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LetsRun.com Goes To Amman
Day 2/3: Rojo Meets The US Team / Interviews Some US Stars / Watches Practice & Tries To Quell Internet Rumors About Fernandez
March 26, 2009

By Robert Johnson

Previous Amman Coverage:
LRC In Amman
Analyzing German Fernandez's Chances For A Medal: History Says He'll Have His Hands Full
Excellent Read Rojo: The Flight And Day 1

*2nd Photo Gallery Here
Original Photo Gallery Here
Ok, it's hard to keep the days apart here but let me update you a bit on what I know about the US team, the competition, the course, training venues, etc. On Wednesday night, I went over to the American team's hotel to try to meet up with them after they got back from a trip to the Dead Sea. Things worked out perfectly as I had dinner with them  (sat at the same table as some of the top junior boys (German Fernandez & Luke Puskedra) but talked to the senior women) and then went upstairs and hung out in the lounge with some of the guys, including the men's co-captains in veterans Max King and Ed Torres.

The team seemed relax and the US men's senior coach Jim Nichols said everyone was getting along great. Everyone seemed to be having a good time at dinner and to have really enjoyed the trip to the Dead Sea. I'm going to try to get them to share some of their photos as it sounded pretty cool. The women had no problem wearing two-piece suits and the water was very, very buoyant.

I ended up getting interviews with three people. You can watch the interviews below if you like. Since the website's motto is "Where your dreams become reality," I made sure I interviewed Julie Culley and Ed Moran as they are living the dream of rags to riches.

Ed Moran
I talked to Ed about his rise from a 4:19/9:30+ guy in HS to 13:20 and 27:43. The guy is the ultimate dream come true story as he only ran over 25 minutes in his first HS 5k. I asked him if he felt underappreciated, as a decade ago he would have been America's #3 star - just a step behind the Bob Kennedy/Todd Williams 1-2 domination up front. Many people probably don't realize in this day and age of German, Galen, Ryan, etc. that Todd Williams' PRs (13:19.50 and 27:31.34) are very close to that of Ed's (13:20.35 and 27:43.13). I also asked Ed about finishing 4th at last year's 10k trials and his goals for 2009.

Julie Culley

I talked to Julie Culley about her rise to the top of US women's team after having only run 16:29 in college and having given up competition to coach when she first got of college. Reinvigorated thanks to Matt Centrowitz's coaching and harassment (Centro would see her at meets and ask, "Why are you coaching now? You have the rest of your life to coach. Give me a call and I'll work with you"), Culley also talked about her plans for the rest of 2009.

Bobby Curtis

I talked to Bobby Curtis, who has been a big time thoroughbred his entire career, although he did struggle at times at Villanova. The 19-time HS state champion gave me his thoughts about his dream come true 2008 campaign when he won the NCAA 5k and dropped his 5k PR from 13:39 to 13:25 and his 10k PR from 29:40ish to 28:06 and then he turned his attention to his goals for 2009. He also talked about what he thinks it will be like to wear the USA vest for the first time.

Is German Running?

Is He Hurt?

I've gotten quite a few emails and texts from people in the States asking me if German Fernandez was running. People have told me he is injured and not running. All I can say is I think those claims are ridiculous rumors and not true.

When I first got to Amman, I checked my email and there was one from Texas Runner Girl asking me if German Fernandez was going to run. She said she'd heard he was hurt and not running. I must admit I didn't take it seriously and sort of laughed it off as when I got here I was very surprised to learn from the IAAF that German would be one of the featured athletes at Friday's press conference. I figured if he's hurt, they certainly wouldn't feature him at the press conference.

But the emails and texts (I just got one from Wejo telling me German has a stress reaction) have continued all day today. All I can say is that German was the first person I saw running at the practice area today and he looked fine. Check the photos out for yourself,  but he looked fine.

Additionally, last night when I was at the same dinner table at German, he seemed fine and relaxed talking to Puskedra. Since I heard he was doing the press conference here on Friday, I felt no need to talk to him about running when I was eating at his table.

Admittedly, I didn't ask him about his running but that was just because I didn't want to bother him given I don't know German and have never met him and I knew coach Dave Smith didn't want too much media attention on German. The week prior to leaving, I had been in contact with Dave and the Oklahoma State SID people and had agreed to honor their wishes to not put too much pressure on German by requesting an interview before I left so I certainly wasn't going to interrupt his dinner.

I'll be sure to ask him some questions at the press conference tomorrow. Additionally, I'm hoping to catch up with Dave Smith after dinner tonight as Dave is finally back in Amman after a day trip to Petra.

The other thing that I'd say about practice real quick (I might add more later but need to eat) is that the when you see a pack of Kenyans coming together in their Nike uniforms, it's very intimidating. Those guys were certainly working up a sweat on their run.

To see a huge photo gallery that includes photos of beer in Amman, the city Amman, the Americans hanging out at their hotel, and tons of athletes training, please click here.
*Original Photo Gallery Here

Previous Amman Coverage:
LRC In Amman
Analyzing German Fernandez's Chances For A Medal: History Says He'll Have His Hands Full
*Excellent Read Rojo: The Flight And Day 1
Rojo's in the Middle East and already having a great time. In his first blog, he talks about wishing he were Canadian, getting pulled over by the cops, driving backwards on a highway, picking up a hitchhiker and trying to talk Bobby Curtis out of taking a cab to Iraq.


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