2014 Paris Distance Recap: Jenny Simpson 3:57.22!, Shannon Rowbury Goes Sub-4, Asbel Kiprop, Emma Coburn Impress, First Sub-13

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by: LetsRun.com
July 5, 2014

The 2014 Areva Paris Diamond League meet was a tremendous track meet.  There was some great action in the sprints and in the field (world leaders in both short hurdles, Sanya Richards Ross getting back on the DL podium, Blanka Vlasic going over 2.00 again), but the distance action was absolutely top notch, especially from an American women’s perspective.

Galen Rupp‘s American record attempt in the 5,000m got the top billing coming in, but the American women and in particular Jenny Simpson stole the show. Simpson ran 3:57.22 to just miss by .10 Mary Slaney‘s American record at 1,500. Behind her Shannon Rowbury joined the sub-4:00 club.

In the women’s steeplechase, Emma Coburn impressed again running a huge pr of 9:14.12 to come up just short of Jenny Simpson’s American record of 9:12.50 while Stephanie Garcia set another PR. That men’s 5,000m saw the first sub-13:00 clocking of 2014 by Edwin Soi as Galen Rupp ran 13:00.99. The men’s 800m was the men’s distance race of the night as Olympic 1,500m champ Asbel Kiprop sprinted away from 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos to win and show he may be ready to break the 1,500 world record in two weeks.

Full distance recap below.

Women’s 1,500: Hassan Wins; Simpson #2 American All-Time; Rowbury Breaks 4:00

Jenny Simpson Battled Down the Homestretch

Jenny Simpson Battled Down the Homestretch

Jenny Simpson may not have won, but she ran like a champion and the eight other women in the field who set season’s bests or PRs can thank her. Simpson controlled this race until the final 200m and ensured it was a fast one. Simpson was rewarded with a 3:57.22 second place finish and the second fastest time ever by an American.

The race

The field wanted this one to go fast, but rabbit Phoebe Wright got too excited and ran 61.92 for the first 400 (she was assigned 63 seconds). Behind the second rabbit, Jenny Simpson led the main field as she and American Shannon Rowbury both got out very well.

After the second rabbit dropped out at 900 (800 in 2:07.23), it was up to Simpson to take over the pace. She was already on sub 4:00 pace (2:08), and Simpson kept the pedal to the metal. Having led the 1500 at last week’s U.S. championships wire-to-wire, Simpson had no problem leading today and started to gap Rowbury and the rest of the field. With a lap to go, Simpson had a slight gap on the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan, who in turn had 3-4 meters over Kenyan Hellen Obiri. Reigning World indoor/outdoor champion Abeba Aregawi was fading badly and she would not factor on the final lap.

Hassan was the only one able to give chase, and with 250 to go, Hassan moved passed Simpson and those two had a big gap on the field as they battled over the final turn. Hassan got a few meters on Simpson early in the home stretch and would maintain that lead to the line, running a world-leading 3:57.01 (also a national record). Simpson ran 3:57.22 to miss drug cheat Mary Decker’s American record by just .10, while Rowbury held on valiantly for fifth to dip under 4:00 for the first time at age 29.

Behind Rowbury, Laura Muir, Mimi Belete, and Laura Weightman all set personal bests in 6th through 8, and they were all agonizingly close to going sub 4:00 (.07, 08 and .17 away respectively)

Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury in Paris

Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury in Paris

QT #1: Simpson Didn’t Win and Didn’t Get the American Record, but This Was a Tremendous Run

From 2011 to 2013, Simpson won two World Championship medals at 1500 (one gold, one silver) but her fastest time was just 4:00.48 (in fact, she never ran faster than 4:03.54 in her gold medal season of 2011). But with no World Championships or Olympics to peak for this season, Simpson has been focused on being competitive on the Diamond League and running fast times and she’s been very successful in that respect. She ran 4:00.42 (her fastest time since 2009) in Tokyo on May 18 and followed that up with a PR of 3:58.28 at the Pre Classic, a second at the NY DL event, a commanding victory at USAs and now another second and another PR in Paris. She definitely earned this 3:57.22, taking over the lead when the rabbit dropped out, and though she just missed the American record, this was a tremendous run. Jenny Simpson made this race. The rabbit took them through 900, and then Jenny seized control and made this race a fast one. She wanted a fast time and ran like it.

