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2009 Prefontaine Classic Women's 1,500 - A Race For The Ages
Jenny Barringer Goes Sub-4:00!

by LetsRun.com
(Video of Race Below)

June 7, 2009 - We knew the women's 1,500 at the 2009 Prefontaine Classic was going to be great. The race was much-hyped as it included the Olympic champ, Nancy Lagat, the world leader, Gelete Burka, and virtually all of the top female American distance runners that are still focused on the track, including all three 2008 Olympians at 1,500 in Shannon Rowbury, Christin Wurth-Thomas, and Erin Donohue, the two most recent steeplechase American record holders in Jenny Barringer and Anna Willard, as well as Olympic 10k bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan.

There was hope that in a perfect race one of the Americans would be able to become the 2nd non-drug cheat to dip under the mythical 4:00 barrier, as it had only been done before by Suzy Favor Hamilton and drug cheats Regina Jacobs (indoors) and Mary Slaney. We did get the sub-4 and more. We nearly got an American win.

And the crazy thing was that the one going under 4:00 was none other than the collegian Jenny Barringer, whose simply sensational 2009 got infinitely better. Coming into the race, Barringer had already run 4:25.91 for the indoor mile, which was #1 in the world, 8:42.03 for 3k (#4 in world) and 15:01.70 for 5k (#5 in world).  But the difference between a 4:25.91 mile and a 3:59 1,500 is vast. While we recently raved about Barringer in our NCAA preview, we said in our Pre preview that we thought she would be honestly overmatched at the shorter 1,500 distance.

How could you blame us for thinking that? After all, she came into the year with an 800 PR of 2:09.37 and a 1,500 PR of 4:11.36.

Jenny Barringer 3:59!!!

Well, old stats mean nothing for Barringer. Even though she ended last year as the American steeple record holder, she has been transformed to an all-new-and-improved level in 2009.

Despite her modest PRs at the shorter distance, Barringer ran with confidence and looked like a top international 1,500 runner throughout the race. The pace was hot from the gun as the rabbit Nikeya Green took the field through 300 in 46.66 and 700 in 1:51.98 and Barringer was up front all the while. With a lap to go, Barringer was in 4th at 2:57.85. Compare that to the 7th position of her steeple rival Anna Willard (2:58.93) and remember Willard had run 1:59 last week.

Over the last time around the oval - and particularly the last 100, when Barringer surged incredibly hard from third to try to catch the leader Burka, who had about a 10 meter lead - Barringer was clearly the best runner on the track. Barringer covered her last 400 in 62.05 and nearly did the seemingly impossible - run sub-4:00 and defeat Burka. In the end, she came up just short of Burka at the line as Burka won in 3:59.89 to Barringer's 3:59.90.

Burka's last lap was a full second slower than Barringer's. Despite not getting the win, we doubt Barringer will be too upset as she had gone sub-4:00 and shattered the collegiate record of 4:06.19 by 6.29 seconds in the process.

Behind Barringer, most of the Americans had run great races. Anna Willard was fourth with a huge 4.82 second PR of 4:01.44. In 5th, Wurth-Thomas had set a PR by 2.24 seconds in 4:01.72. Rowbury was 6th in 4:03.92. In 10th, Erin Donohue just missed the WChamps standard (which we've learned is now 4:06.00 and not 4:07.00) and Flanagan was 11th in 4:06.91. Four Americans under 4:04.00 and six under 4:07.00.

If there ever has been a better American 1,500 meter race, please email us as we can't remember one. NBC Video of the Race below.

Individual splits here. Results below.

1 Gelete Burka Ethiopia 3:59.89
2 Jenny Barringer USA 3:59.90
3 Anna Alminova Russia 4:01.44 4:01.432
4 Anna Willard USA 4:01.44 4:01.439
5 Christin Wurth-Thomas USA 4:01.72
6 Shannon Rowbury USA 4:03.92
7 Nuria Fernandez Spain 4:04.75
8 Nancy Lagat Kenya 4:05.05
9 Meskerem Assefa Ethiopia 4:05.99
10 Erin Donohoe USA 4:06.70
11 Shalene Flanagan USA 4:06.91
12 Treniere Clement USA 4:10.73
13 Shayne Culpepper USA 4:15.18
-- Nikeya Green USA DNF


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