2013 World Cross Country Coverage: Six Random Thoughts From Our First 36 Hours in Poland

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by LetsRun.com
March 21, 2013
Bydgoszcz, Poland


1. Cross Country – The World’s Greatest Foot Race

We (both LRC’s Wejo and Rojo are in Poland) are very excited to be in Poland for the revival of the world cross country championships after it wasn’t held last year. To us, the World Cross Country Championships are the World’s Greatest Foot Race and represents running in its purest state. It’s not run on a track and it’s run in all type of conditions – whether it’s hot as hell as it was in Kenya in 2007 (worth a read) or snow in Boston in 1993. Sunday should be no different.

It got us thinking about “What’s the Craziest Weather We (Or You) Have Ever Raced In?”. Feel free to contribute here.

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On the plane over here and on the train from Warsaw and to Bydgoszcz, we let our brains wander a bit and have come up with the following thoughts about this year’s meet.

2. Cross Country Is A Winter Sport

Snow in Poland

In recent years, there has been some talk about trying to get world cross country added to the Olympics – the winter Olympics.

The winter Olympics may be a strange choice to Americans as cross country is a fall sport for the most part in the US – at least at the high school and college level.  However, cross-country is about racing no matter the conditions and now that we’re here in the snow we’re excited. It’s definitely going to be a winter sport on Sunday. The entire country of Poland is covered in snow right now and it’s cold.

It’s going to be even colder on Sunday. The forecast right now is calling for temperatures of -5 Ceslius for the low and -3 for the high. That’s a low of 23 Fahreinheit and high of 27 with some stiff winds. Wind chill wise, with a 10km/hr wind expected, it might feel about 15 degrees.

3. World Cross Country Trivia

i. Do you know who the last US senior man was to medal at world cross country?

Alberto Salazar. He won silver in 1982. Less than a month later, he won the Boston marathon.

If only guys raced like that nowadays. If you think that’s impressive, consider Salazar also ran a 10,000 on the track – between world cross country and Boston.

March 21 –  33:44.8 – 2nd World Cross Country in Rome

April 10 – 27:30.00 –  2nd in 10,000 in Eugene

April 19 – 2:08:51  – 1st in Boston Marathon

And that’s only the beginning of Salzar’s racing that year. Salazar had a big summer track season that year  – setting American records in both the 5000 and 10000 – and then he still won the New York marathon (and Falmouth) that fall.

July 6 – 13:11.93 American record (3rd place) in 5,000 in Stockholm
June 26 – 27:25.61 American record (2nd place) in 10,000 in Oslo.
July 29 – 27:29.06 – 2nd in 10,000 in Paris

August – wins Falmouth Road Race
October 25 – 2:09:29 win New York

Yes, we know he trashed his body and had a very short-lived career at the top and is trying to make sure the athletes he coaches now don’t repeat his mistakes, but Alberto showed there was nothing wrong with racing. Two marathons and a summer track season were a bit much but there is nothing stopping someone from running well at world xc and then doing well in a spring marathon or summer track season. Galen Rupp races more than most Americans and look how he is doing.

Deena Kastor Knows a Thing or Two About World XC (And She’s Running Sunday 1 Week after LA Marathon)

ii. Ok, who was the last senior woman to medal for the US? Junior male and junior female?

The last woman was of course Shalane Flanagan who got bronze the last time world cross country was held – 2011 in Spain. Before that, the last US woman to medal was Deena Drossin who won silver in 2003 (and silver also in 2002 – Colleen de Reuck got bronze in 2002).

Dathan Ritzenhein won the junior boys bronze in 2001. Before that, the last junior boy from the US to medal was Keith Brantley in 1981 (also bronze).

The only junior girl to ever win a medal for the US?

Melody Fairchild won bronze in 1991.

In terms of last US team medals, the US women won bronze in 2011 (they also won bronze in 2010), the US men with Bob Kennedy as captain won bronze in 2001. The junior US boys won bronze in 1982 and the junior girls have never medalled as team.

