Men's Steeplechase: Three medals, three countries! Soufianne Elbakkali, Morocco, silver, Conseslus Kipruto, Kenya, gold and Evan Jager, US, bronze, explain it all.

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The Steeplechase has 28 barriers, seven water jumps over three thousand meters. It is one of our oldest traditions in our sport. It has been the domain of the Kenyan athletes since 1968, when Amos Biwott, jumping high over the water jump (anecdotally he had been told that crocodiles lived in water jump), beat WR holder Kerry O'Brien and US steeple animal/deity, George Young. However, Mr. Jager shook it up last year, with the silver medal. I have to say here, disqualifying Ezekial Kemboi in 2016 was pure horse droppings. Ezekial was one of the true characters of the sport, besides his affection for automatic firearms, but, as usual I have digressed.

Kipruto_ConseslusW-WC17.JPGConseslus Kipruto, gold, photo by PhotoRun.net

This steeple, Evan Jager took the lead with four laps to go, and he wanted to bust the race open. He wanted the field crying for a break. A very stressed Conseslus Kipruto and a very on, Soufiane Elbakkali, who had kicked butt in Rabat, showing excellent hurdle form and substantial speed at the finish, stayed behind Evan until 250 meters to go. Jager, who wanted to win the race, and gave it his all, saw Kipruto and Elbakkali run ahead on the final straight and then, heard the storming hooves of Monsieur Mekhissi, bronze from 2016, an a truly formidable French steepler, with a superb right upper hook (check You Tube). Mekhissi was charging, but Evan Jager kept his stuff together and took the first American medal EVER in men's steeple (Brian Diemer had a fourth, me thinks).

Jager_EvanW-WC17.JPGEvan Jager, bronze medalist, photo by PhotoRun.net

An exceptional steeplechase, and the athletes were superb. Ezekial Kemboi finished his last steeplechase in world champs and should have been recognized, as the first track steeple gif on Facebook, and, more importantly, a truly gutty athlete.

As a Wisconsoner for two decades, so proud of Evan Jager, and his coaching team of Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert. Their three medals (Evan Jager, Courtney Frerichs and Amy Cragg), as always teared me up. Three wonderful athletes, with a superb support team and great training partners at Bowerman TC. If you want to know what the secret sauce is of US distance runnning success it is the elite team system, and those pushing them (HOKA NJNYTC, RB Zap Fitness, ASICS Furman, HOKA Northern Arizona Elite, Brooks Beasts, Hanson-Brooks ODP, Skechers clubs, and of course Nike Oregon Distance Project). Great runners need 10-15 years of consistent support, training and focus. May look easy, but these events are hardest things in our sport.

Enjoy the presser.

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