THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED!!
Here’s how we did it: First we came up with 40 choices. After that, it was all up to the fans! From that list of 40, you picked your choice for first, for second, for third, and so on. We tallied up the points (10 for 1st, 9 for second, 8 for third and so on down to 1 for 10th) to come up with our top ten performances of all time. Here they are (total points received in parentheses):
1) ALIPHINE WINS THE OLYMPIC TRIALS (1,581)
February 29, 2020 had been circled on the U.S. distance running calendar for nearly two years, ever since USATF had announced in April of 2018 that Atlanta would be hosting the Olympic Trials Marathon on that once-every-four-years date. Our team had been determined to put someone on the podium at the Trials ever since two sixth-place finishes in 2016, left us starving for more. Aliphine Tuliamuk, who joined our group in January of 2018 and quickly became a team leader/fan favorite, came into the race off the two best marathons of her career in 2019; a 2:26:50 PB at Rotterdam where she finished third, and a 2:28:12 at NYC where she finished 12th. Though vastly underestimated by many of the running pundits, we knew the truth. Aliphine was in monster shape. The race played out pretty much as expected through 20 miles with nearly all the pre-race favorites still in the lead pack (including Aliphine, Steph Bruce and Kellyn Taylor). At 21 miles, Aliphine broke away along with marathon rookie Molly Siedel. It remained a two-woman battle until 25 miles, when Aliphine finally began to create some distance. She’d go on to win in 2:27:23, becoming HOKA NAZ Elite’s first Olympian.
2) SCOTT FAUBLE RUNS 2:09:09 AT BOSTON (974)
Though our team had produced many top 10 finishes at World Marathon Majors, we had never been in contention for a spot on the podium until April 15, 2019. Scott Fauble, running just the third marathon of his career and seeded 27th, changed all that in a hurry. Twelve seconds back of the leaders at halfway, Faubs rolled the downhill 16th mile in under 4:40 to put himself right at the front. He then became the aggressor, leading much of the way through the famed Newton Hills and whittling the lead pack from 18 to just eight, as they crested Heartbreak Hill at 20 miles. Despite a 15:04 5k from 35-40k (his fastest of the day), he would end up seventh place–stopping the clock at 2:09:09–making him the 11th-fastest American of all time.
3) KELLYN WINS GRANDMAS in 2:24 (558)
Kellyn Taylor stepped to the line at the 2018 Boston Marathon in the best shape of her life, hoping to win what is arguably the world’s most prestigious footrace. Unfortunately, she did so amidst the worst conditions in race history. It was not to be as hypothermic symptoms forced her to withdraw at 20k. 61 days later, though, she got another shot at glory and she made the most of it. On a cloudy, 50 degree morning in Duluth, Minn., Kellyn put on an absolute clinic. Rolling through halfway in 1:12:30 in a small pack of women, she broke things open shortly thereafter–en route to a scintillating 1:11:58 second half and a finishing time of 2:24:28. That mark was a personal best by more than four minutes, a course record by more than two minutes and made her the 7th-fastest American female of all time (at the time).
4) STEPH FINISHES 6th AT THE OLYMPIC TRIALS (390)
Our fans are smart. They recognized the importance and gravity of Aliphine’s victory at the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon, but they didn’t forget that Steph Bruce was only 19 seconds away from making the Olympic Team herself. After a nearly flawless training segment, Steph was unquestionably in the best shape of her life on February 29, 2020. And she ran like it. Battling some of America’s best ever distance runners, she reached 20 miles in eighth place before willing her way into sixth over the final 10k–19 seconds out of third, eight seconds from fourth and just three seconds from fifth. Teammate Kellyn Taylor came in two places later, giving HOKA NAZ Elite three of the top eight.
