Are these the 12 best names in running?
Nominative determinism is the theory that people gravitate towards fields of work that fit their names. For example, Amy Field becomes a farmer, Brian Graves a funeral director, Henry Payne a dentist and Remus Lupin a werewolf. Implicit egotism has been cited as the reason behind this – the idea that human beings have an unconscious preference for things they associate with themselves. Whatever the reason, it's wonderful when a name and a profession come together. And running has some truly glorious examples.
Rush by name and, indeed, Rush by nature. The British distance runner competed for England in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and won both the Edinburgh and Pisa marathons in 2014. She then turned her attention to ultras, and currently holds the course record for the North Downs Way 50, among others.
Stepanova was - of course - a hurdler. Indeed, the Soviet athlete once held the world record for the 400m hurdles, and won gold over that distance at the 1986 European Championship. Less stepping over, and more leaping.
The Scotsman is one of the UK’s top fell runners. He won the British Fell Running Championships in 2015 and again in 2022. He also holds the fastest known time for the Paddy Buckley Round in Wales (15hrs 14mins) and the Cuilin Ridge traverse on the Isle of Skye (2hrs 59mins). Not a man to be domesticated onto a gym treadmill, then.
You might have heard of him. 100m world record holder, eight-time Olympic gold medallist, strong candidate for ‘World’s Coolest Man’. With a name like Bolt, the Jamaican was surely destined to be quick. And his second-born son has an even better moniker: Thunder Bolt. Watch this space.
Arguably the greatest running name of all time, Tripp Hurt is a steeplechaser – an event that does, of course, involve runners tripping and hurting themselves. The US athlete has a personal best at the distance of 8:30:69 and is also a fine 1500 metre runner. An honorable mention here too to American middle distance runner Sage Hurta.
The indomitable Ron Hill was one of Britain’s best distance runners. He was the second man to break the 2:10 barrier in the marathon, won the 1970 Boston Marathon and won golds over the same distance at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games. He also notched up an incredible 52-year running streak and founded Hilly Clothing, specialising in technical socks. With a surname like his, he was destined to be a high climber.
Fireman during the week, fell runner at he weekend, Ricky Lightfoot has a glorious surname and off-road running CV. One of the few people to have triumphed in the Man V Horse marathon, Lightfoot also won the 2013 Trail World Championships. One can only imagine he has never had a 'heavy legged' day in his life.
To call Marcela Joglova a jogger would be a little insulting, but it remains an excellent surname for a marathon runner. The Czech athlete competed in the marathon at the 2019 World Championships and boasts a PB of 2:28:16.
The British distance runner certainly put in the miles, registering personal bests of 1:13:13 for the half marathon and 33:53 for 10K. Admittedly it’s a rather more common surname than some, but no less splendid for a distance runner.
Vania did indeed stumble over – tripping on a hurdle at London 2012 Olympics. Life is cruel. Credit to the Bulgarian athlete, she dusted herself off finished sixth in the 800m at European Championships two years later.
The Puerto Rican 100m man hit his peak in the mid-1980s, clocking a time of 10.4 seconds. OK, it’s not going to win you an Olympic medal, but it’s still very much a dash.
@Divine_Miss_Em @FrankOnTheRadio ..... nominative determinism at it's best?? pic.twitter.com/CsJWfVEQky
— Ian_P (@Ian_P8) January 3, 2018
We've saved the best for last. The magnificently-monikered Farr is not a professional - that we know of - but caught our eye thanks to this tweet from 2018. With that name, the young man really should go far.
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