No. 75 to No. 51
The Greatest Runs, Jumps, and Throws of All Time
Below are the runs, jumps, and throws ranked between No. 75 and No. 51. 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).
75. Fayetteville-Manlius and the Dynasty of N.X.N.
December 2011 (18)
The upstate New York team was one of the most dominant in high school history—all sports included.
Going into the 2011 Nike Cross National championships, Fayetteville-Manlius had won five consecutive N.X.N. Championships. That feat by itself would be astounding. Building a dynasty on a state level is one thing, doing so nationally is mind boggling.
Then, in 2011, they did something even more impressive: F-M hung 27 points at the national championships thanks to a 1-2-4-8-12 finish. If F-M had taken on every other team that day, they would have won 27 to 30.
F-M would go on to win every year until 2017 save for 2013. Over a 12-year period, F-M won 11 titles. Coach Bill Aris built something special in New York, but that 2011 team was the most remarkable.
74. They’re Chasing Kevin Young
September 2019 (18)
Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin both break 47 seconds in the 2019 Diamond League Final.
Kevin Young set the world record in the 400 hurdles in 1992, well before Karsten Warholm or Rai Benjamin were born. Today, both men are great threats to Young’s still-standing record.
In Zurich at the Diamond League Final in 2019, Warholm came the closest. He ran a stunning 46.92—the second-fastest time ever—with Benjamin a close second in 46.98. It was the first time two men had broken 47 in the same race, and Benjamin tied the third-best time in history.
Warholm won an underwhelming rematch at the World Championships in Doha, but hope remains: Two men could dip under Young’s world record in 2020.
73. Edwin Moses has Nothing on Kevin Young
August 1992 (18)
Kevin Young’s astounding 46.78-second 400 … OVER HURDLES.
Kevin Young hit the last hurdle and stumbled slightly. But it did not matter. His lead was so big he could have walked the last few steps and still won gold in the Barcelona 400-meter hurdles. And while he didn’t quite walk, he did raise his right fist in the air for the final 10 meters of the race, which he won by about 10 meters. Even with the near-fall and the celebration, Young set a world record of 46.78 seconds, becoming the first person to run sub-47 in the event Edwin Moses dominated for so long.
The record still stands, although it might not for long if the two youngsters in the No. 74-ranked race have anything to say about it…
72. A Teenage World Record Holder in the Women’s Marathon?
May 1967 (18)
Mighty Moe, the 13-year-old marathon world record holder.
On May 6, 1967, in Toronto, the women’s marathon world record was set. Maureen Wilton ran 3 hours, 19 minutes to set the mark. She was 13 years old. Finishing second behind her was Kathrine Switzer, who had months earlier become the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entrant. Wilton’s escapades are chronicled in a book that came out this year by Rachel Swaby and Kit Fox. You can read an excerpt in Runner’s World, here.
71. The Babe
July and August 1932 (18)
It is officially three events, but in 1932 Babe Didrikson Zaharias became the only American woman to win a medal in a running, throwing, and jumping event.
We called this list the 100 Greatest Runs, Jumps, and Throws of All Time, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias could have entered one of each. In the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, she won the 80-meter hurdles in a world record of 11.7 seconds. She won another gold in the javelin, tossing the spear 43.69 meters to set another world record. She won silver in the high jump even though she tied American Jean Shiley with a leap of 5-feet-5-inches. Neither was able to clear the next height of 5-feet-5¾-inches, so the bar was moved back down to 5-fee-5¼-inches for a leap-off. Babe cleared the height, but a judge claimed she had broken the rule of “diving”—going headfirst. Either way, two golds and silver were a pretty great haul for one of the greatest female athletes ever.
70. The Evan Jager Spill
July 2015 (19)
Evan Jager almost broke 8 minutes, and he almost won a Diamond League steeplechase. But he just missed both because of a fall.
The greatest American male steeplechaser of all time was this close to becoming the first American under 8 minutes in the event. But a clipped last hurdle left him tantalizingly close to the barrier with his time of 8 minutes 0.45 seconds. Jager would only go on to finish sixth at the world championships that year, but redeemed himself with a silver medal in Rio and a bronze at the 2017 world championships.
69. The Citizen’s Champ
April 2018 (19)
Yuki Kawauchi somehow won the Boston Marathon.
