Lauren Fleshman, The Runner Stumbles and Gets Up!

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Courtesy of NikeRunning.com

We hope that you enjoyed the short film on Lauren Fleshman, the focus of a Nike ad campaign and much more. Special thanks to Nike running for that!

Lauren is a real runner. She speaks the part and looks the part. This, in itself is problematic. Part of the magic of sports, in general, and the sport of athletics in particular, is that there are few sure bets.

Lauren Fleshman, a graduate of Stanford University and the Vinn Lannana years, was an NCAA 5,000 meter champion. At the 2006 AT&T Outdoor Champs, Lauren, off a short training period, won the 5,000 meter title in a superbly timed last 200 meter charge.

2007 did not have the same story book ending. In the 5,000 meter championship in Indy, like 2006. But this year, it was for all the marbles-a world championship team was at stake. In the 5,000 final, with Shalane Flanagan hell bent for a sub 15 minute clocking, Jenn Rhines, Michelle Sikes and Lauren Fleshman were duking it out by themselves, from 1,600 meters to 4,000 meters, when Lauren stopped...

I had been watching Lauren and noticed that she was in some distress. But her stop was so unlike her previous racing...and then, she was back into it. The total catastrophe took all of 20 seconds, and Fleshmen took, off, hell bent to get Sikes and Rhines.

Jenn Rhines and Michelle Sikes are two of the most likeable athletes in our sport. Rhines, who races world class from the mile to the marathon, is focused on the 5,000 meters and her short, staccato stride is deadly--the speed Rhines can muster over the last 150 meters makes her dangerous in any championship race and she gives no one-no one, quarter.

Sikes, new to the professonal scene, literally wore out her competition at the NCAA 5,000 meters with 14 noted pace changes over 12 and one half laps. This skill will come in handy in championship races.

But this race was all out, peddle to the mettle and hope to make the top three. Rhines took second in 15:07, with Sikes in 15:08 and twenty seconds back was Lauren Fleshman.

While fourth in a championship race, quite frankly, to use the vernacular, sucks, Fleshman has seemed like an athlete reborn over this summer. First came a fine 1,500 meter run, then wins over 5,000 meters and a superb win in Norwich London
GP over Joanne Pavey of Great Britian.

The image and the reality of the situation is that Lauren Fleshman is a perfect model for women's running. A multi million dollar campaign will make her a household word in runner's homes and young women athletes, the target of the campaign.

The key for Lauren will be how she can live with it. Having returned to the coaching format of Vinn Lannana, and the rural surroundings of Eugene, Oregon, Lauren has one year to focus, stay healthy and move up one position, because, in July 2008, all of the marbles are on the line, the U.S. Olympic team.

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