No. 100 to No. 76
The 100 Greatest Runs, Jumps, and Throws of All Time
LØPE MAGAZINE – Issue No. 015, December 2019
By Liam Boylan-Pett
Illustrations by Luke McCambley a.k.a The Orange Runner
Below are the runs, jumps, and throws ranked between No. 100 and No. 76 in the Løpe Magazine Greatest Runs, Jumps, and Throws of All Time. Click here to navigate to other rankings. Each event is listed in a headline followed by the date and the score based on the Løpe Scale (with 40 being the perfect score).
100. The 1986 I.A.A.F. World Challenge Road Relay
May 1986 (12)
Ethiopia comes from way back to win an Ekiden-style race.
This one is already explained, but please see the truncated broadcast above and admire the sash exchange zones they refer to as “Takeover Points.” Oh, the 1980s.
99. Emil Zatopek’s 1952 Olympic Distance Triple
July 1952 (12)
The Czech Locomotive might have been the greatest distance runner of all time.
In 1948 in London, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia won Olympic Gold the 10,000 meters by 48 seconds. He could not quite pull off the double, however, losing the 5,000 meters by two-tenths of a second to Belgium’s Gaston Reiff.
Four years later, he took the 10,000 meters again, running 29 minutes, 17 seconds to set the Olympic Record. He redeemed his 5,000 loss from the previous Games by winning the event in another Olympic Record of 14 minutes, 6 seconds. Then, he raced the marathon for the first time in his life and won that one, too, once again setting an Olympic Record in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 3 seconds.
When he entered Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium for the final stretch of the marathon, the crowd of 70,000 chanted “Za-To-Pek, Za-To-Pek!”
He remains the only runner to ever win all three distance events at a single Olympics.
In 2013, Runner’s World named Zatopek the greatest runner of all time. He also was a part of one of the Olympics’ most decorated couples: He was married to 1952 Olympic Javelin champion, Dana Zátopková.
98. Karel Sabbe Runs Appalachian Trail in 41 Days, 7 hours, 39 minutes
August 2019 (13)
Later, Scott Jurek.
In 2015, Scott Jurek, famed trail and ultra-runner, set the fastest known time (F.K.T.) on the Appalachian Trail, traversing the route over 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes. It was a monumental feat, one covered even by non-running news outlets (yes, Runner’s World and Outside Magazine gushed over Jurek’s run, too).
Sabbe did it in five fewer days, and without nearly as much fanfare. Regardless of the media coverage (Sabbe got a nice write-up in Outside, too), the Belgian ultra-runner went from Georgia to Maine in an astounding 41 days. Covering the entire 2,200 miles, he ran an average of 52.9 miles per day, and, according to reports, ran the final 100 miles by running 40 hours straight through.
Ultra-runners are a crazy bunch.
97. Stefka Kostadinova Leaps 2.09 Meters High Jump
August 1987 (13)
The still-standing world record in the high jump was set in 1987.
As famed track announcer Larry Rawson might say, go up to your local track, pull out the high jump mat, see if you can get Kevin Durant to stand in front of it, then try to jump over him. That’s how high Stefka Kostadinova of Bulgaria jumped to break the world record in the event (that is if you believe Durant is actually his listed height of 6-foot-10 inches).
Stefka is not only the current world record holder, she was also Olympic Champion in 1996. The leap in 1987 to set the W.R. and win a world championship remains her greatest.
96. 7th and D.N.F. Make Headlines
August 1984 (14)
Zola Budd vs. Mary Decker was the story of the 3,000 meters at the 1984 Olympic Games.
There were less than 1,300 meters to go when Mary Decker fell with Zola Budd leading, and no one ever remembers that Romania’s Maricica Puică won gold on the Los Angeles track. Instead, the race will always be remembered for Budd’s bare feet and Decker crying on the side of the track.
95. But Here Comes Columbia
April 2007 (15)
This probably shouldn’t be on this list, but too late.
The perks of creating a list of the greatest races of all time allows you to relive some glory days. And honestly, the 2007 edition of the Penn Relays 4×800 meters Championship of America was one heck of a race—and yes, the author is the one who anchored Columbia to its first victory at Penn in 69 years … nice.
94. Sergey Bubka Vaults too High
July 1994 (15)
Bubka the Great.
When you break the world record 35 times, it’s difficult to select a “greatest vault.” But for Sergey Bubka, we’re going with his final W.R., the one where he vaulted over 20 feet, 1 ¾ inches in 1994 (6.14 meters). (And yes, we know Renaud Lavillenie set a record of 6.15 meters, but it was indoors, so not as cool.) The record may not last long, given wonder-kid Mondo Duplantis and American star Sam Kendricks are getting better and better. But Bubka, so far, remains the greatest vaulter the world has ever seen.
