By now, many are familiar with the legend of Kim Conley.
It’s the story of a 16:20-something 5k runner out of UC Davis who wasn’t satisfied with her running achievements and, against all odds, decided to pursue a post-collegiate career.
It’s the story of the underdog-turned-Olympian who defied all expectations by reeling in Julia Lucas on the final straight of the 2012 Olympic Trials 5000m.
Conley added another chapter to that legend on Thursday evening in the 10,000 meter final of the 2014 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
After leading much of the last two miles, Conley found herself in the nightmare scenario for any distance runner. She’d done much of the work and was faced with a rested Jordan Hasay streaking past her with half a lap to go.
But just as Hasay widened the gap to five meters around the final curve, we began to see the look on Conley’s face that we’ve seen from her on occasion after occasion.
Conley narrowed the gap and repassed Hasay on the top of the homestretch. At that point, the wave of the home crowd propelled Conley to her first U.S. title in a Steve Jones-esque, never-count-me-out fashion.
After the race, everyone wanted to know where Conley salvaged that extra ounce of je ne sais quoi to recover from being passed. Was it her training? The hometown crowd? Sheer determination?
The answer from Conley was simple a word she repeated to herself over and over during the race.
And so grows the legend of Kim Conley.