© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated

Evan Jager broke his own American Steeplechase record Friday, September 5th in the Diamond League meet that took place in Brussels, Belgium. He finished in the time of 8:04.71, which is over two seconds faster than his previous American record for the distance, which was 8:06.81 from the 2012 Monaco Diamond League meet. In Brussels, Jager finished in third position behind Benabbad Mekhissi from France who finished in 8:03.23 and first place finisher Jairus Birech, who broke the eight-minute barrier by running 7:58.51, which is the 2014 world-leading time and the only runner during 2014 to break the 8-minute barrier. Birech’s time is the 23rd fastest 3,000m steeple performance in history.

When asked about his plans going into the race Jager told Athletics Illustrated, “My goal going into the race was to do as much as I could to finish in the top-3 and each spot ahead of that would be exponentially better. I thought that if I was able finish close to the winner the time would be fast and I could dip under my previous record. I was feeling pretty fit going into the race so I definitely thought that was a possibility.”

Jager started the race looking conservative and comfortable during the first lap and before half-way through the field was well spread and the leaders appeared out of reach, “I positioned myself in about 5th or 6th in the first lap and got a little boxed in when Birech and Mehkissi broke away from the pack. When I got free they were too far ahead of me to catch up so I told myself to relax and just push to try to close the gap. I ended up running over half the race on my own and was able to find a good rhythm. With a lap to go was the first time I looked at the clock and I saw 7:01. I told myself I could run a 65 to break the record so I picked it up and had a little bit left coming out of the water pit so sprinted as fast as I could the last 100m. Just as I was about to cross the finish line I saw 7:03…7:04 and I knew I had the record and got extremely excited,” said the 25-year-old.

Asked about his short-term plans he said, “The next and final race on the schedule for me for 2014 is a steeple and the continental cup in Marrakech, Morocco.”

Jager is from Algonquin, Illinois. He competed for the Wisconsin Badgers under Jerry Schumacher before joining Nike in the newly named Bowerman Track Club under the direction of coach Schumacher.

This performance sets Jager up well for a sub 8-minute performance during the 2014 season, which will include the 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that take place in Beijing, China.

His personal bests are:

1500 m – 3:36.34
Mile – 3:53.33
3,000m – 7:35.16
3,000m  steeplechase –  8:04.71
5,000m – 13:02.40