I just have trouble calling it a bubble when it seemed like such a natural progression from previous decades. It’s not like all of a sudden American runners came out of nowhere in the 70s and 80s. It was a gradual progression through many decades that suddenly came to a crash last decade.
Of course there are more American women running well but the American elite woman has, at least to some extent, gone the same way as the American elite man. 20 years ago, an American won the Olympic marathon. This year, our fastest American woman is going in with a time that is over 15 seconds per mile slower than the favorite. It took until last year for a nearly 2 decades old American marathon record to be broken and then it was by a matter of seconds. Meanwhile, women’s marathoning on the world level has gone to a whole new level.
Yes, there are more American women running relatively fast now than there were 20 years ago but that’s due to the fact that the opportunity literally didn’t exist back then. Remember, we are still slightly less than 20 years removed from the first Olympic marathon for women.
Very true. There are tens of thousands of Americans running marathons every year. We should have an instant fan base for running of at least tens of thousands. Unfortunately, how many of those people would recognize even one of these names: Tergat, Radcliffe, Gebreselassie, Ndereba, Korir, da Costa, Khannouchi, Yingjie, Loroupe, Okayo, Culpepper, Keflezighi, Browne, Shay, Hellebuyck, Drossin-Kastor, DeReuck, Hennessy, Runyan, Keane, Wells. How many high school and college runners would even recognize these names? These kids have to have something to aspire to. I was hoping Alan Webb would be someone for them to aspire to and maybe he could be the catalyst for some resurgence of interest in distance running and I still hope he can be but he just hasn’t performed at the kind of level needed to maintain interest since he graduated high school.