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Hubs of the running universe

While runners can live and train almost anywhere, Boston is reemerging as a community favored by those with Olympic aspirations. Here's how Boston compares with other top training spots around the country.

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1 Boston
Population
636,479
Altitude
141 ft.
Top runners training here
Olympians Morgan Uceny, Jen Rhines and seven-time NCAA champion Abbey D'Agostino.
Why it's a top spot to train
Strong running community with storied history, many running terrain options indoor/outdoor, urban/rural, access to city’s medical and scientific resources. BAA and New Balance building elite running teams.
2 Rochester Hills, Mich.
Population
70,995
Altitude
820 ft.
Top runners training here
Olympian and 2nd-place women’s finisher in 2011 Boston Marathon Desiree Linden.
Why it's a top spot to train
Brothers Kevin and Keith Hanson, who own running stores in the area, started an Olympic development program, successes of Olympians Linden and Brian Sell helped draw other talented runners.
3 Boulder, Colo.
Population
97,385
Altitude
5,430 ft.
Top runners training here
1,500-meter World Champion Jenny Simpson, marathoner Kara Goucher.
Why it's a top spot to train
High altitude, Olympic training center in Colorado Springs a 90-minute drive away, plenty of running route options, long-history as training base for top runners starting in mid-1970's.
4 Flagstaff, Ariz.
Population
65,870
Altitude
6,910 ft.
Top runners training here
Olympians Ryan Hall and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom.
Why it's a top spot to train
High altitude, large trail system with plenty of tough climbs, home to two elite running teams. Plus, weather relatively good for running year round with average January and December high temperatures in mid-40's.
5 Portland, Ore.
Population
583,776
Altitude
50 ft.
Top runners training here
Olympic medalists Shalane Flanagan, Mo Farah, Galen Rupp.
Why it's a top spot to train
Proximity to Nike’s Beaverton, Ore. headquarters and Eugene, Ore., also known as Track Town USA, led to establishment of Nike-sponsored elite running groups in area, easy access to top training facilities and plenty of trails.

Shira Springer, Chiqui Esteban / Globe Staff

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