Think you can run fast for seven and a half laps of the track? Maybe you can. Think you can run fast for seven and a half laps of the track whilst clearing 28 solid barriers and 7 water jumps? Maybe you still can. Think you can run fast for seven and a half laps of the track, clearing 28 solid barriers, 7 water jumps and challenge the might of East Africa on a global stage whilst doing so? No, you cannot.
That honor goes to one man in this day and age – Evan Jager.
Born March 8th, 1989, Jager has a personal best in the 3000m Steeplechase in 2015 of 8:00.45 – the 13th fastest time in History – with on East Africans running faster than this. When Jager ran this time however, it turned out to be a couple of seconds slower than he could of done that day, as he took a tumble on the final barrier, falling to the ground, having to pick himself up again before he could sprint to the line. Who knows what time Jager could of really ran that day, but it was an American Record none the less, which was his main aspiration at the time.
Initially, Jager was not known for his speed over the Steeplechase, because he hadn’t debuted at the event until 2012. Before that, he was known for his 1500m-5000m track speed, and some success over the cross country in his collegiate career at Wisconsin University. His International debut came at the World Championships, Berlin, in 2009 where Jager came 11th in his heat over the 5000m after being a surprise American entrant after just getting third place at the USATF trials. The year after, Jager had to have surgery after fracturing his foot, surprisingly during a race. It seemed that Evan was going to be deemed as a ‘there or there abouts’ athlete – one which can get to the world stage, but never perform.
A change needed to occur, and occur it did. In April 2012, Jager was convinced by his coaches – Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert – to participate in the Mt. SAC Relays, over the 3000m steeplechase. To the surprise of the majority but his coaches, Jager cruised to victory in his debut race in a time of 8:26, an unbelievable clocking for a ‘first timer’. It was clear that the Steeplechase was Evans natural calling. In the same year he won the USATF Olympic trials in 8:17, then went on to break the American record shortly after by clocking 8:06.81. He then went on to finish 6th in the Olympic final in London – no mean feat for a newbie on the scene.
Over the next few years Jager got faster and faster; clocking 3:53.33 for the Mile, 3:32.97 for the Metric Mile (1500m) and a blistering 13:02 for the 5000m. It was still the 3000m Steeplechase, however, where Jager ran consistently fast, coming up against the Kenyans in Diamond League races and holding his own. In 2016, Jagers hard work finally got rewarded with a Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics, and followed that up with a Bronze Medal at the 2017 London World Championships.
Many – including myself – believe there is still more to come from Jager, albeit a sub 8:00 performance or an international Gold Medal. He is definitely one to root for.