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It’s new year, and from a worldview outlook, it’s bound to be better than the previous two, right? (Fingers crossed!) As we run into 2022, we know that lacing up a pair of running shoes and being relentless about daily fitness and chasing big goals are what will make the year great. With that in mind, here are 10 things to inspire you about running in the new year.
1. New Year, New Goals
From a running and fitness point of view, there’s never been a better time than right now to start a new running and fitness program and sign up for a race this spring or summer. While COVID-19 remains a concern, most running races, obstacle course races, and triathlons have developed safety protocols to reduce the risk. Do you want to finish your first half marathon? Qualify for Boston? Set a new 10K PR? Complete an Ironman? Give trail running a try? Start now, immerse in a healthy approach to training, have fun, and go for it.
2. USA Cross Country Championships
If you didn’t run cross-country in high school, then you might not understand the thrill and the challenge of what it’s all about. Basically, it’s an all-out race on a grassy, often hilly, and sometimes muddy course that ranges from 5K to 10K. It attracts middle-distance runners to marathoners testing their mettle out of their typical racing disciplines on the track and roads. The 2022 USATF Cross Country Championships will be held on January 8 at Mission Bay Park in San Diego. The event will include women’s races for masters (6K), juniors (6K), and open/pros (10K), as well as a community run (4K). It will be an all-ages celebration of American running with several notable professional stars, including Emily Infeld, Molly Seidel, Natosha Rogers, Alicia Monson, Carrie Verdon, and Emily Durgin, as well as top junior runners like Grace Ping (Oklahoma State), Isabelle Bravo (SoCal Road Runners) and Destiny China (Wings of America). Can’t get to San Diego for the race? You can follow the action on USATF.TV, and we’ll have an update of the results after the race.
3. The Continued Dominance of Athing Mu
Athing Mu, the 19-year-old track phenom who established herself as the best 400- and 800-meter runner in the world last year, should continue to dominate on the track in 2022 heading into the World Championships this summer in Eugene, Oregon. At the Tokyo Olympics, Mu, who signed with Nike after one standout season at Texas A&M, became the first American to win Olympic gold in the 800-meter run since Madeline Manning in 1968, smashing Ajee’ Wilson’s American record in the process. She added a second gold in the 4 x 400-meter relay and lowered the 800-meter American record further at the Prefontaine Classic with a 1:55.04 effort. Both Mu and Wilson will be at center stage in the 800-meter run at the 114th Millrose Games on January 29 at The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center in New York City. American indoor mile record-holder Elle Purrier St. Pierre will be defending her Wanamaker Mile title at the Millrose Games after winning the event in 4:16.85 in 2020. You can watch the action live on FloTrack.
4. The Rise of Generation Next
Speaking of fast young runners, 2022 should continue to see the emergence of the next generation of American distance running stars. Among those who began to rise to the top in 2021 were Erika Kemp (Adidas/BAA) and Weini Kelati (Under Armour/Dark Sky Distance). Kemp, 26, a former North Carolina State runner from Mount Holly, New Jersey, won the U.S. 20K road racing title in September, placed second at the U.S. 25K championships in October, and placed third at the U.S. 5K championships in November. Kelati is a 25-year-old Eritrean-born American who became a citizen last June after a standout high school career in Virginia and winning several NCAA titles for New Mexico in college. Kelati set a new American 10K record (31:18) for a women’s-only race at the Boston 10K for Women in October and also set a new course record (22:55) for the historic Manchester Road Race in November.
5. More Molly Seidel Awesomeness
Although her plans haven’t been announced yet, we’ll be excited to see Molly Seidel racing one or more of the Marathon Majors in 2022. After a breakthrough year in 2020, Molly Seidel galvanized her status as one of the top marathoners in American history in 2021 after earning the bronze medal (2:27:46) at the postponed Tokyo Olympics. She also placed fourth at the 2021 New York City Marathon in the fastest time ever by an American (2:24:42). The medal puts her on a lofty pedestal of elite marathon pedigree with Joan Samuelson (1984 Olympic gold), Deena Kastor (2004 Olympic bronze), Amy Cragg (2017 World Championships bronze), Shalane Flanagan (2017 New York City Marathon champion), and Des Linden (2018 Boston Marathon champion). But what is really endearing about Seidel is her happy-go-lucky authenticity. She’s had plenty of challenges in her career—including overcoming many injuries and a disordered eating—but has kept a smile on her face, a positive outlook, and an amazing vibe on Instagram. (By the way, we love that she ran her fastest 10K ever (35:34) dressed in a turkey costume on Thanksgiving with her siblings in Wisconsin.)