QT #2: Sifan Hassan’s Breakout Year Continues Hassan entered 2014 with a modest PR of 4:03.73 but she’s improved a ton since then, culminating with a huge 2.38-second PR and her first Diamond League win in Paris. Hassan, a 21-year-old born in Ethiopia, was fifth at World indoors in the 3k and opened up outdoors with a 14:59 5k win at Payton Jordan followed by a 4:01.19 for third in Shanghai. She knocked a couple more seconds off her PR with a 3:59.38 at Pre but no one expected what she did here: a world-leader in which she outkicked Simpson and dismantled the rest of the world’s top 1500m women. Simpson finally beat Abebe Aregawi today (10th place), but Sifan Hassan stepped up.

QT #3: Finally! Shannon Rowbury Joins Sub 4:00 Club Going in, we noted how this would be a good shot for Rowbury to break her string of agonizing PRs (2:00 for 800, 4:00 for 1500, 15:00 for 5k) and fortunately for Rowbury, she was able to oblige, running 3:59.49 to become just the sixth American under 4:00 (she’s #5 on the all-time US list). Rowbury’s always been a good 1500 runner (bronze at Worlds in 2009) and this performance may be what she needed to stick with the 1500 at USAs/Worlds next year rather than switch to the 5000.

QT #4: Hellen Obiri’s Win Streak Ends/Aregawi Runs Poorly We thought Obiri was the favorite coming in as she had won six straight races, but she never put herself in the race with Simpson and finished third in 3:58.89. Aregawi also had an uncharacteristically poor race as she had finished first or second in the first three DL races. She also lost to Simpson for just the second time in 10 attempts.

QT #5: Morgany Uceny was 12th but Still Ran a Season’s Best Uceny still isn’t in the kind of shape she was a few years ago, but she’s been improving gradually in 2014. Finishing second-to-last is rarely a great feeling, but it’s nice to see Uceny bounce back with a season-best 4:04.76 after her fall at USAs.

RANK ATHLETE NATION RESULT
1
NED
3:57.00
WL,NR
2
USA
3:57.22
PB
3
KEN
3:58.89
4
KEN
3:59.21
5
USA
3:59.49
PB
6
GBR
4:00.07
PB
7
BRN
4:00.08
PB
8
GBR
4:00.17
PB
9
ETH
4:02.35
PB
10
SWE
4:03.46
11
ALB
4:03.75
12
USA
4:04.76
SB
13
CAN
4:04.87
SB
MAR
DNF
MAR
DNF
UKR
DNF
USA
DNF
Intermediate times:
400m WRIGHT, Phoebe (USA) 1:01.92 800m TVERDOSTUP, Tamara (UKR) 2:07.23 1200m SIMPSON, Jennifer (USA) 3:10.51
Emma Coburn Leading

Emma Coburn Leading

Women’s 3000 steeple: Emma Coburn is Really, Really Good

In case you didn’t know, Emma Coburn is really, really good.

Coburn had surprised everyone by winning the Shanghai Diamond League steeplechase earlier this year. However, this week it was revealed, that runner-up Sofia Assefa, had no idea that Coburn was still in the race and not a rabbit and Assefa thought she had won when she crossed the line in second.

Today in Paris, Coburn didn’t win, but she ran 9:14.12, for second and beat Assefa fair and square. Coburn’s time was the second fastest ever by an American, just off of Jenny Simpson’s 9:12.50 American record.

The rabbit took the field through 1k in 3:03 and as soon as she dropped, Coburn took over and continued to press. She kept the pace honest with a 3:07 second kilometer and at that point Coburn held a slight gap over Ethiopian Sofia Assefa who in turn had a gap over countrywomen Etenesh Diro Neda and Hiwot Ayalew.

