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Beatrice Chepkoech runs away from field, sets World Championship steeplechase record

The steeplechase world record holder is now also the reigning world champion

Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya ran away from the 3,000m steeplechase field on Monday afternoon to win the World Championships and set a new championship record of 8:57.84. The Kenyan runner, who’s the world record-holder in the event (at 8:44), lost to American Emma Coburn (who finished second today) at the 2017 championships.

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Coburn ran an extremely impressive race for second, waiting patiently until the final lap to make her big move and chase down Chepkoech. While Coburn was unsuccessful, her Worlds silver medal and new personal best of 9:02.35 remain huge victories for the runner. Coburn’s time is the second-fastest ever run by an American.

The 2019 gold and silver medallists have a seemingly difficult relationship. After the 2018 5th Avenue Mile, Coburn’s final race of that season, the runner shared her thoughts on the newly-set women’s world record in the steeplechase: “I shouldn’t comment because there’s no proof to prove otherwise, but it’s important to look at trends and history of performances, and where there’s big outliers, we might need to pause.”

Cobrun and Frerichs in 2017

In the same race that American Courtney Frerichs broke the American steeplechase record, the world record fell. In that race, Chepkoech jumped from an 8:59 runner, to an 8:44 runner and the new world record-holder.

Coburn comments that Chepkoech’s time was a huge jump: “I do think a woman can run 8:45, but I don’t think a woman can run 8:45 when for a whole season she runs 9 minutes and then runs 8:45. I don’t think that’s really possible. I think nine minutes is still the holy grail of women’s steeplechase and I think that’s a time–that right under nine minutes athletes can run clean, so hopefully there’s enough of us to get near that.”

Canadian Gen Lalonde was 14th in the race, finishing once again just off her Canadian record in 9:32.92.