93. Brittney Reese Comes up Clutch in 2012 Olympic Long Jump
August 2012 (15)
Reese made a habit of showing up in prime time.
From 2009 to 2018, Brittney Reese was the best long jumper in the world. She may not have always had the longest jump of the year, but she was almost always on the podium at a global championship—and she was almost always on the top spot. In 2012, the Mississippi native won gold in London after four years earlier finishing fifth in the Games, leaping 7.12 meters (23 feet 4 ¼ inches). She had four world titles, but an Olympic medal had eluded her up to that point.
92. Chris Solinsky Swipes American 10,000 Record from Galen Rupp
May 2010 (15)
It was supposed to be an A.R. attempt for Nike’s golden boy, but lap after lap, Solinsky was there.
Galen Rupp is—when you look at the stats and medals and ignore all the possible gray areas and black and white areas he crossed into—one of the best American distance runners of all time. It’s unfortunate that because of his connection to Alberto Salazar and his lack of openness to the outside world, he is not the celebrated runner one would expect of an all-time great. What is celebrated is when people beat him—and Chris Solinsky becoming the first American to run under 27 minutes while decimating Rupp over the final two laps on the Stanford track in 2009 made Solinsky’s A.R. extra sweet.
For those who do not remember, Salazar and Rupp set the race up to an A.R. attempt for the Oregon Project Runner. Many others jumped on the train, and Solinksky blitzed a 56.1-second final lap to run 26 minutes, 59.60 seconds while Rupp finished a well-beaten fourth in 27 minutes, 10.74, which would have broken the American Record had Solinsky not done so first.
91. The Rabbit that got Away
June 1981 (16)
Tom Byers won the Oslo Dream Mile. He was the pacer.
If you rabbit a race, you’re always going to get the question: Why don’t you just finish? It’s a fair question if you don’t know anything about rabitting. When you’re a pacemaker, you tell yourself you must get to X distance. You allow yourself to do it—and sometimes in an extremely relaxed way where you feel great. Once you hit that mark, however, everything falls apart.
The fact that Byers won this race is astounding.
* Correction: We originally posted video from the 1991 Oslo Dream Mile. Thanks to reader Andy Pflaum for sending in a note.
90. Noah Ngeny Shocks the World
September 2000 (16)
The second fastest miler ever, Ngeny got his in Sydney.
When Hicham El Guerrouj broke the world record in the mile in 3 minutes, 43.13 seconds in 1999, Kenya’s Noah Ngeny was only 0.27 seconds behind him. Ngeny wasn’t supposed to be able to hang with El Guerrouj, who had broken the 1500-meter world record the year before, but he did.
But El Guerrouj was supposed to cement his status as the mile/metric mile GOAT in Sydney.
Ngeny was having none of it. He simply never let El Guerrouj go. A rabbit from Morocco pushed the pace early, pulling El Guerrouj through 400 meters in just under 55 seconds. They slowed to about 60 seconds for the next lap, then El Guerrouj took over with 700 meters to race. He pushed the pace and ran sub 57 for the next lap. With 300 meters to go, however, he had not dropped Ngeny or Bernard Lagat, who was then running for Kenya. Around the turn with less than 200 to go, Ngeny began to inch up on the world record holder’s shoulder. Then, on the homestretch he simply had too much for El Guerrouj to handle. Ngeny closed in 53 high to take gold in an Olympic Record of 3 minutes, 32.07 seconds.
El Guerrouj would go on to win two golds in 2004, but in 2000 at the Games, Ngeny was the greatest miler on earth.
89. Lasse Viren Ruins the Pre Party
September 1972 (16)
Finnish runners used to be unbeatable.
The 5,000 meters at the 1972 Munich Games was supposed to be the coming out party for Steve Prefontaine. Instead, Lasse Viren and his Amish beard became one of the greatest distance runners of all time. First, he won the 10,000 in a world record time of 27 minutes, 38.35 seconds. Then, he handled the challenge from Pre with ease, running an Olympic Record of 13 minutes, 26.42 seconds to win the 5,000 while Pre finished fourth.
Viren repeated the double in 1976.
88. Alberto Juantorena Wins Impossible 4-8 Double at Olympics
July 1976 (16)
The Cuban becomes a middle-distance legend.
Once we started writing about this double we wanted to rank it higher, because, goodness, this double is one of the most impressive in Olympic history.
On July 23, Juantorena ran the opening-round heats of the 800 in Montreal. The next day he ran the semi. Then July 25, he won the 800 in a world record of 1 minute, 43.50 seconds. On July 26, Juantorena was back on the track for the first round of the 400 meters. On July 27, he finally got a day of rest. But he was back at it on the 28th and 29th, first qualifying for, and then winning the final of the 400 meters in 44.26. It wasn’t a world record—Juantorena was slacking.
Seven days, six races, two golds and a world record in two of the most difficult events in track. Wow.
