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Evan Jager

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Jager takes third in Brussels finale

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Evan Jager closed his season with a third-place finish in the 3000m steeplechase at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels on Friday night, the 28-year-old recovering from a late-race fall to reach the finish in 8:11.71.

On a cool, damp night in the Belgian capital, the early pace was strong, with pacemaker Haron Lagat towing the field through 1000m in 2:40.27. Soon after, as the pace began to slow, Jager moved to the front in search of his first sub-eight-minute clocking, and he led the field through 2000m in 5:24.45. Dogging his heels all along, though, was Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya, and Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, who had both beaten Jager into third at the World Championships in London last month.

Approaching the bell, El Bakkali surged past Jager, then Kipruto moved around, leaving the Nike Bowerman Track Club athlete to fight it out for third. Kipruto closed in late to pass El Bakkali right by the line to win in 8:04.73, El Bakkali second in 8:04.83. Jager’s race very nearly ended at the final water jump, the American losing his footing on landing and crashing to the track, but he quickly picked himself up and summoned all his spirit and strength to outkick compatriot Stanley Kebenei to take third in 8:11.71.

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Seventh for Jager in Birmingham

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In his first outing since the World Championships in London, Evan Jager finished seventh in the Emsley Carr mile in Birmingham on Sunday afternoon, coming home in 3:57.39. 

The race was won by Jake Wightman of Britain in 3:54.92 ahead of compatriot Chris O'Hare (3:55.01). Jager, the 3000m steeplechase bronze medalist in London, took up the pace shortly after the 800m mark, reached in 1:57.36, with the American leading through 1200m in 2:59.32. 

However, he didn't have the pace to match the mile specialists over the final 200m and had to settle for seventh on this occasion. 

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Jager claims historic bronze in London

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Jager claims historic bronze in London

Evan Jager created history for American distance running by becoming the first US man to win a medal in the steeplechase at the World Championships in London on Tuesday night, the 28-year-old Illinois native coming home third in 8:15.33 in a race won by Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya.

“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t come away with the win but happy I stayed in the top three and got a medal,” Jager said afterward. “I’m a little bummed.”

The early pace was slow, the athletes virtually jogging through the first kilometer in 2:51.81, which left all 15 athletes bunched together. With just more than a mile to run, Jager finally broke, powering to the front and injecting a huge surge.

“I wanted to make it hard,” he said. “We thought it was going to go slow the first kilometer and we said if that happens it’s better for me to get rid of guys by going hard with three or four laps to go to make it a strength race.”

“I was like: Oh my gosh, I hope I have enough left,” Jager said, recalling his thoughts up the home stretch as he hung on for bronze.

Kipruto took gold in 8:14.12 ahead of Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco to maintain Kenya’s stranglehold on the event, with Jager taking the first ever world medal in the event by an American.

For a full story on Jager’s feat and to watch his reaction, check out Runner’s World.

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Evan Finishes Second at San Silvestre Vallecana 10K - Madrid

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Evan Finishes Second at San Silvestre Vallecana 10K - Madrid

Picture courtesy of  @bilbaoatletismo

Picture courtesy of @bilbaoatletismo

Making his 10k road racing debut on New Year's Eve, Evan ran a strong race from start to finish, placing second overall in 28:56 at the San Silvestre Vallecana race. He ran with the lead pack for the entire race, only losing to defending champion Kaan Kigen Ozbilen (formerly Mike Kigen). Accompanied by 40,000 runners, the Madrid race ranks as one of the top 20 largest in the world.

Nike and Madrid sure know how to put on a road race!!! 40,000+ people! #werunmad @nikerunning

A video posted by Evan Jager (@evanjager) on

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Ringing in the New Year...in Madrid

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Ringing in the New Year...in Madrid

It's time to ring in the Olympic year and what better way than hitting the roads and racing on New Year's Eve. Evan joins 40,000+ runners in Madrid tomorrow at the San Silvestre Vallecana, racing the 10k course against some notable competition, including fellow steeplechase star Ezekiel Kemboi. 

According to the IAAF:

The race is held on a slightly downhill 10km point-to-point course and starts alongside Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium before finishing on the pitch of another Spanish first division club Rayo Vallecano in Madrid’s southern suburbs.

The men’s contest looks to be a three-horse battle in the guise of last year’s winner Kaan Kigen Ozbilen of Turkey – formerly Mike Kigen of Kenya – and two of the world’s best steeplechasers: four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya and US record-holder Evan Jager.

The year ahead promises to be one filled with exciting races, furious finishes and of course the Olympic Games in Rio. Here's to starting off 2016 on the right foot!

Kemboi, Jager and Masai Among Vast Array of Talent in Madrid (IAAF)

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