Another day means more March Madness, Salty Running-style! Now it’s time to revisit our racers of the track variety. From sprint stars to 10,000-meter royalty, this group of ladies have made their marks in the record books – and in our hearts. But can they survive to the next round of competition?
The bracket imitated life in the first round of track competition, meaning that these runners dominated their foes! The closest matchup was that of Francie Larrieu Smith and Wang Junxia; Larrieu Smith won by a margin of 54% to 46%. The other pairings weren’t nearly as close. Shalane Flanagan wiped the track with Mary Decker Slaney, 81% to 19%, while the biggest victory was Tirunesh Dibaba’s over Gulnara Galkina (93% to 7%).
Let the Round Two voting for our Tracksters begin!
Shalane Flanagan vs. Francie Larrieu Smith
Shalane Flanagan is the American record holder in the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. She won the 2008 Olympic Bronze in the 10,000 meters and holds several U.S. national track championships.
Francie Larrieu Smith was only the second woman ever to qualify for 5 U.S. Olympic teams. Beginning at the age of 17, in 1970, she won 21 national championships and set 13 world indoor records and 35 American records in her career.
Gail Devers vs. Fanny Blankers-Koen
Gail Devers overcame Graves disease and the treatment for it which almost caused the amputation of her feet! She bounced back and won the silver medal in the 100 m hurdles the following year, before going on to win gold in the event in both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
Fanny Blankers-Koen was the most successful athlete at the 1948 Olympics winning 4 gold medals (100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and the 4 x 100m relay). Not only did she do that, but she was a 30 year-old mother of two at the time, which earned her the nickname, “The Flying Housewife.”
Jackie Joyner Kersee vs. Meseret Defar
Only rivaling Babe Didrickson for the best all-around athlete in the competition, Jackie Joyner Kersee is best known for her Olympic Golds in the Heptathlon (1988 and 1992) and the long jump (1988). She also won Silver in the heptathlon in 1984 and Bronze in the long jump in 1992 and 1996.
Meseret Defar might be the all-time best 5,000 meter runner, winning the Olympic gold in the event in both 2004 and 2012. She also won Bronze in 2008. She also holds multiple world championships and has set the world record in the 5,000 two times. Her personal best of 14:12.88 is nothing short of astonishingly fast! She still holds the two-mile world record and the indoor world records for the 3,000 and 5,000 meter races.
Sanya Richards-Ross vs. Tirunesh Dibaba
Sanya Richards-Ross is a 400m specialist who won gold in the event at the 2012 London Olympics. She is also the 2009 world 400m champion and has won many world championships and 3 additional Olympic golds as a member of the U.S. 4 x 400m relay team.
You might remember Tirunesh Dibaba from her breath-taking 10,000 meter gold medal performance during the 2012 London Olympics. She also won both the 10,000 and 5,000 meter golds in the 2008 Olympics. In addition to that, she is the current 5,000 meter world record holder. She took the record from fellow contender, Meseret Defar, with her amazing 14:11.15 run in 2008. She also holds the 15k road record. She’s won several world championships in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
- Women’s Running Bracket: Tracksters, Round One (saltyrunning.com)