Stanford grad Lauren Fleshman helped make a little history while advancing to the finals of the women's 5,000 meters on Tuesday at the 13th annual IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Fleshman, who now lives and trains in Eugene, Ore., joined with Amy Hastings to give the Americans more than one finalists in the event for only the second time in history. Both ran different races to qualify for Friday's finale.
Hastings moved positions throughout the first heat and took the lead with 1,000 meters remaining, but was unable to hold on and finished in sixth place in 15:29.49. Fleshman ran a very different race in the second heat and stayed towards the front of pack running in the third position through much of the race. Fleshman began her kick with 200 to go and was able to hold on for fourth in 15:34.04.
Fleshman qualified automatically while Hastings was able to qualify on time. American recordholder Molly Huddle was unable to qualify as she finished 10th in the second heat in a time of 15:42.00.
"It's hell out there," said Fleshman. "It's really hard to concentrate with all of those people and the sounds and the cameras and things are just different. There is a lot going on, and I'm really grateful that we have rounds in the 5K, just to get that all worked out. I didn't expect the jitters to get that bad when I walked on the track. I kept them under control pretty well till then, then I was like, 'Oh, God.'
"At 600 meters to go, my plan was, if we were all together, I was going to kick then. But they created a humongous blockade -- like an intercontinental blockade. They were talking to each other, and I could believe that Bahrain, Ethiopia and Kenya were working together, so I was stuck.
"At 200 meters, I was like 'There are seven girls left' and I didn't know what was behind me. I thought if I get out around these people, I should at least be able to hold off a couple of them if they get me back. So, it was sort of like an all-or-nothing effort, and I'm glad it worked out. But it hurt really bad."