87. Ida Keeling Time
April 2016 (16)
Centenarians can run fast, too.
Occasionally, a video of a master’s race goes viral. Two or three runners over a certain age are shown sprinting along—even if it’s slower than some of their younger competitors—and it really is remarkable and promising, knowing that one day when you get older, you might be able to run fast, too. It also seems to be a prerequisite that older star athletes must have great style sense.
The prereq of setting a WR as a masters athlete over the age of 90 is that your outfit must slay. 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/4tfySDl3EY
— Liam Boylan-Pett (@liam_bp) July 11, 2019
Ida Keeling is no different. In 2016, at the Penn Relays, she ran 100 meters in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds to set the world record for the 100 to 104 age group. Rock on, Ida.
86. The Dive to Beat Allyson Felix
August 2016 (16)
Shaunae Miller-Uibo had U.S. fans hoping diving in track was illegal.
It usually doesn’t work; falling in a race. Unless the athlete times it perfectly. That’s what Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas did in 2016 when she beat Allyson Felix to take the 400 meters in 49.44 seconds, beating Felix by 0.07 seconds.
The year was supposed to be Felix’s. In 2012 she had finally won the elusive individual gold that had eluded her in 2004 and 2008. She was supposed to win both the 200 and the 400, matching Marie Josec Perec, Valerie Brisco-Hooks, and Michael Johnson as the only athletes to win the 2-4 double at the Olympics. However, an ankle injury kept Felix from even qualifying in the 200, and Miller-Uibo’s perfectly-timed dive across the finish line kept Felix from gold in the 400. Miller-Uibo has yet to match her success, winning silver in the 400 at Worlds in 2019.
85. Marie-José Pérec Matches Michael Johnson in Atlanta
August 1996 (16)
Lost in the hoopla around Michael Johnson was a Frenchwoman who matched his feat.
It happens, but only rarely. A foreign athlete becoming a star of the Games. But there isn’t much of a chance when an American male is attempting to do something spectacular and he has Nike money behind him—especially when that American male follows through and sets a world record.
That’s what happened to Marie-José Pérec in Atlanta in 1996. She had won the 400 four years earlier and was doubling, but that’s what Johnson and his gold shoes were doing, too. Regardless, Pérec was sublime in Atlanta, winning the 200 in 22.12 seconds and setting an Olympic Record in the 400 in 48.25 seconds.
85. Valerie Brisco-Hooks was O.G. 2-4 Double Winner
August 1984 (16)
The American raced to wins in the half-lap and and the one-lapper in Los Angeles.
After the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Team U.S.A. took advantage, winning 40 medals (the Soviet Union won 41 in 1980 in the U.S.’s absence). Of the 16 golds, three belonged to Valerie Brisco-Hooks, who became the first to win the 200 and 400 meters at a single Olympics (she added a third gold in the 4 x 400 meters).
While Michael Johnson would go on to set a world record during his double, Brisco-Hooks became the first by winning the 400 in 48.83 seconds and the 200 in 21.81 seconds. Second in that race? A woman by the name of Florence Griffith, who will show up later in this list.
83. 4 Golds for Fanny Blankers Koen
August 1948 (17)
The Flying Dutch Housewife could not be stopped in the 1948 London Olympics.
At 30, she was too old. She probably should have competed in the 1936 Olympics—the last time they were held. But in 1948, she was still good enough to make The Netherlands’ Olympic Team, so she traveled to London. Fanny Blankers-Koen had two children, which some detractors claimed was reason enough to stay at home, but that did not matter on the start line.
In London, she won the 100, the 200, the 80-meter hurdles, and anchored the winning 4×100-meter relay team to gold, matching Jesse Owens as the only other athlete to win four golds in on Olympics (Carl Lewis would later match them both).
In all, Blankers-Koen would set nine world records to go with her four golds. In 1999, the I.A.A.F. named her the 20th century’s greatest female athlete.
There’s one more piece of trivia that makes Blankers-Koen’s story even more impressive: She was in the early stages of another pregnancy when she won the four golds in London.
82. First Women’s Triple Jump at Olympics
August 1996 (17)
Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets was the world record holder, then she won gold.
There are far too many events that women were not allowed to participate in at the Olympics until wayyyyy past what makes sense in the world. The steeplechase—2008. The Marathon—1984. The hammer throw—2000. The triple jump is just another on the list, as it wasn’t contested for women until 1996.
Inessa Kravets was the best triple jumper in the world, so thank goodness she had an opportunity to compete at the games. She did not win in Atlanta with her best jump—she set a still-standing world record of 15.50 meters in 1995—but the 15.33 meters she leaped to win that first Olympic Gold stayed the O.R. until 2008.
81. Discus Gold for U.S.
August 2008 (17)
Stephanie Brown Trafton won the first U.S. women’s gold in the discus since 1932.
