Courtney Frerichs Runs 8:57.77 To Become First American to Go Sub 9 in Steeple

Norah Jeruto Becomes 3rd Fastest Ever with 8:53.65 Win

August 21, 2021

Courtney Frerichs’ dream 2021 season continued at the Pre Classic.

Running in her first race since her silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Frerichs ran aggressively throughout and although she could not stick with Norah Jeruto over the final two laps, she was rewarded with a runner-up finish in 8:57.77, the first sub 9 clocking by an an American. Frerichs smashed her previous American record of 9:00.85 from 2018.

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The race started very fast with the runners ahead of the Wavelight pacing technology which was reportedly set on 9:00 pace. The first km was 2:55.20. The pace slowed the 2nd kilometer (5:59.20) when Jeruto took the lead once the rabbit dropped out. 

Jeruto, the 2021 world leader coming in (9:00.67) who had to skip the Olympics as she is trying to transfer her allegiance from Kenya to Kazakhstan, ran like she had something to prove. Just after 2km, Jeruto began to push and she and Frerichs began to put a little gap on the rest of the field, which included the Olympic champ Peruth Chemutai.

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With 2 laps to go Jeruto and Frerichs were clear of the rest of the field. Frerichs stuck with Jeruto until they came down the homestretch for the bell where Jeruto had opened up a gap on Frerichs. Jeruto would extend her lead the final lap and get the convincing win in a dominant 8:53.65, a mark that has only been bettered twice in the world, once by Beatrice Chepkoech’s unworldly 8:44.32 world record, and once by Ruth Jebet‘s 8:52.78 (Jebet was later busted for drugs).

While Frerichs could not stay close to Jeruto on the final lap, she stayed close enough as she smashed the 9:00 barrier and knew it before the line. She threw up her arms in the air at the finish and then would get emotional on the track afterwards.

Sub 9 was no longer just a dream.

“It’s such a dream come true. It’s been such an honor to be a part of pushing this event forward,” Frerichs said afterwards. 

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She remembered when Emma Coburn was the first American woman to go sub 9:10 (for bronze at the Olympics) in 2016. Frerichs would go sub 9:10 the next year and get the American record in 2018.

But can she go even faster? She thinks so.

“I don’t think this is it. It’ll be really hard to break 8:50, but why not set that as the new goal,” she said.
1 KEN JERUTO Norah 8:53.65WLMRPB 
2 USA FRERICHS Courtney 8:57.77ARPB 
3 KEN KIYENG Hyvin 9:00.05SB 
4 BRN YAVI Winfred Mutile 9:04.27 
5 KEN CHESPOL Celliphine Chepteek 9:07.07SB 
6 GER KRAUSE Gesa Felicitas 9:07.61SB 
7 UGA CHEMUTAI Peruth 9:10.87 
8 ETH ABEBE Mekides 9:18.71 
9 USA HOWARD Marisa 9:22.69PB 
10 CAN BUTTERWORTH Alycia 9:28.68PB 
11 CAN YEE Regan 9:44.63 
12 GBR BIRD Elizabeth 9:59.51 

Quick Take: Frerichs got the American record by running very differently than she did in Tokyo

The race tonight started very quickly. The 1st kilometer (2:55) was 10 seconds faster than the 1st km at the Olympics (3:05). That didn’t matter to Frerichs. She came in with the mindset of just competing. “Going out in 66 is definitely not what I would have expected to happen in my first sub nine race, but I think by focusing on competing, I wasn’t rattled by any of the pacing.”

In Tokyo, Frerichs had run very aggressively after the halfway mark when she seized the lead and pushed for the win and settled for silver. Today she wasn’t afraid to go out fast because she knows she can pretty much run with anyone in the world right now.

Quick take: Norah Jeruto wow

Frerichs gets most of the print as we are an American-based website, but Jeruto’s run was incredible. She became the 3rd fastest of all-time and showed she is the top steepler in the world. She wasn’t eligible to compete at the Olympics, and the other Olympians may have had a luck of fortune.

Discussion: Overreaction or fact? Frerichs officially passes Coburn as #1 US Steepler ever 

Archives: Courtney Frerichs Goes for Gold and Rewarded With Silver as Peruth Chemutai Gets Surprise Gold

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