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Emma Coburn: Steeplechase Standout!

Updated on September 25, 2018
Bridget F profile image

Bridget is a life-long writer, runner, researcher, cat-lover, yogi and traveler. She is also a social worker and voracious reader.

Emma Coburn Wins Olympic Bronze!
Emma Coburn Wins Olympic Bronze!

Emma's Early Running Achievements

  • Emma grew up in Crested Butte, Colorado and attended Crested Butte Community School.
  • Emma did not intend to run the steeplechase at first! She signed up to run the 800-meter distance at a meet in 2007 in New Mexico. But it was a long drive for just one event, so Emma's dad encouraged her to add another event to make the drive worth it. The 2000-meter steeplechase event fit into Emma's schedule, so she signed up and did just a few weeks of training at a local college campus. Even with very little prep-time she went on to win the event, qualifying for the Nike Outdoor Championship later that year, where she came in fourth!
  • One of her next major track wins was at the Nike Outdoor Nationals Track and Field Championships in 2008, where she came in second place in the 2000 meter steeplechase (6:42).
  • Coburn then attended the University of Colorado, where she excelled at the steeplechase. Emma won the Big 12 steeplechase as a sophomore and a junior.
  • She also won the NCAA outdoor title in the 3000 meter steeplechase.
  • In the first steeplechase of her senior year season (2012) Emma became the fourth fastest American steeplechase runner in history.

Emma was interviewed by her Alma Mater, The University of Colorado Boulder. When asked about her favorite part of the steeplechase, Emma replied: "I think it’s the water jump. That’s where a lot of the action happens. Good or bad. It’s where a lot of races are won or lost. It really is what makes the event unique."

In the steeplechase, runners have to cover seven and a half laps around the track, while conquering twenty eight barriers and seven water jumps!

Emma Coburn's Professional Career

  • In 2012, Emma qualified for the US Olympic team in the 3000 meter steeplechase. She placed 3rd in the first heat and 9th overall in the final at the London Olympics.
  • In 2014 she continued to improve her steeplechase times, eventually breaking Jenny Simpson's American record at the time (2014) by running 9:11.42, but because of the fact that she did not realize she needed to request a post-race drug test in order for the record to stand, her record was not official.
  • Emma finally officially broke the American Record in May of 2016, with a time of 9:10.76. She ensured that she took a drug test immediately after the race, and tweeted soon after the drug test: “Drug test done. #AmericanRecord."
  • In the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Coburn broke the American record AGAIN, with a time of 9:07.63 and she took home the bronze medal.
  • Emma ran 9:15 in May 2017 to open her season, earning fifth place at the IIAF Diamond League Doha Qatar Athletic Super Grand Prix.

Emma Wins Bronze!

Emma Coburn, Far Right
Emma Coburn, Far Right

Emma's Personal Life

  • Emma met her fiance, Joe Bosshard, at the University of Colorado. He is now her coach as well!
  • Emma experienced a sacral stress fracture in 2013. She decided to run the NCAA final anyway, since it would be her last collegiate race, and it broke during the race.
  • Emma has three siblings: Willy, Gracie and Joe.

Fun Fact: Emma's favorite pre-race meal is toast with peanut butter and a banana!

Emma Coburn's Emotional Victory Lap at the Rio Olympics


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