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Women's 1,500m: Shannon Rowbury Back Atop US 1,500m Ranks
Shannon Rowbury used a strong final lap to overcome a gutsy mid-race surge by Christin Wurth to defend her USATF 1,500m title and regain her position atop the US 1,500m ranks (with the caveat that 3:59 1,500 meter runner Jenny Barringer wasn't in the field).
The 2008 Olympian Rowbury had dominated the US ranks at 1,500m in 2008 (she ran 4:00.33 for 2nd in the prestigous Gaz De France Paris Golden League meet and ended up the season a comfortable US #1), but despite having run 4:03.92 to start her 2009 1,500 season at the Prefontaine meet, she was surpsrisingly beaten by 3 Americans in that race (Jenny Barringer (3:59.90), Anna Willard (4:01.44), and Christin Wurth (4:01.72)). The formidable field also included Rowbury's former training partner and 2008 Olympian Erin Donohue.
Christin Wurth Gets Big Lead On Field
Rowbury and Willard were right with Donohue at the bell and it appeared perhaps they might be playing it safe to just try and get top 3 and lock up the World Championships spots.
Rowbury, however, was not content to battle it out for top 3 and she began her chase after Wurth on the turn after the bell. With 200 to go, it was clear she was gaining on Wurth as she was just less than two seconds down and charging hard. Coming off the final turn, it was clear she was going to pass Wurth. Rowbury did pass her on the final straight as she ran a stellar 1:00.30 over the final 400 to get the US crown as she punched her fist in the air triumphantly at the line. A very strong race for Rowbury with great tactics and tremendous closing speed.
Wurth held on for a much-deserved 2nd as she created all of the race's drama. Willard passed Donohue for 3rd on the final lap. Willard is attempting the unprecedented 1,500/steeplechase double at these championships.
A very exciting race indeed.
Post Race Comments: Willard Confirms Steeple Barriers At Wrong Height, Donohue Now Training With Legends Gags And John Trautmann
Despite having run 4:01 already this year, Wurth said she has mostly been doing base work in her training and that Rowbury's performances last year can be credited for raising the bar and spurring Wurth to better performances in 2009.
Erin Donohue, who had an acrimonius parting with coach John Cook after last year Olympic season, said she is back training in hometown New Jersey under the guidance of legendary coach Frank Gagliano. Donohue had left Cook after Cook told her she could not become a 4:00 1,500m runner. Soon Olympic silver medallist Shalane Flanagan left the group as well, leaving only Rowbury with Cook. Donohue indicated she is not only under Gags' guidance (Gags had moved back East this year after coaching the Oregon Track Club and Nike Farm Team), but that her training partners are no other than John Trautmann and Tom Nohilly. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Donohue is training with two-time US 5,000 champ John Trautmann (now 41 from what we can calculate). For the youngsters who have never heard of Trautmann, read this describing the 1992 Olympic Trials, "where he buzzed past Bob Kennedy in the 1992 Olympic Trials 5,000-meter homestretch as if Kennedy were stuck in neutral."
Apparently, Nohilly is in roughly the same shape as Donohue, while Tratumann is trying to get back to that level after working as a big Wall Street guy for roughly a decade.
Interviews with Donohue, Willard, and Wurth below if you're interested in that. We recapped the main points of what they said above.
Full Race Video Below Interviews
*Lap-by-lap splits are here.
Finals 1 Shannon Rowbury Nike 4:05.07 2 Christin Wurth Nike 4:06.00 3 Anna Willard Nike 4:07.70 4 Erin Donohue Nike 4:08.96 5 Treniere Clement Nike 4:09.10 6 Lauren Centrowitz Stanford 4:11.21 7 Heidi Dahl East Tenn St 4:11.58 8 Molly Lehman Duke 4:12.13 9 Amy Mortimer Reebok 4:12.94 10 Margaret Infeld Georgetown 4:13.25 11 Sarah Bowman Tennessee 4:16.29 12 Lauren Hagans unattached 4:17.05
Full 1,500m Women's Final Race Video