Shelby Houlihan

Birthday: 02/08/93 Mile PR: 4:23.0 (road) - 2016
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:54.99 - 2019 (U.S. record)
High School: East HS '11
Hometown: Sioux City, IA
College: Arizona State University '15
Current Residence: Portland, OR

Team: Bowerman Track Club

Star & Rio Olympian Shelby Houlihan set her track Mile personal record at the 2020 UW Invitational, clocking 4:23.68, the fastest Mile on Washington soil for a woman and #7 U.S. woman all-time indoors. In February, she won the USA Indoor 1500m & 3000m titles, running 4:06.41 & 8:52.03, respectively, at altitude (Albuquerque). Overall, Houlihan has won 13 national titles so far in her career.

On July 10, 2020, Shelby shattered her U.S. 5000m record by 10-plus seconds, breaking the beam in 14:23.92 at the Portland Intrasquad Meet II.

On July 31, 2020 at the Portland Intrasquad Meet IV, Houlihan anchored her BTC team (also Colleen Quigley, Elise Cranny & Karissa Schweizer) to 4 x 1500m relay world record clocking of 16:27.02, a 4:06.75 average per runner.

At the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, she finished 4th in the 1500 meters, shattering the U.S. record in 3:54.99; arguably in the greatest women's 1500m race.

Also in 2019, Houlihan, showing her range and beating a deep American women's field, won the 2019 USA 10K Cross Country Championship crown in Tallahassee, FL, and later in February, she defended her USA Indoor 2 Mile title, running 9:31.38 and was runner-up in the USA Indoor Mile on Staten Island. At the USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Shelby, an Iowa native, defended her 1500 title, beating Jenny Simpson, 4:03.18 to 4:03.41, and the next day, she also defended her 5000m title.

At the 2018 USA Outdoor Championships, Houlihan won her first outdoor 1500 meter national title with a strong closing kick, beating veteran and 4-time defending champion Jenny Simpson, 4:05.48 to 4:06.21. The next day, she took the USA 5000m title with a devastating final 100 meters.

Also in 2018, Houlihan defended her two indoor USA titles, again in Albuquerque, winning the 1500m & 3000m races in February to qualify for the World Indoor Championships. At the WIC in Birmingham, GBR, she finished 4th in the 1500m and 5th in the 3000m. In May at the Prefontaine Classic, Shelby defeated a top international field, clocking her first sub-4 metric Mile, 3:59.06, and in July, she won the Lausanne 1500m in another PR, 3:57.34. For her masterful year, Track & Field News selected Shelby as the U.S. Women's Athlete-of-the-Year and ranked her #1 in the world for the 1500m / Mile.

On July 21, 2018 at Heusden, Belgium, Shelby shattered Shannon Rowbury's U.S. 5000m record by 4-plus seconds, clocking 14:34.45!

In 2017, Houlihan won the Mile at the BU Valentine Invitational in an indoor personal record, clocking 4 minutes, 24.16 seconds, and she capped-off an impressive indoor season in March, by becoming a double national champion, winning the USA Indoor Mile and 2 Mile titles on back-to-back nights in Albuquerque. At the USA Track & Field Championships, she won her first outdoor national title as a professional in the 5000 meters (15:13.87), besting fellow U.S. Olympians Shannon Rowbury and Molly Huddle to earn a Team USA berth for the London World Championships.

In her first professional outdoor track season, Shelby set a personal record 1500m time of 4:03.39 at the 2016 Prefontaine Classic, finishing 7th overall and 2nd American in a world class field. At the U.S. Olympic Trials, she qualified for the Rio Olympic Games in the 5000m and placed 11th in the Olympic 5000m later that summer. Following her Rio run, Shelby dropped down in distance to place 6th at the Fifth Avenue Mile, with a personal best Mile time of 4:23.0.

As a collegiate runner at Arizona State University, Shelby won the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championship 1500m title in 4:18.10 and followed with a runner-up finish in the 1500m at the 2015 NCAAs. While competing for the Sun Devils, Shelby was a 12-time All-American and set school records for 800m, 1500m, Mile and 3000m. After graduating from ASU in 2015, Shelby joined the Bowerman Track Club to be coached by Jerry Schumacher.



Despite COVID-19’s impacts, Houlihan produced top times & records in 2020

October 01, 2020

"I want to try and get as many medals as possible: that gold Olympic medal; World Championship medals... I also have world records in my sights"... but "the more important thing for me is to enjoy the process and not to get too hung up on the end goals."

By David Hunter,


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You Don’t Know Shelby Houlihan

July 05, 2020

Her career to-do list is just as long as the places she wants to go: Break 3:50 in the 1500 meters; break 14 minutes in the 5000 meters: “I still feel like there’s so much more untapped potential there that I’m very excited about.”

By Erin Strout, Women's Running

It’s mid-April. The year is...

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Shelby Houlihan’s Afterburners Ready to Be Lit Again

June 06, 2020

She intends to run both the 1500 and 5000 at the Olympic Trials next year even though the Tokyo Games schedule precludes serious consideration of racing both there.

