WTW: Ultramarathon Madness, Nico Young Comes Out, & More Changes at the Bowerman Track Club

The Week That Was in Running, August 22-28, 2022

By Robert Johnson & Jonathan Gault 
August 29, 2022

Each week, we try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.  

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Last weekend was a busy one in the ultramarathon world featuring UTMB, Comrades, and the World 100k champs. We break all of the drama down below while also checking in on one of the world’s top half marathoners, praising Nico Young for being himself, and wondering whether there will be reinforcements for the Bowerman Babes anytime soon.

If you missed our extensive coverage of the fantastic Lausanne Diamond League where Alicia Monson almost won the 3k, Ryan Crouser lost the shot put and Noah Lyles continued his winning ways, catch up here as we don’t talk about that here. We also don’t talk about how an American will be the #1 seed at a major marathon this year (Berlin) – when’s the last time that happened? World Athletics also announced the schedule for the 2023 Worlds, and we analyzed the biggest potential doubles and asked WA to change the schedule for Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

In terms of what to look forward to this weekend, the big event is the final regular season Diamond League meet of the year on Friday in Brussels (2-4 pm ET).

Crazy Ultramarathon Weekend

If you are an ultramarathon fan, chances are you enjoyed last weekend as three of the biggest ultra races in the world were held around the globe: UTMB in France, the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, and the World 100K champs in Germany. Below, a few highlights from a busy weekend of racing.

At UTMB, a 171.5-kilometer race (106.5 miles) around Mont Blanc featuring more than 32,000 feet of elevation gain, Spain’s Kilian Jornet won the race for the fourth time in a record 19:49:30, tying Frenchman Francois D’Haene for the most men’s victories in race history and smashing Pau Capell’s 2019 course record of 20:19:09 (it’s also faster than D’Haene’s 20:11:44 time from 2014 on a slightly shorter course). The win came 14 years after Jornet’s first UTMB victory at the age of 20. That’s particularly impressive because in the world of mountain running, there is no more prestigious race than UTMB. We named it one of the three “Triple Crown” races (along with Western States and Comrades) during our ultramarathon exploration back in 2019. Runner-up Mathieu Blanchard also broke the previous CR by running 19:54:50.

Embed from Getty Images

Interestingly, though, this was Jornet’s first UTMB win since 2011. He won his first three in quick succession (2008, 2009, 2011) but then skipped the next five editions to focus on other projects. He then returned to UTMB in 2017 and finished 2nd to D’Haene. He DNF’d in 2018 before returning to the top of the podium in 2022.

D’Haene didn’t run UTMB this year, but he did race Jornet at the Hardrock 100, with Jornet prevailing (his 5th victory there). It would be great to see the two mountain running legends square off again next year at UTMB.

From a US perspective, there were two big stories. US legend Jim Walmsley was in the men’s race hoping to become the first American man to win the race. He wants a UTMB win so badly he moved from Flagstaff to Europe so he can better train for it. And Walmsley led early. Between 97k and 125k, he stretched his lead on Jornet from 2.5 minutes to 14 minutes. However, Walmsley had developed stomach problems and had trouble refueling, barely eating anything despite spending 8 minutes in the aid station. He then came into the next aid station (142k) 19 minutes behind Jornet. Walmsley ended up fourth in 21:12:12.

The second big American story was that Katie Schide won the women’s race in 23:15:12 – giving the US a third-straight victory after Courtney Dauwalter in 2019 and 2021. Shide won by more than 76 minutes as Canada’s Marianne Hogan was second in 24:31:22 but the race was pretty interesting.

Schide built a 25+ minute lead by 66k only to give it all back and fall 10 minutes behind Hogan at 125k as Schide battled stomach issues. In the end that only proved a rough patch, as once Schide figured out a way to refuel she cruised to victory.

*iRunFar UTMB recap/results

2022 Comrades

The Comrades Marathon (89.9k) was held in South Africa for the first time in three years after the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled by COVID. It was a “down” year (meaning the course dropped by a net 590m from start to finish) and South Africa’s Tete Dijana won the men’s race in 5:30:38 (5:55/mile) with Russia’s Alexandra Morozova taking the women’s title in 6:17:48 (6:45/mile). Dijana and the chase pack trailed leader Onalenna Khonkhobe by more than 17 minutes at halfway (Khonkhobe was well under course record pace at the time, running 5:14/mile pace – or 2:17:17 marathon pace through 44.95k) but Khonkobe would fade badly over the second half and ultimately DNF as Dijana pulled away to win by over three minutes.

