The Running Times 2013 Runners of the Year

Annual rankings of the top distance runners in the world, the U.S. and Canada


December 30, 2013
Farah Bekele Haile in London

The Running Times Runners of the Year rankings take into account results from all distances on the track and roads from 3,000m to the marathon. Winning or placing highly in the year’s most competitive races is rewarded by the rankings, which place the greatest weight on races with the deepest fields. We then factor in how the runners fared in head-to-head matchups with other top-ranked runners, and, finally, consider how consistent the runner was based on his or her average weekly competitive level, calculated as point exchanges based on who beats whom in that week’s races. Times are not considered in this calculation, so a fast time run solo wins very few points—you have to face competition to be ranked as a racer.

By and large, the most competitive fields met on the track, with the IAAF World Championships in Moscow prominent. The 5,000m there on Aug. 16 emerged as the most competitive race of the year for men, with the Aug. 10 10,000m in Moscow ranked sixth most competitive. Diamond League meets filled in most of the rest of the top 10. The London Marathon ranked as the sole uber-competitive road race in the No. 3 spot and the now bi-annual IAAF World Cross Country Championships No. 10.

Mo Farah solidified his position as the dominant distance runner of the decade by securing his third consecutive No. 1 spot. He did so in style, repeating his 5,000m/10,000m double from the 2012 Olympic Games at the world championships and taking top spot at three of the most competitive races of the year.

On the women’s side, Meseret Defar cemented her comeback, returning to the top spot for the first time since 2009. Defar did so by winning the year’s most competitive race, the Aug. 29 Weltklasse Zurich 5,000m. In fact, Defar broke the tape at the top four most competitive women’s races of the year.