In terms of the abomination of cross country that existed from 1998 to 2006 (short course and long course championshiops), no US individuals ever won an individual medal although the US women won team bronze in 1998 and 2006.

In realizing how cold it’s going to be here on Sunday and how long it’s been since a US man medalled here, we allowed ourselves to daydream when we were walking around Warsaw the other day. One of us said out-loud, “The weather is going to be crazy on Sunday. Some of the Ethiopians/Kenyans may not know what hit them. Chris Derrick is from Illinios – maybe this course is perfect for him. How cool would it be if he medalled on Sunday?” (Ok, we’ll admit we actually said, “How cool would it be if he won on Sunday?” but we think that we weren’t thinking clearly due to jet lag).

For the record, Rupp certification ended in 2011 in the snow in Edinburgh. Crazy to think that just two years ago Rupp and Farah racing each other was a “B” race. (Recap of that here, Photo gallery here)

4. Could Galen Rupp (or Mo Farah) Win World Juniors This Year?

When reading the IAAF’s world junior preview, it became official in our mind that 12:47.53 5ker – Hagos Gebrhiwet  – the man who beat Galen Rupp in Boston in February – is racing the junior boys race. We knew he won the Ethiopian junior boys qualifying race but thought he might somehow end up in the senior men’s race as he’s got the best track credentials of anyone in the meet – male or female.

He beat Galen Rupp last month and Mo Farah isn’t quite up to full form. Too bad they aren’t all racing here.

5. Might It Be A Long Weekend For The Kenyan Men?

We’ll have a more formal preview tomorrow on the senior races, but just glancing at the names on the Kenya and Ethiopian men’s rosters, it looks like it’s going to be a long day for the Kenyan men. And in the still male-dominated Kenya – that’s what the fans most care about (the individual male winner is running version’s of King of the Jungle to many in Kenya). We think there are way more ‘names’ on the Ethiopian side. How many of the following Kenyan and Ethiopian names do you recognize? We’ve bolded the ‘big name’ guys.

Team Ethiopia
Junior Boys
Yihunilign ADANE -29 Feb 96 – total newcomer in our minds.
Bonsa DIDA – 18 year old ran 61:53 for half-marathon pb in January.
Muktar EDRIS – 14 Jan 94 – World junior 5000 champ.13:04 pb. Won 3 European xc races this winter only 5th at junior trials.
Hagos GEBRHIWET – 11 May 94 – 12:47 for 5000 – we needn’t say more.
Tsegay HILUF – 28 Feb 94 – 4th at junior trials.
Birhan NEBEBEW – 27:59 guy was 2nd at junior trials.
Senior Men
Tesfaye ABERA – 31 Mar 92 – 60:32 half marathon pb. 21 years old.
Abera CHANE – 10 May 85 -13:27/27:47/61:11/2:17:30 guy who is 27 was surprising 4th at Trials.
Yigrem DEMELASH – 26 Jan 94 – 26:57 world junior champ. 13:03 5000 pb. Not sure why he’s not running in junior race.
Mekashaw ESHETE – 19 Mar 84 – tilastapaja lists his pbs as 14:07/29:20.
Mosinet GEREMEW – 12 Feb 92 — 13:17/27:36 guy was third at Eth trials.
Feyisa LILESA – 1 Feb 90 – 59:22 half marathon, 2:04:54 marathon.
Imane MERGA – 15 Oct 88 – defending champ. 12:53/26:48.
Team Kenya
Junior Boys
Leonard BARSOTON – 21 Oct 94 – 13:26 pb was 2nd at Trials.
Michael BETT – 6 Dec 95 – No info on him.
Emmanuel Bett KIPRONO – 14 Jul 95 – 17 year old was 4th at Kenyan trials. Ran 29:05 at altitude last year for 5th in junior 10,000 trials.
Conseslus KIPRUTO – 8 Dec 94 – world junior steeple champ is incredible at steeple (8:03 – winner of Monaco) but was 30 seconds back at xc trials.
Ronald KWEMOI – 19 Sep 95 –  tilastapaja lists zero track races for the guy who won Kenyan trails by 6 seconds.
Moses Mukono LETOYIE – 27 Nov 95 – 17 year old was 3rd at Kenyan Trials. 13:42 at altitude.
Senior Men
Timothy Kosgei KIPTOO – 2 Aug 84 – 33-year-old 13:24/27:45 guy was 2nd
Geoffrey Kipkorir KIRUI – 16 Feb 93 -13:20/16:55 guy won world junior bronze last year in 10,000.
Japhet Kipyegon KORIR – 30 Jun 93 – If you believe his birth date, the 13:11 guy was 5th in juniors in 2009 at age 15 and a bronze medallist here in Poland in 2010 at 16.
Hosea Mwok MACHARINYANG – 12 Jun 86 – 26 year old, who was top 10 in 2006 and 2007 at Worlds, was 4th at Kenyan Trials. 13:09/61:38 pbs. 4th Beach to Beacon/8th Philly Half in 2011.
Jonathan Muia NDIKU – 18 Sep 91 – 2008 and 2010 world junior steeple champ has 8:07 pb but only ran 8:17 last year. Was 5th at Kenyan trials.
Philemon RONO – 8 Feb 91- Rono, who turned 22 a week ago Friday, has 13:20/26:55/60:58 PRs.

