Tuesday, September 16, 2014

There Are No Barriers

Two years ago at Eugene’s Olympic Trials, a roguish journalist cut from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s cloth, heralded the Coming of a new Steeple Star: long-haired , free-spirited Evan Jäger. Running only his 3rd barrier race, he dismissed the field and rocketed, blonde locks flopping beneath his headband, down the final straight to a delighted roar from the uber-educated fans. They knew they had seen something and someone special.

In Evan’s buildup to London’s Olympics, he raced in the Monaco steeple for his 4th ever water jump experience. There, in the opulent magic of Monaco, Jäger shattered the long-standing American record by naling an 8:06.81. This kind of novitiate stunning success is reminiscent of the miraculous surpises of Kenyans ,Daniel Komen and Moses Kiptanui, the latter a steepler himself.

Just a few days ago, Evan did it again at the Memorial Van Damme meet in Zurich. In this final Diamond League affair, Evan finished a stellar 3rd behind Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad and Jarius Birech who popped this season’s single sub-8 mark. The Bowerman Track Club’s phenom ran 8:04.71 to slice 2 seconds from his previous AR.

Next, Evan was off to Marrakech run his next Steeple at the Athletics Continental Cup in Morocco. He was one of two Chase entrants representing The Americas against other blocs such as Africa, Europe, and Asia. The prize money on offer, made the Diamond League meet winnings look like rear-of-running-short pocket change. Track and Road need to take a glimpse in the side mirror as Tennis and Golf -certainly no big bucks Brahmins when they started- blow by us in the passing lane because they draw media madness with their mountainous money payouts. Sad in a way, yes, that Green makes for envious fans; however, we can’t turn back the clock. But Evan has proven he can beat that clock,so we anxiously awaited results from the Marrakech Express. Evan did not disappoint.

One of Evan’s goals for this season was to work on his closing lap speed. When he set the AR last week, he finished with a 62.1. Decent, yes, but ,here at the Stade de Marrakech, Evan pushed the pace during the penultimate lap and more as he led until the last lap’s water jump against Jarius Birech, arguably this year’s best steeplechaser. Although Birech gritted through for the win, Evan cranked out a splendid 58.89 for a well-deserved and well-paid second place. Jäger can buy a lotta haircuts with $15,000 ! Not that he should cut those golden locks.

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