About WCCC and Bekele – I did saw that alive. I´ve been there. Actually since 1973 to 2005 I saw them all – or by the TV or alive – I just did miss the 1975 Morocco edition.
Of course that WCCC year after year they did win the status of the Toughest Race in the World.
I think that the WCC runs is as hard to win or harder as any other continental competition or the Olympics track, or road – besides that´s an open run with no heats and with a large country participation than the continental games or the Olympics.
About Bekele I just think that he is the - all time world best in a range of long distances from 5kilos to 15kilos – all terrain, track, cross, road.
Who is the one that did such achievements in just 4 seasons ? No one.
That´s very curious that during the past decade I taught that what Gebre did that put´s him as all time best, but it comes someone that is even better than Gebre - Bekele. He is able to be in shape all year round, not just in the summer season as some they do. He is able to compete and to win or dispute the win no matter what is the course terrain type. Ask Gebre or El Guerrouj or Lasse Viren if that´s easy to win in track and cross or ask Tergat if that´s easy to win in both cross and road and be also as good as in the track and in the meantime produce 2 world records in 5000m and 10000m both distances. And ask who is the one that did win most of the 5000m-10000m in the world champs and in the Olympics - except 5000m Athens that Bekele did 2nd – and that did get the both 5000m and 10000m world records quite easily – that same 5000m and 1000m world records that Gebre and all the rest they did put that in top level during the last decade with dozens of attempts as Bekele did. No one. But in the meantime he wins 8 WCCC titles in 4 years with 1 day distance from the short and the long run this is superior to all past or present runners did.
Despite that the Bekele running career didn´t end yet and in the future he can run more road runs or try HM and the Marathon, in my opinion Bekele he is all time best right now.
In my opinion the Renato´s argument that he did loose the 5000m in Athens for El Guerrouj or that he is slow in middle-distance is quit irrelevant. Renato in another posts about the PBs in different distance events than our main target goal event(s) – he said that the PBs you have in that different distance events than your main even that is out of consideration for the runner talent and that PBs are overrated - but now, commenting Bekele he bases his consideration also in the fact that Bekele have slower PBs in 1500m/mile-3000m than Gebre and most of the top runners, or that Tergat or Ngugi they did best in cross that Bekele. Do you know what´s Tergat 1500m PB ? 3:42 – slower than Bekele. Don´t forget that Tergat in 8 senior attempts did five wins but also 10th (1993) 4th (1994) and 3rd (2000) and that John Ngugi in 7 attempts did also five wins but 20th place (1990) and DNF (1991). I think I don´t need to mention Gebre so ppor are their participations in cross relate to Bekele. And of course that´s impossible for Bekele to have wined more than 8 titles in 4 years.
The fact that Bekele is a bit slow in short distances than his main event distances and have no such a finish quick over the last 100 to 200m as Gebre did and other they do this make him even of more consideration.
One final comment that you need to take in consideration about K. Bekele. That´s the fact that in his caracther he is a true champion that is able to overcome the adversity. As you know her fiancée died recently. That fact and the fact that despite that he is able to win both runs makes him a real champion – he was able to fight the adversity and direct his strong will to win both St. Etienne runs.
About Ritz and all the rest of the Americans – people are discussing so much about Ritz as he have any responsibility to win.
I have just one word to resume Ritz result in the WCCC. Inexperience. He did start fast as he might done, he did run without soaks that causes him blisters. Ther´s no excuse about the blisters, that´s not the blisters that made him start faster than he should – but let me tell you ther´s nothing as soaks to run. But I also think that some other amrican runners runners – young american runners - they did good in that long cross event. As taht´s the case of Matt Withrow (not yet 20 years old) as the case of Ian Dobson (as old as Ritz)-
Let´s take a look about Ritz split pace relate to Bekele and the first non- African Sergey Lebid and try to understand how he did run.
Bekele split laps
> 6:26 - 5:45 - 5:46 - 5:51 - 5:38 - 5:40=35:06
Lebid split laps
> 6:34 - 5:57 - 6:00 - 6:03 - 6:05 - 5:54=36:33
Ritz split laps
> 6:27 - 5:57 - 6:20 - 6:23 - 6:41 - 6:48=38:46
Knowing that the first lap that´s longer Bekele did from 2nd lap to the 5th lap a 23sec range average (5:38 to 5:51), being the 4th and 5th laps the fast ones. Bekele did 11sec range (6:05 - 5:54) being the last lap the fast one ands Ritz did 1min 03sec range, being the last ones the slower ones ! Now, the splits shows that Ritz did start faster than he might have done. But that´s the inexperience and the mistake that´s to feel that the first laps he were able to follow the leading group.