Women’s 5,000 Prelims: Karissa Schweizer Rips 14:52 to Become 7th-Fastest American Ever

By LetsRun.com
October 2, 2019

DOHA, Qatar — 5,000-meter prelims usually aren’t the most exciting events of the meet, but heat 1 of the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships certainly was for American distance fans as Karissa Schweizer, the six-time NCAA champion at the University of Missouri, ran a humongous personal best of 14:52.41 to finish second (previous pb of 15:01.63). The 23-year-old Schweizer, now running for the Bowerman Track Club, didn’t just qualify for her first World Championship final; she became the first American under 15:00 in 2019 and moved all the way up to #7 on the all-time US list, which now reads as follows:

  1. 14:34.45 Shelby Houlihan 2018
  2. 14:38.92 Shannon Rowbury 2016
  3. 14:42.64 Molly Huddle 2014
  4. 14:44.80 Shalane Flanagan 2007
  5. 14:45.35 Regina Jacobs 2000
  6. 14:51.62 Deena Kastor 2000
  7. 14:52.41 Karissa Schweizer 2019

Schweizer wasn’t the only athlete to run a big pb to make the final in heat #1. Kiwi Camille Buscomb, 29, who never scored in the Big 10 during her two plus years for Purdue, had the biggest pb of the night. She lowered her pb from 15:19.81 to 15:02.19 to grab the final auto spot in heat #1 (5th place). Just behind her in sixth, Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka had the 2nd biggest pb of the night as she lowered her pb from 15:17.28 to 15:04.66 to take the first time qualifier.  Canada’s Andrea Seccafien went from 15:11.24 to 15:04.67 to qualify in 7th.

Behind them, American Elle Purrier almost PR’d as well (she ran 15:08.82, just .21 off her PR) to finish 9th in heat #1 and earn the last time qualifier into Saturday’s final. The third American, Rachel Schneider, struggled and was just 8th in heat 2 in 15:30.00; she did not advance.

Only one of the 11 women with a sub-15:00 seasonal best failed to make the final. Two-time Olympian Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal (14:51.66 sb and pb) did not finish heat #1 and was eliminated.

Reigning champ Hellen Obiri, who looked and sounded worn down after finishing 5th in the 10k final on Friday, looked no worse for wear as she won heat 1 and posted the fastest qualifying time, 14:52.13. Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany and the Nike Oregon Project also advanced to the final automatically out of heat 2.

Quick Take: Karissa Schweizer went harder than she needed to, but she ran a big pb

Anyone watching Schweizer’s race probably wondered why she fought so hard over the final lap (which she closed in 62.73) when she was easily assured of a spot in the final — the top five women qualified automatically, and Schweizer wound up 12 seconds ahead of 6th.

Truth is, Schweizer said that she didn’t know exactly where she stood. She was searching for a video board to check on where she was positioned but couldn’t find one and didn’t look over her shoulder to check, so she decided to keep running hard and guarantee a spot in the final. Schweizer did say that she made one mistake though: she was told by coach Jerry Schumacher to stick on the rail as much as possible, and Schweizer did not do that.

Schweizer is in unknown territory now as she’s never run this fast and never had to run a championship with rounds in the 5,000. She has two days to recover, though. Replicating tonight’s performance in the final won’t be enough for a medal, but would give her a shot to finish in the top half of the 15-person final.

Quick Take: Obiri may be able to win gold in Doha after all

Obiri had initially considered scratching from the 5k after her performance in the 10k, but said today that she wanted to defend her title in the 5k. It’s a good thing she did as the 5k looks a lot more winnable now than it did a few days ago. 10k champ Sifan Hassan scratched to focus on the 1500, and 10k silver medalist Letesenbet Gidey, who was entered in the 5k, did not run as none of the Ethiopian distance runners in Doha appear to be doubling.

Either of those two women would have been favored to take 5k gold, but with them out of the way, Obiri’s chances of a repeat are looking much better.

Quick Take: Konstanze Klosterhalfen — “That happened a long time ago. My coach is Pete Julian”

Klosterhalfen is also a serious medal contender — perhaps even the gold-medal favorite, considering she beat Obiri in the DL final — but most of the discussion in the mixed zone today centered on the four-year ban handed down against Nike Oregon Project Alberto Salazar yesterday.

Klosterhalfen, like 800m world champ Donavan Brazier, is a member of the Oregon Project but is coached by Pete Julian. And her comments today were similar to Brazier’s last night, noting that the allegations against Salazar predate her time with the group (she joined at the end of 2018) and that Julian, not Salazar, is her coach.

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“That happened a long time ago,” Klosterhalfen. “My coach is Pete Julian and we also don’t know more about that topic and we concentrate on our races and look to show how hard we trained.”

We asked Klosterhalfen when she found out that USADA had charged Salazar with anti-doping violations (he was charged in 2017 and had been fighting it while Klosterhalfen was a member of the group).

“I don’t know exactly the time and I don’t know exactly the topic, but I know that’s a long time ago and I cannot say more about this,” Klosterhalfen said.

We don’t have video of Klosterhalfen as she didn’t stop in the part of the mixed zone where video recording is allowed.

Quick Take: Elle Purrier makes it on time

Five months ago, Elle Purrier had never run a 5,000-meter race on the track. A steeplechaser-turned-miler in college, she debuted with a 15:23 at Payton Jordan in May, then lowered her pb to 15:08 at the Adrian Martinez Classic in June before finishing 3rd at USAs to make her first Worlds team.

Tonight, she barely missed her PR and managed to grab a time qualifier to advance to her World Championship final. Very impressive stuff for the first-year pro, who trains with Mark Coogan’s New Balance group in Boston. 

Purrier was a little surprised that her heat went so fast, but knew coming in she would have to run fast to advance. She was a little upset to get dropped — “I wish I could have hung on a little bit more in the last mile” — but she got dropped for a good reason; the winning time was 16 seconds faster than her PR.

Quick Take: A bloody Rachel Schneider just didn’t have it

Schneider said she was banged up heading into this meet, perhaps a product of the longer-than-usual season. Once this one was over, she seemed relieved to be able to rest.

“I think my body’s just a little ready for a break,” Schneider said. “Probably was ready for a break in September like it’s used to.”

It certainly didn’t help that Schneider got spiked multiple times during the race; blood dripped down both of her shins as she walked through the mixed zone.

Talk about the action on our fan forum / messageboard:

MB: Karissa Schweizer runs 14:52 – 7th all time in US history – IN THE HEATS
MB: Official 2019 IAAF World Champs Day Six (Wed) Discussion Thread
MB: Drama in men’s 110h: IAAF, Give Holloway the gold but re-run the hurdles for everyone else (save McLeod)!!!

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