DENVER (CBS4) – University of Colorado senior Shalaya Kipp collected her 8th All-American honor over the weekend when she closed her CU career with a fifth place finish in the steeplechase at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.

Shalaya Kipp (credit: CBS)

Shalaya Kipp (credit: CBS)

What exactly is the steeplechase? It’s an obstacle course race on a track — and the obstacles can make runners and audiences cringe.

“Yeah, it’s dangerous,” Kipp said. “I’ve seen girls miss the barrier, hit them in their stomach. People fall in the water.”

Shalaya Kipp (credit: CBS)

Shalaya Kipp (credit: CBS)

The steeplechase is normally ran at the 3,000 meter distance.

“It’s kind of like distanced hurdles, but the hurdles do not fall down,” Kipp said. “There are solid wood barriers, there are five of them, an one has a 12 foot long pit of water at the end.”

“In the old days a point-to-point chase was call a steeplechase but it wasn’t run on a track because people would run from one town to the next,” CU track coach Mark Wetmore said. “Chasing the steeple from like (Boulder) to Niwot the first thing you’d see is the steeple … they’d run hill and dale and though creeks and over fences as they head for the steeple.”

“When I came here as a freshman I didn’t really have an idea of what the steeplechase was,” Kipp said. “I had no idea that I was going to become a steepler.”

Wetmore said they tried Kipp in the event because she had been a downhill skier in high school.

“We thought this is kind of a scary thing, leaping through the air and landing in something you can’t see; and we thought having done 70 miles an hour down slippery stuff might make her a little more than an average level of courage,” Wetmore said.

“If you go into it afraid you are likely to go down,” Kipp said.

Up next for Kipp is the USA Track and Field Championships June 26-29 in Sacramento, Calif.


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