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2011 Awards

posted by Brett
2011 Awards

Brett Bonisteel of looks back on the year that was in 2011 with the 1st annual ‘Feed Awards’. The Feed Awards focus on the elites of the running world—giving honorary awards to athletes and events across the globe. The 2011 Feed Awards will see winners in the following eight categories:

1. Breakout Athlete
2. Race of the Year
3. Best Performance
4. Northern Star Award
5. Jaw Dropper Award
6. Comebacker Award
7. Grinder Award
8. Most Outstanding Runner
9. Athlete to Watch in 2012

1. Breakout Athlete

Breakout Athlete was easily one of the toughest awards in which to select a winner. There were multiple runners who made a name for themselves in 2011. The criterion for the Breakout Athlete Award is any runner who undoubtedly shot themselves to the forefront of the running world through amazing performances.

Winner: Moses Mosop (KEN)

Moses Mosop completely torched the roads in 2011. The year saw Moses compete at the highest levels of two major marathons – Chicago and Boston. He finished 2nd to Geoffrey Mutai in Boston where a point-to-point course and windy conditions setup for unbelievable times. Moses then won the Chicago marathon (2:05.37 Course Record) on a flat, fast course which attracts the world’s best marathoners. To boot, Moses also competed in a world record attempt for 30,000m at the 2011 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. He obliterated the 30-year-old record by over two minutes running 1:26.47.4 over 30k. Moses also finished 3rd in the inaugural B.A.A 10k—a race won by fellow Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai.

2. Honourable Mentions:

Matt Centrowitz Jr. (USA)

-3rd (Men’s 1500m Final) 2011 World Track & Field Championships. Centro snagged a bronze medal in one of the most difficult distances to be successful – the men’s 1500m.

Ibrahim Jeilan (ETH)
-1st (Men’s 10,000m Final) 2011 World Track & Field Championships. Mo Farah looked as if he had this race won with 400 meters to go. However a super determined Jeilan of Ethiopia took the crown in the closing meters – vaulting him to World Championship glory.

2. Race of the Year

Winner: 10,000m – 2011 Prefontaine Classic – Eugene, Oregon

2011 played host to a number of really exciting races, only helping to further the popularity of the sport. However, one race stood above all the rest. It was a 10,000m ran at the 2011 Prefonatine Classic in Eugene, Oregon (see results). Mo Farah of Great Britain took the win, posting a personal record, meet record and a European record in the process. The real awe however came after studying the remainder of the results. A record, 9 athletes ran sub 27-minute times. Thirteen runners claimed personal records, and the top nine finishers were only separated by a mere 9-seconds. Races of this quality are rare, and it’s great when they come just a year prior to the Olympic Games.

See Highlight Video

3. Best Performance Award

Winner: Geoffrey Mutai – 2011 Boston Marathon

This award exemplifies a performance that truly caught the eye of the running world. While great performances were plentiful in 2011, the run by Geoffrey Mutai at the 2011 Boston Marathon was off the charts. Mutai single handily rewrote conventional marathon wisdom—somehow completely avoiding hitting the proverbial ‘marathon wall’. Mutai crossed the line in 1st place in a time of two hours, three minutes and two seconds! The time fell well under the World record mark, however it was not recognized as an official record. The Boston Marathon is a ‘point to point’ course as opposed to a circuit style meaning the wind was a major factor. Many people around the sport however felt the performance should be recognized as a world record because of the difficult course athletes must cover in Boston – especially ‘Heartbreak Hill’.

photo credit: Lehigh Valley Live

4. Northern Star Award

Winner: Sheila Reid (Villanova Wildcats-NCAA)

It was truly a battle of the ‘Reid’s” when it came to selecting the 2011 Northern Star Award—given to the most outstanding Canadian runner of the year. Reid Coolsaet had an awesome year—qualifying for the Olympics at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon while narrowly missing out on the Jerome Drayton’s 36 year old Canadian record.
However it was Newmarket Ontario’s Sheila Reid who won this year’s Northern Star Award. It began after capturing her 2nd straight National Championship in NCAA Cross Country – a feat only one other Canadian had previously accomplished. Simon Bairu won back-to-back titles while at the University of Wisconsin.

Sheila capped off her year by doing something no other female has ever done in NCAA history. She doubled at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships— winning at 1500m and 5,000m respectively. Sheila had an amazing year, experiencing the highest levels of success in an extremely deep NCAA field.

