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Tokyo Olympian, John Gay, from Vancouver, BC won the USATF Distance Classic 3000m steeplechase against a strong field Thursday night. He finished in the time of 8:24.27.

In the field were Canadian record holder Matt Hughes who owns a lifetime best of 8:11.64 and American record holder Evan Jager who has clocked a 8:00.45 performance and earned the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Finishing second was Mason Ferlic in 8:25.41 and Hughes in 8:25.66. Jager who is launching a comeback from years of injury finished in the time of 8:27.88 and finished in fifth place. It was in just his second race of his comeback this year.

Ferlic took the lead early and after one lap clicked off a 36.39 second pace to 36.61 for Gay. Gay raced, rather than committed to specific tactics or pace.

“Something I’ve struggled with in seasons prior is staying relaxed enough to roll with the punches and race, as opposed to my tendency to over commit to a certain pace and splits and end up burying myself,” said the 25-year-old. “Last night it was great to just purely race and manage the effort in such a way that I could come into the bell lap with enough left in the tank to compete for the win.” 

Most of the athletes in the race have faster personal best times that how they performed Thursday, however, May is not the time to peak, when the World Championships are this summer. They will be taking place in Eugene, Oregon starting July 15.

Gay owns a best of 8:16.99 from the Tokyo Olympic Games. He is also the 2021 national champion from a race he ran an 8:20.68 performance before Tokyo.

“While the time wasn’t overly fast, to win in that fashion was as big of a confidence booster as a personal best in a less tactical affair would have been. It was definitely a great jumpstart to the momentum I hope to carry into the remainder of the season!”

Gay added, “I’m really happy to come away with a win, especially against such a strong field as was on hand last night.”

Coach Chris Johnson is also happy with the performance. “It was a big win for John! [I am] Really happy with his last 200.”