Emma Coburn Smashes Colorado Soil Record At Team Boss Mile

Nothing was going to stop Emma Coburn

Not the wind, which was picking up right at race time, not teammates Cory McGee, or former Colorado soil record holder Dani Jones.  

The stacked women's team for the Team Boss Colorado Mile made their intentions clear early, and it seemed almost inevitable that the Colorado soil record of 4:36 was going down. 

And while Coburn's hometown of Crested Butte was over 150 miles east of where the race was being run at the brand new track at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, it seemed like a homecoming of sorts for the 2017 steeplechase World Champion. 

After leaving Colorado's western slope for the University of Colorado, Coburn hadn't been back to race on this side of the state since, though that didn't deter the comfort she clearly felt for the area. 

"I stayed at the same hotel I stayed at when I was in high school," she said with a laugh after the race. "It's fun to come back here."

And speaking of that race, and coming back - let's get back to the race...

Team Boss Ladies warm up before the race.

Durango alumni Laura Thweatt handled the early pacing duties, taking the field through an opening quarter of 69 seconds while Coburn sat on the back of the Team Boss train. Thweatt, who finished fifth at the USA Olympic Trials Marathon Championships this past February, ran on like a metronome through the second lap, toeing the field through a 2:18 split before stepping out after 1,000 meters. 

And then the racing began. 

The wind swirled around the track as the field ran onwards into the bell lap. Meanwhile DJ Will Lear turned the tunes to a La Bouche classic and the beat dropped as the pace began to heat up. 

With 400 to go the race dwindled down to Aisha Praught Leer, Jones, McGee, and Coburn.

Every stride inched the pace ever so slightly, and as if on cue, so did the wind, but that didn't matter. The race was afoot and everyone still in it had every intention of making history on this night. 

Around the track McGee made her bid, sending Coburn and Jones in chase. The three shifted gears as the clock ticked on. 

It was clear this race would go to whoever kicked last, and the only question remaining was who that would be. 

And the answer was: the world champ. 

Coburn sat just over McGee's right shoulder as they ran around the final curve. Once they hit the final straight, Coburn struck. 

The Crested Butte/Colorado alum slide out into Lane 2 and ran off into history, crossing the finish line in 4:32.72 - a new Colorado soil record by over four seconds. 

And she wasn't the only one under the previous record - McGee and Jones also dipped under the mark, running 4:33 and 4:34. 

While the women's race was hot through the start and all the way through the finish, the wind that swirled around Grand Junction only intensified as the men hit the track 10 minutes later. 

Additionally, the sun had dipped below the horizon to the west, pulling back its bright rays from the track.

From the opening lap a Sub 4 appeared to be swirling away with the wind, as the pack which included four-time NCAA D1 national champion Morgan McDonald, went through around 62 seconds. 

Tripp Hurt and Niwot senior Cruz Culpepper lurked behind McDonald and the pacers as the cadence remained locked at 62 seconds through the second lap. 

The clock ticked onwards over 2:04 as the field cruised into the second half of the race. 

Desperate to see Joe Klecker's Colorado soil record of 4:01 go down - and a Sub 4 - the crowd cheered louder as if to transfer any energy to those on the track. 

But the clock ticked on. 

Morgan McDonald warms up before the race. 

Around the track for the third lap the pace remained locked right around 61 seconds as Tripp jumped to the lead with 600 to go. But McDonald turned on the boosters heading into the final 450 meters, and telescoped off and away. 

The NCAA champ hit the bell lap just over 3:05 while Tripp and Culpepper revved up their engines. 

Off into the final lap McDonald popped off his toes, still chasing that state record. While it seemed that the record had drifted away with the wind somewhere in the first three laps, the possibility of it going down appeared to have drifted back as McDonald torched the final 400 meters. 

He clawed his way back onto the back-end of the record as the clock ticked onwards. The crowd roared to life, knowing that it all was possible now, or so it seemed. 

McDonald crashed across the finish line and the crowd went silent. He stumbled down onto the track while anticipation grew.

It was to close to call.

For a few moments hope lingered in the air, and when the official time went over the speakers it was met with a mixed reaction, that quickly transformed to an appreciation for the effort. 

Klecker's record would live to see another day.

McDonald closed in a stellar 56-plus final lap, but it wasn't enough to eclipse the 4:01 record. His official time was 4:02.07.

Behind him Tripp crossed second in 4:05.36, just ahead of Culpepper's 4:08.80.

Watch streams of both races above - for free. 

Editor's Note: Please forgive the choppy audio. We're doing our best to edit it.