On Social Sport, Emma Zimmerman shares the stories & thoughts of people who explore the connection between sport and activism in their lives.
- ABOUT US
Watch Olympians, world championship qualifiers and other pro and sub-elite athletes chase fast times at the Night of the 5K in New Jersey.
Hundreds of New York City runners gathered at the East River for a protest run against racial injustice and police brutality in America.
We’ve got time spent inside, at home, to just think and feel and be. It seems like a curse that I’m trying very hard to turn into a blessing.
Jenny Donnelly delivers a play-by-play account of one of the best days of her life at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Analyzing some data on the 34 men and 25 women US Olympic marathoners since the Trials system began in 1968.
David Melly reflects on his marathon debut where he went after the 2:19 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier.
Should the IAAF ban the shoes worn by Eliud Kipchoge in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge? What are the rules? What’s next for the GOAT?
A look behind Stephen Kersh’s seventh-place finish in his Western States Endurance Run debut.
Stephen Kersh will be lining up at Western States for his first 100-mile race. Why? He’s still figuring out the answer.
The sport needs more athletes like Nikki Hiltz and Therese Haiss.
We often get caught up in the times and the places and forget what really matters in this life. Gabe never forgot. I’ll never forget because of her.
“Why do I go to the track every day? Why do I not give up? It’s because I’m hopeful that the new technology in treating cancer and personalizing medicine will work. It’s no secret that my disease and I need a breakthrough. I’ve got to stay alive long enough to see them and maybe it works for me. Maybe one of these clinical trials will work for me. It’s a scary place to be but I don’t think I could live my life if I didn’t have hope someone could figure something out.“ Gabriele Anderson Grunewald to me in 2017
Gabe never lost hope. To me, she was the greatest display of courage, determination and human spirit when someone could be handed the worst of circumstances. I’m among the thousands of people that she’s positively impacted in her incredible 32 years of life. I met her for the first time in Lignano, Italy in the Summer of 2013. I remember sitting down in a hotel lobby for hours with her and Andy Bayer because there was no air conditioning in the rooms and that was the only spot with wifi. A bunch of the athletes gathered there. Gabe was so excited about her upcoming wedding to Justin Grunewald and just brightened the room while we all made the most of a less than ideal situation. There were so many mosquitos. That positivity was just how she was all the time. At the time, she had already battled cancer twice but I had no idea.
She was first diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma (a rare form of cancer in her salivary gland) as a 22-year-old while competing for the University of Minnesota in 2009. She underwent surgery to remove it but cancer returned in her thyroid in 2010. She underwent a thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment before making a full recovery and return to racing in 2011. Then she finished fourth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1,500 meters (just one spot shy of making the national team for the Summer Games and the most heartbreaking places to finish).
I was fortunate to be in Monaco with Flotrack when she ran 4:01.48 and was beaming with excitement but she was still looking forward to getting better and faster in her next race. Even in 2017, when cancer returned for the fourth time, we met up in New York and she shared her plan to keep running. No friend has ever been braver through it all.
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She’s crossed one more finish line and is now in heaven. We can all aspire to be #bravelikegabe. Let’s also celebrate every run, every personal best and every victory because she was never one to take life and running for granted.
Please consider making a donation to the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, where proceeds go toward rare cancer research centers including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Kyle Medina is one of the newer faces of Tinman Elite and this is his story.
A front-row look at the significance of Jim Walmsley breaking Barney Klecker’s American record for 50 miles, which stood for 39 years.
Meet the photographer responsible for many shots of the NN Running Team, Eliud Kipchoge and the world’s best runners.
Meet these inspiring women with their eyes on running 340-miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in a record-setting time.
It was President’s Day in San Diego and a few of America’s best distance runners gathered to run a fast 10K.
Julien Wanders and Siffan Hassan absolutely smashed the road 5K world records in Monaco.
Editor’s Note: Eric is one of Jim Walmsley’s training partners with the Coconino Cowboys. OK. Now that we disclosed that, here are his thoughts.
Jim Walmsley has recently been the recipient of more vitriol than any other runner. The hatred spewed in places like LetsRun and Twitter would leave you to believe, if you didn’t know any better, that Walmsley had taken everyone’s mother out for a nice seafood dinner and never called her again. I’ve never seen a runner’s success create such giant geysers of boiling bile. The nay-sayers might say he deserves it and, granted, they might have a point. After all, he comes off as more confident than might be warranted—maybe so confident that it seems cocky. And sure, he’s outspoken about his goals—perhaps to a degree that borders on arrogance. Maybe some people just don’t like the guy, and so that’s why they want to mitigate the extent of his successes or reduce his achievements. (One of my favorite hot-takes from his 64-minute run in Houston? “That just shows that the Olympic “B” Standard is SOFT.” Such a great take.) I’m not here to tell you that you should like Jim Walmsley. You don’t have to like him. But I’m here to suggest that you should respect how he’s accomplished an Olympic Trials qualifier. Because he accomplished the feat in a way that has never been done before.
UltraRunning, the preeminent magazine for the sport of ultrarunning, started an award in 1981 called Ultrarunner of the Year (UROY). A panel of judges will survey ultrarunner performances from the year and then vote to determine who was the best ultrarunner, male and female in North America. It’s a points-based system. Whoever has the most points that year will win the award.
Walmsley has now won the award three straight years (2016-2018). This is not unprecedented: he’s the third male to win three-straight times.
The International Trail-Running Association (ITRA) has a Performance Index that ranks runners, also on a point-based system, on the basis of their performances. For every trail race you run, an algorithm determines how many points your result was worth. Your best results determine your overall ranking in the ITRA Performance Index. It’s a worldwide ranking system.
