Cain Will Have To Wait For Her First Outdoor Title As Moser “Gets Ugly” In The Last 100m To Get The Win
June 22, 2013
Des Moines, IA – The women’s 1500 at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium was a thrilling race that came down to the final meters. In the end, 31-year-old Treniere Moser not only managed to successfully beat the field, passing 17 year old high school sensation Mary Cain in the final meters, but she also beat “Father Time” as this was her fourth US outdoor 1500 national title, and her first in six years (she won in 2005, 2006 and 2007). Training partner Cain’s fairy tale 2013 season continued with a World Championship birth and near national title, as Moser needed to make use of every last inch of track to run down Cain just before the line. NCAA runner-up Cory McGee did the exact opposite of what she did at NCAAs (where she was passed in the final 30 meters) and blew by Shannon Rowbury before the line to get third.
In extreme heat (91 degrees, 98 degree heat index, and 15mph winds), this race was extremely tactical. University of Utah’s Amanda Mergaert led the field through the first 400m in around 85 seconds with Rowbury sitting in second and Moser and Cain in second to last and last place. 85 seconds for 400 would be slow for the first 400m of a women’s elite marathon.
The second lap sped up only slightly, as they covered 300m to 700m in 79 seconds led by last year’s Olympic Trials 4th placer Gabriele Anderson. Cain and Moser had moved up a bit into 6th and 8th place and the defending champion Morgan Uceny was in last. From there the pace started to quicken a bit as they hit the 800 mark in about 2:40 and they ran 68 for the penultimate lap as McGee had the lead at the bell followed very closely by Cain in second. The spread between McGee and last place (Heather Wilson in 12th) was only .69 seconds. Literally everyone was still in it.
Right after the bell, the high schooler Cain made a big surge going around McGee on the outside and started kicking for home. The high schooler unbelievably gapped the field on the backstretch. She was running like a pro, not a 17 year old. Going into the last 200 Cain still had the lead, but Moser had moved into second position and was gaining slightly on Cain. Behind them Rowbury was in third and those three had put some distance on the rest of the field.
Cain kept the lead down the homestretch. Could the 17 year old really run away from America’s best the final 400m? Moser began to gain on Cain on the latter half of the straight away.
At the line, it was Moser in first, as she ran her last lap in 57.45 to get the win in 4:28.62, .14 ahead of Cain who closed in 57.86. Rowbury ran out of steam down the stretch and McGee was able to go back by her as she closed in 58.88, finishing .39 ahead of Rowbury. Kerri Gallagher and Sarah Brown closed under 60 as well, but it only got them 5th and 6th.
How slow was this race early on? Message board poster “Chet Manly” pointed out in this thread that compared to all the US women’s 1500m Championship races in history (dating back to 1965), Moser’s winning time is only faster than the first and third (ignoring the 1968 race held at altitude Echo Summit Pass). *Full List
Thoughts From Moser, Cain and Alberto Salazar:
Moser was ecstatic after the race to be back on top of the US women’s middle distance running after six long years away. Her last US championship win was in 2007 and her 1500 PR before this year (4:03.32) dated back to August of 2006. Before she moved to Alberto Salazar‘s group 7 or 8 months ago, she was thinking about retirement and looking for jobs in Oregon. Now she’s back on top and looking ahead:
“I’m on cloud nine. I’m 31 years old and I’m keeping up with a 17-year-old (Cain). I never thought I would have the energy go do that. I’m just so happy with where I’m at and what the future holds for me. I was kind of taking it year to year but now I’m starting to look long term and maybe to Rio now. It’s just such a great feeling. At this point all I can say is, never give up.”
Talking about her motivation in the last 100m, Moser said:
“As soon as I knew I was going to make the team, I wanted to win. I’ve won three of these, and it’s been a long time. I just wanted a fourth one. I’ve always wanted a fourth one. This fourth title means the world to me. Alberto told me to get ugly for the last 100, and I did that. Alberto says I’m a pretty runner, and he said, ‘I need you to get ugly. You need to dig as deep as you can to finish,’ and that’s what got me to number one today.”
