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Buffalo Soldier: Exclusive Interview With Emma Coburn

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Jul. 5, 2011
  • Updated Mar. 15, 2012 at 5:10 PM UTC

Competitor.com: Congrats on a fantastic month. An NCAA Nationals-USA Nationals double is tough in any event and especially so in the distance races. How far in advance did you decide to run both?

Emma Coburn: It was my goal throughout the whole season, since I’d been having so much success with the event. I got the IAAF “A” standard at the Peyton Jordan meet, so I didn’t have to worry about times after that.

Coburn is not the first University of Colorado steeplechaser to pull off the NCAA/USA Championships double. Photo: Larry Lawson

Competitor.com: Did a former teammate, Jenny Simpson, pulling off the double steeple win give you confidence in your chances of doing the same?

EC: I really hadn’t thought about that, about what people had done in the past. I knew that I had won at NCAAs and knew based on how the season had gone that I was in top-three shape at USAs.

Competitor.com: Was your pre-race strategy different at USAs, where you weren’t the prohibitive favorite like you were at NCAAs?

EC: It was. At NCAAs my plan was to focus on a certain pace, because I knew that if I held it the pack would eventually fall off. So I ran from the front. At USAs, I wasn’t actually looking to win, I just wanted to be in the top three and make the World Championships team. So I wanted to stay near the front and wasn’t concerned about the pace. After the first couple of laps were really slow, I did make a move to keep the pace honest, but that was it.

Competitor.com: In high school you ran 5:11 for 1600 meters and 11:32 in the 3200, but were fourth and second at the national championship meet in the 2000-meter steeple. Did you come to C.U. with the idea that the steeplechase would be your primary event?

EC: I knew it would definitely be my best event, but since it’s only run in the spring I knew had to become better at everything else as well.

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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