American Distance GOAT: Kastor Region, Round of 64

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By LetsRun.com
April 8, 2020

This month, LetsRun.com is determining the greatest American distance runner of all time (overview here).

Below you’ll find the matchups for the round of 64 in the Kastor Region of the American Distance GOAT bracket. Voting will be open until the end of the day (midnight ET) on Thursday, April 9.

You can vote on matchups in the other regions by clicking the links below. Seeds are in ().

*AMERICAN DISTANCE GOAT OVERVIEW *BENOIT REGION *KASTOR REGION *LAGAT REGION *SHORTER REGION

Race descriptions by Jonathan Gault.

Matchup #1

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1) Deena Kastor

Notable PBs: 8:42.59 3,000, 14:51.62 5,000 (#7 US), 30:50.32 10,000 (#4 US), 67:34 half marathon (#3 US), 2:19:36 marathon (AR)
Global medals: 3 (2nd 2002 World XC, 2nd 2003 World XC, 3rd 2004 Olympic marathon)
Major marathon wins: 2 (2005 Chicago, 2006 London)
USA outdoor track titles:
5 (all in 10,000)
Global outdoor finals:
6 (11th 1999 World 10,000, 11th 2001 World 10,000, 12th 2003 World 10,000, 3rd 2004 Olympic marathon, 5th 2007 World 10,000, 9th 2013 World marathon)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: Two-time World XC silver medalist *2005 Chicago Marathon champ *2006 London Marathon champ *Former AR holder in 10,000 and half marathon

Kastor is best known for her marathon exploits, but she excelled across multiple distances and surfaces. On the roads: two major marathon victories, Olympic marathon bronze, and American records in the half (67:34, since broken) and full marathon (2:19:36; that record will turn 14 years old next month). In cross country: two individual silvers at World XC. On the track: an American record at 10,000 (and arguably one at 5,000 as well; when Kastor ran 14:51 in 2000, only doper Regina Jacobs had run faster among Americans) a 5th-place finish at Worlds, and five national titles.

She’s also the only American woman in the last 30 years who can genuinely say she was the best marathoner in the world — she won Chicago and London back to back in 2005/2006, with her 2:19:36 in London holding up as a world leader and earning her the World #1 ranking from Track & Field News.

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16) Jen Rhines

Notable PBs: 8:35.03 3,000, 14:54.29 5,000, 31:17.31 10,000, 2:29:32 marathon
Global medals: 0
USA outdoor track titles: 1 (10,000)
Global outdoor finals: 7 (22nd 2001 World 10,000, 34th 2004 Olympic marathon, 16th 2005 World 10,000, 6th 2007 World 5,000, 13th 2008 Olympic 5,000, 9th 2009 World 5,000, 9th 2011 World 10,000)
NCAA titles: 5
Bio: 5-time NCAA champ *3-time Olympian

A versatile talent, Rhines made eight US teams — including three Olympic teams at three different distances in the 2000s — with a best finish of 6th in the 5,000 at the 2007 Worlds. Rhines was also a dominant collegian at Villanova, collecting five NCAA titles, and her success continued well into her 30s and beyond: she made the US World XC team in 2015 at age 40.

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Matchup #2

2) Shalane Flanagan

Notable PBs: 8:33.25i 3,000 (#7 US), 14:44.80 5,000 (#4 US), 30:22.22 10,000 (#2 US), 67:51 half marathon (#5 US), 2:21:14 marathon (#3 US)
Global medals: 2 (2nd 2008 Olympic 10,000, 3rd 2011 World XC)
Major marathon wins: 1 (2017 New York)
USA outdoor track titles: 5 (3 in 10,000, 2 in 5,000)
USA indoor track titles: 1 (3,000)
Global outdoor finals: 9 (7th 2007 World 5,000, 2nd 2008 Olympic 10,000, 9th 2008 Olympic 5,000, 13th 2009 Worlds 10,000, 7th 2011 Worlds 10,000, 9th 2012 Olympic marathon, 8th 2013 World 10,000, 6th 2015 World 10,000, 6th 2016 Olympic marathon)
NCAA titles: 3
Bio: 2017 NYC Marathon champ *2011 World XC bronze *3 NCAA titles (including 2 in XC) *Former AR holder in 5,000 and 10,000

The remarkably durable Flanagan became a dominant runner in college at North Carolina with back-to-back NCAA cross country titles in 2002 and 2003 and spent the next decade and a half as one of America’s premier distance runners, retiring after finishing 3rd (top American) at the New York City Marathon at age 37 in 2018. In between, she made 10 straight World/Olympic teams, set American records in the 5k and 10k, and collected Olympic silver in ’08 (the US’s first distance medal on the track for 16 years), World XC bronze in 2011, and an NYC Marathon title in 2017.

