Emma Coburn is the former American record holder in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase and the 2017 world champion. She lost her record this year to Courtney Frerichs who ran a 9:00.85 at the Monaco Diamond League. 

Coburn is a long-time staple on the international steeplechase scene. Even though she’s only 27, Coburn has been running the steeplechase for nearly a decade. Coburn punched through to the elite level in 2014 when she ran a 9:11.42 in Glasgow. 

After Sunday’s 5th Avenue Mile, her final race of the season, Coburn 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.”

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She continues, “I think we can look at what happened with Ruth and maybe pause for a second about it.”

What Coburn’s referring to is Ruth Jebet’s failed drug test earlier this year. Jebet is the reigning Olympic steeplechase champion, and the former world record-holder. She was reported to have tested positive for EPO in March.

In the same race that Frerichs broke the American steeplechase record, the world record fell. In that race, Beatrice 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.”

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