Saturday, July 21, 2018

Chasing Steeples Was Never Like This

Beatrice Chepkoech Shatters the 3000m Steeplechase World Record

In one race, on July 25, 1952, Horace Ashenfelter won the United States’ only Olympic steeplechase gold medal, set the world record, and defeated the then-current world record holder Vladimir Kazantsev – of the Soviet Union, no less, at the height of the Cold War.

His time? 8:45.4.

Five days short of 66 years later, Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech shattered-demolished-obliterated-crushed-decimated the existing women’s world record of 8:52.78 with her spectacular romp in Monaco on Friday.

Her time? 8:44.32

She ran over these barriers as if there were no barriers.

Behind her, Courtney Frerichs set the US record in 9:00.85, breaking Emma Coburn’s 9:02.59 from the epic London World Championships race which saw Coburn and Frerichs finish 1-2.

Ironically, on this same day, Ruth Jebet, the previous world record holder, was named publicly by the Athletics Integrity Unit as being under investigation for a failed drug test for EPO. 

Take Jebet’s tainted time out of the equation and the next best time ever is Celliphine Chespol’s 8:58.78, which she ran in winning the 2017 Prefontaine Classic at age 18. 

That makes Chepkoech’s time an improvement over the previous world best by 14.46, or almost exactly two seconds per lap.

Beatrice Chepkoech
photo credit: IAAF/Getty Images

Meanwhile, stat fans revel in this:’s terrific piece called 10 Crazy Stats from Absolutely Bonkers Monaco Diamond League Meet

So, Beatrice Chepkoech is faster than Horace Ashenfelter.

I am now officially old.