With 800 to go, Ayalew made a big move up to Coburn’s shoulder but didn’t pass as Coburn continued to push the pace. Coburn gained time on Ayalew over every barrier, but Ayalew would make it up on the flats, never allowing a gap to form. On the backstretch of the final lap, Ayalew finally made her move and though Coburn did her best to hang with her, Ayalew really started to kick off the final water jump and it was clear Coburn didn’t have enough in the tank to catch her.

Ayalew won in 9:11.65, a meet record and just outside Assefa’s world leader, while Coburn PR’d by three seconds to run 9:14.12. She’s now just 1.62 seconds away from Jenny Simpson’s 9:12.50 American record from 2009.

QT #1: Another Phenomenal Run by Coburn

Coburn’s first steeple this season was a Diamond League win in Shanghai that also brought her a PR, but you can argue that she’s gotten better in each of her successive three races. On May 31 at Pre, Coburn ran another PR of 9:17.84 and last week at USAs, she ran 9:19.72 in 90+ degree heat in the middle of the day to set a meet record. Here, she led much of the race and came away with another PR of 9:14.12. She’s now got four of the top five times in U.S. history and four of the top 10 in the world in 2014. The field in Paris contained all the top steeplers in the world and Coburn dropped all of them save for Ayalew (and looked much better over the hurdles than her). If this was a Worlds/Olympics year, Coburn would likely be a medallist.

QT #2: Stephanie Garcia PRs as well

Garcia ran a 13-second PR in New York on June 14 and was even better in Paris, running 9:24.35 to beat last year’s world champ Milcah Chemos and become the fourth-fastest American of all time.

QT #3: Coburn Should Get Paid What Rabbits Get Paid

If Coburn wants some extra money, she should tell the meets not have a rabbit, just hire her. She served in that capacity here and did a good job.

RANK ATHLETE NATION RESULT
1
ETH
9:11.65
MR
2
USA
9:14.12
PB
3
ETH
9:18.71
4
ETH
9:19.71
SB
5
MAR
9:21.24
NR
6
KEN
9:24.07
SB
7
USA
9:24.35
PB
8
KEN
9:26.49
SB
9
KEN
9:26.95
10
ETH
9:31.03
11
KEN
9:34.51
12
GER
9:38.40
SB
13
GBR
9:54.56
KEN
DNF
Intermediate times: 1000m NYAMBURA, Virginia (KEN) 3:03.82.  2000m COBURN, Emma (USA) 6:10.83

Men’s 5000: Edwin Soi Runs a World Leader but No One Else Breaks 13:00  

The talk before this race was of 12:50 pace by the rabbits and an American record attempt by Galen Rupp. All of that fizzled, when no one in the field decided to run with the rabbits after the first 1000m. A race was yet to be run, and in the end big kickder Edwin Soi was too good the last lap and was rewarded with the win and the first sub 13:00 clocking of 2014. Galen Rupp who took the lead with 600 to go would run 13:00.99 for 4th.

The Race

The rabbits went out quickly at just under 61 seconds for the first lap, stringing out the field. Americans Galen Rupp and Ben True were in the middle of the pack, and passed 400 in 63 seconds. The rabbits hit 1k in 2:36 (behind their assigned 2:34; Rupp came through in 2:39), with Ethiopian Yenew Alamirew right behind them and a gap to the main pack. But then Alamirew slowed down and joined the rest of the pack as the field let the rabbits go. Any chance of 12:50 was now gone.

Seeing that no one was going with their pace, the rabbits didn’t push it and hit 2k at 5:13.22 with Rupp (around 5:14.7) and the rest of the pack slightly behind them. 5:13.22 is 13:03 pace for 5k, and considering the field would kick at the end, a moderately fast time was still possible. But for anyone to run a fast time, the third kilometer had to be honest and it wasn’t. The field came through 3k in 7:53 (just 2:40 for the third K), which is 13:08 pace for 5k. Any chance of an American record was out the window at that point, though sub-13:00 was still a possibility.

When the rabbit dropped out just before 4k, it was NCAA champ Lawi Lalang (still sporting an Arizona singlet) in the lead followed by 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Edwin Soi, Rupp, Alamirew, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Thomas Longosiwa and 2013 World 10k bronze medalist Paul Tanui. True was struggling to hold on a few seconds back of the main pack.

