Noelle Pikus-Pace: I already miss skeleton, but happily retired

Noelle Pikus-Pace
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NEW YORK — Noelle Pikus-Pace misses jumping head first onto a sled and speeding 90 mph down an icy chute.

She won skeleton silver at the Sochi Olympics eight months ago. Her home track in Park City, Utah, hasn’t opened for the winter season yet. Pikus-Pace plans to travel to the track at Utah Olympic Park in a couple of weeks.

“We’ll see if I get on my sled or not,” she said, breaking into a laugh. “I don’t know.”

Pikus-Pace first retired after the 2010 Olympics, but a year and a half later she found herself at that same Park City track. Her husband, Janson, challenged her to take one last run. She obliged, and it sparked a comeback.

Pikus-Pace, 31, insists she is happily retired after her emotional performance in Russia, returning from a fourth-place finish at Vancouver 2010, that retirement, having her second child and just about climbing to the top of her sport.

“It will be hard to just turn and walk away from it, but I think everybody needs to know when it’s time to move on, and I feel like I’ve done what I needed to do,” Pikus-Pace said Wednesday night at the Women’s Sports Foundation awards on Wall Street, where she received the Wilma Rudolph Courage award.

She’s watched her Olympic runs plenty of times in the last eight months.

“I get those emotions every time I see it,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it.”

Pikus-Pace slid into a new career — motivational speaking. She shared her message of perseverance to events and groups such as Time Out for Women in Sacramento, Calif., the Utah Technology Council and Monroe Middle School in Wheaton, Ill.

source:  She was approached to write a book the day after she returned from Sochi, spent copious amounts of airline time writing it, turned in a draft in April and saw it released last month. “Focused: Keeping Your Life on Track, One Choice at a Time,” is 137 pages.

Now, she’s doing more personal book signings, where people tell her she inspired them to overcome struggles in their lives. Pikus-Pace recently did a double take driving around a mountain near her home.

“It was a big picture of my face on this billboard,” she said. “It was to market my book. I didn’t even know they were promoting it that way.”

The book was high on her post-Olympic bucket list. Also on it?

* See the Aurora Borealis in Alaska
* Develop fluent Spanish
* Learn sign language
* Run a half-marathon
* Learn to play the guitar
* Help her kids, Traycen and Lacee, reach their dreams
* Have more kids

“[Having kids] is not very aerodynamic for our sport,” she said, “so I can’t really come back.”

Traycen, 3, is in preschool. Lacee, 6, is in first grade and playing the piano. You may remember Lacee taking skeleton runs last season. Pikus-Pace joked she would prefer Lacee choose a different sport.

“Tennis, golf,” she said. “Something more lucrative and in the sun.”

J.R. Celski not on U.S. short track team for World Cup

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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