Fast Women: Hellen Obiri (3:57.05), Sofia Assefa (9:11.39) and Mercy Cherono (9:13.27) Run Fastest Times Ever in US for 1500, Steeple and 2-mile

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Race Recap by David Monti, Quick Takes by LetsRun.com
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

EUGENE (31-May) — Women put on a formidable display of running at the 2014 Nike Pre Classic in the middle distance and distance events as US all-comers records were set in the women’s 1500, steeple and 2-mile.

Leading the way in impressiveness was the all-comers record in the 1500m by Kenya’s Hellen Obiri: 3:57.05.  The 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships silver medalist put herself near the front of the race early, following both the pace-making of Phoebe Wright and the bobbing ponytail of 2011 world 1500m champion Jenny Simpson.  Wright got the leaders through 800m in a very fast 2:08.07, then Simpson took over, going for broke, just like her coach Heather Burroughs had advised her.

1500 Metres – Women –
1 Obiri , Hellen Onsando KEN 3:57.05 4
2 Aregawi , Abeba SWE 3:57.57 2
3 Kipyegon , Faith Chepngetich KEN 3:58.01 1
4 Simpson , Jennifer USA 3:58.28
5 Hassan , Sifan NED 3:59.38
6 Sum , Eunice Jepkoech KEN 4:01.54
7 Martinez , Brenda USA 4:02.52
8 Weightman , Laura GBR 4:02.72
9 Buckman , Zoe AUS 4:04.09
10 Moser , Treniere USA 4:04.74
11 Hilali , Siham MAR 4:05.46
12 England , Hannah GBR 4:07.40
13 Cranny , Elise USA 4:13.38
Wright , Phoebe USA DNF

“‘I’ll make this really simple,'” Simpson recalled Burroughs telling her.  “‘Just forget about the different mantras, the different plans and things, and just go out and get on Phoebe and run hard.”

Simpson was in the lead at the 1200m mark (3:11.49), but Obiri, reigning world champion Abeba Aregawi of Sweden, and Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon were hot on her heels.  Aregawi went to the lead with about 200 meters to go, but was swallowed up by the fast-closing Obiri.  Aregawi clocked 3:57.57 for second, Kipyegon got third in 3:58.01, and Simpson set a personal best in fourth: 3:58.28.  It was the second time she had broken four minutes at Hayward Field.

“I like this stadium because last year I had a PB, this year I had a PB,” Obiri told Race Results Weekly.  “So I love to come here next year.”

Quick Thought #1: As we said elsewhere in great detail –LRC 6 Quick Takeaways From The 2014 Pre Classic – Hellen Obiri is the best women’s distance runner in the world on the track right now.

The P.A. announcer at Hayward misidentified her as Faith Kipyegon but Obiri handled it with class and said she wasn’t mad and that they look similar.

QT #2: A much-deserved PB for Jenny Simpson who amazingly had a 3:59.90 PB that dated to 2009 before today.

With her 3:58.28, she moves from #5 to #3 all-time in the US:

3:57.12       Mary Slaney    – later convicted doper
3:57.40       Suzy Hamilton
3:58.28       Jenny Simpson
3:59.38       Anna Willard
3:59.59       Christin Wurth-Thomas

Moving forward, Simpson said she’s not going to make an American record attempt at a specific race. She’s just hoping she’s running well later this summer and the clock will read 2:55 at the bell.

Women’s 2 Mile: Mercy Cherono Wins as Shannon Rowbury Gets The American Record

2 Miles – Women
1 Cherono , Mercy KEN 9:13.27
2 Kibiwot , Viola Jelagat KEN 9:13.48
3 Belete , Mimi BRN 9:13.85
4 Rowbury , Shannon USA 9:20.25
5 Kipyego , Sally Jepkosgei KEN 9:22.10
6 Oljira , Belaynesh ETH 9:23.32
7 Muriuki , Margaret Wangari KEN 9:24.89
8 Saina , Betsy KEN 9:26.63
9 Hasay , Jordan USA 9:35.05
10 Diriba , Buze ETH 9:40.01
11 Jamal , Maryam Yusuf BRN 9:40.04
12 Plis , Renata POL 9:42.23
13 Reilly , Chelsea USA 9:42.51
14 Thweatt , Laura USA 9:44.46
15 Felnagle , Brianna USA 9:54.61
16 Desalegn , Betlhem UAE 10:06.84
Kampf , Heather USA DNF
Kesselring , Anne GER DNF