LRC Shalane Flanagan Wins 2017 New York City Marathon – 1st American Winner in 40 Years

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15) Brenda Martinez

Notable PBs: 1:57.91 800, 4:00.94 1500
Global medals: 1 (2nd 2013 World 800)
USA outdoor track titles: 0
USA indoor track titles: 1 (1500)
Global outdoor finals: 1 (2nd 2013 World 800)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: Made 4 US outdoor teams

A versatile talent, Martinez was at her best in 2013-14, during which time she won two Diamond Leagues, a World Championship silver, and ran PBs of 1:57 and 4:00. Martinez only won one US title — she faced stiff competition in Ajee’ Wilson and Alysia Montaño but was among the best 800 runners in the world during the mid-2010s.

LRC Alysia Montaño Goes For It But Comes Up Agonizingly Short as Brenda Martinez Snags Bronze; Eunice Sum Stuns Mariya Savinova For Gold

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Matchup #3

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3) Lynn Jennings

Notable PBs: 8:40.45i 3,000, 15:07.92 5,000, 31:19.89 10,000
Global medals: 8 (2nd 1986 World XC, 1st 1990 World XC, 1st 1991 World XC, 1st 1992 World XC, 3rd 1992 Olympic 10,000, 3rd 1993 World Indoor 3,000, 3rd 1993 World XC, 2nd 1995 World Indoor 3k)
USA outdoor track titles: 10 (7 in 10,000, 2 in 3,000, 1 in 5,000)
USA indoor track titles: 5 (3 in 3,000, 1 in 2-mile, 1 in mile)
Global outdoor finals: 7 (6th 1987 World 10,000, 6th 1988 Olympic 10,000, 5th 1991 World 10,000, 3rd 1992 Olympic 10,000, 5th 1993 World 10,000, 12th 1995 World 10,000, 9th 1996 Olympic 5,000)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: 3-time World XC champ *World XC silver (1986) & bronze (1993) *World Indoor silver (1995) & bronze (1993) *Former AR holder in 10,000

Though her era was not as competitive as Kastor’s and Flanagan’s (the East Africans had yet to fully emerge), Jennings was one of the world’s best distance runners for the first half of the 1990s, earning eight global medals between World XC, World Indoors, and the Olympics. She is the only American woman in the last 45 years to win World XC, a feat she achieved three years in a row, capped with a win in snowy Franklin Park in her home state of Massachusetts in 1992.

14) Karissa Schweizer

Notable PBs: 8:25.70i 3,000 (AR), 14:45.18 5,000 (#5 US)
Global medals: 0
USA track titles: 0
Global outdoor finals: 1 (9th 2019 World 5,000)
NCAA titles: 6
Bio: 6-time NCAA champ (including 2016 XC) *AR holder in 3,000

Still only 23, Schweizer will likely climb this list before her career is over, but for now she’s done just enough to make the bracket. Her top achievements include a stunning American record indoors over 3,000 meters (faster than the outdoor record), the fifth-fastest 5,000 ever by an American woman, and six NCAA titles at Missouri.

LRC Karissa Schweizer Outkicks Shelby Houlihan to Crush American 3000m Record in Boston

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Matchup #4

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4) Shelby Houlihan

Notable PBs: 3:54.99 1500 (AR), 8:26.66i 3,000 (#3 US), 14:34.45 5,000 (AR)
Global Medals: 0
USA outdoor track titles: 5 (3 in 5,000, 2 in 1500)
USA indoor track titles: 7 (2 in 1500, 2 in 3,000, 2 in 2-mile, 1 in mile)
Global outdoor finals: 3 (11th 2016 Olympic 5,000, 13th 2017 World 5,000, 4th 2019 World 1500)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: *AR holder in 1500 and 5000 *2014 NCAA 1500 champ *4th (1500) and 5th (3,000) at 2018 World Indoors

With American records in the 1500 and 5,000, Houlihan’s times are incredible — no American woman is within a second of her at 1500 — but she has yet to capture a global medal. There are a few reasons for that. First, Houlihan is competing in the deepest era ever for women’s 1500m running — she ran 3:54 in last year’s World Championship final and still didn’t medal. Second, there was no Olympic or Worlds in 2018, Houlihan’s breakout year in which she won two Diamond Leagues. Third, she’s still just 27 years old (the second-youngest woman in this bracket) and should have several more years of medal contention.

