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Alexa Efraimson Runs Fearless 1500 Meter Race at World Juniors
By Steve Ritchie / Special to the Statesman Journal
July 27, 2014

Alexa Efraimson, IAAF World Junior Championships

Eugene – Before the 1500 meter final at the World Junior Championships on Sunday, Camas (Wash.) senior Alexa Efraimson wrote one word on the back of her foot: Fearless.

Efraimson, who will be a senior at Camas (Wash.) High School this fall, stayed true to that mantra in a tough, physical race before 10,164 at Historic Hayward Field. No American runner had ever medaled in a World Junior Championship 1500, and Efraimson hoped to become the first.

She fell short in that quest, taking sixth in 4:13.31, but she ran the kind of race that Steve Prefontaine would have run, and certainly one that he would have admired.

Efraimson went to the front and stayed in the top three or four runners for the first three-plus laps, showing no fear of the Ethiopian and Kenyan runners on her shoulder. She did not back off when eventual winner Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia tried to elbow her aside to move into the lead with a lap to go. And, she was unfazed by the bloody, six-inch gash running along her shin – the result of being spiked in the closely-packed group of runners.

“I gave it everything I had,” Emfraimson said. “It was a tough race but everyone did a great job.

“What I wrote on the back of my foot today was ‘fearless.’ I just wanted to go out there and not be afraid of anyone or anything, or not even be afraid of the pain.”

On the last lap, a group of four broke away from the rest of the field – Efraimson and three African runners. Efraimson tried but was unable to move past on the backstretch or the curve. Coming down the homestretch, she started to lose contact with the three leaders and, just before the line, was passed by teammate Elise Cranny, who finished fourth, and Sofia Ennaoui of Poland.

Asked if she should have run less aggressively up front, and tried to kick at the end, Emfraimson said she was happy with how she ran the race.

“I felt really good. The last 100 (meters) the wheels just started to fall off. I’d rather give it all I have than have stuff saved for the end.”

Efraimson announced earlier that she would not be competing in high school track and cross country during her senior year. She said she is still undecided, though, about whether to commit to a college career, or turn pro and forgo competing in college. She has also stated that Oregon and Stanford are at the top of her list, if she does sign with a college.

“As far as what comes next, I’ll see how this next year goes” Efraimson said on Sunday.

Elise Cranny, IAAF World Junior Championships

Cranny, who ran in the middle of the pack through most of the race, had a strong kick, which gave her fourth – the highest finish ever for an American. But the Stanford-bound Cranny said that wasn’t much satisfaction.

“I wanted to be on the podium so fourth (place) is pretty disappointing,” Cranny said.

“I think I always underestimate how much I have left. If I would have gone with 250 to go and just made up some of the ground, but I was glad I could increase my pace at the end.”

With the IAAF World Junior Championships wrapping up after a seemingly successful six-day run in its first time on American soil, TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna addressed the media following the meet.

“Based on all the measures that we have this was a grand success and exceeded expectations,” Lananna said.

Noting he had personally attended five or six previous World Junior Championships, Lananna said he thought Oregon 2014 was the best in-stadium atmosphere he had experienced at the championships. While he did not have attendance figures from previous championships, Lananna thought the official attendance of 51,532 for the six days was very good.

He also saluted the total of 1,062 volunteers who served in various capacities at the meet and the associated events like the High Performance Meet, the Eugene Marathon, the Youth All Comers Meet, and the road race.

“It’s not only an amazing number,” Lananna said, “but also the number of hours that they worked is incredible. This is a tough meet to run . . . they (volunteers and officials) just did a great job.”

Once the 38 buses with 1700 athletes leave town, Lananna said the Track Town USA organization will turn its attention to future events. The organization has already secured the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships, a three-day event that will be held in Portland in March of 2016. Eugene is also considered a likely bidder for the 2019 World Outdoor Championships.

“Our desire is there to submit a bid but we will not make that final determination until September 25 th,” Lananna said.

“I think the community and our local HF faithful did a great job – if they want to do this in 2019, yes, I think we can pull it off.”

Notes . . . The United States finished on top of the medal table, with 21 total medals, including 11 gold medals. Kenya finished second with 16 total medals, including four gold. No other country had more than three golds . . . The U.S. swept all four relays, winning the men’s and women’s 4 x 400 meters on Sunday to go with the sweep in the 4 x 100 relays on Saturday . . . UO sophomore Christian Brennan ran the third leg on Canada’s 4 x 400 relay. The quartet set a Canadian national junior record of 3:33.17.


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