When you operate a running website in the year 2020, you never quite know who you'll be talking about. With so many of the traditional anchor races cancelled (we miss you, NYC Marathon), the biggest story of the week could be a 17-year-old running a marathon you didn't even know existed on a bike path in Sacramento. Or a 29-year-old pro running an unannounced half on a different bike path in Oregon.
That was the case this week, with teenager Tierney Wolfgram clocking a US women's junior record of 2:31:49 in the marathon on Saturday before Jordan Hasay ran 74:27 on Monday on the same course in Oregon where Galen Rupp ran his 60:22 earlier this fall.
While Hasay is part of the US's marathon present -- the second-fastest American ever, she's tuning up for next month's Valencia Marathon -- Wolfgram offers a glimpse at the future. And a reminder of just how far the sport has come in this country.
As recently as 2016, Wolfgram's time would have made her one of the 10 fastest Americans on the year. Had she run the time then, she might have been hyped as the one to finally end the American drought in New York or Boston. By 2019, however, Wolfgram's time would barely have been fast enough to crack the top 20 among Americans, and both those droughts have ended. Life moves fast in the age of supershoes.
For a 17-year-old to run 2:31 is impressive no matter the year. A 2:20 marathoner running 74:27? Not so much. Few runners have experienced the highs and lows of Hasay over the past four years, from breakout marathon star in 2017 to broken in 2018 to 3rd at Boston in 2019 to Olympic Trials devastation in 2020. Her career has been almost wavelike, the crest of a World Marathon Major podium almost inevitably followed by the crash of a crippling injury.
Hasay, now working with coach Paula Radcliffe, is hoping to break that cycle, searching for consistency in a discipline where it is famously hard to come by. Her 74:27 was not a promising start -- but it was a start, an important step for someone who hadn't raced since the Trials in February.
Hasay Runs 74:27, a 17-Year-old Girl Runs 2:31, and Christian Coleman in the NY Times