With only a few years of experience with 5,000 meter races under her belt, Stanford alum Elise Cranny ’18 finished 13th in the Olympic event final Monday morning.
Cranny trailed a mere 18 milliseconds behind fellow team USA member Karissa Schweizer.
Kicking off the race, Cranny led the pack alongside predicted winner Hellen Obiri of Kenya for the first 30 seconds, only to be overtaken by Japanese pace-setter Hironaka Ririka. Settling into a position in the middle of the pack, the American runner battled intense heat — an uncomfortable 86 degrees Fahrenheit — and humidity that Schweizer described during the live coverage as “the silent killer.”
With ten laps left to go, Team USA, consisting of Cranny and Schweizer, sat towards the rear of the pack behind 1500m world champion Sifan Hassan.
Eight laps in, the Kenyans and Ethiopians quickened the pace, pushing Cranny to hold a slightly increased speed or fall behind. But, as Obiri maintained her heightened pace, the Americans could no longer keep up and detached from the pack.
Even as Cranny slid back in the standings, she did not give up. Cranny is used to running with incredible competitors, training with fellow USA Olympians Schweizer and Shelby Houlihan. Practicing with them has pushed Cranny to become a better athlete.
“It was hard for me to walk away from a workout feeling confident because I was getting dropped hard and not finishing the full workout. However, they were always great at reminding me to keep showing up and continue to put myself in it,” Cranny said in an interview with her team, Bowerman Track Club.
For the last 80m of her 5000m race, Cranny sprinted neck and neck with Schweizer and Kenyan Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, finishing in 13th with a time of 14:55.98. Hassan won gold with a time of 14:36.79.
Cranny first showcased potential in the 5000m race at the Olympic Trials, where she ran a 15:27.81 and earned a spot in Tokyo. At Stanford, Cranny ran cross country and both indoor and outdoor track. She was a 12-time All-American, two-time Academic All-American and a two-time Pac-12 champion.
Although Cranny did not medal, her Olympic performance showed strong persistence and drive.
As Cranny once said, “It isn’t one day that makes or breaks an athlete, but the consistency over time that leads to something great.”