Join/Renew Now

Latest news

Korir seeks three-peat, Huddle and Houlihan clash at the USATF Cross Country Championships


TALLAHASSEE, Florida – More than a half dozen Olympians lead star-studded fields into the USATF Cross Country Championships Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, as Leonard Korir seeks his third straight USATF Cross Country title on the men’s side and reigning USATF track champions Molly Huddle and Shelby Houlihan headline the women’s side.


The USATF Cross Country Championships are the first stop on the 2019 USATF Running Circuit. Fans can tune-in for the live broadcast beginning at 9:00am ET on USATF.TV with a +PLUS subscription. Race videos, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race in cooperation with Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #USARC.


Korir enters Saturday’s contest as the favorite, despite finishing fourth at the Great Stirling XC meet early on this season. Korir won the USATF Cross Country title in both 2018 and 2017 and easily won the USATF Running Circuit title last year with a dominating 41.5 point margin over second place Sam Chelanga.


The man who beat Korir at Great Stirling, Hillary Bor, is considered a co-favorite. Bor is one of the more experienced veteran runners in the field and is clearly in prime shape. His kick to the finish in the UK impressed onlookers and should Saturday’s race come down to the final quarter mile, Bor cannot be counted out.


Other notable top contenders include Stanley Kebenei, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Ben True and Garrett Heath. Teammates Kebenei and Kipchirchir finished second and third respectfully at the 2017 USATF Cross Country Championships, a season after running at the Olympic Games. Kebenei finished third in the USATF Running Circuit standings last season, while also finishing third at the USATF Cross Country Championships, while Kipchirchir ran the fastest 10,000m time in the U.S. last year, with his 27:39.65 effort.


Meanwhile, True looks to build on his 13:04.18 5000m performance last season, which ranked him 11th best in the world. He’s a proven front runner and this early season test will say a lot about how he’s shaping up for the 2019 season. Similarly, Heath hopes to use Saturday’s race as launching pad to a terrific 2019 campaign. He recently placed fifth at Great Stirling, finishing as the third American.


HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite teammates Scott Fauble and Scott Smith are entered and look to contend for top three finishes. Fauble is readying to race the Boston Marathon this spring and enters Saturday leaning on his seventh place finish at the TCS New York City Marathon finish last fall and his top ten showing at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships.


The men’s field is strong throughout, including track standout Eric Jenkins, who placed second in the 1500m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, Emmanuel Bor and Reid Buchanan, who finished fifth and seventh in the 5000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, Olympian Donn Cabral, Martin Hehir, who placed fifth at the USATF Cross Country Championships last season and notable USATF Running Circuit veterans Abbabiya Simbassa, Kiya Dandena, Andrew Colley, Augustus Maiyo and Futsum Zeinasellassie.


In the women’s race, Olympians Molly Huddle and Shelby Houlihan headline a deep and talented field. Huddle, who is in training for the Virgin Money London Marathon, finished fourth in the TCS New York City Marathon back in November, while winning the USATF Outdoor Championships 10,000m race, USATF 15 km title and finished fifth overall in the USATF Running Circuit standings. She is always considered a contender heading into a USATF championship, having won 20 USATF Running Circuit events over the previous decade.


Huddle’s biggest competition could come from fellow track champion Shelby Houlihan. After having a career year in 2018, Houlihan looks to prove her strength and fitness in cross country. The Bowerman Track Club runner won the 1500m and 5000m double at the USATF Outdoor Championships last summer and established herself as the best in the U.S. consistently over the past two seasons. The 10 km distance will offer a new challenge, but Houlihan seemingly continues to rise to the challenge.


An internal race to watch is the match-up between Bowerman Track Club (BTC) and HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite (NAZ).


Along with Houlihan, BTC athletes Amy Cragg, Marielle Hall, Courtney Frerichs and Karissa Schweizer are entered. Frerichs has finished fourth each of the past two USATF Cross Country Championships and will clearly contend for another top three finish. After setting the American record in the steeplechase last summer, Frerichs hopes to start her 2019 campaign with a victory.


For Cragg, she’ll use Saturday’s race as a building block back to competing regularly in 2019 after a relatively quiet 2018 season. Hall placed second to Huddle in the 10,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships and will be a contender for the win in Jacksonville, while Schweizer has plenty of cross country success to her name, having won the 2016 NCAA Cross Country title. She ran the third fastest 5000m time in the U.S. in 2018 and looks to build on that success in her first full pro season.


For NAZ, the trio of Stephanie Bruce, Kellyn Taylor and Aliphine Tuliamuk adds a tremendous amount of veteran talent and experience to the race.


Bruce is the top returnee from 2018 after placing third. Bruce placed third in the 2018 USATF Running Circuit standings last season, was the USATF 10 km champion, finished third behind Huddle and Hall in the 10,000m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, only to wrap up her season finishing second at the USATF Marathon Championships and an 11th place finish at the TCS New York City Marathon. As expected, she’ll contend for the title Saturday.


Meanwhile, Tuliamuk was the 2017 USATF Cross Country champion, won the USATF Half Marathon and 25 km Championships last season, while placing fourth in the overall USATF Running Circuit standings. She’s always a contender when racing and fans should not be surprised if she jumps to the front and pushes the early pace.


Taylor gets back on the cross country course, having finished third at the USATF Cross Country Championships in 2017. She spent much of 2018 focused on the marathon distance and that strength could pay off in a big way in Jacksonville.


One of the more intriguing entries is Portland-based Olympian Shannon Rowbury. After having a baby in 2018, Rowbury is working her way back into prime race shape. She’ll focus attention on the indoor and outdoor track season, but Saturday’s contest gives her a chance to see where her strength lies against top competition.


Other notable contenders include Laura Thweatt, Rachel Schneider, Allie Buchalski, Emily Durgan and Susan Tanui.


Thweatt won the USATF Cross Country title in 2015 and placed second in 2017. Injuries have slowed her a bit over the past two seasons, but a healthy Thweatt is an easy contender for top three.


Schneider brings a strong background on the track, but has proven herself enough to contend over the 10 km course. She placed second at the USATF Outdoor Championships in the 5000m. Buchalski placed seventh in that same race, while Durgan and Tanui placed fifth and sixth at the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships. All four could challenge for top ten finishes.


About the USATF Running Circuit


The USATF Running Circuit is a USATF road series featuring USATF championships from one mile through the marathon and consistently attracts the best American distance runners with more than $500,000 to be awarded in total prize money. A total of $27,000 in prize money will be awarded at the USATF Cross Country Championships


The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USATF Running Circuit race. For the USATF Cross Country Championships, scoring is set as 15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7 ,6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, with those earning the most points receiving prize money at the end of the series.


The mission of the USATF Running Circuit is to showcase, support and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USATF Running Circuit and its races have provided over $7 million to U.S. distance runners.


Contributed by Scott Bush

Nike Toyota Hershey Garden of Life UCS Gatorade NCSA KT Nationwide St. Vincent Normatec
© 2001-2019 USA Track & Field, Inc. All Rights Reserved.