2023 HOKA NAZ Elite Performance of the Year!! (Road Races/XC)


Wesley’s race now joins the winners of the Women’s Track, Men’s Track, and Marathons categories in our 2023 Performance of the Year Finals.



Wesley Kiptoo runs 1:00:35 at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon
The Houston Half is the deepest, fastest half marathon in the United States. This year’s field featured big names like Ed Cheserek, Leul Gebresilase, Conner Mantz, and our own Wesley Kiptoo…among many others. Wesley broke the race wide open with a monster surge around the 7-mile mark that only Gebresilase (runner-up at the 2022 London Marathon) was able to cover. The two staged a dramatic duel all the way to the finish with Gebresilase out-leaning Wesley by less than a second. Wesley’s time of 1:00:35 was a PB and an NAZ team record.

Lauren Hagans sets course record at the Cardiff Kook Run
Lauren Hagans proved throughout 2023 that she is someone to be reckoned with on the roads. She showed that for the first time in February when she dominated a solid field at the Cardiff Kook Run in California, winning by 19 seconds in 31:53 and smashing the course record along the way.

Aliphine Tuliamuk wins the USATF Half Marathon ChampsHOKA NAZ Elite came to play at this year’s USATF Half Marathon Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. From the gun, Lauren Hagans pushed the pace with Aliphine Tuliamuk hot on her heels. Only in the final 5k did the reigning Olympic Trials Marathon champ finally pull away from her teammate–grabbing the win in 1:09:37. It was Aliphine’s 12th national title and her second at the half marathon distance. It should be noted that Lauren ended up second, Paige Wood was sixth, and Futsum Zienasellassie was third in the men’s race.

Krissy Gear wins the BAA Mile
Road miles are always fun, and even more so when they take place in Copley Square, in front of a couple thousand fans, two days before the Boston Marathon. For Krissy Gear, the BAA Mile was her first ever professional road race and she did not disappoint, kicking into her final “gear” with 400 to go and pulling away to win in 4:40 on the multi-turn course.

Wesley defends his title at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in a course record
Wesley Kiptoo was back at it in Pittsburgh the first Sunday in May, where one year earlier he had kicked off his professional career with a win at the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon. In 2022, he had to sprint his way to a win in a tight head-to-head battle. This time around it was the Wesley show as he led wire-to-wire, finishing in 1:01:21–breaking his own course record.

Alex finishes second at the BOLDER Boulder 10k
There are certain races on the U.S. road racing scene that are just a little extra special to win and the BOLDER Boulder 10k is one of them. Alex Masai had the race of his young career thus far in Boulder, pulling away from a field that included 2x NCAA cross country champ Conner Mantz, 1:00:02 half marathoner Teshome Mekonen, and teammate Wesley Kiptoo over the final mile. Alex entered Folsom Field to the screams of the 50,000 fans waiting inside, only to be caught in the last 150 meters by a charging Mantz. Still, the performance was more than worthy of making this list.

Kellyn wins BIX / USATF 7-Mile Champs
Context is always important in sports. The context here was that Kellyn Taylor was only seven months postpartum when she toed the line at the BIX 7 in Davenport, Iowa on July 29. This year the race served as hosts to the USATF 7-Mile Championships which meant Kellyn was up against a stellar field of Americans vying for a national title, including teammate Aliphine Tuliamuk. Aliphine had the lead late, but it was Kellyn who turned on the jets over the final half mile to pull away for the win.

Wesley wins Falmouth and ties Course Record
Falmouth joins BOLDER Boulder and BIX on this list as some of America’s oldest and most prestigious races where we crushed it this year. And in this case, we really mean crushed it. Wesley went straight to the front, establishing a three-second lead by the mile. He hit 5k in 13:38 and led by 12 seconds. At 10k, which he crossed in a ridiculously fast 27:34, the lead was 21 seconds. Wesley crossed the line in 31:08 (for 7 miles), tying the 19-year-old course record set by all-time great road racer Gilbert Okari.

Futsum runs 1:01:49 at World Half Champs
It’s always an honor to represent your country at an international competition and Futsum Zienasellassie did it for the first time at this year’s World Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia. He ended up as the second American finisher in the half marathon in 33rd place overall with a time of 1:01:49. Teammates Olin Hacker and Ahmed Muhumed competed in the 5k, finishing 14th and 22nd respectively.

Matt wins the Pittsburgh 10 Miler
Pittsburgh is turning into a home away from home for HOKA NAZ Elite. Stephanie Bruce, Wesley Kiptoo, and Aliphine Tuliamuk have all won the half marathon there in the spring. This time it was Matt Baxter’s turn to take on the Pittsburgh 10-miler in the fall. In his build-up to the California International Marathon, Matt needed to put together and solid race and he delivered–winning by 21 seconds in 47:54.

Katie wins the Cross Champs
Katie Wasserman had a big 2023, setting personal bests on the track in the 1500 (4:08.40), mile (4:27.73), 3,000 (8:49.65), and 5,000 (15:13.81). But she might’ve just saved her best for last, winning the Sound Running Cross Champs individual title in November over a field that included her very talented teammates Mercy Chelangat, Abby Nichols, and Krissy Gear. Katie led almost the entire way, eventually kicking away from competitor Katie Izzo over the final 400 meters to win her first ever 8k cross country race in 26:49.

Adrian wins the Cross Champs
Like Katie, Adrian had an amazing year on the track setting South African national records at 3,000 (7:39.25), 5,000 (13:02.46), and 10,000 (27:23.10). He had an almost equally amazing fall, winning the Peace Run road10k back in South Africa in a speedy 27:53, and then the Sound Running Cross Champs where he somehow ran 22:07 (4:26/mi pace) on the wet and soggy layout in Austin, Texas. More impressive was the way he controlled the proceedings, leading much of the second half of the race before pulling away from defending champ Edwin Kurgat, teammate Wesley Kiptoo, and 2022 NCAA cross country champ Charles Hicks.


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