MOSCOW, Russia — UC Davis alum Kim Conley led the IAAF World Track and Field Championships 5,000-meter final early in the race on Saturday at Luzhniki Stadium, eventually taking 12th in the elite field.
The Aggie assistant coach, who ran the event at last year’s London Olympics, was timed in 15 minutes, 36.58 seconds on Saturday. She covered the first 400 meters in 1:18.53 to take the early advantage and was in sixth place after running the first 800 meters in 2:36.26.
Defar Meseret of Ethiopa went on to win the race in 14:50.19, edging Kenyan Cherono Mercy (14:51.22) and Ayana Almaz (14:51.33) of Ethiopa.
“I came to Moscow with the goal of making the final after failing to do so in London a year ago,” Conley said after the race. “While I accomplished that goal, I believed I could finish better than 12th (Saturday) so I’m still left knowing that I have more to prove.”
Conley ran a season-best 15:09.57 at the Prefontaine Classic in June, and qualified for the this week’s event by going 15:37.80 at the U.S. Championships the same month.
Drew Wartenburg, UCD’s director of track and field and cross country, serves as Conley’s coach and said her qualifying for the world championship final is another big step in her career.
“Reaching the championship race in a global meet has been an outstanding experience for Kim,” he said. “After last summer, competing in the world final emerged as a principal goal for this summer and year, and to have attained another lofty goal of this nature is a testament to Kim’s ability to produce the type of effort necessary to be a factor at the international level.
“We both had our sights set higher for (Saturday’s) result, but at the end if the day it’s hard to argue with 12th in the world.”
Conley earned her spot in Saturday’s final after finishing fifth in her semifinal heat on Wednesday.