The only good news for Kenya is Ethiopia’s dominant team is spread out between the junior and senior races.

 6. International Travel Is Fun

Robert writing here. Both Weldon and I missed separate connections into Warsaw. As a result, you might think we were in horrible moods when we arrived as flying through 5 time zones is never really all that much fun to begin with. But no, in reality, while tired, we showed up  in pretty good moods. And in a perverse way, I can thank the nickle and dime you to death US airlines for me feeling that way.

After missing the connection, I was tired and just wanting to be in Poland. But my connecting flight from Munich to Warsaw was run by Air Lufthansa. Their service is so refreshing as compared  to what you get in the US that I actually landed in a good mood – even if I was tired as hell.

You know you are flying on a non-US based airline when the following happens:

1. There is actual food on a short flight that a) is free and b) tastes good

2. There is actual alcohol on a plane that is free.

On my connection from Munich to Warsaw, a roughtly 75 minute flight, we had salmon for lunch and if you wanted free wine with that – no problem. When I was flying over from Washington, DC to Munich on United, they of course tell you a beer costs $7.

On my DC to Munich flight, the flight attendant acted like I was crazy when I had the gall to ask him if we were going to have food on the flight. Given they have seemingly done away with all food service on domestic flights, I was just making sure it still existed internationally.

I will say kudos to United for not actually charging me for my beer since the flight was 3 hours late leaving.

Since we’ve been here, I’ve enjoyed my time here.  Once in Warsaw, we followed the advice of a couple of LetsRun.com visitors and we went straight and saw The Uprising museum (that details how the Poles got fed up with the Germans and did their best to get them the hell out of Warsaw in 1944) and then walked to the historic downtown (or what’s left of it after WWII) and had a fantastic meal. Warm beer was definitely worth trying but there is a reason people only sell it cold in the US.

This morning we got up, went for a run and then took the train to Bydgoszcz.

Click on the photo below for a site-seeing Poland photo gallery. We’ll kick off our more formal coverage of “The World’s Greatest Footrace” on Friday.

Or take a trip down memory lane and re-visit our 2009 trip to Amman, Jordan to cover the XC champs. Our best entry might have been our first one from there: Rojo: The Flight And Day 1 *LRC Petra Photos*LRC 2009 RacePhotos

Or you can re-live our 2007 coverage from the hot as hell World XC Champs in Kenya where we had to call in via phone our the race results.

Wejo and Rojo Site-Seeing Photos (Warsaw Ghetto)


On the boards:  “What’s the Craziest Weather We (Or You) Have Ever Raced In?”

The 1:59:40 GOAT shirts are here
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