By Sieg Lindstrom, Track & Field News

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

Case in...

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Sioux City’s Shelby Houlihan ‘bummed’ over Olympics postponement, but says it’s the right call

March 29, 2020

"I am grateful there is that opportunity even though it's delayed a little bit... As long as I stay healthy, not push too hard, there's no reason I can't be even better. It's another year to train if I look at it optimistically."

By Justin Rust, Sioux City Journal

For about the past four...

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The Best Mile Moments of 2019

December 20, 2019

Longstanding indoor and outdoor Mile world records broken; Herrera & Kampf BBTM Grand Prix Tour champions and more BBTM Effect!

By Ryan Lamppa, Bring Back the Mile

The Bring Back the Mile campaign was launched in January 2012 to elevate & celebrate the storied distance, and over the past 8...

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Shelby Houlihan ready to chase Olympic gold

December 05, 2019

"Right now, the plan would be to double her in the 1500 and 5000 meters at the Olympic Trials."

By Kerry Eggers, Portand Tribune

When effort intersects with talent, the results can be spectacular.

Enter the world of Shelby Houlihan, who at age 26 is on the precipice of unprecedented success...

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Sifan Hassan Wins 1500m World Title in Dominant Fashion

October 05, 2019

Eight women bettered the previous World Championship record in epic race; Hassan earned one-of-a-kind 1500-10,000m gold double!

By Steve Landells for the IAAF

DOHA, Qatar - On Saturday evening, Sifan Hassan completed the unprecedented 1500m and 10,000m double at the IAAF World Athletics...

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World Championships Women’s 1500m preview: defending titlist Kipyegon faces formidable field

September 25, 2019

American Doha quartet includes 2011 world champion Simpson, Houlihan, Hiltz & Johnson

By Steve Landells for the IAAF

With major question marks against all the chief contenders, predicting the outcome of the women’s 1500m with any great level of confidence is a tricky business.

The world #1...

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Houlihan edges out fellow Iowan Simpson for USA 1500m title

July 27, 2019

“I was definitely nervous coming into this race because I had a little more pressure than I usually feel."

By Tommy Birch, Des Moines Register

It wasn’t until after the 1500 meter finals at the USATF Outdoor Championships that Webster City native Jenny Simpson finally caught up to Sioux City...

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Shelby Houlihan and her fearsome kick have taken over U.S. track

May 04, 2019

Big goals for 2019 include U.S. record, defending USA titles and a medal at World Championships in Doha

By Ken Goe, The Oregonian / OregonLive

BEAVERTON — Shelby Houlihan beat some of the best runners in the world in 2018 and crushed the U.S. record in the 5000 meters.

It looks like a...

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Queen of the Kick

July 06, 2018

“I’d like to get the American record in both the 1500m and 5000m as well as the Mile and 3000m indoor American records. I’d like to win an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship gold medal...

By Cathal Dennehy for Spikes

It's the most feared weapon in middle-distance running, and now...

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Houlihan beats Simpson to win USA 1500m crown

June 23, 2018

"I’ve looked up to her as a runner throughout high school. She’s been someone that has been talked about throughout Iowa. To come out here and race against her and put on a good show was really cool.”

By Tommy Birch, Des Moines Register

DES MOINES - With about 100 meters remaining in the 1500...

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Houlihan vs. Simpson Metric Mile Showdown at USA Outdoor Championships

June 21, 2018

Iowa natives headline 1500m women's field in Des Moines

By Kevin Liao, Citius Mag

If anything has characterized the 2018 track season thus far, it’s been the changing of the guard we’ve seen in many events, particularly in the sprints.

The aging Justin Gatlin and retired Usain Bolt have...

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Eat Like an Elite: Shelby Houlihan

February 12, 2018

My diet has come a long way since high school and college. I really started from the bottom. I used to have no idea what was healthy.

By Ally Spiroff, Runner's World

The 24-year-old 5000 meter specialist has her sights set on the 2020 Olympics, with a full racing schedule this year. In 2017, ...

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Simpson, Houlihan lead parade of Olympians headed to Drake Relays

April 14, 2017

Iowa natives part of "one of the best women’s 1500 meter fields we’ve ever assembled.”

By Cody Goodwin, The Des Moines Register

A slew of local athletes and plenty of Olympians will make their way to Des Moines in just a couple of weeks.

New Drake Relays director Blake Boldon said on...

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Houlihan enjoying pro career

March 08, 2017

Sioux City native and rising star convincingly wins two USA Indoor titles: Mile & 2 Mile

By Terry Hersom, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY -- Less than a month past her 24th birthday, Shelby Houlihan is clearly to Sioux City women’s track & field what Kirk Hinrich became to local basketball.

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Will Another Former Iowa Prep Win the NCAA 1500 Meter Title?

April 08, 2013

By Next Level People

Sioux City East and Arizona State standout Shelby Houlihan has made a significant statement during her sophomore season this year. She was an All-American in cross country with a 31st place finish in the fall. She won the Mile at the MPSF meet (Pac-12’s Indoor...

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