*Video Tour of Course at Bottom of Thread
*Photo Tour of Course
March 22, 2013
Having taken a look at the course, four thoughts popped up into our heads.
1) It’s official. The 10,000 should be removed from the Olympics and replaced by cross-country.
2) If this was an NCAA cross-country course, the coaches would be complaining non-stop about it even if the weather was perfect. This course is covered in snow and mud.
3) This is gonna be a lot of fun to watch on Sunday.
4) We hope no one gets hurt.
Now a little more detail. (We’ve got a video tour of the course at the bottom of this article.)
#1 True Cross-Country Is Just So Much More Interesting Than A Track Race
Cross-country is just so much more interesting than a 10,000 on the track and this course reminds us why. This course will not let you sit in a pack and get in a rhythm and just wait until the very last moment to kick away to victory after 28 minutes of boredom, um, we mean buildup of anticipation.
The course consists of repeated 1,950-meter loops, but think of the overall shape as more of a narrow rectangle that the runners constantly snake through with very few straight portions or wide rounded turns. As the runners come back to the start there is a huge very steep hill off the rectangle, that the runners go up and down each time (there was a rope lift towing skiers to the top of an adjacent hill of the same height). From the bottom of the steep hill, it’s less than a quarter to the finish.
Take a close look at the course map and really think about what it means. Remember the entire loop is only 1,950 meters.
There isn’t probably more than 150 meters on the entire course that is what we would call straight except for the finish.
Most of it is 50 meters a little to the left, 50 meters a little to the right and on the way back there are a lot of squirrelly turns, including one that is not far off from 180 degrees. Even if there was no snow and ice blanketing the course, the runners would not be getting into a good rhythm because of all the turns.
But that’s not all – the footing is hardly ever level as well. You are almost always on a slight incline. Also very little of it is actually totally flat.
Additionally, there are five jumps (mounds of dirt/logs) on the course with three of them being major (it may be four total jumps with two being big).
Oh wait, we haven’t even mentioned the mammoth hill the runners will go up each 2km loop (so 6 times in the men’s race). World XC was here 3 years ago and the big hill was added this time to make the course more difficult. The hill is very steep – think the top part of Van Cortlandt Park’s famed Cemetery Hill. But here, when you go down it, they even have a jump halfway down the middle of downhill. And once you hit the bottom, if it’s the last loop, you have about 200 to the finish.
Take all this and cover it with snow, ice, and mud. It will be interesting to see how muddy it is on Sunday as the temperatures are supposed to be below freezing. When things get started with the junior girls, it probably will be fairly firm. But with the sun out and a series of races, it could turn into a muddy course by the time the senior men’s race ends things. We heard talk of runners wearing close to javelin spikes on the course.
#2 NCAA Coaches Would Be Whining Non-Stop If They Were Here
There isn’t 400 meters to the first minor turn here – nothing close to it. It’s about 100 meters until the first turn, which at first goes left but then moves right. As a result, people will be starting out out of rhythm as the big players won’t want to get caught behind.
#3 It Should Be Fun As Hell To Watch On Sunday
We wouldn’t be surprised if there are quite a few falls on Sunday. The course is going to be a true test of strength and will. All of the muscles in the runners’ legs will be given a test as the ups and downs, inclines, mud, snow, sharp turns, big ass hill and jumps are going to wear people out.
The winner of the men’s race on Sunday can definitely claim, “I’m the biggest badass runner on the planet. Take me out into the woods and let me race anyone and I’ll come out on top.”
Below you can see the elevation map.
#4 We Hope No One Gets Seriously Hurt
We don’t think the course is too dangerous, but we’re far from being Army engineers. Runners will have to use some caution. We’re really excited to see Sunday’s race, but the course and conditions are so unlike anything we’ve ever seen, we hope some people with better knowledge than us are signing off on it. Being from Texas, we have no idea what happens when runners run through 160-degree turns on ice or mud.
From what we’ve heard the Poles have races on courses like this in the winter. So assuming everything is up to Polish code, we can say, “May the best man (or woman) win.” They’ll definitely earn it.
(We’re restoring our original video which got accidentally deleted. If the video below is not yet working click here for an aerial tour).