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Elite Steepler Racing
February 22, 2005
     Women steeplers will compete this August in the World Championships at Helsinki as members of their national teams, usually after qualifying from a national championship meet for which they need to be in peak condition via racing against major competitors. For women steeplers a major goal is achieving the world champs "A" entry standard of 9:50; a lesser but worthy goal is the world "B" standard of 10 minutes flat.
     Elite women steeplers, no longer eligible for school teams, dominate the ranks of USA sub-10 steeplers. But, unlike school athletes, they have few high-level racing opportunities in the USA during the month prior to their national championship meet June 23-26.
     Ideally, this void would be filled by the Grand Prix meets in USA during that month but none have so far included women's steeplechase. Now a non-GP meet has filled part of the void.
     The Minnesota Distance Invitational meet on 21 May 2005 will include a women's steeplechase in an evening meet at Macalester College in St. Paul. Its 6:30 p.m. start time should assure fine racing weather.
     The steeple has already drawn entries from Great Britain's Jo Ankier, Lithuania's Rasa Michniovaite, and seven USA steeplers: Dawn Cleary Cromer, Ann Gaffigan, Jinny Hanifan, Lucinda Hull, Elizabeth Jackson, Lesley Read, and Briana Shook. All have previously bettered the entry standard of 10:20, a time faster than the current 2005 world leader for this event.
     Similar strong fields are expected in other events. Meet director Dennis Barker said "The meet is sponsored by Team USA Minnesota and will have many of the top U.S. distance runners in attendance. We will also have rabbits to help make the races fast."

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