Humans Do This: Steeplechase


I am late for yet another party.

Last week, in all the excitement leading up to both the Olympics, I was expounding on how much I love to watch steeplechasing. I was referring to horses (apparently for the Olympics we are supposed to refer to this as Equestrian Jumping?), which caused mild confusion because, I am informed—oh-my-life—there are humans who steeplechase and this is completely new information to me. 

I simply cannot comprehend how I have missed this wonderment over the years of my avid Olympic viewing.

I mean, there are water traps. Why is this a thing? Who declared this as a thing? It’s too amazing to me, and I am so excited about it.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the history of steeplechasing humans: “The event originated in the British Isles. Runners raced from one town’s steeple to the next. The steeples were used as markers due to their visibility over long distances. Along the way runners inevitably had to jump streams and low stone walls separating estates. The modern athletics event originates from a two-mile (3.2 km) cross country steeplechase that formed part of the Oxford University sports (in which many of the modern athletics events were founded) in 1860. It was replaced in 1865 by an event over barriers on a flat field, which became the modern steeplechase. It has been an Olympic event since the inception of the modern Olympics, though with varying lengths. Since the 1968 Summer Olympics the steeplechase in the Olympics has been dominated byKenyan athletes, including a clean sweep of the medals at the 2004 Games.”

So awkwardly British.

I mean, true, the gates are not nearly as beauteous as those enjoyed by the equine athletes, but it’s just not a perfect world.

About those barriers: unlike hurdles, they do not fall if you hit them—you just hit them.

The men’s qualifiers were Friday, the final will be on Sunday. Women’s heats  are Saturday and the final will be on Monday. Note it. Watch it.

Humans do this.

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Filed under Informative, Obscure Summer Sports

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