Welcome to the seventh edition of Bob Babbitt’s Endurance World Newsletter.
We're celebrating Global Running Day with a focus on some of my favorite athletes:
I remember having the American Record holder for 10,000 meters, Thom Hunt, on my radio show years ago. Our discussion turned to the steeplechase which I knew very little about. I asked Thom for some insight since he ran the event. “When you are running, when you get fatigued you tend to fade,” he said. “It’s a gradual process. But with the steeple, with the hurdles and the water jump, one minute you will be feeling awesome and the next minute it will feel like someone just dropped a piano on your back. You don’t fade in the steeple. One minute you’re great and the next minute you’re gone!”
Since then I have been fascinated with the event. The hurdles that don’t move and the water jump that every track fan gathers around because that is where the best carnage is likely to occur. It is definitely a unique event and I’m guessing most track athletes would consider the steeplechase one of the toughest and most brutal events in their sport.
In this edition of our newsletter, we gathered up our interviews with a current steeple star, Evan Jager, plus a collection of former steeple people who are now killing it in triathlon and obstacle racing.
It was the ultimate good news/bad news scenario. U.S. steeplechaser Evan Jager was in Paris about to win the steeple at the Diamond League event. The good news? He set a new American record with his 8:00.45. The bad news? He tumbled over the very last hurdle and ended up in second.
Jeff Symonds, a professional triathlete from Canada, races under his motto "Get Ugly" and he proved this year in Kona that he has no fear digging deep, throwing down a 2:50 marathon after riding the last 30K of the bike pedaling with just one leg after a mechanical problem with his bike. This former steeplechaser calls what goes on in the steeple pandemonium. We had fun chatting about some of Jeff's experiences as a steeplechaser during our Breakfast from Kona interview.
“When I was at the regionals trying to qualify for the NCAA Nationals, I actually hit the water barrier and fell. I was kind of in a rut and I just wasn’t performing well up until that point in that race. But falling into the pit must have done something to me because it lit my butt on fire and I ended up qualifying for nationals. I was kind of out of it in that race, not really with it. That fall into the water pit snapped me back to reality.”
-2016 Olympic Triathlon qualifier Katie Zaferes who ran steeple at Syracuse University.
I recently chatted with the former Syracuse steeplechase star right after she found out she made the Olympic Triathlon team.
This quote is from top obstacle racer Matt ‘The Bear’ Novakovich who ran steeple at BYU. It's no surprise to me that a former steeplechaser has found success on the incredibly tough obstacle race circuit.
Professional Triathlete Jesse Thomas ran the steeple at Stanford University. Since then, Jesse has accumulated a series of impressive victories that cement his reputation as a triathlete who excels at some of the most brutal races on the planet. He has a record-breaking 6 wins in a row at the legendary Wildflower Triathlon, won his Ironman debut at Ironman Wales, and just beat the current World Champion Jan Frodeno at the extra-harsh Ironman Lanzarote. Epic wins. But I still like to bring up his days as a steeplechaser whenever we chat.