Wow: Jenny Simpson Impresses With Drake Relays Record and World Lead in 1,500

“We can say with some confidence that the world champion is back!!!!” by April 26, 2013 With $50,000 on the line and a star-studded field that included all of the Big 3 of US stellar’s 1,500 corps – 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson, 2011 world #1 Morgan Uceny, and 2009 bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury […]

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“We can say with some confidence that the world champion is back!!!!”

April 26, 2013

With $50,000 on the line and a star-studded field that included all of the Big 3 of US stellar’s 1,500 corps – 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson, 2011 world #1 Morgan Uceny, and 2009 bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury – plus the new teen phenom in 16-year old Mary Cain, the women’s 1,500 at the 2013 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee was one of the most anticipated early season races in recent years on the US circuit.

And the race did not disappoint.

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Simpson – who in most races in recent years often left people wondering, “How did she win the world title again?” – was simply sensational as she destroyed the field over the final in 600 to win in a meet record and world leading time of 4:03.35.

More than 30 meters behind, Canadian Olympian and former Villanova star Sheila Reid moved up late to finish second in 4:07.92 meters back in with Kate Grace, the former Yale runner who won the US Road Mile championships in Des Moines on Tuesday, third in a new pr of 4:08.24 (previous best 4:10.57). High school sensation Mary Cain was sixth in a new US high school national record of 4:10.77. Shannon Rowbury, who really was the only women who tried to stay with Simpson, ended up fourth in 4:09.05.

The start

A very happy Jenny Simpson

A very happy Jenny Simpson

The race took place in windy conditions (The race began at 7:20 CT and reported 15mph winds from the South at 7:25 pm). However, the rabbit Renee Tomlin was absolutely perfect. She was hired to run two 65 second laps and she did that pretty much spot on.

From the start, Simpson and Cain meant business as they got right behind the rabbit. On the second lap around the 500 mark, Cain backed off and slipped back into fourth as Rowbury moved up and tried to run with Simpson. The duo of Rowbury and Simpson had gapped the field by 800 as Grace tried to keep it close. After 800 (2:11 for Simpson), the rabbit kept going for another 100 meters and when she departed, Simpson already had about a 5 meter lead. And then the final  600, well really the last 400, was breath-taking.

At the bell (3:00.31), Simpson led by roughly 10 meters and it was now time for the Jenny Simpson show. The wind was not stopping Simpson. The field was not stopping Simpson. Soon she’d have a meet record and a much deserved $25,000 payday thanks to a scintillating 64 flat final 400.

With the announcer’s help, Simpson knew  a meet record was withing reach and she went out and got it.’s favorite distance commentator Tim Hutchings summed things up perfectly right after the race on the live ESPN3 telecast when he exclaimed, “We can say with some confidence that the world champion is back!!!!”

Back indeed. In her first race back under the guidance of her college coach Mark Wetmore, who guided her to a 3:59 in 2010, Simpson looked like a sub-4:00 competitor.

Simpson, who admitted she was nervous before the race, was visibly thrilled with the performance as she pumped her fist in celebration and gave to yells of, “Woooo…. Wooooo.”

“I wanted to show everyone how well it (the change in training)’s  working and how well I’m doing,” said Simpson to Dan  O’Brien on the ESPN3 telecast.”I told myself to really use the rabbit.”

This is what domination looks like

This is what domination looks like

“Races don’t often feel like practice, but it felt just like practice when you are running into the wind in Colorado. The biggest help was the announcer saying all I had to do was 65.5 to get that record. I wanted my name on this stadium,” added Simpson.

As for Cain, for the first time in 2013, she was not competitive in terms of being in the mix for a high finish but she did break her old high school record of 4:11.01 from last summer at the World Juniors.

“That was really hard. It was really windy out here. I tried to stay in the race,” said Cain. “I got a national record again so I’m happy.”

Quick takes and results below.

Quick Take #1: Wow. Wow. Wow. This race was a lot of fun to watch. When a big name like Simpson shows up with at a big event with no known prep races and knocks it out of the park, it’s all the more fun for the fans (and media alike) as it was in many ways totally unexpected.

Quick Take #2: Reid was never in the mix up front in terms of battling for a win. But she ran very smart and picked up a cool $15,000 in going from fourth to second over the last 200 as the prize money went $25,000, $15,000, $10,000. On the flip side, Rowbury deserved more than $0 in prize money as she ran with some braveness.

Quick Take #3: The $10,000 will go a long way for Kate Grace who runs on a shoe-string budget with some help Oiselle. With the $5,000 she won at the road mile on Tuesday, we imagine she earned more in the last five days than she had in her whole career.

Quick Take #4: We know it’s early and we know Morgan Uceny gave an upbeat interview earlier in the week but she was near the back for virtually the whole race and ended up  third to last in 4:17.72 – a performance that certainly didn’t inspire us with confidence.

Quick Take #5: Despite the HS record, this race will quiet down the Mary Cain hype considerably. She’s got a long ways to go to be a factor in a truly world-class race. An ‘A’ standard down the road isn’t out of the question but her competing for a US title or Pre title in 2013 are.

Quick Take #6: There was some speculation the former 3:59 runner Christin Wurth-Thomas who barely raced last year would reappear here but she was a DNS.

More: MB Discussion: Official 2013 Drake 1500 Thread: Cain vs Uceny vs Simpson vs. Rowbury Thread
*MB: Tim Hutchens on Jenny Simpson “The World Champion is Back.”
*LRC Recap of Other Pro Events: 2013 Drake Relays Day 1 Recap: A Stunner In the 110 Hurdles, Jenn Suhr Loses, Jeremy Wariner Loses, Brittney Reese Wins

At the bell, it was relatively close

At the bell, it was relatively close

Drake Stadium - Site License 
             2013 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee             
                  America's Athletic Classic                   
 Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa  - 4/24/2013 to 4/27/2013  

Event 465  Women 1500 Meter Run London Games Rematch
    Name                    Year School                  Finals
  1 Jenny Simpson                New Balance            4:03.35
  2 Sheila Reid                  Nike                   4:07.92
  3 Kate Grace                   United States          4:08.24
  4 Shannon Rowbury              Nike                   4:09.05
  5 Gabriele Anderson            United States          4:10.32
  6 Mary Cain                    United States          4:10.77
  7 Sarah Bowman                 New Balance            4:11.31
  8 Emma Coburn                  Colorado               4:11.36
  9 Morgan Uceny                 adidas                 4:17.71
 10 Ashley Miller                Asics                  4:19.86
 11 Heather Kamph                Asics                  4:20.80
 -- Renee Tomlin                 United States              DNF
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