Heading into the 2018 Boston Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi wanted to break Galen Rupp. So, he opened the race with a 4:37 mile in the driving wind and rain. Then, whenever he felt the pace lag, he charged again. With a little help from the weather, Rupp dropped out of the race around Mile 20. Then he only had to worry about a tiring Geoffrey Kirui.
Kawauchi made quick work of him and ran away through some of the worst marathoning conditions of all time to win the Boston Marathon, adding to Japan’s illustrious history at the race.
68. When Desiree Linden Conquered the Boston Marathon
April 2018 (19)
Desiree Linden had nearly won in Boston before, then she ran through the rain and wind to nab a victory on one of the world’s most famous courses.
The 2011 Boston Marathon was one of the great duels in the history of the women’s race. Linden tried and tried to pass Caroline Kilel after turning onto Boylston, but was never able to get by. In seven years, she would finally get to the finish line first.
Like Kawauchi in the men’s race, Linden simply kept going and going and won the battle of “showing up,” as she told many.
All throughout her career, she had done enough to get the job done. She was second in Boston in 2011. Then she made the Olympic Team in 2012, but was a D.N.F. because of an injury in London. She came back and made the team in 2016 again, that time finishing seventh in Rio.
Boston was a crowning moment of a career defined by showing up. On that rainy, wet, and awful day on the race from Hopkinton to Boston, Linden showed up and then some, winning one of the most historic marathons in the world.
67. Courtney Dauwalter Beats All
October 2017 (19)
Ultra-runners are getting more and more recognition in the media because of just how crazy they are.
At the first Moab 240 Endurance Run, a brutal, 240-mile race that begins and ends in Moab, Utah, in October 2017, Courtney Dauwalter beat everyone. Including the men. She ran the 240-mile course in 2 days, 9 hours, 59 minutes and was 10 minutes clear of second place.
Dauwalter’s win was nothing new. She was profiled in the New York Times for consistently beating men in races.
Regardless of who she defeats, running 97.7 mile per day for two-and-a-half days is it’s own kind of impressive … and crazy.
66. Sammy Wanjiru Turned the Table on the Marathon
August 2008 (19)
Wanjiru, who was on pace to be one of the greatest marathoners of all time, made his mark in his one shot at Olympic glory.
Heading into 2008, the Olympic Marathon record was 2 hours, 9 minutes, 21 seconds. In the heat of Beijing, that edition of the Olympic Marathon did not seem like a prime chance to set a record. But then the pack went out in 29 minutes, 25 seconds, which was faster than world record pace.
The lead pack came through the halfway point in a suicidal 1 hour, 2 minutes, 34 seconds. And slowly but surely, many started to fade. Except for Sammy Wanjiru. The 21-year-old Kenyan only slightly slowed over the final half of the race, coming through to finish in 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds to set an O.R. by nearly three minutes.
Wanjiru would go on to win Chicago twice and London once before dying in 2011.
65. Grete Waitz, the Nordic Ruler of New York
October 1978 (19)
The Norwegian runner won the first of her nine New York City Marathon titles in world record time.
It is hard to boil Waitz’s career down to one race. She won nine New York City Marathons, an Olympic silver medal, and a world championship gold, after all. But perhaps the one to focus on is the one where she announced herself to the world—and that would be the first time she won New York, the marathon that she essentially owned due to squatter’s rights. That she set a world record by nearly two minutes in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 29 seconds and won by nearly 10 minutes in her first New York City Marathon was a precursor to all she would do in the five-borough race over the next decade.
64. Jenny Simpson, WORLD CHAMPION
September 2011 (22)
Jenny Simpson won a world title over 1,500 meters, and she’s only gotten better.
Over the past decade, Jenny Simpson made herself one of the best American middle-distance runners of all time. With so many global championship medals and national championship wins, it’s easy to forget that she raced to a world championship back in 2011—before the U.S. was consistently winning medals at global championships.
While newly-minted American Record holder, Shelby Houlihan, has emerged as the best American 1,500-meter runner, Simpson is still going strong, too.
63. Donavan Brazier, no Longer the Future of the 800, but the Present
September 2019 (20)
The prodigy showed up on the world’s greatest stage.
Donavan Brazier’s running career can be measured in steps. First, he set the N.C.A.A. 800-meter record in 2016, running 1 minute, 43.55 seconds. Then, he failed to advance past the first round of the Olympic Trials. Then in 2017, he won the U.S. championship, but failed to advance to the world championship finals of the 800.
