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Stand Out in the Steeplechase

In 2008, the women's steeplechase was introduced to the Olympics for the first time and has been gaining in popularity ever since. A test of both strength and endurance, the steeplechase is a 3,000 meter race with 28 barriers that an athlete must jump or step over. Another 7 barriers are followed by a water pit which an athlete must propel through or over.

The steeplechase is a less familiar event for athletes and spectators due to the facility requirements needed for the race. As a result, steeplechase competition at the middle school and high school level is limited. However, for both high school and college mid-distance runners, the steeplechase is an event they should try at least once. Here are 3 benefits to trying and training for the 3k steeplechase:

1. Break a mental rut. Due to the repetitive nature of track training, the steeplechase can be a great outlet to break up the monotony of track racing. For runners in a rut, the steeplechase is a foreign experience where time and laps will be less of the focus. A new steepler will need to experiment with new racing tactics and barrier techniques, and will need to focus on completing the race without falling, tripping or getting trampled.

2. Improve overall fitness and strength. Many runners are fast, but not all are strong.  The steeplechase demands the endurance of 5k runner, the speed of a miler and the strength of a hurdler. Training for the steeple includes a great deal of balance and plyometrics work. A steepler must also have good hip mobility. The typical "flat track" runner often lacks or overlooks the type of training a steepler must be diligent about doing.

3. Stand out. Particularly for women, the steeple is a young event where you can stand out if you are in great shape or are a strong runner. This can open doors to recruitment opportunities and potential scholarships.

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