A Tale of Three Tracks: NC's Female Distance Runners Make History Separately

The record stood for 11 years, then fell twice in the same day. That's the kind of day it was on Saturday, though, for three of the best female distance runners in North Carolina's history. The incredible day began when Malia Ellington (Community School of Davidson) ran 2:53.23 at the Virginia Tech Invitational, losing narrowly to Emma Call (Maggie Walker, VA), who will be at JDL Fast Track next weekend. The time was a new North Carolina All-Time Record, edging out the 2004 performance of MacKenzie Pierce (Forsyth Country Day '05) as the fastest ever from our state. That record had been the subject of intense pursuit in recent years, with Ellington, Blake Dodge, Nevada Mareno, and Casey Greenwalt all having legitimate aspirations of getting past it, but the record had stood all those tests until yesterday.

Ellington's race would be more than enough big news for any Saturday, and certainly one of the major highlights of an entire season, but it turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. A few hours later, Nevada Mareno (Leesville Road) decided to put the pedal down and destroyed the field at the Eastern Challenge. By the time she was done, she had also destroyed the record, winning by 17 seconds in 2:49.79 to move all the way up to US #3 (and her time is the fastest in the nation to be run on a flat track, with the entire rest of the top 4 coming from the Armory this weekend). This wasn't just the slight improvement of the record, but a complete transcendence of it, a 2.3% improvement that is almost unheard of at the elite level - and since she was solo the whole race, it raises the possibility that there is more still there for her to accomplish!

That makes not just one all-time record, but two in the same event on the same day, in different locations! Surely that hasn't happened very often. Luckily, fans of distance running knew that the special day might not be over, as the Camel City Elite brought one last opportunity for record-breaking. Ryen Frazier, already the owner of the All-Time State Record in the mile/1600, had the opportunity to race against professional and collegiate runners in the Camel City Elite Mile. From the beginning you could tell that she was determined to make the most of it - while the pros quickly separated led by Shannon Rowbury up front, Frazier first went to the front of the collegiate pack, then started to pull away from them. Even the final times were similarly historic: Rowbury powered to a 4:22.66, 5th-fastest ever indoors by an American woman, while Frazier clocked 4:41.56 during her 6th-place run, making her the 8th-best indoor miler in US high school history! Needless to say, it was another indoor state record, and actually ranks #2 All-Time on the outdoor list, behind her sister Wesley.

And that's how three different girls running at three different tracks set three all-time state records in two different events on a day that will surely be remembered by everyone who got to experience it. Now, imagine if we could get all three into the same race at some point...