In case you haven’t heard (buckle up if you haven’t because we wrote about it yesterday and we even had a podcast episode on it), 2017 will be Molly Huddle’s final season on the track. Huddle plans to transition to the roads full time after her first few races have yielded fantastic results and likely lucrative paydays.
In major sports, the “if the season ended today” game is played a lot. The season hasn’t even started but if it did end today, Molly Huddle would finish her career on the track with the 10,000m American record 30:13.17 from last summer in Rio and as the second-fastest 5,000m American runner. She was only the 10,000m and 5,000m American record holder at the same time for 29 days before Shannon Rowbury ran 14:38.92 at the Brussels Diamond League meet to close out the season.
For Rowbury, it could have been a little bit of a frustration release from missing the medal stand for a second consecutive Olympics. (Riois probably less frustrating than 2012’s filthiest Olympics 1,500m final in history.) Rowbury is now the American record holder at 1,500m and 5,000m.
It’s a clash of two American distance running icons with different sights set on the rest of their careers and we could hopefully get that match-up at a Diamond League meet in 2017. Monaco’s Diamond League events for the women in 2017 do not include a 1,500m or 5,000m race. It would probably be a great setting to host another 1,500m race that stars Genzebe Dibaba and also watch a very fast battle between Jenny Simpson, Laura Muir and Rowbury. Dibaba already has the world record. Muir already has the British record. Rowbury already has the American record. Simpson may be the only one in favor of a fast race there because she likely still wants that American record from Rowbury.
Also, the women’s 800m race is a Diamond League event so that could be a world record attempt for Caster Semenya. The longest distance in Monaco for a Diamond League event there is the 3,000m so maybe there won’t be a high-caliber 5,000m field. The other options could be Brussels again in September or Birmingham with 5,000m Diamond League races scheduled to take place there unless something really fast is set up at the Prefontaine Classic or at the London Diamond League. Scheduling and also keeping in mind Rowbury’s option to run the 1,500m is key for a battle.
(Hopefully, there’s no ducking of the Bolt-Gatlin kind here.)
Huddle and Rowbury have not faced each other in any race since the Monaco Diamond League meet in 2014, when Huddle ran her American record of 14:42.64. Huddle was sixth place in that race and Rowbury finished two places back in 14:48.68. Huddle has the head-to-head advantage with a 4–1 record over Rowbury at 5,000m and an overall record of 5–3 over Rowbury. The Nike Oregon Project star’s last win over Huddle was in a 3,000m race at the London Diamond League in 2013. The only time Rowbury has beaten Huddle at 5,000m was back when George W. Bush was president in 2006 at the Stanford Invite, when Rowbury ran 15:48.41 and Huddle ran 15:54.41
Huddle essentially ran a public workout at Boston University’s indoor track and ran 15:01.64 in February. She won the NYC Half for a third time in 68:19. Speed and strength is there for her as we write this before the season even begins.
Rowbury has a 8:41.94 personal best from indoors to work from and a third-place showing in 4:23.05 from the Millrose Mile.
If the season ended today and we had a race earlier in the day, our money is on Huddle to take back her crown and hit the roads with both the 10,000m and 5,000m titles.