LRC’s Race of the Decade: It’s Time for the Elite Eight

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December 18, 2019

(Editor’s note: We are determining the RACE OF THE DECADE. If you didn’t participate in the first three rounds, you can find an overview of what is going on here.)

Well it took until the third round, but a #1 seed has finally fallen. It’s about time — we were starting to think that you were just going to vote the way we told you to until only #1 seeds remained.

Eight races remain in the LRC RACE OF THE DECADE bracket, but the 2010 Chicago Marathon men’s race — the #1 seed in the Kipchoge Region — is not one of them. Fittingly, it was Eliud Kipchoge himself who delivered the death blow, as Kipchoge’s world record at the 2018 Berlin Marathon won handily in the end, advancing to the Elite Eight with 66.3% of the vote compared to 33.7% for 2010 Chicago, the site of the epic Sammy Wanjiru-Tsegaye Kebede battle for $500,000 that featured multiple lead changes and served as Sammy Wanjiru’s last victory.

In the other three regions, however, the #1 seeds marched on convincingly as the 2012 Olympic men’s 8002010 Payton Jordan men’s 10k, and 2016 Olympic men’s 400 all earned more than 80% of the vote in their third-round matchups.

There were two close Sweet 16 results. The 2-3 matchup in the Kipchoge Region pitted an iconic American moment — Meb Keflezighi’s win at the 2014 Boston Marathon — against the battle of legends at the 2013 Great North Run. And, just as in Boston, the #3 seed Meb pulled the upset to advance, barely, 51.7% to 48.3%. Now he will face Kipchoge to determine the Kipchoge Region champion and the greatest marathon of the 2010s: 2014 Boston or 2018 Berlin.

The other result that came down to the wire was the 2-6 matchup in the Lagat Region, as Bernard Lagat’s win in the 2016 Olympic Trials 5k beat out Robby Andrewslast-to-first dash in the 2011 NCAA 800, 55.0% to 45.0%. Lagat will face a familiar foe in the regional final as Chris Solinsky and the epic 2010 Payton Jordan 10k await.

So far, David Rudisha‘s unforgettable world record at the 2012 Olympics has rolled through all comers. Can another epic London Stadium race — Emma Coburn’s win at the 2017 Worlds women’s steeple — mount a challenge in the Rudisha Region final after overcoming fellow American steepler Evan Jager and his 8:00 American record in Paris?

The last regional final pits two world records against each other: Wayde van Niekerk’s 43.03 in the 2016 Olympic 400 final against Dalilah Muhammad’s 52.16 in the 2019 Worlds 400 hurdles final. The winner will advance to the Final Four and earn the title of greatest sprint race of the 2010s.

(Full results of the Sweet 16 appear at the bottom of this page).

Now it’s time for the Elite Eight, which doubles as the tournament quarterfinals. Voting for the quarterfinals will remain open until the end of the day (midnight ET) on Thursday, December 19. The four matchups are listed below. With spots in the Final Four on the line, you can’t afford not to vote!

Seeds are in ().


Race descriptions by Jonathan Gault.

Rudisha Region Final

(1) 2012 Olympics, men’s 800 meters

David Rudisha’s finest hour, which featured two Americans breaking 1:43 and poor Andrew Osagie running 1:43.77 and finishing last, is best described by 17 letters: WR, WJR, PB, PB, PB, NR, SB, PB.

LRC David Rudisha Becomes A Legend By Winning Gold With A World Record In A Truly Historic 800

(2) 2017 World Championships, women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase

Entering the 2017 Worlds, no American, male or female, had ever medalled in the steeplechase at the World Championships. That changed, dramatically, in London. Pre-race favorite Beatrice Chepkoech forgot to hurdle the first water barrier and, as she tried to catch up following her mistake, fell on another barrier. 

Somehow, Chepkoech fought her way back to the lead by the bell, but she had nothing left. With Olympic champ/world record holder Ruth Jebet struggling, that left the door open for Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, who blew through it by running huge PRs (five seconds for Coburn, fifteen for Frerichs) to go 1-2 in one of the biggest upsets in World Championship history.

