WHILE FANS WILL OFTEN thrill over a dramatic race, the last thing Emma Coburn was looking for in winning her sixth straight—and No. 8 overall—steeplechase crown was drama. Drama Coburn had already gotten plenty of that at the Pre Classic, where she took a tumble over a barrier but nonetheless bounced back up to clock 9:04.90—her No. 2 time ever—in placing 2nd to WR holder Beatrice Chepkoech.
After running 9:51.43 in uneventful heats 2 days before the Des Moines final the 28-year-old Colorado native said, “I have been training great and feel like I am the fittest I have ever been. I’m going to have to bring it on Sunday if I want to keep that streak alive, but it’s definitely important to me.”
Once Sunday’s final left the line, the favored Coburn was fine with settling into a comfortable spot in the early going, sitting mid-pack while Mel Lawrence did the pacework at first. The race stayed at a comfortable 1:18 tempo through lap 5.
It wasn’t until the second half that Courtney Frerichs—who had only steepled once this year, at Pre, where her fastest opener ever, 9:09.75, gave her 5th—moved to the lead. Colleen Quigley ran behind her training partner Frerichs. With a 9:11.41 at Pre and a 4:22.86 mile at Millrose last winter, the Florida State alum looked primed to once again grab her place on the team. Newly-minted pro Allie Ostrander stayed close as Frerichs’ pace broke up the pack.
The real question was who would get the fourth spot, the one made possible by Coburn’s World Champs defender’s bye. Coburn took the lead at 7:00 and by the end of the straightaway, the team was determined. AR holder Frerichs stayed on her heels and put the outcome for the win in doubt for a lap. Quigley fell behind a little, Ostrander a lot, but no one else was close.
On the final loop, Frerichs tried to go with Coburn but the veteran was in full flight. After laps of 70.31 and 67.16, she finished with a 66.59 to win in 9:25.63. Frerichs followed in 9:26.61, with Quigley (9:30.97) and Ostrander (9:38.52) filling out the team. For the Boise State alum it is the first international squad since she won the Junior race at the ’15 World Mountain Running Championships.
Said Coburn, “The race played out as I had hoped. I didn’t want to get stuck leading early on so I just chilled. “I knew with a few laps to go I was going to have to get going. Having a bye was really just there as a safety net but I always had intentions of coming here and racing strong.”
USATF WOMEN’S STEEPLE RESULTS
(July 28; interior waterjump)
1. Emma Coburn (NBal) 9:25.63
2. Courtney Frerichs (BowTC) 9:26.61
3. Colleen Quigley (BowTC) 9:30.97
4. Allie Ostrander (BB) 9:38.52;
5. Marisa Howard (unat) 9:51.37;
6. Mel Lawrence (OisLWA) 9:53.48;
7. Paige Stoner (ReebB) 9:55.01;
8. Courtney Barnes (McKirT) 10:01.17;
9. Caroline Austin (Seattle) 10:03.80;
10. Cierra Simmons (UtSt) 10:07.20;
11. Christine Thorn (Roots) 10:13.20;
12. Anna McDonald (Tx) 10:13.57;
13. Alex Wilson (Ois) 10:17.80;
14. Katy Kunc (HokaNJNY) 10:31.71.
I–1. Frerichs 9:46.35; 2. Ostrander 9:47.54; 3. Lawrence 9:58.16; 4. Wilson 10:05.27; 5. Kunc 10:14.97; 6. Alicia Douglas (unat) 10:22.68; 7. Kira Garry (unat) 10:23.99; 8. Tori Gerlach (Reeb) 10:31.07; 9. Andrea Rodenfels (unat) 10:32.49; 10. Briar Brumley (Corn) 10:36.23; 11. Kelly Naumann (IaSt) 10:49.34.
II–1. Coburn 9:51.43; 2. Quigley 9:53.48; 3. Howard 9:59.66; 4. Austin 9:59.89; 5. Stoner 10:01.83; 6. Barnes 10:05.02; 7. McDonald 10:05.03; 8. Simmons 10:15.04; 9. Thorn 10:19.21; 10. Sarah Berger (GVSt) 10:19.77; 11. Julia Webb (unat) 11:02.15.