Team USA Marathon Women: The Silver Medal That Wasn’t

ImageIt’s too bad that the IAAF eliminated the team competition known as the World Marathon Cup prior to this year’s World Championships. If it hadn’t, the gutty performances in the heat by Deena Kastor, Dot McMahan and Jennette Faber would have netted the Team USA threesome silver medals.

In mid-80s temps, unyielding sunlight, and high humidity, that all three American women stayed in the race is notable in itself. Out of the 69 runners who started at 2 p.m. local time Saturday at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, a third (23) didn’t make it to the finish. The list of DNFs includes two Olympic gold medalists in Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelena and Japan’s Mizuki Naguchi, and other top runners such as Ethiopia’s Meseret Hailu and Meselech Melkamu and Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer.

But the three Americans not only survived, they passed runners throughout. At the 10K mark, Kastor was in 13th place, McMahan 50th and Faber 51st. Just before halfway they were 16th, 30th and 35th, respectively. They finished 9th, 18th and 21st.

[You can read transcripts of our pre-Moscow interviews with McMahan and Faber in which they discuss their goals heading into the race]

The World Marathon Cup, which was in existence from 1985 through the last World Champs in Daegu in 2011, was awarded to the team with the lowest combined time among the race’s top three finishers.  The U.S. has only one medal ever, a silver in the women’s marathon way back in 1989 in Milan.  The U.S. men were shut out of team medals in all 14 competitions they entered.

Below is how the team totals for 2013 would have looked, had the World Marathon Cup had been calculated. Note that neither Kenya nor Ethiopia figured in the final tally since Kenya had only two finishers and Ethiopia just one.

North Korea – 7:53:39

USA – 8:00:07

Lithuania – 8:06:27

Russia – 8:09:19

China – 8:16:14

Austria – 8:38:40

Categories: Dot McMahan, Jeannette Faber

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