See Runners Feed’s Exclusive Interview with Sheila Reid

Photo Credit: USA TODAY

5. Jaw Dropper Award

Winner: Usain Bolt’s false start and disqualification from the 100m final – 2011 World Track & Field Championships – Daegu, South Korea.

The Jaw Dropper award recognizes the year’s most shocking moment. 2011’s jaw dropper came at a time when 99% of track and field viewers had all but guaranteed Usain Bolt a gold medal in the men’s 100m Final in Daegu. However the collective jaws of the world were on the ground when Bolt jumped ever so slightly prior to the gun. Bolt knew immediately he had false started, ripping off his jersey in disappointment. It only takes one false start nowadays to earn a DQ – most fans probably would have given a pardon to Bolt to see him race, however the same standards must be applied across the board. Countryman Yohan Blake ended up taking the gold medal – a win that has sparked his career.

6. Comebacker Award

Winner: Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)

The Comebacker award showcases an athlete who overcame the odds to show the world they still ‘have it’. Arguably the best distance runner of all time—Keninisa Bekele has dominated the sport throughout his professional running career. The Ethiopian legend ran into injury troubles – forcing him to the sidelines for the better part of two years.
Kenenisa Bekele returned to the grand stage in 2011 for the World Track & Field Championships in the men’s 10,000m final. He was forced to drop out. It was looking as if the great Bekele had finally succumbed to either injury or a changing of the guard in his sport. This turned out to be far from the truth. Bekele returned yet again to race 10,000m at a Diamond League event in Brussels, Belgium. Bekele won the race and posted the world leading time for 10,000m in 2011 (26:43). The win put Bekele right back at the forefront of favourites to medal in London next summer.

7. Grinder Award

Winner: Kara Goucher (USA)

The Grinder Award is given to an athlete who embodies the necessary qualities to be considered a ‘grinder’. Perseverance, dedication, mental strength and the ability to endure are all traits of a true running grinder.

Kara Goucher takes home this year’s Grinder Award. It’s no secret that Kara loves running Boston. However, one would think that the chances of setting a PR in her 1st Boston Marathon following the birth of her son a year and a half prior would be very unlikely at best. Goucher is cut from a different cloth however. She got back to the grindstone as soon as possible and showed up to Boston ready for a PR and a top-5 finish. We anxiously await her upcoming performance at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Read the Book Review

8. Best Overall Athlete

Winner: Geoffrey Mutai (KEN)

Quite possibly the greatest year ever put together by a distance runner – marathoner Geoffrey Mutai was absolutely incredible in 2011. He was the champion of four major races (Boston Marathon, ING New York City Marathon, Bogota Half Marathon, B.A.A 10k) all of which he set course records. Mutai raced for Kenya at the World Cross Country Championships, placing 5th overall, helping Kenya win the team crown.
Mutai was a joy to watch throughout his wins in 2011. Kenya made a statement on both the men’s and women’s side of the marathon going into London 2012. Mutai was the star amongst a deep roster of Kenyan distance runners who experienced major success.

9. Athlete to Watch in 2012

Winner: Galen Rupp (USA)

It’s no secret elite distance coach Alberto Salazar breeds great athletes. His roster has compiled some pretty impressive hardware over the past few years. It does help; however, when you have talented runners like Galen Rupp to work with. Rupp is certainly not an unknown amongst the elites of the sport, and is a threat to be featured on the podium come next summer’s Olympic Games.

He set an American record (AR) for 5,000m indoors (13.11) at a meet in Birmingham, Great Britain. He surpassed Chris Solinsky’s AR for 10,000m, running a blistering 26:48 in Brussels. Rupp also claimed two top-10 finishes at the Track & Field World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. Galen had a very impressive 2011, showcasing his incredible range. Rupp ran 1:00:30 in the New York City Half Marathon this past March. With the right group of people around him, including training partner Mo Farah (who was in the running for Best Overall Athlete) and Coach Salazar – Galen Rupp could have a very memorable 2012.


About the Author: Brett Bonisteel resides in Ottawa, Canada and trains with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club. Brett is a passionate fan of the sport of distance running and enjoys writing about the sport’s elites. He comes from a family of distance athletes and when they aren’t competing out on the roads, winning a fierce game of Jeopardy holds equal bragging rights.

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