Emma Coburn, racing 2000 meters, 2014 NB Boston GP, photo by PhotoRun.net
This past winter, I watched Emma Coburn, in her first race back after recovering from a back injury, run a 2000 meters indoors. She ran pretty darn well for an opening race, at the New Balance GP, but was not sure what her level of fitness would be in 2014. Emma had taken off twelve weeks from running to heal her back injury.
Well, when Emma Coburn ran the Shanghai DL on May 15, her time of 9:19.81 surprised many. An American leading the steeple? And the steepled was not Jenny Simpson? No one knew who she was, but, they would. A nice pb from her London Olympic PB of 9:23.4, where she had finished ninth.
From Emma's FB page, May 15: "This is my opening steeplechase, and it will be fast!"
At the Nike Pre Classic on May 31, Emma Coburn lead for much of the race, and held on, in windy conditions to take third from, running a pb once again! 9:17.84! Coburn continued the aggressive racing style that she showed in Shanghai! If it works, as the old adage goes....
The race that truly surprised me was her run in the USA Outdoors. On a day when one could have fried an egg on the track (somewhere around 105 degrees), Emma Coburn not only blew the race open, she ran her near PB once again. A predictor of things to come. That 9:18.8 was worth something much faster. And not long after that, Emma would prove that to the world!
In the Meeting AREVA (5 July) steeplechase, Emma Coburn took the lead early, hitting the 1000 meter mark in 3:03, on pace for a very fast time. Coburn cleared the barriers well and continued to run from the front, building a small lead of five meters to seven meters from the ever changing field behind her.
The biggest changes with Emma Coburn this year are that her form is even better. Much of that looks to be core strength, as she no longer lists backwards depending on the length of the race. Coburn clears barriers with ease and attacks the water jumps. She is racing like the Europeans and Africans.
Emma Coburn, Pre Classic 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
Her coach, Mark Wetmore, who I met this morning, noted, "with Emma, she has such fine steeple form, I do not have to worry about her technique." So true.
As Coburn hit the 2000 meter mark in 6:10, we knew that we were in for something special. Emma continued to push the pace, and was breaking the field, with the exception on one athlete, Hiwot Ayalew. Her nemesis in Eugene as well.
At the bell, Emma Coburn lead, in 8:05, and Hiwot Ayalew was right behind her. Ayalew took the lead with 300 meters to go and got two seconds on Coburn before the last barrier. Perhaps two steps separated Coburn and Ayalew at the final water jump. Ayalew used her leg speed to eek out a two second lead over the final barrier and sprinted to the finish, in a world leading 9:11.65. Less than three seconds back, Emma Coburn was rewarded once again for her fine running and gutty racing with her 9:14.12 PB.
Emma Coburn chuckled a bit this morning, when asked about that race, " That last hundred meters was tough." Her coach, Mark Wetmore had just noted that a coach can not ask more from an athlete like Emma, "she was on the track after the race". Emma had given that race in Paris her all.
Her 9:14.12 gives her the number two performance in American history. Emma has shown that a bit of a break at the end of 2013, followed by a long season of training with her training partner, Jenny Simpson, has done much good. Her twelve weeks of no running, to relieve a back injury, were just what Emma needed to come back even stronger!
How long before Emma Coburn is the American record holder at the steeplechase?
My guess is probably her next race in fine conditions. And, speaking of that, Emma Coburn is racing the steeplechase this weekend in Glasgow at the Sainsbury's Glasgow GP.
How fast can Emma Coburn race this season?
I believe that a 9:10, even perhaps a 9:08 is possible.
Let's see what Emma Coburn has in store for us. Part of the fun in traveling around Europe, watching track meets is the wonderful performances that one gets to see!
Emma provided one on Saturday night, on the fifth of July, lets see what she can do later this season!
Emma Coburn wins her third US title, June 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net