Monday, January 3, 2011

The Year in KIMbia: A Look Back at 2010

Chris Solinsky showed best among KIMbia athletes ranked by Track and Field News at the end of 2010, ending the year ranked 8th overall among all American men, and 3rd in the world for 10000m. While Solinsky’s American Record 26:59 at Stanford was the world’s second-fastest time of the year for 10000m, Wilson Kiprop got the top slot in the world rankings by virtue of his wins at the Kenyan National Championships and African Champs. Additionally, Kiprop won the World Championship in the Half Marathon this Fall: clearly a phenomenal athlete having a phenomenal season, and we are certainly very, very proud of Chris and this, his first Top-10 appearance in the T&FN World Rankings. Solinsky actually ranked 1st in the world in the event — and 5th in the 5000m — according to the IAAF’s point-system, which rates marks and head-to-head competition, with an eye toward repeated good performances. And, moreover, the Stevens Point-native ended 2010 ranked #76 in the world across all disciplines, according to the IAAF system. Not too shabby in a sport where over 6,000 male competitors earned points in professional competition.

Three sub-13:00 clockings, a #2 all-time American performance, and two top-5 finishes in Diamond League races would typically garner a #1 domestic ranking in the 5000m. However, Solinsky’s sterling season at 5000m came alongside Bernard Lagat’s 2010, in which Lagat took down the American Record at 5000m (and 3000m), and won the Continental Cup at both distances. Thus, Solinsky would rank #2 in America in the 5000m. Top-10-caliber seasons were also turned-in by his  OTC teammates Tim Nelson (6th-fastest American and runner-up at Nationals) and Matt Tegenkamp (8th-fastest American), as well as fellow KIMbian Brent Vaughn (9th-fastest), who finished 5th at US Nationals. Nelson also turned in the #3 10000m performance among Americans this season and Brent Vaughn checked in at #6,  thanks to his 28:05 debut at the distance. After becoming the fastest American ever — and winning his only race — in that event, Solinsky left no doubt in his ownership of the #1 spot in the 10000m US rankings.

In the Marathon, Jason Hartmann finished 2010 with the 4th-fastest time among all Americans after a 2:11:08 PB in Chicago that placed him 8th, the top American in the field.  In the Half-Marathon, Vaughn led our men with the #6 performance in all of North America, a 62:04 at the US Championships in Houston .  For the KIMbia women, Rebecca Donaghue continues to put herself in the conversation for being one of the Top-10 American women currently competing, notching the #10 10000m performance and the #9 3000m time, even as foot and Achilles issues curtailed her season.

Several KIMbia athletes had outstanding seasons that went unrecognized in the T&FN rankings, owing to the rankings’ focus on traditional track events and the Marathon. Lineth Chepkurui again laid waste to the US road racing scene winning the Crescent City Classic, Peachtree, Cherry Blossom, Beach to Beacon, Lilac Bloomsday, Bay to Breakers, and the Gloucester! 7-Mile… and finishing as runner-up in the Philadelphia Half and at Falmouth. In cross country, she was runner-up at Kenya’s National Championships and placed 5th at the IAAF World Championships. On the track, she won the 5000m and 10000m at the highly-competitive Armed Forces Championships before placing 4th at Kenyan Nationals in the 10000m. Having shown well in three tactical championship races (at altitude) while tearing up the roads, Chepkurui rounded out the Running Times Top 10 World list this year. One could argue that her season may be slightly undervalued thanks to her limited track racing, but, unquestionably, she had a terrific 2010, and could make a claim to a #1 ranking among road athletes competing below the marathon distance.

Lineth’s compatriot Allan Kiprono was among the KIMbia men who shined on the roads, winning the Gloucester! 7-Mile, placing 2nd at Beach to Beacon and the BAA Half, and finishing 10th at Falmouth: not bad for his first season of professional competition. Sean Quigley had something of a break-out season, placing in the top-20 at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and winning his first US title in New Haven for 20k. Fasil Bizuneh also took home his first US championship by winning the Crim 10-miler. Bizuneh tied Brent Vaughn for 11th in the final standings for the 2010 USA Running Circuit grand prix, two points behind James Carney who tied for 8th — although Vaughn and Carney did not receive credit for their terrific 4th-place and 7th-place finishes at Bolder Boulder (link: Live Chat), which is outside of the USATF circuit. Quigley finished 4th on that circuit — his first year competing on the roads — and based on his finish as the top American at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, he could stake a claim to an even higher placement in an overall road ranking.

Last, but certainly not least, Simon Bairu would very likely come out tops in any Canadian rankings after another outstanding campaign. A National Record in the 10000m (link: Live Chat) was complemented by a win at the Rock ‘N Roll Arizona Half Marathon, a fifth-place finish (and PB) at the Philadelphia Half Marathon, a title on the track (10000m) at the Canadian Outdoor Championships, and a 12th-place finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships — the deepest field of any distance race on the planet.

2010 was a terrific year for our family. Beyond the great performances described above, Brent Vaughn and Matt Tegenkamp welcomed new children into the world, Brent’s second (a daughter) and Matt’s first (a son). We happily welcomed Andrew Bumbalough into our fold after he completed a standout career at Georgetown. The opportunity to partner with the New York Road Runners and Runnerspace.com for another entry in our proud history of multimedia series — Rookies Vs the World — made 2010 memorable, as well. Now, with a World Championships in Daegu to look forward to in 2011, and many of our banged-up athletes healed or healing and eager to get back to training and competition, we are excited to meet a new year that we trust will be successful and prosperous. We hope that it will be the same for you and yours!

Thank you so much for your continued support of and interest in KIMbia Athletics and our individual athletes themselves!

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