Both events involve pain, but the pain in the 1,500 comes from severe oxygen debt. The stakes are a little higher in the steeple because of those 30-inch barriers.
"If the 15 goes bad, it definitely hurts a lot," Simpson said after finishing third Sunday at the Olympic trials behind Morgan Uceny and Shannon Rowbury. "But if the steeple goes bad, you've knocked your teeth in. And that, I imagine, would be a lot worse."
Simpson could afford to crack jokes because the pressure was off, but early in Sunday's race she was boxed in and a little worried about her position.
"I was in on the rail, I was kind of boxed in, and I saw that people had kind of stretched out a bit ahead of me," Simpson said. "That's the most crucial point in the race to not get emotional."
Simpson's experience helped her keep her composure. Shefought through traffic and found her way up to the Uceny, who was leading.
"The hardest thing about the trials, that separates it from any other race you run in your life, is that your emotions can slip away from you," Simpson said. "Coming down the homestretch I saw that the three of us had separated ourselves, and I just felt this overwhelming relief. I didn't even care (about) my time, my place, I just was so happy the three of us were going to make it."
Simpson has fond memories of the steeplechase and loves watching the two women who succeeded her at CU. Simpson won the NCAA steeplechase title in 2009, Emma Coburn claimed it last year and Shalaya Kipp won it this year. Coburn and Kipp made the Olympic team Friday night in the steeplechase.
"I've missed it, but in a really special way because the women of Colorado are carrying it still," Simpson said. "I feel like in a really, really special way, even though I've moved on from the event, I've maybe left a little bit of a legacy there. I don't miss it much because it's in good hands. Emma and Shalaya have done an incredible job. I'm so excited for them, and I'm glad all three of us can be on the team."
Simpson wasn't the only Colorado alum in the 1,500-meter race. Sara Vaughn finished 13th with a time of 4:30.89.
Another former Buff, Jeremy Dodson, finished sixth in the men's 200 with a time of 20.24, to miss a chance at the Olympics.
However, Kara Goucher (women's marathon) and Dathan Ritzenhein (men's 10,000 meters) will all join Simpson, Coburn and Kipp in representing the Buffs in London.