In the women’s race, Alexandra Morozova earned a long-awaited title after three top-3 finishes at Comrades…though she may have to wait a little longer to see if she can take home 260,000 rand ($15,600) in prize money.

Morozova entered Comrades this year – traditionally a big race for Russian women, who won it every year from 2003 to 2013 – but was informed just three days before the race by race organizers that she could not run due to a World Athletics directive banning Russian elite athletes from races in which they were expected to win prize money. But Morozova went to the Pietermaritzburg High Court in South Africa arguing she had the right to compete, and the court sided in her favor (though it punted the decision on whether she could win prize money to November).

Morozova took advantage of the opportunity, taking the win by over eight minutes after a string of near-misses. The in the post-race media conference she apologised, in tears, for “all the inconvenience” she had caused according to Riel Hauman of RRW.

*2022 Comrades results
*South Africa’s Tete Dijana Storms to Victory in the 2022 Edition of Comrades Marathon
*Russia’s Alexandra Morozova Wins Comrades Marathon Despite Controversy

France goes 1-2 at 100k World Champs but US takes women’s team title, Japanese men dominate men’s race 

Floriane Hot (7:04:03, 6:49/mile pace) and Camille Chaigneau (7:06:32) went 1-2 for France in the women’s race at the 100k world champs in Berlin, but the US squad of Courtney Olsen (4th, 7:15:29), Anna Kacius (7th, 7:24:41), and Nicole Monette (7:34:36) took the team title as it is awarded based on total time of a country’s top three finishers and France’s #3 was all the way back in 32nd place. Also props to Italy’s Federica Moroni for finishing 9th just 10 days shy of her 50th birthday.

In the men’s race, Japan went 1-2 and won the team race comfortably with Haruki Okayama winning the title in 6:12:10 (5:59/mile pace). Eric Lipuma was the top American in 29th (6:53:33).

UTMB, World 100k and Comrades By The Numbers

2022 Pace Comparison of UTMB vs World 100k vs Comrades
  Men’s Pace Women’s Pace Difference
UTMB 106.6 mi (171.5 km) 11:09.7 13:05.5 17.29% slower
World 100k – 62.2 miles 05:59.4 06:49.5 13.67% slower
Comrades – 55.9 mi (89.885 km) 05:55.2 06:45.9 14.3% slower

Y2 Goes For It At The Antrim Half Marathon

62:15 – pace that Yalemzerf Yehualaw was running at 5k on Sunday at the Antrim Half Marathon (14:44 for 5k).

62:52 – world record in women’s half marathon (Letesenbet Gidey 62:52, Valencia, October 2021)

63:03 – pace that Yalemzerf Yehualaw was on at 10k on Sunday at the Antrim Half Marathon (29:53 for 10k, WR pace is 29:47.9 pace)

64:22 – finishing time for Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who ran 29:53 for her first 10k and 31:13 for her 2nd 10k. Her 5k splits were 14:44, 15:09, 15:35, and 15:38. (14:44 – 29:53 – 45:28 – 1:01:06).

A year after seeing her WR invalidated in Antrim as the course was 54 meters short, 23-year-old Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia returned to Antrim on Sunday and got the win in a UK all-comers record of 64:22. Her 5k split of 14:44 was 9 seconds ahead of her official 14:53.77 5000 pb. Yehualaw, who debuted in the marathon at 2:17:23 earlier this year in Hamburg, felt she could have run faster if the pacing had been better but now will turn her attention to the London Marathon.

“It’s a pity I didn’t have a pacemaker for longer in the race,” said Yehualaw afterwards.

Had Yehualaw kept up her torrid early pace, she would have run faster than some big-name British male pros as Marc Scott, who recently ran 13:19 for 4th at Commonwealths, ran 1:02:58 for 5th while 2:08 marathoner Callum Hawkins ran 64:04 for 7th.

In the men’s race, Yehualaw’s compatriot Jemal Yimer, who sports a 58:33 pb, set a British all-comers record of 59:04. He did it with a negative split as his 5k splits were 14:11 – 28:17 – 42:14 – 56:06.