This year, he did it all. Not only did he win the world championship, he set the American Record at 1 minute, 42.34 seconds.
The question now: Brazier always seems to take the next step … is the world record a possibility?
62. Historical Betty
August 1928 (20)
The first women’s Olympic Gold medal in track was won by American Betty Robinson.
The following excerpt from Betty and Katty (Løpe Magazine, Issue No. 010) describes the first 100-meter dash ever held for women at the Olympic Games, which Betty Robinsin won in a world record of 12.2 seconds:
Betty Robinson was 16 years old when she made it big. Standing at the start line of the first 100-meter dash for women in Olympic history, she was not nervous. Sure, she was the only American in the final—her teammates Elta Cartwright and Mary Washburne didn’t make it out of the semifinals—and she had been beaten by Canadian Fanny Rosenfeld in the first round of the race, but this was still her first season of track, and Robinson just wanted to race.
That’s exactly what she did. From the gun Robinson kept an eye on Rosenfeld to her right. Rosenfeld got out quickly, pulling slightly ahead of the field. But Robinson stayed in contact. By 50 meters, Robinson had pulled even. Neither sprinter could seize the lead from the other until the final few steps of the race, when Robinson inched ahead to win by less than a stride. She was the first American woman to win a gold medal on the track—and the first woman to win a gold of any kind in track and field at the Olympic Games.
It was only her fourth time competing at a meet.
61. Fire on the Track (Not Literally)
Maurice Greene had the greatest post-race celebration of all time.
No, it was not some spectacular race. Simply, Greene pretended his shoes were on fire and it is a neat thing when track is cool and ridiculous.
60. Deanna Price Brings Americans to Hammer Party
September 2019 (20)
No American woman had ever won a global championship in the hammer throw—until Price threw a bomb on her first round in Doha.
You know the Sports Illustrated curse? That does not exist for Løpe Magazine. We profiled Deanna Price before the 2019 World Championships, and she delivered in Doha, winning the first gold of the world championships in an event where no U.S. woman had ever won.
The profile of Price posited that the hammer gets no respect, but Nike featured Price after her historic win, at least.
59. Dance Dance Kemboi
August 2012 (20)
Ezekiel Kemboi, the most entertaining distance runner in the world.
Remember that category of “Hype” we listed when we explained the ranking of these events? Well, Kemboi got an 8 in that regard. Not only was Kemboi one of the most clutch performers in steeple history over an extended period of time—he won six global championships in the steeple over 11 years (two Olympic golds)—he was also one of the most entertaining.
He would dance across the finish line and on his victory lap, gyrating his hips like the funny cousin at a wedding. Kemboi crossing a finish line in first was must-watch, and he did so often. He was able to have some fun because of his stunning closing speed. The final 300 meters of his 2012 Olympic seemed like they were powered by mushrooms.
58. 9.88 … Not
August 1988 (20)
Ben Johnson’s run that never was.
I remember hearing about the Ben Johnson race as a piece of history when I was a kid. “He looked like he was on roids,” people said. That his eyes were bloodshot and he was so ‘roided up he didn’t even know what was going on.
Rewatching the race, it’s not as noticeable as my memory told me it would be. In hindsight, it’s easy to say he was doped to the gills. But that’s one of the things that is so disappointing about track and field: That we have lost that sense of awe when people do unbelievable things. It is a bummer that when we see someone—even Bolt—do the impossible that we have to question it. Ben Johnson was one of my first memories of having that feeling.
57. Brazilian Gold in Rio
August 2016 (21)
Thiago Braz da Silva brought home gold in his home country in the pole vault.
During the Olympics, NBC should force the audience to watch each field event in slo-mo. That way everyone would appreciate just how amazing it is.
When Thiago Braz da Silva vaulted himself up into the atmosphere in Rio’s Olympic stadium in his attempt at 6.03 meters, you saw his body torpedoing up and over a way-too high bar about 20 feet in the sky. Working in unison, his feet soared over the bar while his right hand threw him away from the pole that had sent him flying. From there he did his best to control his body as it hurled above the ground, reaching its apex as his arms flopped over the bar. The he began falling, and he brought himself around the bar and allowing himself to throw his arms back in celebration when he knew he had achieved it.
