kenyan Trials, 9th Worlds

Others getting consideration: Chala Beyo, Ethiopia
8:06.48 SB (#9); 1st Africa U20 champs, 4th Doha, 3rd Rome (non-DL), 2nd Rabat, 4th Paris, 11th Brussels (DL final), DNF Worlds

US Rankings

1. Bor, US Army WCAP
2. Stanley Kebenei, Nike/American Distance Project
8:11.15 SB (#2); 9th Rabat, 2nd USAs, 7th Paris, 2nd The Match, 10th Worlds
3. Andy Bayer, Nike
8:12.47 SB (#3); 12th Doha, 6th Rome (non-DL), DNF Rabat, 3rd USAs, 12th Paris, 12th Worlds
4. Benard Keter, US Army WCAP
8:29.94 SB (#8); 4th USAs, 4th Pan Ams, 6th The Match
5. Mason Ferlic, Nike
8:27.29 SB (#5); 5th USAs, 7th The Match

Embed from Getty Images

Women’s steeple: Beatrice Chepkoech #1, Emma Coburn US #1

Picking the top 2 in the women’s steeple was easy. Picking 3rd was more difficult. In the end, we went with Hyvin Kiyeng over Gesa Krause as she was 4-1 against her on the year and Krause was a bit lucky to medal as Norah Jeruto and Daisy Jepkemei both skipped out on Worlds so they can transfer their allegiances to another country in the future.

1. Beatrice Chepkoech, Kenya
8:55.58 SB (#1); 1st Shanghai, 2nd Oslo, 1st Pre, 1st Birmingham, 1st Zurich (DL final), 1st Kenyan trials, 1st Worlds

2. Emma Coburn, USA
9:02.35 SB (#2); 4th Oslo, 2nd Pre, 1st USAs, 6th Zurich (DL final), 2nd Worlds

3. Hyvin Kiyeng, Kenya
9:03.83 SB (#5); 3rd Oslo, 3rd Pre, 4th Birmingham, 2nd Zurich (DL final), 2nd Kenyan trials, 8th Worlds

4. Gesa-Felicitas Krause, Germany
9:03.30 SB (#3); 8th Oslo, 15th Pre, 6th Birmingham, 5th Zurich (DL final), 3rd Worlds

5. Norah Jeruto, Kenya
9:03.71 SB (#4); 1st Oslo, 6th Pre, 5th Birmingham, 3rd Zurich (DL final)

6. Daisy Jepkemei, Kenya
9:06.66 SB (#7); 5th Oslo, 4th Pre, 7th Birmingham, 4th Zurich (DL final)

7. Celliphine Chespol, Kenya
9:06.76 SB (#8); 2nd Shanghai, 6th Oslo, 8th Pre, 2nd Birmingham, 8th Zurich (DL final), DNF Worlds

8. Winfred Yavi, Bahrain
9:05.68 SB (#6); 1st Asian champs, 4th Shanghai, 10th Oslo, 9th Pre, 3rd Birmingham, 7th Zurich (DL final), 4th Worlds

9. Peruth Chemutai, Uganda
9:11.08 SB (#10); 3rd Shanghai, 7th Oslo, 10th Pre, 5th Worlds

10. Courtney Frerichs, USA
9:09.75 SB (#9); 5th Pre, 2nd USAs, 6th Worlds

US Rankings

1. Coburn, New Balance
2. Frerichs, Nike Bowerman TC
3. Colleen Quigley, Nike Bowerman TC
9:11.41 SB (#3); 7th Pre, 3rd USAs
4. Allie Ostrander, Boise State University/Brooks Beasts
9:30.85 SB (#5); 1st NCAAs, 13th Pre, 4th USAs, Worlds semis
5. Mel Lawrence, Oiselle Littlewing
9:29.81 SB (#4); 12th Shanghai, 13th Oslo, 14th Pre, 6th USAs, 14th Birmingham, 1st The Match

Embed from Getty Images

Men’s Marathon: Not Kipchoge, Not Bekele; Lawrence Cherono is Your #1

This one was hard. Lawrence Cherono won two majors, Birhanu Legese won a major and ran 2:02:48 in a second major, Lelisa Desisa was second in Boston and won Worlds, Kenenisa Bekele ran the fastest time of the year, and Eliud Kipchoge set a course record in the most competitive marathon in the world (and ran the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, which we ignore for the world rankings).

We almost always reward those who run at least two marathons a year and in the end went with Cherono although we weren’t overly impressed with his Chicago win. When four men are battling it out in a major for the win, one would think that it would take more than a 4:52 final mile to win but that was enough to give Cherono his second major win of the year. One also wouldn’t think in the age of the Vaporfly that a 2:05:45 would be good enough to win a flat major where the first half was run in 62:14 and the women’s winning time was 2:14:04. But who knows, maybe he could have gone faster as given his sprint victory in Boston he had reason to be confident in his kick. Nonetheless, his body of work exceeded everyone else’s in 2019, so he gets our #1 ranking.

