This final started fast from the gun as Russia's Gulnara Samitova-Galkina,
who came into the race with both the fastest personal best (9:01.59
world record from 2004) and seasonal best (9:11.18), apparently decided
she would simply try to outrun everyone from the get-go. Just 1.5 laps
into the race, only four were still in contact with Samitova-Galkina.
Soon it would become a one-person race for the record books. With 3
laps to go, Samitova-Galkina was up by more than 10 meters and the lead
would only get bigger. Bound to make history as the first Olympic
Champion in the event, the question turned to whether she would break
her own world record.
A 69.54 last lap would give her not only the all-time best but also the
first sub-9:00 time in the annals of women's steepling. A visibly
excited Samitova-Galkina had run herself to a pioneer performance on
more than one front. Behind her, there was a very spirited battle over
the final lap for the runner-up spot.
Kenya's Eunice Jepkorir, who had tried to go with hot early pace, would end up with the much-deserved silver as she came back on 2007 World Champion Yekaterina Volkova of Russia in the final 50 meters. Jekpkorir's 9:07.41 was a new Kenyan and African record.
Farther back, Americans Jenny Barringer and Anna Willard
were waging another close tussle for top American honors. Willard had
won USAs, then Barringer got revenge and a new American record in
Germany. This seemingly was the final set. Barringer ran just ahead of
Willard for most of the race and in the end would wind up 9th in a new
American record of 9:22.26, 0.47 better than the 9:22.73 she ran in
Europe. Willard ended up 10th in 9:25.63.