Dan Schaffer capped a fine indoor campaign in style, taking 4th place in the men’s 3,000m at his first senior US Championship. Dan came into the race with the 3rd fastest 3k seed (some athletes were entered with 5,000m times), but the depth across the event showed in the final.
Dan was positioned in the outside grouping for the staggered start. Determined to put himself in good position early Dan rocketed to the front of the group. And when they came around the 2nd turn to break and blend with the rest of the field he found himself leading the race.
Dan passed the opening lap in a swift 31 seconds before settling backing off the pace to 35 seconds on the 2nd lap. Albuquerque’s 5,300ft of elevation slows the 3,000m by roughly 1 second per lap compared to sea level. Even with the elevation the 35 and 36 second laps Dan began to click off in the front were quite slow, but nobody else had any interest in making the race quicker or taking the lead. Dan passed through the opening mile in 4:42, continuing to lead the pack.
In middle distance racing most athletes prefer following to leading, and Dan’s intention at the beginning wasn’t to be the one leading, he just found himself in that position. But as the pace continued to lag the field began jostling for position. At the front, Dan was able to escape the pushing and the surging that was happening behind him.
The race finally broke open at 1800m when Allen Sumrall sprinted to the lead and ran a 30 second lap. Allen was shuffled to the back a lap later as the pace continued to surge up front. Dan remained positioned in the top 3 with 600m to go. But with 10 men still within .6 of a second of the lead his position on the inside rail was beginning to look like a trap he wouldn’t free himself from.
Dan stayed with the pace and was shuffled back to 5th and with 300m to go the final sprint stretched the field and Dan was able to shoot through a gap in the group. He lost contact with the top 4 with 1 lap to, but found 1 more gear around the final bend to slide ahead of David Ribich in 4th and just behind Olin Hacker by .06 in 3rd.
Dan covered his final 1200m in 2:58, his final 400m in 56.2, and his final circuit in 27.06. He finished an indoor campaign that saw him break through on the national stage with his 4th place finish and 7:43 personal best for 3,000m.
He’ll take a short break before joining the team in Colorado in early March to lay the strength down for a spring and summer track season that will see him focus on the 5,000m.
You can find the full results here.