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13) Jordan Hasay

Notable PBs: 8:46.89 3,000, 31:39.67 10,000, 67:55 half marathon (#6 US), 2:20:57 marathon (#2 US)
Global medals: 0
USA track titles: none
Global outdoor finals: 1 (12th 2013 World 10,000)
NCAA titles: 2
Bio: 2-time NCAA champ *2-time Foot Locker champ

One of just two freshmen to win Foot Lockers (she added a second title as a senior), by the age of 16, Hasay had already made the Olympic Trials final and finished 4th at the World U20 champs. She was always in the title mix in college at Oregon yet, aside from a glorious NCAA indoor double in 2011, often found herself on the wrong side of a kick.

After taking her lumps for her first few years as a pro, Hasay found her distance in 2017, smashing the US debut record in the marathon with a 2:23:00 in Boston. Marathon #2 was even better, a stunning 2:20:57 in Chicago that put her ahead of every American woman not named Kastor.

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Matchup #5

5) Molly Huddle

Notable PBs: 8:42.99 3,000, 14:42.64 5,000 (#3 US), 30:13.17 10,000 (AR), 67:25 half marathon (AR), 2:26:33 marathon
Global medals: 0
Major marathon wins:
0
USA outdoor track titles:
8 (5 in 10,000, 3 in 5,000)
Global outdoor finals: 7 (11th 2012 Olympic 5,000, 6th 2013 World 5,000, 4th 2015 World 10,000, 6th 2016 Olympic 10,000, 8th 2017 World 10,000, 12th 2017 World 5,000, 9th 2019 World 10,000)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: Former AR holder in 5,000 *29 US titles across all surfaces

No American woman has more impressive PRs from 5,000 through the half marathon — Huddle is #3 all-time in the 5,000 (14:42) and owns American records at 10,000 (30:13) and the half (67:25). An incredible road racer, Huddle has also won five straight US titles (and counting) in the 10,000 on the track. The one missing piece on her résumé is a global medal or major marathon win; her closest call came in 2015, when she cost herself World Champs bronze in Beijing by letting up just before the finish line.

12) Amy Cragg

Notable PBs: 15:09.59 5,000, 31:10.69 10,000 (#7 US), 68:27 half marathon (#8 US), 2:21:42 marathon (#5 US)
Global medals: 1 (3rd 2017 World marathon)
USA outdoor track titles: 1 (10,000)
Global outdoor finals: 5 (14th 2011 World 5,000, 11th 2012 Olympic 10,000, 14th 2013 World 10,000, 9th 2016 Olympic marathon, 3rd 2017 Worlds marathon)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: 2-time Olympic Trials champ (2012 10,000, 2016 marathon)

Cragg’s bronze at the 2017 Worlds — against a very tough field — was the first World Champs medal by an American woman in the marathon since 1991. That fell in the middle of an impressive stretch that included a win at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, a top-10 finish at the Olympic marathon, and a 2:21:42 personal best in Tokyo.

LRC Amy Cragg Ends America’s 34-Year Medal Drought In The Women’s Marathon At Worlds By Snagging A Surprising Bronze in London

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Matchup #6

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6) Kim Gallagher

Notable PBs: 1:56.91 800 (#4 US), 4:03.29 1500
Global Medals: 2 (2nd 1984 Olympic 800, 3rd 1988 Olympic 800)
USA outdoor track titles: 2 (1 in 800, 1 in 1500)
Global outdoor finals: 2 (2nd 1984 Olympic 800, 3rd 1988 Olympic 800)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: Held US high school 800m record (2:00.07) for 31 years

Gallagher is the only American woman to win two distance medals at the Olympics, claiming silver in 1984 and bronze in 1988, both in the 800. Her PR of 1:56.91, set in the 1988 Olympic final, was only one-hundredth off of Mary Decker Slaney’s American record at the time. Gallagher died at age 38 in 2002 after battling stomach cancer.

