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LetsRun.com Goes To Amman - 2009 World Cross-Country Coverage
March 27, 2009
LetsRun.com's Robert Johnson is in Amman, Jordan to cover the World Cross-Country championships. Below you will find installment #5 of his coverage.
All week long we've been waiting to see the course and we finally go the opportunity to tour it on Friday morning. The IAAF all week has kept the journalists and all of the teams off the course supposedly so no one could would get an unfair advantage. That explanation made sense to me but when we got there today, I think they kept us away because clearly they were just building the course. The press tent wasn't up, the start wasn't up, a lot of the netting on the course wasn't up, etc.
The course is at the Bisharat Golf Course. Don't let the name fool you. The greens on the golf course look like they were made out of mud and I didn't see many blades of grass anywhere on the so-called course. In reality, they just bulldozed the XC course on top of the golf course, so there is zero grass.
I'd describe the footing as very firm as it's dry and probably similar to that of the back hills of Van Cortlandt Park. They had a roller out on the course to try to get rid of the ruts as there were a few rocks and what not but nothing that would concern me if I were running it. Some of the Europeans were surprised to see it be so firm and were saying that one could even run it in flats as it's so firm. I certainly wouldn't want to be in flats on the uphill.
Kenya's team captain Mark Kiptoo described the dry, firmness of the course as being similar to what they are used to in Kenya. Anyone hoping for a mud bath, you've got the opposite.
More detailed explanations below:
Conclusion: The course is very, very difficult. New Zealand's Kim Smith was running around the course as I was walking it and she recognized me and just said, "It's gonna be brutal." A lap later all she said to me was simply, "Brutal."
The course is so hilly and narrow at the start that it struck me that if this were an NCAA course, all of the coaches would be up in arms. But they'd have probably been up in arms all week. "What do you mean we can't get on the course until the day before? The course is too hilly. The opening turn is too soon and too start and too narrow."
I was talking to an Ethiopian journalist and he summed it up best: "To me, cross-country is life in East Africa." What he meant is that the runners from his country are used to running across hilly, dirt fields. They aren't used to running on manicured golf courses or sidewalks like Westerners.
Photos: To truly understand the course, I think you need to scroll through the 140+ photos that I took as I walked it. If you look at the first page or two, you'll get a real good understanding of what it's truly all about. The last 3 pages have the US team on them.