The SOJC Track Bureau has been writing for RunBlogRun among major events for several years. Lori Shontz is an associate professor at the University of Oregon, and she developed this program. In this article, Madeline Ryan wrote this piece about the Women’s 5000 meters at the USATF Outdoor Champs, June 26, 2022. Special thanks to the main photo by Kevin Neri /SOJC Track Bureau and story photos by Kevin Morris.
By Madeline Ryan
SOJC Track Bureau
After the USATF 10,000-meter Championship, which was held at the Prefontaine Classic in May, Emily Infeld needed time to grieve. She had finished fourth, narrowly missing a spot on the team going to the World Athletics Championships. It left her feeling like her hard work wasn’t enough.
“I never knew if I was going to be back on a team,” she said. “I think at the time, it was heartbreaking to me because I was like, ‘Was that my shot? Did I just miss my shot?’”
But it wasn’t her final shot. Infeld showed up to the USATF Outdoor Championships on Sunday with new confidence in herself, ready to earn her place on the 5,000-meter team.
And by the last few meters of the homestretch, Infeld knew she had gotten it. Elise Cranny won in 15 minutes, and 49.15 seconds, with Karissa Schweizer taking second in 15:49.32. Infeld grabbed the third spot in 15:49.42.
“With 50 to go, I was like, we’re going to be the three on the team,” Infeld said, recounting the memory with a big smile. “I just got so excited.”
The race began the way most expected, with Schweizer and Weini Kelati sharing the lead. Infeld focused on staying with Elise Cranny. They fell into the center of the pack as Kelati and Schweizer began to amp up the speed. Infeld tried to not worry about being boxed in — she knew that she and Cranny, former teammates at the Bowerman Track Club, would stick together.
“I tried to remind myself that I’m a good tactician in racing and to not get stressed,” Infeld said. “We’re bunched, but I’ll be able to get out when it matters.”
Infeld trained with a focus on speed for the past month and that work became essential by the end of the race. In the final three laps, the field spread out into a single file and then transformed into a leading pack of four women racing for only three spots on the national team.
Kelati couldn’t keep up with the group on the final backstretch and fell to an increasingly distant fourth-place finish.
She said she was satisfied with her race, even though she didn’t make the team.
“I’m grateful that I came here, and I raced,” Kelati said, “and I showed who I am.”
Schweizer, Cranny, and Infeld pushed ahead for the last 300 meters, no longer competing for a spot on the team but now to determine their finishing places.
Schweizer tried to maintain her speed as she continued to lead alone. As extra practice for her close, she had competed in the 1,500 a day earlier. But her kick wasn’t quite enough — Cranny had a more restful weekend and could move on the outside to pass her.
Schweizer won the 10,000-meter U.S. title in May. This means that after doubling the 5,000 and the 10,000 in Tokyo last year, she will repeat the feat around the worlds.
“It kind of broke me at the time,” she said of the Olympics. “It was a really difficult double, especially in that humidity. I learned a lot.”
Cranny, who decided to scratch the earlier 10,000 in favor of focusing on the 5,000, said she was happy with her finish. And she was proud to see her former training partner, Infeld, make the team with her.
“Especially during COVID, it was just the two of us training together, and she really helped me develop as an athlete,” Cranny said.
The people around Infeld seemed to have more faith in her than she did in herself, at times.
“A couple days ago, I was really nervous to my husband and I’m like, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this. Track is too hard. I don’t think I can be here anymore,’” Infeld said.
“And he was like, ‘You put in all this hard work. You’re ready.’”
And she was. Infeld was able to kick at the end of the race and finish the last lap in 1:05.43, the fastest of the field.
“Every year, it just gets harder and harder,” Infeld said. “But then I just have to keep working harder. And I think it elevates women’s distance running. I feel really lucky to be a part of that.”
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