"Bekele’s undefeated season at 3000 meters and above, including two world titles, made him a clear choice," said Editor and Publisher, David Monti. "But it was a much tougher call to pick Masai. World champions Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain (1500m) and Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya (5000m) also had enviable records.”
After failing to finish an early season 1500m, Bekele, 27, went on to win ten consecutive races. He not only won the world titles at both 5000m and 10,000m, but recorded the fastest times in the world for both of those distances (12:52.32 and 26:46.31, respectively). He was also the second-fastest athlete at 3000m, and won a share of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot by winning all six races he contested at Golden League events.
“Whether it was a championship race or a big invitational, the result was the same,” said Assistant Editor Bob Ramsak. “At the World Championships he controlled the 5000m final perfectly, mustering a better sprint than even Bernard Lagat, one of history’s greatest milers. It’s just amazing that he ran 20,000 total meters at the World Championships and ran his very last lap in 53.7 seconds.”
It was the fourth time Bekele was named Race Results Weekly Runner of the Year. He also won in 2003, 2006 and 2008.
Masai was the surprise world champion at 10,000m at just 19 years-old, passing Ethiopia’s Meselech Melkamu at the line to win by 1/10th of a second. She was also the silver medallist at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the senior division, and notched 9 victories in 16 podium finishes on all three surfaces (cross country, road and track). She also ran the world-leading time at ten miles (50:39).
“Her silver medal at World Cross gave her a tiny edge over Jamal and Cheruiyot,” explained Monti. “Jamal was absolutely dominant at 1500m, and Cheruiyot had 15 total victories and fast times on both the track and the roads. But it was Masai who made two trips to the medal stand.”
In determining the Race Results Weekly 2009 Runners of the Year, the editors considered each athlete’s entire competitive record for the year, but ultimately gave the greatest weight to their best and most inspiring performances, especially at major championships when the stakes were highest.
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