10 Things to Look Forward to in Running in 2023 and Beyond
As we say good-bye to 2022 and the amazing year of running highlights, it’s time to start thinking about all of the possibilities for 2023 and beyond.
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As we say good-bye to 2022 and the amazing year of running highlights, it’s time to start thinking about all of the possibilities for 2023 and beyond. Here are a few things, in no particular order, we can look forward to on the track, trails and roads in the year ahead.
1. An Epic Boston Marathon
Let me be clear, the Boston Marathon is always an epic event, no matter if you’re running it or merely spectating. The 127th edition, held on Monday, April 17, will be big for numerous reasons, not the least of which is because it’s the 10-year anniversary of the horrific terrorist bombings that resulted in four deaths and hundreds of injuries. But it will likely be bigger than ever because Eliud Kipchoge, the G.O.A.T. of the marathon, has announced that he’ll be running it for the first time — and, of course, that means he’ll be running to win. The 38-year-old Kenyan has won 15 of the 17 marathons he’s run (including the past two Olympic marathons) and hopes to win all six Marathon Majors before he retires, so there’s a compelling reason to think he’ll be running the New York City Marathon next fall, too. But winning Boston won’t be easy. The men’s field is stacked, with 2022 world champion Gotytom Gebreslase, defending Boston Marathon champion Evans Chebet plus five additional Boston winners in the field. The women’s field will also be loaded with talent, including returning champions Desi Linden of the U.S. (2018), Edna Kiplagat of Kenya (2017) and Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia (2016). Linden will be running her 10th Boston and trying to add to her total of five top-5 finishes. See you in Beantown for Red Sox, lobstah rolls and running!
2. XC Marks the Spot
XC is the acronym for cross country running, which will make a big splash early 2023. Cross country is not only the purest form of running, but it’s arguably the most competitive discipline of the sport because it brings together elite-level middle-distance and long-distance runners from the track and some of the world’s best marathoners to compete on the level playing field of a grassy, often hilly and sometimes muddy course. The World Cross Country Championships return for the first time since 2019 (thanks a lot, COVID-19), which means a few hundred of the world’s top runners will descend on Bathurst, Australia, on February 17-18 for the men’s and women’s 10km races, the under-20 men’s (8km) and women’s (6km) races and an open 8km race. As a precursor to the world championships, the top American runners will battle it out in the U.S. championships on January 21 in Pole Green Park in Richmond, Virginia, for a chance to run in Australia. Cross country is equal parts aerobic conditioning and blood-and-guts tenacity, so it’s fun to watch but even more fun to run!
3. Reading about Running
As proof there are great reads outside of your social feed, there are a lot of great running books coming out in 2023. Among the ones on my list so far are the “Choosing to Run: A Memoir” from 2018 Boston Marathon winner Desi Linden; “The Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike’s Elite Running Team,” by two-time U.S. Olympian Kara Goucher, who was a professional runner for that Nike team; “A Mile at a Time: A Father and Son’s Inspiring Alzheimer’s Journey of Love, Adventure, and Hope,” from adventure athlete and trail runner Travis Macy; “The Race that Changed Running: The Inside Story of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc,” from Doug Mayer, a journalist and trail runner who has lived and operated a tour business in Chamonix, France, for several years; “Up to Speed: The Groundbreaking Science of Women Athletes,” by journalist Christine; and “Becoming a Sustainable Runner,” by Tina Muir and Zoë Rom, editor-in-chief of Trail Runner. Whether you read via Kindle, listen via Audible or turn the pages of actual books, make room on your nightstand or digital device for these gems.
4. 2023’s Crop of New Shoes Are Crazy Cushy
Based on the sneak peeks I’ve seen, next year’s road running shoes will be cushier and more energetic than ever. While there will be another great crop of new racing shoes —including Nike’s Vaporfly Next% 3 ($250) and Mizuno’s Wave Rebellion Pro ($250)—the best models coming out in 2023 will be cushy, energetic training shoes. Take for example Saucony’s new Kinvara Pro ($180), a super-stacked dual-density midsole sandwiched around a curvy tear-drop carbon-fiber plate. It has an 8mm heel-toe offset with a massive stack height (42mm in the heel, 34 mm in the forefoot), but it weighs only 9 oz. (for a men’s size 9.) Another key model is Skechers Speed Beast, a high-off-the-ground racer/trainer (40mm heel, 36mm forefoot) that incorporates the brand’s new, softer, lighter and more responsive Hyper Burst Pro foam. Same goes for the most anticipated trail running shoe, Speedland’s forthcoming GS:TAM ($275), a maximally cushioned model with a unique dual-density Pebax midsole layered around a fork-pronged removable Carbitex carbon-fiber plate and secured by a pair of two-way BOA performance fit dials.
