Since 2001, the triumvirate of better training environments, coaching and funding has produced more top U.S. distance runners, and as a result, when fellow Americans are doing well, breaking records and winning medals and major races, similar competitive runners logically think: "Why not me?" and work towards that higher standard. In short, success has led to more success for U.S. runners, and this success continued its upward trend in 2010.
In selecting the "best moments", the criteria goes beyond just running fast or setting records, but also the context of the moment is considered.
#10 Palmiero-Winters Wins Run to the Future 24-HourBelow-the-knee amputee Amy Palmiero-Winters, 37, finished first, ahead of all the men and women, at the Run to the Future 24-Hour race in Glendale, Ariz. on December 31 and January 1. The Hicksville, N.Y. resident covered 130.4 miles to win by 14 miles as well as earning a spot on the World 24-Hour team. The 2009 Sullivan Award winner, who has a custom-made prosthetic lower limb, was a high school track and swimming star whose left leg was crushed in a 1994 motorcycle accident. After amputation and a decade of rehabilitation, she became a triathlete, marathoner and ultramarathoner.
#9 Team USA Women Earn World XC Bronze MedalAt the World Cross Country Championships hosted by Poland in late March, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, who finished 12th in 25:20 over the 8K course, led Team USA to the bronze medal (76 points), the first U.S. medal since 2005 at these global turf championships, and it was also the only medal won by a non-African country. Scoring teammates were Molly Huddle (19th), 25:59; Magdalena Lewy Boulet (20th), 26:01 and Amy Hastings (25th), 26:20.
#8 Hall, Keflezighi, Lehmkuhle - 4th, 5th, 9th at BostonAt the 114th Boston Marathon in April, three Americans Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Jason Lehmkuhle finished fourth, fifth, and ninth in 2:08:41, 2:09:26 and 2:12:24 respectively. Hall's time was the fastest by an American at Boston, and it was the first time since 1983 - the last time a U.S. male has won the storied race - that two Americans broke 2:10 at Boston. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya crushed the course record with his jaw dropping 2:05:52.
#7 Lagat Wins 3000m World Indoor Title
At the World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar last March, two-time Olympic 1500m medalist Bernard Lagat won his second 3000m world indoor title (also 2004) in 7:37.97 with a controlled race and strong finishing sprint. Galen Rupp finished fifth in a PR 7:42.40.
#6 Flanagan Successful Debut at ING New York City MarathonTwo-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan, 29, made her highly-anticipated marathon debut a successful one, placing second in 2:28:40, just 20 seconds behind winner Edna Kiplagat at New York City on November 7. Flanagan, 10,000m bronze medalist at Beijing 2008, ran a smart, in contention race. Flanagan's runner-up position was the highest place by a U.S. woman at New York since 1990 when Kim Jones also was runner-up.
#5 Jurek Silver Medal, U.S. Record at 24-Hour World Championships - Team BronzeAfter a few fallow years, ultra superstar Scott Jurek regained his old form with a silver medal and U.S. record performance at the 24-Hour World Championships in Brive, France last May. Jurek, 36, covered 165.70 miles to break the 11-year-old U.S. road record of Mark Godale (162.46 miles) and the 7-time Western States 100 Mile champion also went beyond the 20-year-old U.S. track mark of Rae Clark as well (165.24 miles). The Minnesota native led the men's Team USA to a bronze medal too.