Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Boulder 2007, A Legendary Day in US Cross Country History: : Deena Kastor Dominates, Alan Culpepper Surprises
Saturday was a truly momentous day in the history of the US Cross Country Championships. With the championships returning to a single race for the first time in ten years, and the championships coming to Boulder, Colorado for the first time, 10,000 spectators (according to organizers, and informed observers said that the crowd might have been bigger than the last 5 US XC champs combined) came out and cheered on America's distance stars. Deena Kastor put on a truly dominating performance on the women's side, showing she is still heads and shoulders above the rest of the American runners. On the men's side, the four former University of Colorado stars, Adam Goucher, Dathan Ritzenhein, Jorge Torres, and Alan Culpepper, put on the performance the fans came out to see, and it was Culpepper who took the surprising come from behind win that could define his career. The expectations of what is expected at the US Cross Country Champs will never be the same after this year.
Women: Deena, Deena, Deena
Many observers wondered whether Flanagan, the recent American record holder at 3k, could challenge Kastor as the most dominating cross country runner in America. Kastor had not run the US champs since 2003, as she has switched her focus to the marathon, getting the bronze medal at the Athens Olympics. Would Kastor still have the speed to defeat Flanagan at the relatively short 8k distance?
Kastor and Flanagan wasted no time in making the race a two women battle. Not even 3 minutes into the race, they were well clear of the field running at a blistering pace. Kastor was leading, followed by Flanagan on her heels with a gap to the rest of the field which was strung out as well, showing how fast the pace was.
The course was clear of snow, but very muddy and the runners had to run into a river ditch on each of the 2k loops and jump over a small river. The ditch presented a problem to runners all day as runners were falling down, losing shoes, and just having a hard time navigating the steep incline. Kastor stumbled into the ditch on the first lap, and Flanagan briefly passed her. From then on it was the Deena Kastor show.
Kastor and Flanagan were well clear of the rest of the field not even 2k in, and in third was Kara Goucher who had a big gap over the rest of the field. Kastor however wasted no time in destroying the young upstart Flanagan. She pulled away from Flanagan and soon the lead was 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and then 30 seconds. Flanagan was not faltering, however, as she had 30 seconds up on the third place Goucher. Kastor was just putting on one of the most dominating performances in the history of American women's distance running.
The question now was how much Kastor was going to win by and whether Flanagan would pay the price for trying to run with Deena early on. Deena went on to win (26:47) by over a minute. Flanagan was definitely overdressed for the sunny conditions in Boulder and 40 degree emperature. Flanagan had on tights and a long sleeve shirt while nearly everyone else was just in shorts and shirt sleeves. She would suffer over the final circuit from the early pace and perhaps being overdressed as Goucher would close on her to finish in 13 seconds back, 27:48 to 28:01. Flanagan told David Monti of Race Results Weekly afterwards, "This was one of the hardest races I've ever run. I think it was a little na´ve to think I could run with her."
Lauren Fleshman was in 4th throughout and would finish there as former Colorado star Renee Metevier who was way back early on, moved out throughout to finish fifth. Elva Dryer was 6th, US 10k Champ Katie Mcgregor 7th, Desiraye Osburn formerly of Wichita State a surprising 8th, and William and Mary coach Katherine Newberry 9th, with Princeton grad Cack Ferrell in 10th.
Men's Race: Culpepper Gets Sweet Victory
Ritz attempted to run away from the field and
would open up a bigger gap on Goucher opened his own gap on the rest of the field, led by Jorge Torres and Alan Culpepper. Ritzenhein got 10 second
ahead of Goucher who was 10 seconds ahead of Culpepper at roughly the
4k mark. However, the race was not over as there was nearly 5 miles of
Culpepper only lengthened his lead over the final 2k as Goucher and Ritzenhein were suffering from trying to destroy the field in the first third of the race. Culpepper's 26 second victory is a bit deceiving as this race in doubt until the final lap. Goucher held on for second, Ritzenhein got 3rd, Jorge Torres 4th, as the Colorado stars delivered on the pre-race hype. Former Princeton star, Michael Spence was a surprising fifth, Zach Sabatino who competed for West Virginia before it cut it men's track program was a surprising 6th, Fasil Bizuneh 7th, James Carney 8th, Jason Lehmkuhl 9th, and Eduardo Torres 10th.
We'll have more coverage tomorrow, (interviews) but now we're off to the Reebok/LetsRun.com post-race party. Ritz said he wanted to push the pace and was surprised no one went with him. He decided then that he should just stick with the fast pace even though running solo is the toughest way to run. Culpepper said halfway through he felt like he was running great but might get 3rd, but he felt better and better each lap. He had one of the biggest smiles on his face you've ever seen.
1 Alan Culpepper Nike Lafayette CO 34 37:09
1 Race, 1 Champion, 1 Helluva After Party: LetsRun.com/ Reebok Afterparty Photos