Paul Tanui Stumbles

Rupp leads and Paul Tanui Stumbles

Rupp went to the front with 600 to go, knowing that he couldn’t afford to move late against the big kickers such as Alamirew and Soi. Longosiwa immediately countered the move and Tanui lost his balance with 500 to go, the second time in the final mile that he stumbled and almost went down.

At the bell, it was still Rupp, Longosiwa, Alamirew and Soi (Lalang had begun to fade and was struggling to hang on). With 300 to go, Longosiwa made his bid for the win and went by Rupp. But the race would actually come down to Alamirew and Soi. Those two separated from Longosiwa and Rupp on the final turn after Alamirew took the lead with 200 to go. In the home stretch, Soi pulled away for the win and the first sub-13 clocking of 2014 while Alamirew had to settle for second. Tanui closed extremely well over the final 400 for third and a PB of 13:00.53. The final lap was 55.6 leader-to-leader (a little faster for Soi) and the last mile was around 4:03 (we couldn’t get an exact time because the TV broadcast was showing another event as the leaders came through with four to go).

Edwin Soi Celebrates in Paris

Edwin Soi Celebrates in Paris

QT #1: The Field, Not the Rabbits, Blew This One

Anyone who wanted to go fast today can only blame themselves. The rabbits were actually slow at 1000m (2:36.54, desired pace was 2:34), yet Yenew Alamirew was the only guy in the field with them. The pacing wasn’t perfect until that point, but the guys who wanted to go fast don’t have any excuses.

QT #2: Galen Rupp is a Great 10,000m Runner

Rupp has worked tremendously on his speed, to the point where he has gone from a guy who struggled to break 4 minutes in the mile until his senior year in college to talking of breaking the world indoor 1500m record. Rupp, however, is still a guy you expect to get outkicked at the end of a DL 5000. Rupp’s greatest asset is his strength and if it comes down to the last 400m in a 13:00 5000m, Rupp has shown he can be in contention for the lesser medals, but not the gold.

Case in point, Paul Tanui, whom Rupp beat at Prefontaine in the 10,000m, turned the tables on Galen here on the last lap. Tanui was even more impressive as he nearly fell down with 500m to go, tripping on the heels of Lawi Lalang. He fell behind but stormed back on the final lap to beat Rupp.

We do know one thing: if there was a Worlds 10,000m this year, Galen Rupp would be very hard to beat.

More: GALEN 13:00.99

QT #3: Ben True Skipped USAs to Run 13:13.30 Here for 11th Place

If that sounds harsh, it’s just a fact. Here’s our opinion: True should have run USAs. We understand the desire for True to go sub 13:00, but a guy who has the ability to go sub 13:00 likely has the ability to go run nationals a week before, fly to Paris, and break 13:00.

 On the boards: True skipped nationals to get 11th in Europe

QT #4: Edwin Soi Showed His Kick and Gets the First Sub-13:00 of the Year

If we told you at the start of the year that Ben True and Hassan Mead had both run 13:02, you’d probably assume that there had been a ton of fast times in 2014. But it took until July 5 to get the first (and so far, only) sub-13:00 of the year. Soi is known for being a big kicker and he had his kick today although the last lap wasn’t incredibly fast. Leader-to-leader, it was 55.6.

QT #5: Paul Tanui Could Have Won this Race Had He Not Stumbled with 500 to go.

With just over 500 meters to go, Alamirew tried to pass Lalang and Lalang looked to push him, sending Alamirew out into lane 2. As he did this, Lalang slowed down slightly causing Tanui — who was directly behind Lalang — to trip and lose his balance. He spent his next few strides trying to stay on his feet and though he didn’t fall down, the stumble clearly messed him up as there was a gap of about 4-5 meters from Lalang in fifth and Tanui in sixth at the bell. Rupp, who was leading at that point, had about 10-12 meters on Tanui with 400 to go. Tanui would end up closing very well over the final 100 but he was never in position to challenge Alamirew or Soi. That probably wouldn’t have been the case if he didn’t stumble with 500 to go. Discuss: Tanui Almost pulled a Viren

