The first 5000m of the evening contest showed no signs of the favorites controlling the race. Two Japanese athletes, Yuka Takashima and Rei Ohara traded off leading through 3:13 at 1000m, 6:27 at 2000m, 9:40 at 3000m, 12:55 at 4000m and 16:11 at 5000m, slowing significantly between 4000m and 5000m. The favorites, including Cheruiyot, Burka, Huddle and Olympic silver medalist Sally Kipyego, remained calm and attached to the large pack.
Through 6000m, there remained 23 women capable of doing something special in this grueling 6.2 mile race. The pace picked up as Sara Moreira of Portugal led the group in 19:23, and former leaders Takashima and Ohara fell back to the 13th and 15th spots. Huddle looked to be in great form, tucked in behind the leaders in fifth place. Infeld and Bowerman Track Club teammate Shalane Flanagan sat in 11th and 12th place, only a full second behind Moreira.
Around 7000m, Huddle showed brave spirit by responding aggressively to World Junior 5K Champion Alemitu Heroye and World Bronze 10K medalist Belaynesh Oljira of Ethiopia. All the while, Flanagan and Infeld remained a second behind the leaders in the ninth and 11th positions.
With four laps to go at 27:01, U.S. Outdoor Champion Huddle sat in second place behind Heroye, looking strong and incredibly poised. The performance marked her first World Championship 10K after placing sixth in the 5K in 2013. The move up in distance looked to be Huddle's best decision yet.
With 1000m to go, Huddle was in the lead with Heroye at her heels, followed closely by Kipyego, Infeld and Cheruiyot. It looked to be anybody’s race approaching the bell lap, as the pack of seven started to sprint furiously. When Cheruiyot and Burka pulled away with about 200m to go, it looked like Huddle would become the first American woman to medal in the event since Kara Goucher in 2007.
But the final 100m of a race should never be counted out, and Monday's race was no exception. In her final steps, Huddle approached the finish line with her arms in the air anticipating a podium spot only to discover that Infeld had stepped in front to claim the bronze medal by just 0.09 seconds.
Infeld leans to secure the World Championship bronze medal. Photo courtesy of IAAF
Nine months ago, Infeld contemplated quitting running altogether when she learned that she had a sacral stress fracture, her second in two years. But a change in event and a strong desire to give the sport one last shot has resulted in Infeld's best season to date.
Watch Infeld's full reaction after winning bronze in the 10K Monday at National Stadium:
*Kara Goucher finished third behind Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse in Osaka in 2007. Recently, Abeylegesse's samples tested positive and Goucher is likely to be upgraded to silver