Libbie Hickman – 1997
If 1996 was something of a heartbreaker for Libbie—she finished in a non-qualifying fourth place at the Olympic Trials—then the year 1997 definitely was not a disappointment, in fact, heart booster describes it best!
The Fort Collins runner got off to a fast start, winning the four-mile Kansas City Trolley Run with a time eclipsing the American record set by Francie Larrieu 14-years earlier.
On Memorial Day, she took on another 14-year challenge and became the first American woman to win the premier 6.2-mile Bolder Boulder race since Ellen Hart in 1983.
Everywhere she competed the 32-year-old speedster outdistanced the pack, winning another 10-kilometer event in Wichita, Kansas, a 5K in Riverside, California and the Colorado Run in her hometown. Onward she ran to a National Championship for the 5,000-meter distance and seventh place at the World Track Championships with a career-best time.
At year-end, the “Colorado Comet” was declared Female Road Racer of the Year by the Road Runners Club of America, Women’s Long Distance Runner of the Year by the USA Track and Field Association and Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Her wreath of laurels also included induction into the CSU Hall of Fame and a No. 5 world ranking by Running Times magazine.
She had another good year in 1998, winning the U.S. Half Marathon Nationals and U.S. National 10K and was the No. 1 American woman (No. 6 finisher) in the New York City Marathon.