BYDGOSZCZ, Poland—Under clear and sunny skies at Myslecinek Park, Team USA's 24 squad members conducted their final pre-race tuneup for Sunday's IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
While the temperatures in the Polish city over the last few days have ranged from the high teens to the mid-twenties after a snowfall that hit Bydgoszcz several days ago, workers have done their best to improve the safety of the course, adding wood chips on certain parts of the course to help absorb the moisture.
The two-kilometer loop course has numerous sharp turns along with five jumps consisting of mounds of dirt and logs that makes it challenging for runners used to getting into a rhythm on the perfectly manicured golf courses and parks many are used to running in various parts of the world.
Additionally, organizers significantly increased the degree of difficulty by adding a steep hill that was not used in the 2010 world championships at the same venue.
When added to the ice, mud, and snow that covers the majority of the race surface, the course is potentially one of the more difficult venues in recent years.
Temperatures for Sunday's races are projected to be from the high 20s edging towards freezing level. The championships begin at noon, local time (7 a.m. Eastern Time) with the junior women's 6K race, followed by the junior men's 8K race at 12:30 local time (7:30 am Eastern time).
The senior women's 8K race is set for 1:15 pm local time (8:15 am eastern time) followed by the senior men's 12K at 2:10 pm local time (9:10 am Eastern time).
Following Saturday's final course preview, the four captains of Team USA gave their impressions of what they will face Sunday:
DEENA KASTOR (Mammoth Lakes, California): "It was reassuring for me to see the excitement on the team when we went out on the course today. The camaraderie of the U.S. team is awesome, and I'm excited to see how the race unfolds tomorrow."
"The entire course is a concern. There wasn't one spot on the course that I felt that we could sail through or surge without slipping, falling or having the mud suck up your shoe. It's a gnarly course. It will be an epic day tomorrow, and we'll be facing some pretty harsh elements."
CHRIS DERRICK (Portland, Oregon): "The series of twisting turns will make the course more difficult to pass as the race goes on. Most of us will wear longer spikes than normal on our shoes."
EMILY STITES (Williamsburg, Virginia): "The girls are certainly prepared for what the course has to offer. It will be hard, but we will be prepared for it. If we remain calm and confident, we feel we can get our way through the pack."
CRAIG NOWAK (Stillwater, Oklahoma): "I'm surprised that they're putting wood chips on the course. That might change things up a little bit. It's definitely one of the most challenging courses I've ever seen."
For more information on the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, please visit www.usatf.org.
USATF Media Correspondent Paul Merca