It was a leap for his country, and a leap for an Olympic Record. The crowd ate it up.
56. A Clean Sweep
August 2016 (21)
They should rename the 100 hurdles after the women of the United States.
You will have to let us wax poetic about U.S. women’s hurdlers later (and we will, as the 400 hurdles and the women’s steeplechase are yet to come), but just know that the 100 hurdles and the U.S. women going 1-2-3 was one of the best moments of the 2016 Olympics.
Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin were heroes that day. And don’t foget, Keni Harrison did not even make the team that year even though she would later set the world record.
55. Run ‘til You Die
490 B.C. (21)
The first marathon.
It was not really a great race, but it was the first marathon, so that counts for something. And yes, Pheidippides was rumored to die after running the distance from Marathon, Greece, to Athens. It’s a shame it’s this high on the rankings, but historical and real-world significance have a lot of sway.
54. All Black Everything
November 1986 (22)
The Texas women won the 1986 N.C.A.A. cross-country championships wearing all black.
The orange looks like Crayola took the red dust from the rocks of the Grand Canyon and distilled it into a crayon. It is rich and deep and vibrant. At the University of Texas at Austin, the orange is everywhere—on t-shirts and pennants in the bookstore, plastered across texts and banners on marketing materials, and splattered on the Nike swooshes covering every bit of gear student-athletes practice and participate in. They accurately call it burnt orange. And they take it seriously.
“Burnt orange plays a major role in establishing our identity and should be implemented consistently in all web applications and print communications,” the university’s brand guidelines page reads. It also warns: “Never use tints of burnt orange.”
The guidelines have proven fruitful. When paired with white, burnt orange has become synonymous with a university and a football team that seem as if they would cease to exist without it. When Vince Young sprinted into the end zone to clinch the 2006 Rose Bowl, the “TEXAS” emblazoned across his chest in burnt orange was center stage on Sportscenter and nearly every website in the country. But it was long before Young that burnt orange had taken a stranglehold of Texas athletics.
Heading into the 1986 N.C.A.A. Women’s Cross-Country Championships, Texas coach Terry Crawford was well aware of the team’s connection to burnt orange and white, and she knew her competitors were aware of it, too.
They were in all black.
And it worked. The Texas women won the N.C.A.A. meet with 62 points, just beating out Suzy Favor-Hamilton’s Wisconsin team, who had 64 points.
53. Deena, the X.C. Great
March 2002 (22)
The U.S. women raced with the world’s best at the 2003 World Cross-Country Championships.
There are plenty of races to choose from when it comes to Deena Kastor’s career. There’s Olympic silver in the marathon in 2004. There’s the still-standing A.R. in the marathon. But then there’s cross-country, where Kastor won back-to-back silver medals in 2002 and 2003 at the world championships. And in that first silver-medal winning performance, Kastor also led the U.S. women to a team silver—it was the last time they defeated the Kenyan women at world cross-country.
52. Pre’s Farewell
May 1975 (22)
The last race America’s running rock star ever ran.
It wasn’t historic in the moment. It wasn’t a race that would have posters made of it. A race that would be featured in two films and one documentary. A race that people would talk about for years. No. Steve Prefontaine’s race on a May 25, 1975, where he won the 5,000 meters at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, wasn’t supposed to be historic. His 13 minutes, 23.8 seconds was less than two seconds away from his American Record, but it was just the start of something better and the path toward the Olympic medal that had eluded him in 1972.
It would turn out to be important, however. For all the wrong reasons. Pre died that night while driving home from a post-race party.
51. The Greatest 5K ever?
Kipchoge. El Guerrouj. Bekele. What else do you want?
If I told you Eliud Kipchoge, Hicham El Guerrouj, and Kenenisa Bekele all ran a race, would you expect it to live up to expectations or sizzle?
I hope you didn’t say sizzle, you downer, because when the three legends lined up in 2003 at the world championships 5,000 meters in Paris, it was one of the greatest races over 12.5 laps ever. Not only did it feature three all-time greats, it was fast, they closed fast, and it was a phenomenal finish. Kipchohge won in 12 minutes, 52.79 seconds with El Guerrouj and Bekele within 0.04 and 0.33 seconds, respectively. The October 2003 Track & Field News Cover did the race justice.
To read rankings No. 50 to 26, click here. Or to navigate all rankings, click here.