UW Health Sports Medicine 

Marathon men

The past couple of weeks have been big for a pair of former Wisconsin distance runners who are transitioning to running, well, longer distances.

Both Simon Bairu and Tim Nelson are in the process of making the switch to marathons, and both found some success in separate half-marathon competitions the weekend of Jan. 16.

Nelson, who was a member of Team USA at 10,000 meters for last summer's IAAF World Track & Field Championships, claimed an impressive fourth-place finish at the USA Half-Marathon Championship in Houston. He clocked in at 1:02:11.

Shalane Flanagan, who, like Nelson, trains under former UW cross country coach Jerry Schumacher, won the women's national title with her course-record time of 1:09:41.

Read more about the race here.

As a Canadian, former Badger Simon Bairu was not eligible to run in the U.S. championship and turned to an alternative half-marathon in Phoenix. All he did was win the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon (just reciting the event's name should be worth a trophy of some kind) in record time.

Bairu's crossed the line in 1:02:47 to come in well under the previous race record of 1:04:35 turned in by the late Ryan Shay in 2004. Perhaps more impressively, Bairu won by beating American half-marathon record holder Ryan Hall.

The win came on the heels of the Canadian cross country title Bairu won last fall -- the seventh national championship he's won on his native soil.

Like Nelson -- and other former Badgers Evan Jager, Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp -- Bairu is coached by Schumacher. His next stop is the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Poland this March.

Read more on Bairu's win in Phoenix here.