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A Track Junkie in Scotland, Part 4

John Nepolitan's World XC Champs Blog w/Photos - Day 4 - Sat., March 29, 2008

Team USA ... times four

 Team USA Junior Men include preps Ben Johnson, German Fernandez, and Kevin Williams (1st, 4th and 5th from left), with Bobby Moldovan, Emil Heineking and Ryan Sheridan.
A course jog-through and the Scottish Foot Locker Champs (well, not really, but close.

An IAAF event is much different from pretty much any high school championship event held in the USA. First off, there is security everywhere, with free-flowing access not something that happens for the most part. So there are certain areas where spectators will be able to go, some places that the media can get to, and some places that the athletes can go to. Many times, you may want to get from point A to point B, but what you may think is the most logical path is the one that is blocked. Anybody involved with the event has some form of credential with areas marked where you can and cannot go. As a photographer, I am also given a bib to wear so that course marshals can see you coming and let you pass.

First thing this morning, it was down to the course to attend the photographers briefing and to collect my bib. At the briefing, they go over where we can and cannot go, where there are access points and get the all important bibs. There are two levels of bibs – red who can go anywhere and have the prime spots at the finish, and green who are limited and don’t have the best shots at the finish. Sorry to say, Mr. Dye, but we are a green level bib in the world of the IAAF.

The main event of the day, however, is the official course tour for the teams. This does not mean that some official walks the teams through the course; it just means that the course is race ready and the teams can now go over it. Team USA showed up and, after team photos, broke into the different teams and took a run over the course. My own good deed of the day was explaining to the Japanese women the course. They saw that I had a course map and started asking questions. I do not know Japanese, but one of the young ladies knew enough English for us to sort things out. So when they go on to win a medal tomorrow, I will give myself a small pat on the back.

Preps Laurynne Chetelat, Gwyn Coogan (Team Leader), Emily Schwitzer, and Marissa Treece of Team USA Junior Women.
For Team USA, everybody looks ready to go. After a short run over a few loops of the course and some stretching and strides, it was back to the athletes’ village and some relaxing. The junior team has been spending there time taking in some sights in town, but for the most part spending time with the seniors and learning from them.

Some comments:

German Fernandez – “Yeah, I am ready for tomorrow. I just hope the conditions are good tomorrow.” His big highlight so far on the trip was “getting to see all the professional runners here. I got to talk to them a lot and that makes us want to get to the next level”

Laurynne Chetelat – “Looks like the hill is pretty challenging…I am really glad that the weather is holding up…I am just honored to be running with so many accomplished runners…I am going to learn so much from this experience” Her highlight so far – “Getting to know all of these people. A lot of them I have never met before and some I have met at Foot Locker, so it is nice to get to know them better. It has been great to be able to talk to the professional athletes and to be able to visit Edinburgh. I have never been to Scotland, so for all of this to be free is awesome.”

Ben Johnson – “ I was a little injured after San Diego (USATF Championships), but things have been pretty good the last few weeks and I am excited to be here, no doubt.” His big thrill so far on the trip – “the scenery. I live in Albuquerque and there is no green there and there is lots of green here. They have golf courses every mile and I am not used to that. Getting introduced to new scenery and old buildings.”

Kevin Williams – “I feel ready. I put a couple of good workouts in and my legs feel pretty good. Biggest thrill so far as been – “to hang out with everyone. Meeting people from all over the world and just hanging out with the elites on the team. It is cool to ask them for advice and stuff.”

So less than 24 hours to the 36th World Cross Country Championships and the weather has not been what was predicted. The last two days were to be heavy rain and high winds. It did rain just a little both days, but nothing like what was called for. Late in the afternoon today the winds did kick up, but wind and cool is much better than rain and heavy mud.

 German Fernandez with Coach Edwards.
As a dry run of the course and the officials, a series of four races were run this afternoon. For the Senior runners, there was the Home Countries race matching all star teams from the four regions that make up the UK – Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The other two races were what would be equal to the Foot Locker Championships here in the USA, the Inter-Regional Race for Scotland.

Scotland is broken into regions named Central, West, Grampian, Highland, Tayside and Fife, and East. Each team was made up of three under-17 year old runners and three under-15 runners, with four to score, so at least one of your scorers must be under 15. Both of the Inter-Regional races were run over a 4000 meter course (1 small loop and 1 large loop up the major hill).

Taking the all important titles, which amount to the National high school age championships, were Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC – East) and the Central for the boys and Sarah Inglis (Lothian Running Club – Central) and Tayside and Fife for the girls. O’Hare covered the 4000 meter course in a swift 12:02 while Inglis crossed the line in 14:08.

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