AN INEXORABLE SOLO EFFORT by Beatrice Chepkoech, who led by a whopping 50m at the bell, produced a meet record 8:57.84. Defending champion Emma Coburn trimmed that gap by around 20m over the final lap to take silver in a PR 9:02.35, with bronze going to Gesa Felicitas Krause in a German Record 9:03.30.
Two years ago in London Chepkoech had seen her hopes of winning disappear as she finished 4th after having had to double back after failing to take the waterjump while leading on the first lap, and having fallen on the next circuit. The WR holder returned for another challenge as yearly world leader thanks to her effort of 8:55.58 set in June at Stanford—and this time there were no mistakes.
She covered the first kilo in a blistering 2:52.95, putting her on schedule for a finishing time of 8:38—6 seconds inside her own amazing WR. While she was unable to maintain that ambitious schedule, her margin over her competitors grew and grew. She ran the next two kilos in 3:02.33 (5:55.28) and 3:02.56 With 3 laps to go, the 28-year-old Kenyan’s lead had grown to 50m.
Coburn had always been close to the head of the chasing pack after Chepkoech had adopted her customary tactic of moving into an early lead, and it was she who attempted to bridge the gap with around 600m remaining. The American’s reward was a silver to go with her gold from London and her bronze from the Rio Olympics, as well as an improvement on her previous best of 9:02.58, set in winning the world title. For Krause it was a repeat of her bronze medal performance at the ’15 WC in Beijing, and a significant improvement on her previous NR of 9:07.51.
Said the winner, “I decided to go to the front because I knew there was going to be a lot of pushing. I was excited to be in front and controlled the race. I am glad to improve the Championship Record because I knew the time Emma Coburn ran in London which I really wanted to break. I was watching the screen and the way they were coming, and I knew that if I ran the first kilometer fast she will not follow me any more. There was a lot of pressure on me because everywhere in the media in Kenya they were expecting gold from me.”
Coburn commented, “I have my limits in my first kilometer so I really measured my efforts early on, so I expected her to do that. I gauged my effort again and with about 800m to go I ran hard for home as I did at the U.S. Championships. I am super-proud that I have come away from the last three major championships with medals. There is such a strong group of women up front, it’s going to be a continued battle and I will be ready for it.”
But there was disappointment for the surprise silver medalist of ’17, Courtney Frerichs, who last year lowered the American Record to 9:00.85, as she could only finish 6th on this occasion, clocking 9:11.27.
Bronze medalist Krause observed, “Chepkoech did not say she would run in front like this but she has been doing this all season long. I have imagined this race a million times. It was always a film in my head profiting from my speed and strength on the last lap. So 600m before the finishline I finally really believed that this was possible, that it could come true.”
WC WOMEN’S STEEPLE RESULTS
(September 30; interior water jump) (temperature 81F/24C; humidity 76%)
1. Beatrice Chepkoech (Ken) 8:57.84 (x, 6 W) (2:52.95 [3:02.33], 5:55.28 [3:02.56]);
2. Emma Coburn (US) 9:02.35 PR (AL) (8, x W; 2, 2 A);
3. Gesa-Felicitas Krause (Ger) 9:03.30 NR (9, x W);
4. Winfred Yavi (Bhr) 9:05.68 PR (11, x W);
5. Peruth Chemutai (Uga) 9:11.08;
6. Courtney Frerichs (US) 9:11.27;
7. Anna Emilie Møller (Den) 9:13.46 NR;
8. Hyvin Jepkemoi (Ken) 9:13.53;
9. Luiza Gega (Alb) 9:19.93 NR;
10. Genevieve Gregson (Aus) 9:23.84;
11. Mekides Abebe Demewoz (Eth) 9:25.66 PR;
12. Maruša Mišmaš (Slo) 9:25.80;
13. Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal (Nor) 9:29.41;
14. Geneviève Lalonde (Can) 9:32.92;
… dnf—Celliphine Chespol (Ken).
I–1. Chemutai 9:21.98; 2. Coburn 9:23.40; 3. Chespol 9:24.22; 4. Demewoz 9:27.61 PR; 5. Gregson 9:27.74; 6. Grøvdal 9:28.84; 7. Lalonde 9:30.01;
8. Aimee Pratt (GB) 9:38.91 PR; 9. Shuangshuang Xu (Chn) 9:42.23; 10. Adva Cohen (Isr) 9:42.92; 11. Anna Tropina (Rus) 9:44.06; 12. Alicja Konieczek (Pol) 9:44.96; 13. Özlem Kaya (Tur) 9:48.08; 14. Ophélie Claude-Boxberger (Fra) 10:05.10.
II–1. Chepkoech 9:18.01; 2. Frerichs 9:18.42; 3. Krause 9:18.82; 4. Møller 9:18.92 NR; 5. Gega 9:28.32;
6. Elizabeth Bird (GB) 9:30.13 PR; 7. Allie Ostrander (US) 9:30.85 PR; 8. Paige Campbell (Aus) 9:44.80 PR; 9. Michelle Finn (Ire) 9:47.44; 10. Lomi Muleta Tefera (Eth) 9:49.28; 11. Viktória Wagner-Gyürkes (Hun) 9:52.11; 12. Camilla Richardsson (Fin) 9:53.06; 13. Reimi Yoshimura (Jpn) 9:55.72; 14. Maria Bernard (Can) 9:57.03; 15. Tuğba Güvenç (Tur) 10:13.79.
III–1. Jepkemoi 9:29.15; 2. Yavi 9:29.40; 3. Mišmaš 9:29.68;
4. Fancy Cherono (Ken) 9:32.34; 5. Yekaterina Ivonina (Rus) 9:35.59; 6. Irene Sánchez (Spa) 9:37.34; 7. Wondimagegn Zerfe (Eth) 9:40.92; 8. Xinyan Zhang (Chn) 9:43.75; 9. Belén Casetta (Arg) 9:45.07; 10. Marwa Bouzayani (Tun) 9:47.78; 11. Regan Yee (Can) 9:48.56; 12. Rosie Clarke (GB) 9:49.18; 13. Georgia Winkcup (Aus) 9:50.21. ◻︎