1. Lawrence Cherono, Kenya
1st Boston (2:07:57), 1st Chicago (2:05:45)

2. Birhanu Legese, Ethiopia
1st Tokyo (2:04:48), 2nd Berlin (2:02:48)

3. Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya
1st London (2:02:37 CR), 1:59:40 at INEOS 1:59 Challenge

4. Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia
1st Berlin (2:01:41)

5. Lelisa Desisa, Ethiopia
2nd Boston (2:07:59), 1st Worlds (2:10:40), DNF New York

6. Mosinet Geremew, Ethiopia
2nd London (2:02:55), 2nd Worlds (2:10:44)

7. Titus Ekiru, Kenya
1st Milan (2:04:46 CR), 1st Honolulu (2:08:00 CR)

8. Geoffrey Kamworor, Kenya
1st New York (2:08:13)

9. Getaneh Molla, Ethiopia
1st Dubai (2:03:34 CR)

10. Vincent Kipchumba, Kenya
1st Vienna (2:06:56), 1st Amsterdam (2:05:09)

Honorable Mention: Reuben Kipyego, Kenya
2nd Buenos Aires (2:05:18), 1st Abu Dhabi (2:04:40)

Asefa Mengstu, Ethiopia
3rd Dubai (2:04:24), 2nd Paris (2:07:25), 3rd Chicago (2:05:48)

US Rankings: Jared Ward over Fauble and Korir
Fauble and Korir ran faster but they only had one solid result while Ward had two.

1. Jared Ward, Saucony
8th Boston (2:09:25), 6th New York (2:10:45)
2. Scott Fauble, HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite
7th Boston (2:09:09)
3. Leonard Korir, US Army WCAP
11th Amsterdam (2:07:56)
4. Jake Riley, Boulder TC
9th Chicago (2:10:36)
5. Jerrell Mock, Siemers Dreamers TC
10th Chicago (2:10:37)

Women’s Marathon: Brigid Kosgei 2:14:04

Courtesy Sean Hartnett/Chicago Marathon

Brigid Kosgei did the unthinkable in 2019, crushing Paula Radcliffe’s “untouchable” world record in the marathon. She nearly ran 2:13. Ruth Chepngetich ran 2:17 and won the World Championships, which would make you #1 just about any other year, but this was a special year.

1. Brigid Kosgei, Kenya
1st London (2:18:20), 1st Chicago (2:14:04 WR)

2. Ruth Chepngetich, Kenya
1st Dubai (2:17:08 CR), 1st Worlds (2:32:43)

3. Worknesh Degefa, Ethiopia
2nd Dubai (2:17:41), 1st Boston (2:23:31)

4. Ashete Bekere, Ethiopia
1st Rotterdam (2:22:55), 1st Berlin (2:20:14)

5. Roza Dereje, Ethiopia
3rd London (2:20:51), DNF Worlds, 1st Valencia (2:18:30)

6. Ruti Aga, Ethiopia
1st Tokyo (2:20:40), DNF Worlds, 3rd New York (2:25:51)

7. Vivian Cheruiyot, Kenya
2nd London (2:20:14), 4th Valencia (2:18:52)

8. Joyciline Jepkosgei, Kenya
1st New York (2:22:38)

9. Mary Keitany, Kenya
5th London (2:20:58), 2nd New York (2:23:32)

10. Helen Tola, Ethiopia
2nd Tokyo (2:21:01), 4th Berlin (2:21:36)

Honorable mention: Edna Kiplagat, Kenya
2nd Boston (2:24:13), 4th Worlds (2:35:36)

Vivian Kiplagat, Kenya
1st Milan (2:22:25), 2nd Eldoret (2:28:06), 1st Mexico City (2:33:27), 1st Abu Dhabi (2:21:11)

Degitu Azimeraw, Ethiopia
1st Amsterdam (2:19:26 CR)

Tigist Girma, Ethiopia
1st Ottawa (2:26:34), 2nd Amsterdam (2:19:52)

US Rankings: Des Linden US #1
Hall, Hasay, Sisson, and Bates all ran faster, but Linden had the better body of work.

1. Des Linden, Brooks
5th Boston (2:27:00), 6th New York (2:26:46)
3. Sara Hall, Asics
15th Boston (2:35:34), 5th Berlin (2:22:16), DNF New York
3. Jordan Hasay, Nike
3rd Boston (2:25:20), DNF Chicago
4. Emily Sisson, New Balance
6th London (2:23:08)
5. Emma Bates, Asics/Idaho Distance Project
4th Chicago (2:25:27)

More End of Year/Decade Articles: 

Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free LetsRun.com Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards