World Cross Country Championships

Mar 20-21, 2004 at Brussels, Belgium

John Nepolitan reports from Brussels

Junior Men

The rain stopped but it seemed as if the weather was changing every 15 min from nice sun to cool and windy. But this did not stop the Ethiopians from dominating these championships. In all they won 15 out of the possible 18 individual medals and 5 of the 6 team titles, getting 2nd in the other.

In all this has been kind of a boring trip it must seem, no silly side stories or tales of adventure, but it has been great. I have been to a number of high quality events ranging from World Track Championships, to Golden league meets, to NCAA Championships, to major Invitationals in the USA, but each year I love this event as XC is the sport I enjoy watching the most. Next year the meet will be in the Lyon, France area and I hope to make the trip over.

Jr men-- The Kenyans bolted right to the front and of course were joined by the Ethiopians. The one figure who was part of the lead group was Boniface Kiprop of Uganda who is the best at any age his nation has to offer. Kiprop was a very heavy favorite coming in and did all he could to shake Meba Tadesse (Eth) but could not and in the end Tadesse pulled away in the last 200m for the victory. Things for a short time looked good in the Kenyan camp as they put 4 in the top 7 to claim the team title.

As for the USA, a solid effort by a young inexperienced group. Ryan Deak(Colo HS) was the team's top runner finishing in 34th with Forest Tahdooahnippah 3 places back and in fact ahead of Deak with 200m left.

Forest: "We had planned to get out, then try to find each other and work together, which we pretty much did"

Josh McDougal: "This was a great experiance, I learned alot"

{ These were the only US juniors in the mixed zone after the race.)

Junior Women

.The ladies did well to finish 4th in the team scoring and get the weekend started for team USA.
Jennifer Barringer (Florida HS) went out hard in fact with the leaders as the rest of the team ran as a pack in about the top '40 for the 1st lap(2k).  As Barringer started to fall back on lap 2 the group stayed together and slowly started picking people off, this was not a planned grouping, according to Amanda Trotter. It just happened .  As Barringer hit 1 lap to go she was cauight by the rest of the US  group, which seemed to give her a lift. She latched on to get dragged along to a 35th place finish.  Just as the team hit the 1 lap to go mark Kathleen Trotter went down as her feet went out from under her in the mud.  She bounced right back up but wzs not able to get back up to the front of the USA pack.  Splitting up a bit over the last 2k, the US girls finished strong for a 4th place team finsih that seemed to please everyone. 

Some thoughts from high school junior Barringer:

"It is exciting to be here and experience everything"  She had lost her bags for the 1st two days here, which was the only set back she had on the trip. 
"Being the youngest here, it has been such a thrill to sit and eat with people like Bob Kennedy and Shalane Flanagan, and when you go out on runs and they go with you. Three years of French helped.  I was able to understand much of what is going on, but then you hear so many different sounds and noises."  This was her 1st time out of the USA and she hopes to be able to return to World XC next year.

" It has just been a great experiance."

Arrival in Brussels

March 19, 2004 -- Over the years I have had the opportunity to see many great track and field meets - pretty much all levels except the Olympics. I have enjoyed them all, but the World XC meet is by far the most fun.  Since 2001 I have made the trip over the Atlantic to see the Worlds best distance runners slug it out.  This year's races could be some of the greatest ever.  It helps having a boss that will let you trake an extra day off work to also have  a chance to play tourist.  But on to this year's meet. 

The races this year will have  3 current US HS students.  This year is real special since US junior Josh McDougal runs for my club-Runner X Racing Team- so that will make the weekend even more exciting.  I will try to get reports on how the youngsters do as well as any other tidbits that I can.  Next week you can check back to see pics that I take of the trip to try to give you a feel for what is going on. 

After arriving and getting oneself set, it was off to the course for a fast tour.  The course is at a local park and is far from easy.  A 2k loop that will be repeated many times with climbs and drops.  To add to the fun is some spots with very soft footing.  The last time the Worlds were in Belgium, 2001, it seemed to even things out and bring the Kenyans back to the crowd some.  This course could do the same.  There are many questions that wil be answered this weekend
1- Can anybody stop Bekele?
2-Will the Kenyans be stoppd by the mud?
3- How will the US HS'ers do?
4- How long will it take me to figure out the keyboard (most of the keys are located in a different place than on the US keyboard - it is not as if my typing is poor enough).
To make it just right, at 4 pm it started raining so the course should be very moist tomorrow
fun stuff.
until later


World Cross

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