The Paper file photo by Lori Poteet 
Maddy Hurt will be racing in the 2000-meter steeplechase tomorrow in Sacramento, Calif.
The Paper file photo by Lori Poteet
Maddy Hurt will be racing in the 2000-meter steeplechase tomorrow in Sacramento, Calif.

Maddy Hurt has recently picked up a new running fascination – the 2000-meter steeplechase. And she has literally ran with it.

She started training for the steeplechase after the end of her sophomore high school track season with Crawfordsville High School in May. She first became interested in it when she saw it on TV. Then, she decided to start training when she saw it listed in the USATF events.

She has had two months to prepare, but that hasn’t stopped her.

She qualified for the USA National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. by placing second in the steeplechase at the USATF Indiana Regional meet on July 9. This is her first Track & Field Nationals, but she made a similar trip to the USA National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships last fall.

Splashing through water and jumping over hurdles, she posted her personal record of 7:49 at Regionals.

The 2000 steeplechase involves 18 barriers and five water jumps, in addition to all the running. Hurt has focused her training on these two aspects during the summer months.

“I’m more tired because I have to jump and get out of the water,” Hurt said. “But it’s a good challenge, I like it.”

Hurt’s big races were the 1600 and 3200 runs during the high school season. She broke Crawfordsville’s 1600 record with a 5:19 and the 3200 with a 12:14.3. She went on to place first at the Montgomery County meet and the Sagamore Athletic Conference meet in both events. She also qualified for the IHSAA Lafayette Jefferson Regional meet with third place finishes at the Harrison (West Lafayette) Sectional.

However, the steeplechase has a few more aspects involved. This is her first time training for hurdles.

“I always thought hurdles looked fun but I’m pretty clumsy so I didn’t know how that would work out,” Hurt explained.

But she added that they are an extra factor of interest.

“It’s a lot more interesting, you have something to look forward to as you run,” Hurt said.

Since cross country season is quickly approaching, much of the training crosses over.

“It’s like cross country but on the track, adding in a few hurdle trainings a couple times a week.”

But the hurdles and water jumps take a while to get used to. Hurt fell in one of her first water jumps, but has begun to master the art of landing with only one foot to increase speed since then.

She said she wants to focus more on the 1600 run this upcoming year which fits into the mold of the new steeplechase athlete. According to her father, Jacob Hurt, the trend in ‘steeplers’ (as they are so called) is veering towards more of a sprinter, rather than the 3200 runners.

“She’s OK with steeplers heading that direction,” Hurt said, citing her 1600 Crawfordsville record.

Emma Coburn is one of Hurt’s running inspirations and Coburn’s big events are the 1500 run and the 3000 steeplechase. Coburn is a two-time Olympian in the steeplechase.

Maddy Hurt and her father will be taking a side trip to see Coburn run at the TrackTown Summer Series at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field on Friday. This is also where the 2021 IAAF World Championships will be held.

“I’m excited for the competition,” Hurt added. “I might have a chance to be an All-American.”

To advance in the IHSAA State tournament is one thing, but to be able to compete nationally and shoot for All-American status is another.

The USATF Indiana races have had around five steeplers in each race. In Sacramento, Hurt will be competing against 17 other women in the 17-18 age group. This creates a slight change in her approach.

“I’ll have to go wide outside so I can get over the barrier without hitting somebody or falling over,” Hurt said.

She will compete on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium. The stadium seats over 21,000 and the $1.4 million track was installed in 2014.

“It’s a good meet experience so when you get put in bigger meets you are used to it a little bit,” Jacob Hurt said. “The size will be something unique.”

It’ll be hot. The Sacramento weather will be above 100 degrees for the rest of this week. But Hurt said she will be cool.

She joked, “I’ll be jumping in water so it should be fine.”