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The Buzz In Boulder? 'Who's Going to Win'
by: Weldon Johnson
February 8, 2007

I'm going to keep this very brief as I woke up at 2:30 am Boulder time this morning to catch my plane and make it to Boulder, and it's now nearly midnight, so I'm about to pass out.

But I finally made it to beautiful Boulder and I'm glad to be here. I have only been here once for more than a day, but I like this town. But what I'm most refreshed about is not back being in Boulder, but the fact there is actually a buzz about the US Cross Country Champs.

The Bolder Boulder Road Race organized a dinner tonight for the organizers and sponsors and supporters of Boulder 2007 (race organizers and sponsors, plus coaches Brad Hudson, Joe Vigil, and Terrence Mahon, Adam Goucher, Kara Goucher, Steve Slattery, Sarah Slattery, and World Champ in the Maratnon Mark Plattjes among others). And it was a bit strange (in a good way) to be somewhere and have so many people (from athletes, to ex-athletes, to even Dathan Ritzenhein and Jorge Torres' coach Brad Hudson) asking, "So who do you think is going to win?". It is clear that Boulder is a running town, and that this race means a lot to the runners in it.

And if the race means a lot to the people in town, it clearly means a lot more to the runners with Boulder and CU connections. Looking at the men, Adam Goucher was the first Buff to get the NCAA XC crown, and then came Jorge Torres, who was followed up by the young phenom Dathan Ritzenhein. For years, people in Boulder have compared the exploits of these three runners and CU NCAA track champ Alan Culpepper. However, the comparison were always on some theoretical level, like comparing Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle.

The thing that has everyone so excited is that come Saturday, at least for the immediate future, we will actually settle the question of who is best.

So, "Who do I think is going to win?". I'm still not sure. More on that tomorrow. But it sure is refreshing to be in a place where people actually truly care...

The plan is to go to the pre-race press conference at 10am (12 noon eastern) and then do a final pre-race writeup for the meet where I guess I'll have to make some predictions. (I think 12k XC favors Ritzenhein, but psychologically I think losing the race would upset Goucher more than Ritzenhein or Torres. More on that later) In the meantime, you can give us your predictions here or see the consensus LetsRun.com picks here.

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