Ruth Jebet Wins the Greatest Women’s Steeple Ever Run, Emma Coburn Gets American Record 9:10.76

May 28, 2016

This may not have been the fastest women’s steeplechase ever, but it was the greatest.

Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet of Bahrain became the second woman to crack the 9:00 barrier, running 8:59.97, just holding off a furious challenge on the final lap by world champ Hyvin Kiyeng, who was 2nd just .04 back in 9:00:01. American Emma Coburn broke the American record in third in 9:10.76.

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Shalaya Kipp rabbited this one until 5 laps to go and then Ruth Jebet did just what she did in Shanghai: she took the lead and pushed the pace. In Shanghai, Jebet kept the lead until she fell apart the final lap, falling on the homestretch but still finishing second in 9:15.98.

Super tight finish Super tight finish

Here Jebet was going even faster than she was in Shanghai as she was on world record pace. She started to slow a little and after roughly a 73-second penultimate lap, Jebet had 3.5 seconds on Kiyeng in second and needed roughly a 68-second final lap to get the 8:58.81 world record of Russia’s Gulnara Samitova-Galkina.

The chase was on, Jebet for the world record and Kiyeng for the win. Jebet’s hurdle form is not the best, and though she held up well here, Kiyeng was closing like a rocket. After the final barrier, Jebet still led but Kiyeng was closing. Jebet just managed to beat her to the line. Another two meters and the win would have been Kiyeng’s. However the race is 3000m long, not 3002.

Jebet rested her head on a hurdle just past the finish and then thrust her hands into the air to celebrate her first Diamond League win and the second sub-9:00 clocking ever. Her bravery was rewarded here. Kiyeng just missed getting the win and the sub-9:00 as the clock showed 9:00.01 for her.

Coburn moved up well for 3rd and her 9:10.76 was not only an American record (Jenny Simpson held the old mark of 9:12.50) but the the fastest ever run by an American (Coburn ran 9:11.42 in Glasgow in 2014 but did not take a drug test afterwards, so it could not be ratified as an AR).

QT #1: What a Steeple
A sub-9:00 in a super competitive race. You can’t do better than that. Jebet and Kiyeng are pushing each other and the event to a new level this year.

Big Lead at Bell for Jebet Big Lead at Bell for Jebet

QT #2: AR for Coburn
The American record is officially Emma Coburn’s. Not only did Coburn run fast here, she did it in her first steeple of the year. She said to NBC, “I feel like I’m going to cry. I’m so happy…I really had an interrupted fall and winter with injury, so to come out here and set the American record in my first steeple is just something I could not have hoped for.”

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She told LRC after that her coach though sub 9:20 would be a good performance but that she got out there and felt great. “I felt really good. I felt I could have gone another lap,” she said.

The Denver Post a nice read on Coburn’s dark period this winter and her comeback from an achilles injury. Coburn told them:

“There were many moments that I didn’t believe in myself, and I didn’t believe I would be in one piece in 2016. It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve been through. To get through it on the other side, feeling stronger than I ever have before, is such a blessing. It makes me appreciate this so much more because I couldn’t have predicted this would have happened a couple of months ago. … I wanted to just kind of get my get my feet wet and have a nice entry into the steeple, but I wasn’t anticipating an American record today at all.”

QT #4: A massive breakthrough for Leah O’Connor

O’Connor was the NCAA champ at Michigan State in 2014 and won the mile at NCAA indoors last year, but could not defend her title outdoors in 2015 as Colleen Quigley beat her out for that honor. Then at USAs, O’Connor was locked in a battle with Quigley for the final spot on Team USA but fell on the final water barrier and wound up fourth.

Given that O’Connor still managed to PR in that race (9:31.03) despite the fall, it seemed like she was capable of more, but no one could have expected a 12+ second PR of 9:18.85. O’Connor now joins Coburn and Simpson as the only Americans to break 9:20. Her run today was the seventh-fastest ever by an American as Coburn has run faster on five occasions and Simpson has run faster once.



Pos Name Country Result
1 JEBET Ruth BRN 8:59.97F
2 KIYENG Hyvin KEN 9:00.01F
3 COBURN Emma USA 9:10.76F American Record
4 CHEPKOECH Beatrice KEN 9:17.41
5 ASSEFA Sofia ETH 9:18.16
6 O’CONNOR Leah USA 9:18.85
7 KRAUSE Gesa Felicitas GER 9:22.33
8 CHEPKURUI Lidya KEN 9:22.81
9 KIRUI Purity KEN 9:31.76
10 LALONDE Geneviève CAN 9:32.17
11 HIGGINSON Ashley USA 9:33.38
12 NYAMBURA Virginia KEN 9:36.09
Emma Coburn All Smiles After on NBC Emma Coburn All Smiles After on NBC
Another Angle of Finish Another Angle of Finish
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