2013 has seen lots of ups and downs in the running scene. Here are some of the biggest events that made an impact in the running world.
Biggest Running Stories of 2013
Boston Marathon Bombing
The biggest running story of 2013 was also the most tragic. Two bombs were set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, killing three bystanders and injuring hundreds. But what this senseless act of violence served to achieve was to rouse the running community to action.
The Boston Bombings may have changed the face of marathons forever, but the countless acts of kindness to help the injured, and the massive outpouring of support that followed served to strengthen the already tightly knit running community together.
Mary Cain’s Rising Star
The youngest American athlete to represent the United States at a World Championship meet, Cain broke 6 junior records last summer. The high school senior announced in November that she would turn pro at graduation, forgoing college altogether.
New York City Marathon Returns
The New York marathon, cancelled in 2012 amid controversy after Hurricane Sandy, was back and bigger than ever in 2013. The 5-borough race was the biggest in its history so far, with over 50,000 finishers and many well-wishers.
Race Security Tightened
The Boston marathon tragedy brought increased security to urban races of all sizes and lengths across the country. Manchester, Connecticut widely published its security updates before holding its 77th annual Thanksgiving Day race.
Social media had a big impact on running in 2013. Young urban dwellers have bonded over the Internet, creating running clubs and homegrown events in cities across the country. With increasing numbers of young people being aware of the health benefits of running, this movement is on the up and up.
The Color Run
The Color Run is off and running. Begun in 2012, the paint-spattered race has circled the globe. The Color Run is the largest 5km race in the U.S., and an early example of theme races that are growing increasingly in popularity.
No longer confined to film and computer screens, zombies have taken over their own niche in running races. Often combined with obstacle courses, game rules and mud, zombie-themed runs have popped up everywhere. There are even smartphone apps that offer you a cardio workout under the pretext of running away from zombies.
Oscar Pistorius Arrested
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius represented South Africa at the Olympics in 2012. On Valentine’s Day, he was arrested on charges of shooting and killing his girlfriend. Pistorius has been accused of murder, and his trial is scheduled to begin in March 2014.
In October, 6-year-old Keelan Glass became the youngest runner ever to finish a half marathon. She ran the race in her native Texas, spurred on by her triathlete parents. The accomplishment stirred an ongoing debate about the safety of endurance events for young children.
Kindergarten Runners, Part Two
New Jersey resident Anthony Russo broke Keelan Glass’s record a month later. The 5-year-old kindergartener became the youngest person to complete a half marathon. More and more children are competing in longer races.
Ed Whitlock holds many distance-running records in his age category. The 82-year-old broke his own world record for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Ultrarunner Zach Bitter was on a roll. He ran the fastest American 80.4km race in decades at the Chicago Lakefront 50. He also set an American record for 160.9km (100 miles) on the track. He won the Desert Solstice 24 Hour race and set a new world record for the furthest distance ever run in 12 hours.
The New Zealand woman ran an astounding 500km in 86 hours, without sleep, to break the previous record of 486km. She developed blisters and suffered from the heat and from sleep deprivation.
Death Valley Moratorium
The Badwater 217km race, considered by many to be the toughest endurance race in the world, needed a raincheck in 2013. The midsummer race route started below sea level and climbed over 2,400m in elevation to the base of Mount Whitney. Death Valley National Park has declared a moratorium on all sports events in the park while it scrutinises safety issues.
Jamie McDonald is not done running yet, but he’s passed Calgary. When he reaches Vancouver, he will have crossed Canada. McDonald, who had syringomyelia as a child, is raising funds for children’s hospitals. The ultrarunner had never run a marathon before taking on this running project that will span over 8000km in March.
It was a very fast year for marathon runners. Wilson Kipsang set the new marathon record in Berlin, taking 15 seconds off the world record of his fellow Kenyan, Patrick Makau.
Peachtree Road Race
Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race holds the title of the largest 10km race in the world, a distinction it has held since the late 1970s. Despite heavy rains, an astounding 60,000 runners showed up as part of their 4th of July festivities.
Just a little longer and a little bigger, Sydney, Australia’s 14km race had 85000 registered participants. The road racing event raised over AU $4 million for charities in 2013.
Boogie the Dog
Amid reports of coyotes, bears and eagles crossing paths with road races is the touching story that Boogie the Dog completed a half-marathon in Indiana. He was awarded a finisher’s medal and returned to his owner. Unfortunately, Boogie died a few days later of a heart attack.
Failed Drug Tests
In July, 2 of the world’s top male sprinters, Jamaican Asafa Powell and American Tyson Gay, failed their drug tests. Gay subsequently declined to compete in the world championships. The sprinters were not alone; a number of world-class runners failed drug tests in 2013.
The ultrarunner had quite a year. She set an 80.4km course record in January, and in December she set another one at Lookout Mountain. Dannis came in first, either overall or in the women’s category, in a total of six races.
Canadian Rob Krar came out of relative obscurity to set a new course record with his first 80.4KM run. He went on to win the 100K Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) and set a new record for running the Grand Canyon.
Pam Smith turned heads, winning the Western States 100 and came in among the top 10. Smith also set a new world record for fastest 160.9km on the track.
The Guinness world record for knitting the longest scarf during a marathon was broken by David Babcock. He displaced Susie Hewer, who set the original record in 2008. Babcock knit a 12-foot scarf at the Kansas City marathon in October.
Bomb Suit Run Record
In September, the U.S. Army announced a new world record for the 1.6km run in a fully functioning bomb suit weighing 34kg. First Lieutenant Ashley Sorensen took 2 minutes off the previous record, also held by a woman.
FKT Trails Explosion
2013 saw a new fascination with fastest known times (FKTs) on American trails. This summer, records fell on the Appalachian Trail, the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail. Scott Jaime set the record on the Colorado Trial, and, as mentioned, Rob Krar now holds the FKT record for the Grand Canyon.
Fat Ass Runs
Informally planned runs with “no awards, no fees, no whining” have been arranged among ultra-runners for decades. “Fat Ass” runs, as they have come to be known, became a trend in 2013. Whether retracing the training runs of Rocky Balboa or heading into treacherous wilderness, the 50km or 50-mile races are spontaneously organized and indeed one of a kind.
Running Brings Us Closer
At its core, all you need for running is just yourself and a good pair of shoes. Some people might even argue for you to leave the shoes!
But this simple act of running brings people all over the world closer, and we’ve seen incredible acts of compassion in the face of tragedy, sportsmanship and feats of strength being shown over and over in 2013.
We’re interested in hearing your personal running highlights of 2013. What running story stood out for you?