By Jonathan Gault
March 29, 2019
AARHUS, Denmark — Courtney Frerichs has run a cross country race every year since turning pro in 2016 to work on her strength in the winter, but none quite like the one she’ll compete in tomorrow at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships. Frerichs finished fourth in her USA XC debut in 2017 (she declined the spot to World XC), 4th again last year, and 6th last month in Tallahassee. This time around, she accepted the spot to World XC in Aarhus as she felt better prepared from a strength perspective (she’s upped her strength workouts from 6 miles of volume to 8-10) and had a pair of Bowerman Track Club teammates going with her in Marielle Hall and Karissa Schweizer.
But Frerichs admits that she didn’t know exactly what she was signing up for until she arrived in Denmark this week.
“[The course is] a lot harder than we even anticipated,” Frerichs said. “We watched the videos, we looked at the photos, but you don’t really understand how hard it is until you get here. And so no matter what happens tomorrow, I think it’s going to be an experience that we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives.”
Though Frerichs has never raced a 10k on the track or the roads, she considers herself a strength runner and believes that the course’s constant climbing and descending suits her.
“This is really rhythm-breaking,” Frerichs said. “There’s not going to be a real rhythm pace, so I’m hoping to draw upon the steeple for that, because I think that that’s a big part of that race.”
That said, Frerichs is hoping to develop something of a rhythm, at least as far as her effort is concerned. At USA XC in Tallahassee, Frerichs was able to move up from 13th at 6k to 6th by the finish by measuring her effort. It seems inevitable that some runners will run the hills too aggressively in tomorrow’s race, and Frerichs plans on making them pay.
“I’m going to be looking for that consistent effort,” Frerichs said. “And I think that that’s how I generally approach racing as well. In Tallahassee, I found that a lot of girls were either taking the downhills really hard or taking the hills really hard and I was able to close really fast.
“If I can be there with a lap to go [tomorrow], maybe that top-20 area, you never know what can happen as far as people coming back.”