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11) Ann Trason

Notable PBs: 5:40:18 50 miles, 7:00:47 100K, 13:47:42 100 miles
Global medals: 0
USA track titles: none
Global outdoor finals: none
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: 20 ultramarathon world records *14-time Western States champ *2-time Comrades champ

Trason isn’t just the greatest American female ultrarunner of all time, she’s the greatest female ultrarunner of all time, period. She’s a 14-time champ at the Western States 100, and twice achieved the Western States-Comrades sweep (1996, 1997). Her 1994 course record of 18:06:24 at the Leadville 100 also still stands 26 years later.

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Matchup #7

(photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

7) Shannon Rowbury

Notable PBs: 3:56.29 1500 (#2 US), 4:20.34 mile (#4 US), 8:29.93 3,000 (#6 US), 14:38.92 (#2 US)
Global medals: 2 (3rd 2009 Worlds 1500, 3rd 2016 World Indoor 3,000)
USA outdoor track titles: 2 (both in 1500)
USA indoor track titles: 4 (2 in 3,000, 1 in 2-mile, 1 in mile)
Global outdoor finals: 7 (7th 2008 Olympic 1500, 3rd 2009 World 1500, 4th 2012 Olympic 1500, 7th 2013 World 5,000, 7th 2015 World 1500, 4th 2016 Olympic 1500, 9th 2017 World 5,000)
NCAA titles: 1
Bio: 2016 World Indoor bronze *2007 NCAA mile champ *Former AR holder in 1500 & 5,000

Rowbury set American records in the 1500 and 5,000 and remains the second-fastest American ever over both distances. She owns two global medals (2009 World 1500 bronze, 2016 World Indoor 3,000 bronze) and was 4th at the Olympics in both 2012 (one of the women who beat her, Russia’s Tatyana Tomashova, served a two-year ban for manipulating drug test samples) and 2016. One knock: Jenny Simpson dominated Rowbury head-to-head, with a 29-15 career record against her rival.

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10) Joetta Clark Diggs

Notable PBs: 1:57.84 800
Global medals: 2 (3rd 1993 World Indoor 800, 3rd 1997 World Indoor 800)
USA outdoor track titles:
5 (all in 800)
USA indoor track titles: 7 (all in 800)
Global outdoor finals: 2 (7th 1992 Olympic 800, 7th 1997 World 800)
NCAA titles: 4
Bio: 2-time World Indoor bronze (’93, ’97) *4-time Olympian *4-time NCAA champ

Though Clark Diggs didn’t make her Olympic debut until age 26 in 1988, she put together one of the longest careers of any American distance runner, making four Olympic teams in all, her final one coming at age 38 in 2000. That longevity created some incredible stats, such as this one: Clark Diggs broke 2:00 in the 800 13 years apart, in 1987 and 2000 (and plenty of years between). Clark Diggs never finished better than 7th in a global final outdoors, but she did manage two bronzes indoors, to go with a staggering 12 US titles in the 800.

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Matchup #8

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8) Jearl Miles Clark

Notable PBs: 1:56.40 800 (#2 US)
Global medals: 0
USA outdoor track titles: 4 (all in 800)
USA indoor track titles: 1 (800)
Global outdoor finals: 2 (4th 1999 World 800, 6th 2004 Olympic 800)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: Former AR holder in 800

Miles Clark’s greatest accomplishments came over 400 meters — she was world champion in 1993 and earned bronze in ’95 and ’97 — but she did enough over 800 to earn her spot on this list. Her two-lap accomplishments include two top-6 finishes in global finals and an American record of 1:56.40 that stood for almost 19 years.

9) Jan Merrill

Notable PBs: 4:02.61 1500, 8:42.6 3,000, 15:30.6
Global medals: 1 (2nd 1981 World XC)
USA outdoor track titles:
6 (4 in 3,000, 2 in 1500)
USA indoor track titles: 5 (3 in mile, 2 in 2-mile)
Global outdoor finals: 1 (8th 1976 Olympic 1500)
NCAA titles: 0
Bio: Former AR holder in 1500, 3,000, and 5,000 *1981 World XC silver *Former WR holder in 5,000

Though Merrill set an American record of 4:02 in the 1500 in the 1976 Olympic semifinals (she placed 8th in the final), her best work came in the longer distances. She was the first woman to break 15:40 for 5,000 meters, lowering that world record twice more with a best of 15:30.6 in 1980. She was also a talented cross country runner, with four top-7 finishes at World XC, highlighted by a silver-medal performance in 1981.

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You can vote on matchups in the other regions by clicking the links below.

*AMERICAN DISTANCE GOAT OVERVIEW *BENOIT REGION *KASTOR REGION *LAGAT REGION *SHORTER REGION


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