Mary Cain’s performances this year (indoor national title, first high schooler sub-2 in the 800 at Pre, national high school records at 800 thru 5000) have been so amazing they make it easy to forget that she is just a 17 year old kid who might be feeling a ton of pressure. After this race, Cain indicated the pressure started to get to her before the final. She said she called her mom on the phone crying on Friday saying, “I’m just a little kid, I’m scared.” She also had a stuffed animal with her in the mixed zone after the race, reminding us she really is just 17.
Cain did not show her age on the track, nearly winning her first US Outdoor title. Could she have beat Moser if she had waited a bit longer to start her kick? Mary didn’t think so and didn’t seem to regret the move. She said, “I was supposed to follow Treniere. At 400 meters, I felt good. I just took it. I needed to intimidate. I needed to assert a presence. I was all out.”
Talking about pre-race strategy Salazar said they expected it to be very tactical and they weren’t worried about it. He said, “I told [Cain and Moser], ‘If they want to hand it up to you in the last 400 or 500 meters of the race, no one can sprint with [you].'”
Quick Takes And Interviews:
QT#1: It’s easy to say that the field let the race play right into the hands of Moser and Cain by letting it start so slow since they are known to be good kickers and have 1:59 800 speed. However, Moser also had by far the fastest time this season of anyone in the field and Cain was third, so a faster race wouldn’t really have put them at a disadvantage.
But some women in this field likely in hindsight wish they had worked together to make it faster (Katie Mackey, Brown and Anderson all have 4:04-4:05 to their names this year; Rowbury and Uceny have fast PR’s) because letting it go so slow, really turned it into a crap shoot in the last lap. With a lap to go everyone was in it and a 4:10 woman in McGee finished top-3. That being said, a crapshoot is still what we think many women in the field wanted given the way Moser and Cain had been running prior to this race and how they looked in the semis, as in a total kicker’s affair people can tie up if they kick too early, fall, etc.
QT#2: McGee’s 1500 PR (4:10.55) is relatively weak compared to many of the women in this field, so you’d probably assume she has a fast 800 PR since she definitely displayed some wheels here. Well her 800 PR is only 2:05.39 and she’s only ran 2:06.83 in 2013. She was very fast today when it mattered.
And to think, after NCAA when she finished second in a tactical race, she told us she had always disliked slow races as she struggled with her kick. That phobia is likely gone now.
QT#3: Moser and Cain have the “A” standard, but McGee doesn’t have the “B” of 4:09.00. McGee thinks she’s definitely capable of getting the standard as she doesn’t feel she’s had a good opportunity for a fast time this year. She doesn’t know where or when she’ll go for it, but she definitely plans on it. If she doesn’t run faster than 4:09.00 then Rowbury would go as she has run 4:07 this year.
QT#4: In her post-race interview, Rowbury said she was disappointed not to be top 3, but just didn’t have what she wanted to have the last 100m. Asked why they let it go so slow she talked about the weather (heat and wind specifically) and said no one wants to be the “sacrificial lamb”, but admitted it was really a 300 meter race and this type of race didn’t “play into her strengths”.
QT#5: After stellar seasons in 2011 and 2012, 2013 has just not been Morgan Uceny’s year. She hasn’t been the same runner who was the World #1 in 2011 or controlled every round of the Trials last year. Will her falls at Worlds in 2011 and the London Games last year define her career, or can she get herself back to the top? She’ll be 30 in 2016 which is on the older side, but Treniere Moser has showed us you can still PR and do big things even in your 30’s.
QT#6: Moser, Cain, Jenny Simpson, Rowbury, Brenda Martinez and a 2011 Uceny. That’d be a great race to watch.
University of Florida
University of Utah
Brooks / Team USA Minnesota
College of Idaho