More:  Ethiopians Jemal Yimer (59:04) And Yalemzerf Yehualaw (64:22) Run UK All Comers’ Records At The Antrim Coast Half-Marathon

One of the Greatest Marathons in the World Will Return in 2023

One year after the Olympics, there was elite marathon action in Sapporo, Japan, again on Sunday as Kenya’s Luka Musembi (2:10:49) and Japan’s Haruka Yamaguchi (2:29:52) won the men’s and women’s titles at the Hokkaido Marathon.

But the big news we learned from reading Brett Larner’s race recap for Japan Running News is that the Marathon Grand Championship – the Japanese Olympic marathon trials – will be back again for the 2024 Olympics (the trials race will be held in September 2023). That is great for the sport.

A refresher: ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the Japanese federation (JAAF) decided to hold an Olympic marathon trials for the first time. They introduced a complicated, daunting qualification system (the auto standards just to qualify for the trials were 2:08:30/2:24:00, though you could qualify in other ways) which led to stacked fields. The men’s race had 21 sub-2:10 guys, which at the time was more sub-2:10 guys than the United States had ever produced. The women’s field had 10 athletes under 2:25. They called it the Marathon Grand Championship.

And while the women’s race at MGC was a blowout (Honami Maeda won by almost four minutes), the men’s race was full of drama as Yuta Shitara built a two-minute lead at halfway only to implode spectacularly and finish 14th. The top four were separated by just 30 seconds, and the team was still in doubt in the final stages as Yuma Hattori passed Suguru Osako for second in the final 400 meters (only the top two were guaranteed spots at the Olympics, though Osako ultimately made it too).

We say it all the time: the sport needs more races that matter. The first MGC mattered a ton and was a great success. Good job by JAAF to bring it back for Paris 2024. And it must have been announced in Japan some time ago as 33 men and 19 women have already qualified for the race.

LRC from 2019 Shogo Nakamura Wins WILD and THRILLING Japanese Olympic Marathon Trials as Honami Maeda Crushes Women’s Field

Props to Nico Young

We at LetsRun.com hope that we will soon live in a world where it is not a story when a prominent athlete comes out as gay. But if you read the Instagram post on Sunday where star NAU men’s distance runner Nico Young (13:11 5k pb) announced he is gay, it is clear that Young still worried whether he would be accepted should he choose to come out.

“It is something I have always known and been aware of, but have kept silent out of fear of rejection,” Young wrote. “I have struggled to accept myself, but I am becoming more proud and happy with who I am. I have realized that the only reason I never liked this part of who I am was because of what society has told me, not because of how I actually feel.”

Moving forward, Young says he “wants to be a representative and advocate for others like me.” As the presumptive favorite for the NCAA XC title this fall – and as the owner of an Instagram account with over 46,000 followers – he’ll certainly have the platform to do that. 


The Bowerman Babes are down to four, Cooper Teare joins the men’s team

Fifteen months ago ago, the Bowerman Track Club was undoubtedly the country’s leading women’s distance group. The squad rolled nearly a dozen deep with more Olympic/World Championship appearances than you could count.

Since then, the group has dwindled to just four female athletes, with Vanessa Fraser becoming the latest to leave the team last week – though she will remain coached by BTC assistant Shalane Flanagan remotely while training in San Francisco.

That brings the total number of women who have left BTC since Shelby Houlihan was banned for nandrolone in June 2021 to eight: Fraser, Marielle Hall, Sinclaire Johnson, Gwen Jorgensen, Emily Infeld, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, Lucia Stafford, and Houlihan. Of those eight, Hall, Infeld, Johnson, and Jorgensen made clear their exits were training-related. Only two have said their reasons for leaving were directly related to the Houlihan case – Houlihan herself, and DeBues-Stafford. And the women who remain on the team include two reigning US champions in Karissa Schweizer and Elise Cranny and an Olympic silver medalist in Courtney Frerichs (Canadian Andrea Seccafien is the other). 

Currently, there are four women and 12 men on BTC, not including new men’s addition Cooper Teare. Will the women’s squad stay small, or will Jerry Schumacher & Co. look to expand once they’re established in Eugene? 

Recommended Reads

For recommended reads from other weeks, go here.

Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.


Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.


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