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Jenny Simpson: Iowa Homecoming


Jenny Simpson may be an internationally-known athlete today, but the 2011 World Champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 1500m was first known in Webster City, Iowa where she was born. Though her family moved to Florida at an early age, there are plenty of special moments Simpson has shared with her family in the Hawkeye State, including annual trips to her grandparents for Christmas where she spent hours playing with her cousins in the snow, and unforgettable career highlights on the Blue Oval at Drake Stadium.


In her first appearance at Drake in 2008, ahead of the Olympic Trials set to take place in Eugene, Oregon, Simpson won the 3000m steeplechase at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, clocking 9:29.20.


“That NCAA victory is a fond memory of mine because it was the last big meet I ran before I made my first Olympic team,” said Simpson. “It bolstered my confidence coming from the Blue Oval heading out to Oregon for the first Olympic Trails of my life.”


She went on to win the USATF Outdoor 5000m championship in 2013 with a time of 15:33 in 95+ degree heat for her third of what is now a total of seven USATF titles.


“I race so much all over the world and so this [running at Drake] is a really great opportunity to race in front of my family. So to be in the midwest and have so much family within driving distance, my parents often rally a small army to come cheer me on, so that’s so much fun.”


This April, Simpson returned again to her home state for a highly anticipated two-mile American record attempt at the 109th running of the Drake Relays. Simpson ran away from her competition to stop the clock at 9:16.78, after passing through 3,000m at a world outdoor-leading 8:43.39 en route. The previous American best set in 2014 was 9:20.25 by Shannon Rowbury, and Simpson’s time moved her to No. 9 on the all-time world list.


Since her first competition at Drake Stadium at the 2008 NCAA Championships, Simpson has won 10 out of 11 races, which she attributes to the family, friends and the great atmosphere.


“There’s a really family-friendly environment and the Drake Relays in particular, there are high school, college and professional athletes and they all bring family and friends to cheer them on, so that’s something I always I look forward to when racing at Drake. It’s always a lot of fun to see those multi-generational groups showing up at the stadium together. People with strollers and kids and their parents helping with their kids and so it’s so cool to see all the families making it such a great family event.”


Jenny Simpson Wins at Drake Stadium

2007 NCAA Midwest Regional - 3000m Steeplechase, 10:19.34

2008 NCAA Championships - 3000m Steeplechase Qualifying, 10:00.56

                                            3000m Steeplechase Final, 9:29.20

2011 Drake Relays - 1500m, 4:09:56

2012 Drake Relays - 1500m, 4:12.95

2013 Drake Relays - 1500m, 4:03.35

2013 USATF Championships - 5000m, 15:33.77

2016 Drake Relays - 1500m, 4:06.44

2017 Drake Relays - 1500m, 4:16.10

2018 Drake Relays - two-mile, 9:16.78 (American record)


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