After quiet season, Emma Coburn wins NCAA indoor mile title
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
“It was risky but it worked out”
The list of titles continues to grow for former Crested Butte Titan and current CU Buff track and field athlete Emma Coburn. While Coburn has made a name for herself in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with two U.S. Track and Field National titles, one NCAA national title as well as ninth place in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, she just added another NCAA title to her resume, NCAA indoor track and field mile champion. One more thing, on Monday night she was inducted into the Colorado Sportswomen Hall of Fame.
The NCAA indoor track and field championships were just Coburn’s second race since August but she came into the event on fire with a stellar showing three weeks prior at the Millrose Games. The Millrose Games attracts the top professional and collegiate athletes in track and field and Coburn placed fourth overall and first out of collegiate racers with a time of 4:29.86.
“It was a good way to start the season since my last race was in August,” says Coburn. “I was definitely happy with it. Typically it takes a couple races to build up your racing legs again.”
In addition to her first place finish among her peers, Coburn’s time was of particular note as a sub 4:30 mile is rare among college women with only 44 women, collegiate and pro level, ever breaking the 4:30 time barrier. Furthermore, her time was the sixth fastest collegiate time ever in the indoor mile.
She carried her momentum from the Millrose Games into the NCAA championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday, March 9 and actually based her race strategy on her effort at the Millrose Games.
Common mile strategy trends against taking the lead immediately, it is considered better to hang on the heels of the leader and make a move.
“Usually, whoever takes the lead at the start gets outkicked in the end,” explains Coburn.
Coburn opted otherwise knowing she had the fastest time in the mile of all the women lining up.
“I was confident I could run a fast time again,” says Coburn. “I thought it was my best shot.”
Coburn followed her strategy to the letter, taking the lead right from the start and using her pace to drop the rest of the field as the race progressed. One woman held on to Coburn’s heels and while Coburn’s focus was completely ahead of her, she knew someone was holding on tight.
“I could hear her coach yelling at her, ‘not yet, not yet’ so I knew she was right there and waiting to make her move,” says Coburn.
With 300 meters to go, she looked to pass Coburn but Coburn held her off with one final burst to take the NCAA title with a time of 4:29.91 becoming the second woman ever to post a sub 4:30 mile time twice.
“I was able to outkick her,” says Coburn. “It was risky but it worked out.”
Coburn now turns her attention to outdoor track and field and the 3,000-meter steeplechase as she looks to win her second NCAA title as well as her third U.S. Track and Field National steeplechase titles. She plans on throwing in a handful of 1,500-meter races as well.
She opens the steeplechase race season at the end of April with the Payton Jordan Invitational.
A broadcast of the NCAA indoor championship races will be on ESPNU on Saturday, March 16.