Madness over 5000 meters: the trainer almost prevented Klosterhalfen's gold sensation

There is no better way to eradicate a disappointment: After the EM run over 10,000 meters, Konstanze Klosterhalfen is unhappy and struggling, now she is beaming and does not know what to do with her euphoria.

Madness over 5000 meters: the trainer almost prevented Klosterhalfen's gold sensation

There is no better way to eradicate a disappointment: After the EM run over 10,000 meters, Konstanze Klosterhalfen is unhappy and struggling, now she is beaming and does not know what to do with her euphoria. She is European champion over 5000 meters - her coach would have preferred to ban her from starting.

"I could have kept running, I think." Konstanze Klosterhalfen knows no stopping. She has just stormed the finish line as the first over 5000 meters at the European Athletics Championships, and her run is already continuing. With the flag in her hands she runs her lap of honor jubilantly. She's so fast, so full of energy, it's as if she hadn't just completed 12.5 laps on the track in Munich's Olympic Stadium. She is already back in front of the grandstand with various cheering interludes with the frenetically applauding audience, when some of her competitors are only getting up from the tartan track completely exhausted.

But the 25-year-old is so full of adrenaline, so full of euphoria that she even wants to do a second lap of honor, but is prevented from doing so by a steward in the stadium. She is not allowed to run into the area where the high jumpers are still vying for medals, she has to turn off after one lap, first to the TV stations, then to the mixed zone and, in all the rush, on to the award ceremony on the stage at the Olympic Lake. It's as if her endurance run is going on at breakneck speed. What does she think of this evening? "Madness", this word keeps coming up while she beams all over her face. "I can't believe how it happened now."

The competition over 10,000 meters on Monday haunted her for a few more days. It didn't go at all the way the top German runner had imagined. Although she was only three and a half seconds above her own German record, she missed the medal with fourth place - and also her own target time of around 30:30 minutes, which would have meant a more than 30-second improvement on her record. "To be honest, I didn't feel like the ten," she says, looking back on Tuesday. "The tenth was tired and I didn't think about a race like that for a second, it's indescribable, to have a race like that, it's so nice."

She didn't feel that much better that Friday morning, as she admits. Her condition over the past few days has been so poor that her trainer Pete Julian would prefer not to let her run at all. He questions her start over 5000 meters, but Klosterhalfen prevails. "I called him and said I would really like to run and then this morning I was already jittery. I lay down in the Lymphomat (therapy device to stimulate blood circulation, editor's note) again and thought 'Hmm, me hope I'm not chasing.' But I was like, 'whatever, the audience will cheer for me like that.'"

And how it cheers her on - and how she runs. "During the race I thought a bit about the course of the race in Doha," she says, looking back at the 2019 World Championship when she won bronze. It's a good sign, because she then had difficult years with hip injuries on both sides and a hamstring injury, and most recently Corona also hit her hard. The World Championships in Eugene four weeks ago were therefore disappointing for them. Klosterhalfen decided against the double start, which she dared to do in Munich, because she was behind in training over 5000 meters and then missed the final by almost 17 seconds. Only at the following meeting in Chorzow, Poland, does she show herself back in shape. "In Poland was the first race that I felt like a race again. And that felt like a race today, too," she explains happily.

It's a race that her coach watches closely. The American, with whom she has been training in Eugene since 2018, has never been to a competition in Germany with his athlete. When she had prevailed and was allowed to start again at the European Championships, he booked a ticket without further ado. He landed in Munich at 4.40 p.m., five hours later Klosterhalfen is at the starting line.

All the while she's up there with the front runners until the race causes deja vu. Again it's Turkey's Yasemin Can who pulls away from the front, just like she did in her run to gold in the 10,000 meters. "The tactic was actually to remain patient. That worked out quite well at first, but then not so much anymore. When the Turk left, I shouldn't have been the first to follow, because that didn't work out so well over the ten kilometers. But Then I noticed that she wasn't taking her stride as fast as before. The goal was not to catch up too quickly, but step by step." Klosterhalfen also accelerated her pace, getting closer to the Turkish woman meter by meter until she even passed her with just under two laps to go. The stadium is raging, she breaks away and is the first to cross the finish line after 14:50.47 minutes. Can is four and a half seconds behind her, followed by Britain's Eilish McColgan, who had already won silver in the 10,000m.

Klosterhalfen jumps, she dances with the flag over her shoulders over the tartan track, she always wants to go on. "Winning the European title is something very special and in front of a home crowd, it's indescribable," she beamed. It's an evening that gives her a lot back, as she confesses. As third place in the 2019 World Cup, she has almost reached the top before the injuries throw her back and the corona pandemic stops the athletes, she becomes infected and has to take a break. "When you're at the top and then have to go through a time like that, that's part of it, I've always said that to myself," she explains. "I'm so grateful for the people who got through it with me. It's wonderful to be back on such a high level and every moment is worth it."

The euphoria has Klosterhalfen fully under control. Not impossible that someone has to stop her, otherwise she might want to keep walking all night.

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