What is the steeplechase?
Countdown to the Olympics: 38 days, 1 hour and 47 minutes (as I am typing this). I have the order of events saved on my computer and both the men’s and women’s marathon are on my calendar. When I was looking at the schedule, I saw an event that I have always heard about but never knew exactly what it was – the steeplechase. I was familiar with the horse race, and I remember reading that Sara Hall won the 2011 Pan American Games. However, I didn’t know what a runner did in the steeplechase. Well now I do…
The steeplechase is a 3000 meter event comprised of 28 hurdles and 7 water jumps. During the first half lap, the athletes run no obstacles and then four hurdles and 1 water jump each lap after that. Each water jump has a hurdle followed by a water pit. Because the rules allow the runner to clear the hurdle any way possible, some runners will step on the hurdle to propel themselves forward. I’ve actually never seen this event in the Olympics, but I imagine that it would be pretty impressive to watch. The world record holder for the men is Saif Saaeed Shaheen with the stellar time of 7:53:63. That is 7 ½ laps, 28 hurdles and 4 water jumps in less than 8 minutes. Amazing. The women’s world record holder, Gulnara Galkina-Samitova also has an equally impressive time of 8:58:81.
In looking at the top 25 male and top 25 female participants, there was only one person from the United States, Jennifer Simpson. The Kenyans and Russians dominate the top ten in both fields. Maybe that is why I am so unfamiliar with this event – it doesn’t seem to be as popular in the United States. And I thought the fact that the women’s marathon didn’t become an Olympic event until 1984 was bad. Well the first women’s Olympic steeplechase event wasn’t until 2008! That was the year Galkina-Samitova set the world record.
This year, round one of the steeplechase takes place August 3rd and the final takes place August 5th. I’ve added both to my Olympic calendar and I really hope I get watch them. Although the marathon is my favorite event to watch, I think this could be pretty interesting. Here is a clip of the the 2008 Olympic final:
And since I can not find a picture of the steeplechase under The Commons section of Flickr, I’ll post a pic of me instead on the track this morning during our workout and my delicious breakfast afterwards. (It’s guacamole.) Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
My run today: