Winning an Olympic medal hasn’t slowed Emma Coburn’s pace even slightly.
It has been nearly a year since the former Colorado Buffaloes standout made headlines at the Rio games, earning a bronze medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase to become the first American woman to win a medal in the event.
Since then, Coburn has changed coaches, begun planning her wedding (to her new coach and another former Buffalo, Joe Bosshard), and, more recently, announced a new annual 5K she will host in September in her native Crested Butte.
It’s the sort of hectic slate that might distract a normal athlete from the prize. Coburn, of course, is no normal athlete. Despite all the juggling Coburn is taking on away from the track, she still has maintained her elite pace on the track in recent months. She is aiming to add more medals to her impressive collection when the IAAF World Championships begin Aug. 4 in London.
Coburn’s preliminary heats in the 3,000 steeplechase are scheduled for Aug. 9.
“We definitely have a lot going on,” Coburn said. “The dynamic of athlete and coach feels really natural for us. Everything has been pretty smooth and the transition has been really seamless. And yeah, we’re also planning our wedding in October and we’re starting a 5K in my hometown. Planning a road race has been maybe even more work than planning a wedding.
“We’ve been busy, but we have common goals for the racing season, for the 5K we’re putting on, for our wedding. We see things similarly. It makes it a smooth process working together.”
While the wedding and hosting a 5K — the first annual Elk Run 5K will be held Sept. 30 in Crested Butte — have consumed Coburn’s time away from training, adjusting to being coached by her fiancé has been a focus on the track.
Last year, Coburn and her fellow CU alum-Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson were coached by longtime CU track and cross country leader Mark Wetmore. While Simpson remains under Wetmore’s guidance, Coburn opted to streamline her inner circle with a person who already was one of her closest confidants.
“It’s been easy because Joe has always been a big part of my running career,” Coburn said. “Being a runner himself, he’s always been someone I’ve confided in or have gotten advice from throughout my career. Even when he wasn’t my coach he would often travel on the racing circuit with me, or help pace me in workouts when he wasn’t racing. We’ve been in this world where he’s been part of my daily running life for quite a while. Now that he’s fully my coach it’s been a little different. But things have been going well and I think he’s pretty good at it. He does a good job of balancing our personal relationship with the coaching.”
Coburn won her sixth steeplechase title at the USATF championships in June, turning in a winning time of 9 minutes, 20.28 seconds. While that pace was off the medal-winning, personal-best, American record 9:07.63 ran at the Olympics last year, Coburn ran a 9:07.96 as recently as late May in the Prefontaine Classic.
While Coburn finished as the top American in that event she was fourth overall in the sort of loaded field she expects to face once again in London.
“I feel fit and confident,” Coburn said. “The women’s steeplechase has become very, very competitive the last year or two, so I’m definitely going to have to bring my best to be in medal contention.”