5. Trail Running is Blowing Up
Trail running has grown 231 percent in the last 10 years, and after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, race participation and trail running shoe sales are booming as more women and more BIPOC individuals have joined the fun. Furthermore, big races and champion athletes — Jim Walmsley, Courtney Dauwalter, Adam Peterman, Allie McLaughlin, and, of course, Kilian Jornet — are getting a lot more notoriety in the mainstream. While it’s harder than ever to get into some of the country’s most storied races — The Dipsea, Chuckanut 50K, Western States 100 and the Hardrock 100 — there are hundreds of other big and small events where you can test your off-road running skills as well as your physical, mental and emotional tenacity. The Broken Arrow Sky Race is a festival of races and trail running community that’s part of the Golden Trail Series. Even though it’s difficult to qualify to race in Chamonix, the UTMB World Series offers 34 compelling trail races around the world immersed in cultural experiences, including four U.S. events. But the beauty of trail running is that you can enjoy the vibe of the sport’s dastardly challenges and supportive culture at an event in your own backyard. My all-time favorite trail race? The Never Summer 100km race in my backyard in Colorado.
6. The Queens of the Track Will be Back
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Athing Mu have been two of the world’s most exciting track stars for several years. They’re already the best in the world in their primary events — the 400m hurdles for the 23-year-old McLaughlin and the 800m run for the 20-year-old Mu — and should remain the queens of those events for years to come. But in 2023 they’ll be training together under coach Bob Kersee and so there is at least an outside chance that they could meet on the track at some point in 2023 in an open 400m race for the ages, and if they do, there’s no doubt they could threaten Sanya Richard-Ross’s 2006 American record of 48.70. While McLaughlin will continue running the 400-meter hurdles as her primary event and likely remain unbeatable, there’s reason to believe Mu might run more 400s in 2023. What an amazing World Athletics Championships final it would be to see Mu racing Salwa Eid Naser (Brunei), Marileidy Paulino (Dominican Republic), Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas) and Christine Mboma (Namibia) down the homestretch in Budapest. Marita Koch’s falsely propped up (aka, doped-up) world record of 47.60 from 1985 might finally be demoted in the record books.
7. America’s Next-Gen Men Are Rising
Although he has yet to win any international medals, Grant Fisher has put together two of the best running seasons of any American distance runner in history and he’s only 25. He leads the next generation of American men’s distance-running aces, along with Cole Hocker, Cooper Teare and Joe Klecker. After placing 5th in the 10,000m and 9th in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Fisher improved to 4th in the 10,000m and 6th in the 5,000m at last summer’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon. He also won a fast U.S. championships 5,000m race and set a new indoor American record in the 5,000m (12:53.73) and a new outdoor American record in the 10,000m (26:33.84), the later of which ranked No. 1 in the world in 2022 and is No. 7 on the all-time world list. Greedy American fans will be eager to see him earn a medal as soon as this summer’s world championships in Budapest or the 2024 Paris Olympics, but the more intriguing long-term story might be if and when he decides to train for a marathon.
8. Runners Chasing Their Dreams
With the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon a little more than a year away (February 4, 2024 in Orlando, Florida), there will be a lot of excitement around American runners trying to reach the qualifying standards — 2:18:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women — in 2023. But for most of those qualifying runners, many of whom work full-time jobs, finishing among the top three and making the Olympic team isn’t remotely possible. It’s all about reaching those qualifying times and then seeing where they stack up against the country’s best marathoners in a race that only happens every four years. Although the Houston Marathon (January 15), Grandma’s Marathon (June 17), Twin Cities Marathon (October 1) and the California International Marathon (December 3) will be the most likely places for those sub-elite (or emerging elite) runners to qualify, the thrill-of-the-chase satisfaction will be just the same no matter where it happens.
9. The World Returns to Oregon
A year after the best track and field athletes on the planet descended on Eugene, Oregon, for the 2022 World Athletics Championships, many of them will return to Track Town USA to flex their running, jumping and throwing prowess as the annual Prefontaine Classic doubles as the Diamond League Finals on September 16-17 at Hayward Field. Because it will come at the end of a long season, it won’t have quite the star power as the world championships. But we’re at one of the greatest eras in the history of track and field and it will be a great chance to see some of the sport’s top stars — possibly Fred Kerley, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Athing Mu, Joshua Cheptegei, Faith Kipyegon and Armand Duplantis—who will go for the gold in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
10. Running Fast and Chugging Beer in Chicago
In 2023, Melanie Pozdol will get to run fast while chugging a lot of beers in her hometown of Chicago as she defends her beer mile world championship. The 34-year-old data analyst for Northwestern University won the 2022 women’s world title in Belgium, by running a 6:41 mile with four intermittent breaks to pound 12-ounce beers. The 2023 World Beer Mile Classic will be held July 1 on a state-of-the-art Mondo track at Hope Academy on the west side of Chicago. With Pozdol, Elizabeth Laseter and three-time champion Alli Grace, the American women will definitely be the squad to beat. On the men’s side, Canadian Corey Bellemore is the Michael Jordan of the beer mile, but the race for team title is wide open. In addition to bringing some of the world’s best beer-chugging runners to the Windy City, there will also be community beer mile heats and a national club beer mile championship. If you’ve never run a beer mile, this is a prime opportunity for your debut. Chicago is my kinda town and, given the propensity for runners puking up beers mid-run, this event will be a mix between, fast-paced running and a “Da Bears!” skit on Saturday Night Live.