Nowadays, one might be more likely to see the discus on an old vase than you would see it on TV. While many runners complain about the state of the sport, field events seem to have it worse. That does not stop them from doing extremely amazing things.
Like when Stephanie Brown Trafton went to Beijing and won Team U.S.A.’s first track and field gold in the Games. She did it quickly, bombing a 64.74-meter throw on her first attempt of the finals. The distance would hold by more than a meter.
The athlete who wore a Mary Lou Retton leotard when she was a kid turned out to be an Olympic star in her own right. “I came to the Bird’s Nest,” Brown Trafton said of the Beijing Olympic Stadium, “to lay a golden egg, and that’s exactly what I did.”
80. Ritz v. Webb v. Hall
December 2000 (17)
Three of the greatest high school runners of all time in one race.
Dathan Ritzenhein is the greatest high school cross-country runner of all time, and don’t @ us. In December 2000, he took on Alan Webb and Ryan Hall in what was probably the most hyped high school X.C. race of all time. They were the Big 3 of high school running, and even though Ritz was the defending champ at the Foot Locker National Championships, beating Webb and Hall was no small task.
But still, he destroyed them.
Ritz took the lead about 1 mile into the race and it was over. He ran 14 minutes, 29 seconds on the Foot Locker Florida course, winning by 20 seconds. Unreal.
79. Jim Walmsley is Knocking on Door of 14 Hours at Western States
June 2019 (17)
The 100-mile race had gotten the best of Walmsley in the past, but he’s making the unthinkable a reality when it comes to the F.K.T.
Sure, running 100 miles is impressive, but so is the watch that lasts the over-14 hours it takes to run it. Jim Walmsley’s watch went for a wild ride June 29, 2019, when he ran the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile race from Squaw Valley, California, to Auburn, just outside Sacramento in a course record of 14 hours, 9 minutes, 28 seconds. (Look at this Strava data of his record, it’s fascinating.) He had set the F.K.T. the year before in 14 hours, 30 minutes, and was already thinking about breaking the record again in 2020, maybe even dipping under 14 hours.
It wasn’t always that easy for Walmsley. In his first attempt at Western States, he got lost. The second time around he dropped out with stomach issues. While there are many different worlds within the trail and ultra-running community, Walmsley has cemented himself as one of the sport’s bests.
Plus, his Strava records are a sight to behold.
78. The Crazy Race for Third at 2012 Olympic Trials 5,000 meters
July 2012 (17)
Julie Culley won the U.S. Olympic Trials 5,000, but the race for third behind her was insane.
With three laps to go Julia Lucas, took the lead. And with two laps to go, it seemed like she was going to run away with it. With 600 meters to run, it really seemed like it was over. Molly Huddle and Julie Culley were giving chase, but there did not seem to be a way they would catch her—Lucas looked strong.
With a lap to go, Huddle and Culley began reeling her in. Behind those two, Abbey D’Agostino and Kim Conley were charging. When Huddle and Culley passed Lucas with 250 meters to go, Lucas’ form began to break. And suddenly, it was clear that not only would Culley and Huddle make the team, but also D’Agostino and Conley had a chance.
On the NBC broadcast, Conley was out of frame when Lucas had 120 meters to go, but when she entered, she was charging hard. Ahead of the race for third, Culley passed Huddle to win the race. Behind them, Conley would not slow down. With just moments to spare, she passed both D’Agostino and Lucas to earn a trip to London for The Games.
77. Liu Xiang, the Most Popular Athlete in the World
August 2004 (18)
In winning the 110-meter hurdles in Athens, Xiang would set sky-high expectations for Beijing.
Liu Xiang had the hopes of an entire country on his back—and it was the largest country in the world, at that. But when he attempted to start the 110-meter hurdles in his home country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, his body would not cooperate. Xiang had to walk away from the race he had dominated four years earlier in Athens.
That’s why there were such high expectations in the first place.
Xiang blitzed a 12.91 in the Olympic final in 2004 to match the world record. While it was a race for the ages, it ended up being a burden.
76. Mo Farah Almost Tore Down London’s Olympic stadium
August 2012 (18)
Fans could not control themselves during the 10,000 meters at the 2012 Olympics.
When Mo Farah was at his best, he would take control of the race from more than 400 meters out. When he did so with about 450 meters to go during the 10,000 meters at the 2012 London Olympics, the roar was deafening. It did not let up over the next several minutes, as Farah raced away from the field in the last 100 meters to win gold on home soil. It was the third British gold of the day, and the stadium’s buzz was palpable.
“Today’s the best moment of my life,” Farah told reporters after the race. “If it wasn’t for the crowd and the support I got today, I don’t think I would have won that gold.”
To read rankings No. 75 to 51, click here. Or, to navigate all rankings, click here.