LRC Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs Pull Off Incomprehensible Upset and Go 1-2 in Women’s Steeple


Lagat Region Final

(1) 2010 Payton Jordan Invitational, men’s 10,000 meters

What was billed as an American record attempt for Galen Rupp instead ended with a stunning American record for Chris Solinsky, igniting the Alberto SalazarJerry Schumacher rivalry in the process. Solinsky was the first non-African-born man to break 27:00 for 10,000; at 6-1 and roughly 165 lbs, Solinsky was also the tallest and heaviest man to break 27.

LRC Solinsky Stuns with USA 10,000m Record at Stanford

(2) 2016 Olympic Trials, men’s 5,000 meters

Daddy can still kick. After missing the US World Championship team for the first time the previous year, 41-year-old Bernard Lagat dropped out of the 10,000 on day 1 of the 2016 Olympic Trials, the sun seemingly setting on his career. Eight days later, he responded with one of his greatest victories.

LRC 41-Year-Old Bernard Lagat Wins Crazy Men’s 5000 at 2016 US Olympic Trials


Kipchoge Region Final

(3) 2014 Boston Marathon, men’s race

One year after a tragic finish-line bombing resulted in the deaths of four people, a 38-year-old American named Meb Keflezighi took off eight miles into the 2014 Boston Marathon and earned a historic victory. Running with the names of the victims on his bib, Meb ran a personal best of 2:08:37 to become the first American champion at Boston in 31 years.

How unlikely was Meb’s win? Before the race, we pegged the odds of an American victory at somewhere between 1 in 27 and 1 in 19,813.

LRC The American Drought Is Over: Meb Keflezighi Wins The 2014 Boston Marathon
LRC American Strong: The Untold Story of American Teamwork and How Ryan Hall Helped Meb Keflezighi Win Boston

(5) 2018 Berlin Marathon, men’s race

By September 2018, Eliud Kipchoge was already widely acknowledged as the greatest marathoner of all time. But whether due to weather, faulty equipment, or other factors, the world record had eluded him. Kipchoge put that right by crushing the 2:02 barrier and taking 78 seconds off Dennis Kimetto’s world record with a 2:01:39 in Berlin.

LRC The Greatest Ever – 2:01:39 – Eliud Kipchoge Crushes World Record to Win 2018 Berlin Marathon


Bolt Region Final

(1) 2016 Olympics, men’s 400 meters

43.03 from lane 8. Need we say more?

LRC 43.03 From Lane 8! Wayde van Niekerk Takes Down Michael Johnson’s 17-Year-Old 400M World Record to Win Olympic Gold

(2) 2019 World Championships, women’s 400-meter hurdles

Dalilah Muhammad, the Olympic champion and world record holder, added world champion to her resume by outleaning 20-year-old Sydney McLaughlin at the 2019 Worlds in Doha. Muhammad’s 52.16 broke her own world record; McLaughlin’s 52.23 was the #3 time ever run.

LRC Fabulous Friday: For One Night, Qatar Gets Its World Championship Moment


3rd Round Results

Updated bracket and final third-round results below.


Third-round results

Rudisha Region

(1) 2012 Olympic men’s 800 80.7%
(4) 2016 Olympic men’s 1500 19.3%

(2) 2017 Worlds women’s steeplechase 72.9%
(11) 2015 Paris DL men’s steeplechase 27.1%

Kipchoge Region

(1) 2010 Chicago Marathon, men’s race 33.7%
(5) 2018 Berlin Marathon, men’s race 66.3%

(2) 2013 Great North Run, men’s race 48.3%
(3) 2014 Boston Marathon, men’s race 51.7%

Lagat Region

(1) 2010 Payton Jordan men’s 10,000 83.7%
(4) 2012 Olympic Trials women’s 5,000 16.3%

(2) 2016 Olympic Trials men’s 5,000 55.0%
(6) 2011 NCAA men’s 800 45.0%

Bolt Region

(1) 2016 Olympic men’s 400 87.9%
(5) 2016 Olympic women’s 400 12.1%

(2) 2019 Worlds women’s 400 hurdles 79.8%
(6) 2019 Zurich DL men’s 400 hurdles 20.2%

More: Round 1 Recap: Kenenisa Bekele’s 2019 Berlin Win Defeats Yuki Kawauchi’s 2018 Boston Win In Controversial Fashion, Plus Des Linden Takes Down Shalane Flanagan

Round 2 Recap: What Was The Race Of The Decade? Vote Now In The Sweet 16


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