RANK ATHLETE NATION RESULT
1
KEN
12:59.82
WL
2
ETH
13:00.21
SB
3
KEN
13:00.53
PB
4
USA
13:00.99
SB
5
KEN
13:01.74
SB
6
KEN
13:03.85
SB
7
KEN
13:08.47
8
ETH
13:09.08
SB
9
ETH
13:09.67
10
ETH
13:11.94
SB
11
USA
13:13.30
12
ETH
13:20.17
13
GER
13:25.50
SB
14
ETH
13:33.53
KEN
DNF
KEN
DNF
KEN
DNF
FRA
DNF
Intermediate times: 1000m RONO, Geoffrey Kipkoech (KEN) 2:36.54
2000m RONO, Geoffrey Kipkoech (KEN) 5:13.22
3000m NDIKU, Jonathan Muia (KEN) 7:53.08
4000m KANGOGO, Cornelius (KEN) 10:30.81

Men’s 800m: Asbel Kiprop Impresses With World Leading 1:43.34, Get Ready for the World Record Attempts in Monaco

Asbel Kiprop showed he is ready for his 1500m world record attempt in two weeks in Monaco with a world leading 1:43.34 win over 800m specialist Nijel Amos.

Kiprop and Amos Battle while a guy in a soccer uniform chases them.

Kiprop and Amos Battle while a guy in a soccer uniform chases them.

Rabbit Bram Som took the race out in 49.90 for 400. At the bell, it was local favorite Pierre-Ambroise Bosse behind the rabbit with Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos of Botswana and South Africa’s Andre Olivier occupying the next two spots.

World 1500 champ Asbel Kiprop, who got off the start line slowly, worked his way through the field on the first lap and with 300 to go was right with the leaders. On the back stretch, Kiprop went wide to pass and as Som dropped out with just over 200 to go, Kiprop went to the lead.

Amos was the only one to go with him, and as the two entered the home stretch, it looked like Amos would go by Kiprop and pull away as he did to win the Pre Classic. But Kiprop’s 1500 strength came into play late in the race.

It was clear from Kiprop’s face that he was working hard to hold off Amos, but Kiprop’s form didn’t break down at all in the final 100. He even had time to celebrate as he won in 1:43.34, the fastest time in the world this year. Amos came through for second, just holding off Cuban Yeimer Lopez by .01. Behind them, it was tightly packed for spots four through eight as eight men broke 1:45.

QT #1: Get Ready for a 1500m World Record Attempt in Monaco in 2 Weeks

Kiprop loves running fast in Monaco. He’s been talking about trying to break the world record in Monaco in 2014 ever since he ran his pr of 3:27.72 at the meet last year. At World Relays this year, Kiprop discussed going after the WR in Monaco as well. That attempt most certainly is on now.

Kiprop has run faster for 800 (1:43.15 in Monaco in 2011 and 1:43.17 in 2013), but he showed today by beating Amos that he is in fine form.

QT #2: A Bad Day for Abubaker Kaki

Kaki didn’t race outdoors in 2013 but he looked to be back to his old form (silver at Worlds in 2011) this year with a third at Pre and second in Rome. He was dead last today in 1:48.38. Puzzling.

QT#3: Bosse Looked Like He Wanted to Be in Brazil

Even though Germany knocked France out of the World Cup yesterday, Bosse was still showing his support for Les Bleus in front of the Paris crowd, wearing a personalized French national team jersey (complete with soccer shorts and high socks, photo here) in lieu of a singlet. It didn’t seem to have a negative impact (perhaps it even inspired him) as he ran a season-best 1:44.23 to take third. The big question: was he wearing shin guards as well?

RANK ATHLETE NATION RESULT
1
KEN
1:43.34
WL
2
BOT
1:43.70
3
CUB
1:43.71
SB
4
FRA
1:44.23
SB
5
KEN
1:44.30
SB
6
RSA
1:44.42
SB
7
POL
1:44.49
SB
8
POL
1:44.50
SB
9
KEN
1:45.21
10
ESP
1:47.20
SB
11
SUD
1:48.38
NED
DNF
Intermediate times: 400m SOM, Bram (NED) 49.90
 600m BIWOTT, Robert (KEN) 1:16.94