Carbondale runner just misses Olympics |

Carbondale runner just misses Olympics

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Post Independent
Summit County, CO Colorado
Carrie Messner-Vickers

Carrie Messner-Vickers doesn’t even remember clearing the final barrier of Thursday’s women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. By that point, she was running on fumes.

“I was mostly passed out at the end,” the Carbondale runner recalled. “About the last 100 [meters] of the race, I was literally seeing tunnel vision. It was the first time in my life I kind of blacked out and had to be helped off the track.”

With a trip to the Olympics on the line, the 31-year-old Messner-Vickers wasn’t messing around at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. She went there prepared to leave it all on the track.

And, though she didn’t land the top-three finish she needed to make the U.S. steeple team, leaving it all on the track is precisely what she did.

“Going into it, I knew to make the team I’d have to give it everything I had,” she said by phone Friday. “I’d rather have gone out and put it all out there and given myself a chance to then hang back and run for a place.”

Messner-Vickers hung with the front-running pack for the majority of the race, lingering within striking distance before a late surge by the top three ” winner Anna Willard, Lindsey Anderson and Jennifer Barringer ” put the race away. The Carbondale resident, who ran at storied Mullen High School in her teens and later was a four-time All-American at the University of Colorado, wound up taking eighth place (9 minutes, 49.93 seconds).

While she didn’t accomplish what she hoped, Messner-Vickers soaked up the Hayward Field experience.

“It was an incredible experience,” she said of the legendary Eugene, Ore., venue, widely known as a track and field hotbed. “You could not ask for a better place to hold Olympic trials than Oregon. The crowd was incredible and it was a great race.”

Back on Colorado soil with her husband, Matt Vickers, on Friday, Messner-Vickers was upbeat and ready to evaluate her professional future. The Asics-sponsored athlete didn’t sound anywhere near ready to box her running shoes.

“I’ll take a couple days and evaluate things,” she said. “There are a lot of races in Europe coming up. There’s a lot going on. I need to decide what’s best for me this summer. [The trials] were a very emotional experience. I’m kind of tired, physically and mentally.”

Messner-Vickers hasn’t exactly shelved the idea of chasing her Olympic dreams again in the future.

“It was a very unique experience,” she said of the trials. “Who knows about four years from now? I don’t think you can ever rule it out.”

But, for now, let the rest and relaxation begin.

“I’m just going to go home and spend some time with my husband and my dogs,” Messner-Vickers proclaimed. “I’m going to go home and sit in the creek.”

And, when the time comes, she’ll cheer on the trio of American steeplers chasing medals at the August Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

“I support them 100 percent,” Messner-Vickers said. “It’s a good team we’re sending over there and it’ll be a great learning experience for them.”

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