The women’s two-mile also produced an all-comers record.  Kenya’s Mercy Cherono, the 2013 5000 Moscow silver medallist, and Viola Kibiwot, the Moscow 4th placer, and Bahrain’s Mini Belete engaged in a three-way battle after an ambitious first half of 4:33.5.  Cherono got the victory in the final sprint, clocking the fastest time ever on U.S. soil: 9:13.27 (it was also a world-leader).  Kibiwot ran 9:13.48 and Belete 9:13.85, an area record.

In fourth place Shannon Rowbury set a USA record of 9:20.25, surpassing Amy Rudolph‘s previous mark of 9:21.35 set in Cork, Ireland, in 1998.

“I thought, I knew, coming into this race I had a shot at the record,” Rowbury told Race Results Weekly.  “That being said, you never know on a given day.  The last 100 meters, I saw the clock, I heard the announcers, and I knew it was going to be close.”

Quick Thought #1: We’re happy that Rowbury got the record but her 3000 PB of 8:31.38 is significantly faster than the 9:20.25 she ran today.

We caught up with Rowbury after the race (video embedded below). If you missed our pre-race interview with Rowbury, it is here.

We guess it should be noted that drug cheat Regina Jacobs ran a 9:11.97 2-mile on US soil back in 1999 which isn’t the official AR because it came in a race against men.

QT #2: Rowbury’s teammate Jordan Hasay was hoping for a little faster time today and wanted to be the one leaving Hayward Field with the American Record.

Hasay said her workouts have been going really well and she hopes her racing catches up to her workouts so she has a breakthrough soon.

The 22-year old also reflected on what a great last year she’s had as a year ago she shockingly failed to make NCAA finals in the 10,000. A year later, she’s a world championship team member at 10,000.

Women’s Steeple: Sofia Assefa Wins as Emma Coburn Gets Another PB

3000 Steeplecahse – Women
1 Assefa , Sofia ETH 9:11.39 4
2 Ayalew , Hiwot ETH 9:12.89 2
3 Coburn , Emma USA 9:17.84 1
4 Diro , Etenesh ETH 9:25.69
5 Kirui , Purity Cherotich KEN 9:29.18
6 Chepkurui , Lidya KEN 9:32.03
7 Cherotich , Fancy KEN 9:41.02
8 Krause , Gesa Felicitas GER 9:42.95
9 Higginson , Ashley USA 9:50.12
10 Ghribi , Habiba TUN 9:53.29
11 McColgan , Eilish GBR 10:15.59
Praught , Aisha USA DNF
Cheever , Jamie USA DNF
Cheywa , Milcah Chemos KEN DNF
Johnson , Lauren USA DNF

Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa also ran an all-comers record in the women’s steeplechase, winning a close contest over compatriot Hiwot Ayalew, 9:11.39 to 9:12.89.  America’s Emma Coburn, a training partner of Jenny Simpson, finished third in a career best 9:17.84.  While pleased with her performance, she nonetheless saw room for improvement.

“I’m happy with the PR (personal record), obviously,” Coburn told Race Results Weekly.  “But I was definitely hoping to go a few seconds faster and have a stronger last kilometer than I did.  I kind of checked out a little from 1200 to go to 400 to go (when she was running by herself).”

Quick Thought #1: It’s a shame 2014 isn’t a World Championships year as Emma Coburn would likely medal.

Of course, if 2014 was a world championship year, we’re not sure if 2013 world champ Milcah Chemos, who was a DNF today, would be nursing a post-Moscow hangover every time she runs.

QT #2: A rare win for Assefa.

Assefa hadn’t won a race on the circuit since September 2nd of 2012. Last year, she 8 races and all of them were solid races where she was in the top 3 but she won zero of them.

QT #3: Germany’s Gesa Felicitas Krause didn’t have a great day today but she’s a great interview.

After her race, we caught up with the 21-year old, who in 2012 was 8th in the Olympic final just 3 days past her 20th birthday. Krause said she was hoping to run a little faster but she’s working her way back to fitness as she had to take six weeks off from running entirely. Why? To do basic training in the German military.

More below.


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