HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
After a 2022 that saw us add six new athletes and a new head coach, win 14 races, set eight team records, and take home three national titles, we are ready for even more in 2023. Check out the top ten things we’re looking forward to over these next 12 months. Can’t wait to have all of you along for the ride!!
10. Indoor Track – During the first nine years of our program we competed indoors here and there, and had some good performances, but it wasn’t a focus. That all changes in 2023. The final schedule is still to be determined but the plan is for Krissy Gear, Olin Hacker, Alex Masai, Abby Nichols, Katie Wasserman, and Adrian Wildschutt all to race this indoor season. We’ll open things up at the University of Nebraska on January 13 and 14, you’ll definitely see us at BU at the end of January, Olin is scheduled to run the Millrose Games on February 11, and we’ll finish things off with the USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque one week later.
9. Houston Half Marathon – Last year, Wesley Kiptoo came right out of the gate and smashed our team record in the half marathon when he won the 2022 Pittsburgh Half in 1:01:25. We’ve all been looking forward to his next go at the distance ever since, and we’re almost done waiting. Wesley will take on an incredible field, and one of the fastest courses in the world, on January 15 at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.
8. Osaka Marathon- In 2022, our NAZ athletes crushed it at the marathon distance (as usual). Highlights included a runner-up finish in Houston (Alice Wright), a seventh-place at NYC (Aliphine Tuliamuk), and a win at the USATF Marathon Championships (Futsum Zienasellassie). Alice will kick things off once again in 2023 when she takes on the Osaka Women’s Marathon in Japan on Sunday, January 29.
7. World Cross Country – After a two-year delay due to COVID, the World Cross Country Championships are back in 2023. NAZ athletes have competed at Worlds in 2017 (Uganda) and 2019 (Denmark) and we’ll look to be in Bathurst, Australia on February 18 to once again race the world’s best distance runners on what looks to be an awesome course. Matt Baxter has already been named to the New Zealand team. We expect that Adrian Wildschutt will compete for South Africa. And we hope to have an American competing as well.
6. The Ten – During the Pandemic, Jesse Williams and his team at Sound Running stepped up and began putting on some of the best distance-heavy track meets in the country. And those meets have only grown. On the first weekend in March of 2023, they are set to host an event they call The Ten, that will feature the fastest/deepest 10,000 meter races you’ll see in the U.S. (and maybe the world) this year. NAZ will be a big part of it. Exactly who we’ll send is up to Coach Culpepper but expect somewhere between five and eight of our athletes to be on the line that night.
5. Outdoor Track – If we had to circle one discipline to be excited about above all others this year it would probably be outdoor track. The majority of our younger athletes have been putting in base work this fall, specifically to be at their best this outdoor season. We’ll kick things off with The Ten but expect to see NAZ Elite running fast all throughout the spring and into the summer. Highlights will certainly include The Track Festival at Mt Sac on May 6, the HOKA Festival of Miles in Saint Louis on June 1, and the USATF Outdoor Championships July 6-9 in Eugene, Oregon.
4. Kellyn Taylor’s Return – One of our original NAZ Elite members and one of America’s most versatile and consistent distance runners over the last decade, Kellyn Taylor, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Keagan Kathryn Taylor, on December 28 of 2022. At some point this year, whenever she’s ready (no rush!), Kellyn will return to training and racing and that comeback absolutely deserves to be on this list. And when she does, she’ll no doubt have her thoughts on the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials which are now just over a year away.
3. New Athletes – In 2022, we signed six new athletes to the NAZ roster: Krissy Gear, Olin Hacker, Wesley Kiptoo, Abby Nichols, Adrian Wildschutt, and Futsum Zienasellassie. As we begin the new year look for two more roster announcements coming in January and then stay tuned for possible additions this summer as well. A huge thank you to HOKA for believing in us, and for all of these athletes entrusting us with their careers.
2. More Marathons – We mentioned Osaka above, but that won’t be the only marathon we run this year. Look for Matt Baxter and Futsum Zienasellassie, who both made their debuts last year, to run their second marathons sometime this spring or summer. Nick Hauger, who made his own successful debut late in 2021, is back after an injury and will run a marathon in the first half of the year. Keep an eye out for Olympic Trials champion Aliphine Tuliamuk to make her spring marathon announcement very soon. And who knows, we might even see a few more (wink, wink)!
1. World Track and Field Championships – The highlight of the year in the sport of track and field will be the World Championships to be held August 19-27 in Budapest, Hungary. With our largest and most talented roster ever, we fully expect to be there. From the 1,500 meters to the marathon, we have athletes who can make their respective teams and that’s the goal. Budapest–we’ll see you in August!!