5) BEN BRUCE COMPETES IN 17 STRAIGHT USATF OUTDOOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS (380)
Ben Bruce ran his first USATF Outdoor Track Championship in 2003. George W. Bush was President. “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé, the first single off her debut solo album, was the song of the summer and Michael Jordan retired (for good). He’s made it every year since. He’s competed in three different events (steeple, 5,000 and 10,000), finishing as high as second (steeplechase- 2010). He’s even competed less than a month after winning a marathon; In 2013 he won the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Marathon on June 1, 25 days before USAs–in between events he and his wife Stephanie welcomed their first child into the world! The streak now stands at 17 in a row…and counting.
6) STEPH WINS THE USATF HALF MARATHON TITLE (296)
Steph had a battle on her hands at the 2019 USATF Half Marathon Championships with Emma Bates and Sara Hall as the other top contenders. With one mile to go, still stride for stride with Hall, Steph slammed on the gas en route to a low 4:50 final mile that opened up a huge lead. Her 1:10:43 gave her a 21-second victory, and her second ever National Title. 12 days later she’d run a massive personal best at 5,000 meters on the track–15:17.76.
7) RORY RUNS A 1:01:44 HALF MARATHON (286)
Rory Linkletter joined HOKA NAZ Elite in the summer of 2019 after a stellar collegiate career at BYU. He made his pro debut with a sixth-place finish at the Pan Am Games 10,000 meters in August. In October he made his marathon debut in 2:16 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Solid results, but nothing like what he produced on January 19, 2020 when he unleashed a 1:01:44 half marathon in Houston, becoming the second-fastest Canadian of all time and breaking a HOKA NAZ Elite Team Record that had stood since 2014.
8) KELLYN FINISHES 7th AT NYC MARATHON (282)
Having finished eighth in the NYC Marathon two years earlier, Kellyn Taylor knew she could compete well again in 2019. In between those two races she had run a 2:24:28 marathon PB. She’d also improved on the track with PBs at the mile and 5,000 meters, as well as her highest-ever finish at a U.S. Outdoor Track Championship–third place in the 10,000 meters. If all of those performances had given her confidence, it certainly showed. She ran fearlessly, coming through halfway on the notoriously difficult course in 1:12:11. Though she lost time, she gained spots over the second half, eventually finishing in seventh place–her 2:26:52 clocking making her the fifth-fastest American female ever on the NYC course.
9) KELLYN/STEPH GO 3-4 AT USATF OUTDOORS (275)
There are those who call us a “marathon group,” which we assume is because of the success we’ve had in that event. So we don’t necessarily take offense. However, we don’t see ourselves that way. We are distance runners: ready to compete over any distance, on any surface, at any time. There is no better example than the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships Women’s 10,000 meters when Kellyn Taylor and Steph Bruce went toe-to-toe with U.S stars Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson. After a pedestrian first 5k (16:43), Sisson began churning out 74-75 second laps for the next two miles. The final mile got even quicker with Huddle squeezing it down as follows; 74, 71, 69, 66 for the win. Kellyn closed in 74, 71, 70, 68 for a 15:19 second 5k–and finished just .6 behind Sisson. Steph was fourth, running a 15:24 second 5k of her own.
10) STEPH/ALIPHINE GO 1-2 AT USATF 10k CHAMPS (271)
Perhaps no race better exemplifies our culture at HOKA NAZ Elite than the 2018 Peachtree Road Race/USATF 10k Championships. Aliphine, coming off National Titles in the half marathon and the 25k in May, raced fearlessly in Atlanta, pushing the pace halfway through and daring the field to come with her. No one did. Well, almost no one. Steph Bruce took the risk and stayed just close enough. With a mile to go, she began making up ground, eventually passing her teammate with 1 kilometer remaining. Aliphine, nearly out of breath and with nothing left in terms of a physical response, simply gave Steph a quick, “You go girl.” And she did, winning her first National Title after a career of close calls.
Honorable Mention: Scott Smith finishes 6th at Boston (232), Matt Baxter runs 13:27 (196)