6. Fast, Light, Supercharged New Shoes
There is an amazing new crop of running shoes coming in 2022, but, unfortunately, there’s a bit of a catch. The lagging supply chain, manufacturing, and shipping delays of 2021 are bound to make a lot of those amazing new shoes late to arrive at running stores in the U.S. But whenever they do arrive in the spring, you’ll find shoes that are lighter and have bolder and brighter color motifs, better-fitting uppers, and more hyper-responsive midsole foams in every category. And yes, many (but not all) shoes are going up in price between $5 and $10 apiece, due to additional manufacturing, shipping, and distribution costs. Leading the parade of new shoes are Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 3, On Running’s Cloud Monster, Puma’s Fast-R, HOKA’s Tecton X, Craft’s CTM Ultra Carbon Trail, Brooks’ Caldera 6, New Balance’s Arc Energy Super Comp Elite v3, ASICS’ Noosa 14, Salomon’s Glide Max, Skechers’ Razor Excess 2, Altra Running’s Mont Blanc, and Nike’s ZoomX StreakFly.
7. The Boston Marathon Back Where It Belongs … in April!
There’s no race in the world like the Boston Marathon. It’s a world-class event with international pedigree, but it still feels like a local race put on by a Boston running club. It’s hard to believe, but the last time the Boston Marathon was run on Patriots’ Day in mid-April was 2019. After COVID-related cancellations, virtual runs, and postponements the past two years, the world’s longest-running marathon will finally return on April 18 with a full field of 30,000 runners who met the qualifying standards or are running to raise money for charities. (All runners must show proof of vaccination to pick up their race bib.) For those of you who qualified for this year race: Let’s gooooo! If you’re interested in running in the 2023 race, the qualifying window opened last September and registration details for that race will be announced following the 2022 Boston Marathon.
8. Trail Running Continues to Boom in Popularity
Thanks to so many people getting out on the trails during the first surge of the pandemic in 2020, trail running has been experiencing enormous growth. Not only are more people discovering the joys of trail running, but great efforts are being made by organizations like Project Inspire Diversity, Black Trail Runners, Native Women Running, Latinas Run, Trail Sisters, Indigenous Trail, and Adventurous Natives to make the sport more diverse and inclusive. When it comes to trail running success, Americans Courtney Dauwalter (Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc), Grayson Murphy (U.S. Mountain Running Championships), Annie Hughes (Leadville 100), and Sabrina Stanley (Hardrock 100) turned in some of the most dominant performances in 2021 and will return among the world’s elite this year, but there will be dozens of rising American women hot on the chase, including Alex Borsuk, Hillary Allen, Abby Hall, Leah Yingling, Allie McLaughlin, Keely Henninger, Katie Schide, Janelle Lincks, Brittany Peterson, and Bailey Kowalczyk. The launch of the new UTMB World Series and the first World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Thailand in November will continue to take trail running to the next level as a true global sport.
9. Gwen Jorgensen Targets the Marathon
After winning Olympic gold in triathlon, Gwen Jorgensen has nothing to prove to anyone. Except maybe herself. Training with Nike’s Bowerman Track Club in Beaverton, Oregon, for the past four years, Jorgensen transitioned back to competitive running and set impressive PRs from the 5K (15:08) to the marathon (2:36). But the 35-year-old still believes she can run a much faster marathon and be among the best in the U.S. She and her husband, Patrick Lemieux, and their soon-to-be-5-year-old son Stanley, moved to Boulder, Colorado, last summer, and she began training under coach Bobby McGee, whom she worked with in the past. A target marathon hasn’t been announced yet, but expect Jorgensen’s tenacious drive and genuine love of competition to pay off. “I’ve had two marathons that just haven’t proven I can do it,” Jorgensen said said. “I want to just have a marathon, that’s like, OK, I can run this.”
10. World Athletics World Championships in Oregon
Aside from the huge performances from Athing Mu and Molly Seidel at the Tokyo Olympics, American Sydney McLaughlin won gold in the 400-meter hurdles by outrunning compatriot Dalilah Muhammad, while Courtney Frerichs brought home the silver medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and Raevyn Rogers (800 meters), Allyson Felix (400 meters), and Gabrielle Thomas (200 meters) all earned bronze. Those are some of the American stars who will be back on the world stage from August 6-15 as the World Championships are held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. To qualify for the U.S. team, American athletes must finish among the top three in their event at the June 23–26 U.S. championships at the same stadium. Expect to see the return of Emma Coburn, Jenny Simpson, Cory McGee, Elise Cranny, Emily Sisson, Val Constien, Rachel Schneider, Karissa Schweizer, Shannon Osika, Elle Purrier St. Pierre, and many more going all-out for the chance to represent the U.S. in the first world championship event held on U.S. soil.