Walmsley is currently ranked #1 in the world on the ITRA Performance Index. This is not unprecedented: other people, like Kilian Jornet, have owned the #1 world ranking at times.
Walmsley ran at the Air Force Academy and he graduated in 2012. He stopped racing on the track and road after college. Upon leaving college, and before he began racing ultramarathons in 2014, he owned personal bests of 13:52 in the 5K and 29:08 in the 10K. This is not unprecedented. Max King, the current 100K American record holder, has a 5K personal best of 13:56. There are countless other examples in the sport of ultrarunning: people have run very fast times at shorter distances on the track or road before stepping up to the ultramarathon distance. And there, too, are countless examples of people who have straddled both worlds, running very competitive times in both road marathons and trail ultramarathons in the same calendar year, or even the very same month.
For example, Max King had also run a 2:14 marathon years before he set the American 100K record. King ran in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and also won ultramarathons that same year. Magdalena Boulet, a 2008 Olympian with a marathon best of 2:26:22, eventually turned her talents to ultrarunning and won UROY in 2015—the same year she won the Western States 100. Again, there are countless examples over the last several decades, on both the men’s and women’s side, of runners moving on from fast marathons and road times to ultramarathons and trails or continuing their road marathon careers while also running competitive times on the trails. But the opposite is not true.
No one has successfully dominated the sport of ultrarunning and then—and this is the important part—run competitive times on the road. There is no example of that sequence of events in the sport of running, save for one.
Let me be clear about what is being said here. There are many examples of men and women who have raced very, very competitively, and at a very, very high level on the roads or track, at distances from the 3k to the marathon, and then gone on to run very, very competitively and at a very, very high level in ultramarathons and on the trails. The converse is not true.
No one—with one exception—has raced very, very competitively, and at a very, very high level in ultramarathons and on the trails, and then gone on to run very, very competitively and at a very, very high level on the roads. No one has fully dominated the sport of ultrarunning—to the tune of three consecutive UROY awards, a #1 ITRA ranking and a course record at the prestigious Western States 100—and then run 64 minutes flat for the half marathon. Except for Jim Walmsley. (For context, during the last Olympic cycle, there were only 41 men who qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials by running 64 minutes or faster for a half marathon. That’s only about 20 guys, on average, each year.)
This is not to say that Walmsley is on the cusp of making a U.S. Olympic team. He has simply qualified himself for the Olympic Trials. He did so by running the slowest possible half marathon qualifying time. If Vegas were placing odds, his would be abysmal.
There’s no reason to think that Walmsley’s speed or talent have never been seen in the sport of ultrarunning. There’s no reason to think he has the speed or talent to make an Olympic team. But there is very good reason to give him a great deal of respect, for he has accomplished an order of events that the running world had never before seen. Keep in mind that prior to Sunday in Houston, Walmsley hadn’t raced a road half marathon since high school. He hadn’t raced on the track since 2012. He’s still never raced a road marathon. Instead, he terrorized the sport of ultrarunning with complete dominance from the 50K to 100-mile distances. Only then, after he was one of the best ultrarunners in the world, if not the best, for years, did he race a shorter distance on the road and run a competitive time.
To paraphrase a recent tweet from one of my favorite Twitter trolls: You don’t have to cheer on Walmsley for his successes, but if you’re actively cheering against him, you might be a douchebag. To make the point slightly differently in my own words: you don’t have to be impressed by Walmsley’s 64-minute half marathon, but you should care about the way he did it, and you should respect him for it, because it was groundbreaking.
UPDATE: Since publishing the piece on Tuesday, our informed readers have noted at least one person – Ann Trason. The legend’s trajectory in the sport is similar to Walmsley’s. She won Western States 14 times in her career and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on three occasions. The author’s point remains that Jim’s trajectory is very rare, if not unique on the men’s side of the sport. The author welcomes further feedback on Twitter: @goodsenseruns or email us at [email protected].
David Elliott may be the best runner in America without support of any kind. Who is he and what does he want from the sport?
Eliud Kipchoge has been selected as the inaugural CITIUS MAG Male Athlete of the Year after his record-setting run at the Berlin Marathon.
Tim Cummings dedicates this piece to those who struggle dealing with emotions and their identity as a runner.
Ranking the top 100 individual men for the 2018 cross country season.
Some people enjoy positing how either an ultramarathoner would have fared in the conditions (like Boston) or how Eliud Kipchoge would tackle an ultramarathon
Capturing the elation of Eliud Kipchoge and his world record-setting run at the 2018 Berlin Marathon.
Jason Suarez captures some of the faces of the elite women before the start of the 2018 5th Avenue Mile in New York City.
The return of our hit series. We round up the best cross country headshots and portraits and roast them just a little.
CITIUS MAG contributor and photographer R.J. McNichols followed the Brooklyn Track Club at Hood to Coast, where the team finished 13th overall and third in their respective division.
Stephen Kersh presents: On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Runner’s Rights. These are the soon-to-be-agreed-upon tenets that I believe will ultimately lead to a more perfect union within our niche community.
We want to take you on a journey in a 20-minute guided run. Thoms Heynk and Nicole Bush take you on our new guided audio runs.
Running has its metaphorical baton passing like other sports. But not everyone is eager to pass the baton. Kilian Jornet is one of those people.
After living out of a van, Andrew Wise has settled in Colorado and is beginning to understand how lucky he is to take care of a national park.
An interned decided that Eric Senseman was worth following on Instagram and it led to a crazy chain of events for one of our favorite ultrarunners.
An animated look at when Courtney Frerichs, now the American record holder in the steeplechase, broke 60 seconds for the 400 meters – a major goal for her.
The runner who writes or the writer who runs will sometimes have to acknowledge a seemingly tragic paradox when it comes to documenting the sport.