We've already highlighted Colorado's Top 12 Performances for 2012, but which runners really performed at a high-level all year long, and deserve to be RunColo's Runner of the Year? Lots of names come to mind - Tyler Scholl at the pre-teen level, Paul Roberts among high schoolers, Jake Hursyz for his impressive year at CU, Kenyon Neuman and Robert Cheseret for their succes in Colorado, and Fernando Cabada for his Olympic trials marathon and recent wins. Or Sage Canaday for his ultra and trail success. There are plenty of candidates on the women's side too - Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp both made the Olympics while competing at CU. Kim Dobson broke a long-standing Pikes Peak Ascent course record, and then Stevie Kremer won the World Mountain Running long-distance championship.
But I've got others in mind for this year's award (of which, there of course is no actual award).
Brad Hudson, from an outside perspective, has done an incredible job at making running fun for those in his group. He has the fast group, the cool group, and a nice mix of men and women. I've never run with them, and thought that the summer-long praises of having water brought to you on your long run were a little silly, but the excitement this group has for running, and for their group, appears unmatched by any other in Colorado. Folks from south Denver are willing to drive to Boulder to be a part of it. When new elites come to Boulder for even a short stay, they find their way into Hudson's group. It is the place to be. And he's been just as impressive on the coaching side. He has guided Fernando Cabada into form, delivered Pat Rizzo to a PR at the Olympic trials marathon, and helped make Molly Pritz one of Colorado's fastest, among so many others that have benefited from his coaching.
For the women, I'm going to take a cop out and call it a tie. Brianne Nelson and Alisha Williams have both had incredible years - Nelson moreso locally, and Williams moreso nationally.
Nelson has won nearly every race in Colorado that she's entered. She broke the Colfax Half Marathon course record, won the Boulder Half Marathon, won the Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Race, won the Race for Fetal Hope, and a ton of others ranging from 5k to half marathon. She's been in the top-10 at a few lesser U.S. championships - 10k road comes to mind, and then had a very impressive second-place U.S. club cross finish. But what's most impressive is that it's all way faster than what she was running a year ago, when she barely scooted into the Olympic trials. For instance, her Heart & Sole half marathon time was 5 minutes and 33 seconds faster in 2012 than in 2011.
And while Williams hasn't raced as much as Nelson locally, she has raced faster. Winning CIM a few weeks ago was a big deal. She ran in both the 5k and 10k at the Olympic trials, and of course the marathon. She won the Heart & Sole half marathon (beating Nelson), won the USATF Colorado 10-mile championships, was sixth at the U.S. 15k championships, and fifth at the 1-mile championships. Impressive across the board.