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If It’s Spring, It Must Be Time For
Jenny Simpson Steeple Speculation

by Jeff Hollobaugh

Barringer Jenny WChs09Perhaps it’s because Genzebe Dibaba broke the 1500’s World Record last year and the road to Olympic gold in the metric mile looks more difficult than ever. Or perhaps it’s simply because it’s spring.

Whatever the reason, two-time World Champs 1500 medalist Jenny Simpson is fending off the annual bloom of speculation about whether she might switch back to the steeplechase, the event in which as a not-yet-married Jenny Barringer she placed 4th globally back in ’09, her senior year at Colorado.

“Every single year I get questions about whether I'm going to run the steeplechase or not,” she laughs. “It's so funny. I haven't run steeplechase since 2009 and still now, 7 years later, I'm still answering questions about the steeplechase.”

Simpson still technically holds the American Record of 9:12.50 from the the ’09 Worlds, though training partner Emma Coburn surpassed it with an unratified 9:11.42 in 2014.

She admits she still occasionally incorporates steeple exercises into her training. “Every single time these rumors start, this is how it happens… and I train with two steeplechasers [Coburn and 9:35 performer Shalaya Kipp].”

Despite laughing off the prospect, Simpson—like any smart athlete—never closes the door completely. “The truth is, every single year I train for multiple events,” she explains. “I’ve run the 5000 at USA's, I’ve run 800s.

“I’m always training to have such a range of ability when I reach the U.S. championships that I can choose the event that's best for me.”

However, a betting fan might be foolish to put money on seeing her return to the barriers. “Right now on my schedule all I have planned for racing is the 1500,” she tells T&FN. She will be running that event at the Drake Relays, and also at several Diamond League events.

By the way, a double—while perhaps not technically impossible—looks quite forbidding on the Trials schedule, with the steeple final little more than an hour after start of the 1500’s first round.

April 12, 2016