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Team USATF ready for tough course at 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships

3/29/2019
 

AARHUS, Denmark—The 28-member Team USATF squad took their final look at the grounds surrounding the Moesgaard Museum Friday, where Saturday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be contested. The competition schedule, start lists and results can be found here.


NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold will have live coverage of the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships starting at 5:45am ET on Saturday, March 30. Fans can catch all the action in spectacular high definition via NBC Sports online at NBCSports.com/Live, or through the NBC Sports app which is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.


Unlike the previous two editions of the world championships, which were run on relatively flat terrain, the 2019 edition of the World Cross Country Championships begins with a 72-foot climb in the first 400 meters, before it quickly narrows.


The other obstacles runners will face over the approximately 2k loop include a Runner’s Valhalla/beer garden, filled with spectators lining either side; a water pit with rubber mats on the bottom; a mud pit; a Viking Zone with a group of men dressed in Viking costumes yelling at the runners; and the signature hill—a 120 meter climb of the Moesgaard Museum roof with a 10-degree incline before making a hard left turn, then a hard descent down the hill before a sharp right turn to finish the loop.


Incidentally, there are also sand pits and sharp turns during the loop to ensure no runner can establish a consistent rhythm.


The championships begin at 6:00am am ET time with the co-ed 4 x 2k relay, followed by the Under-20 women’s 6k and then the the men’s Under-20 8k commences, followed by the senior women’s 10k and the senior men’s 10k.


At the pre-race press conference, American steeplechase record holder Courtney Frerichs spoke to the assembled media about the course and noted, “It was harder than we anticipated, but we’re excited for the challenge.”


When asked to assess the chances of Team USATF for a podium finish, she said, “I think we have a great chance (for a team medal). I think all of us have the same goal in mind. We’re here to see how well we can do as a team, and that’s a reason why a lot of us US athletes get excited about this opportunity. The US team could surprise some people.”


“It’s going to be a tough course,” said Hillary Bor, who was the winner of the Great Stirling X-Country race in January. “I think that (the makeup of this team) we are built for this course.”


On running with four other members of the Colorado Springs based American Distance Project in the senior men’s 10k race, he said that having his teammates makes it easier, as they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.


Stephanie Bruce, who finished 41st at these championships two years ago in Kampala, Uganda, said the course laid out on the grounds of the Moesgaard Museum is indeed a true cross country course, and it is a difficult one at that.


“It’s the hardest course I’ve ever seen. When people hear us say it’s a tough course, and that we’re complaining—on the contrary, we’re not. We’re just being factual. This course plays to people who are smart, patient and know how to run at the right effort through five-2k loops.”


“I do feel that you have to get out in front of what I call the ‘critical mass’ if you have an idea of where you want to finish. At the same time, you have to be patient, and you have to feel like you have to be aggressive each lap.”


Reigning national Under-20 champions Nicole Clermont and Shuaib Aljabaly both agreed that the world championships course is unlike anything that they’ve seen in the United States.


“I’ve never run on a course like this,” said Aljabaly, who noted that there will have to be some smarts applied, and that it’s not a course designed to go hard from the start. “It’s more about being calm and knowing how much you have left.”


Clermont said that despite the difficulties of the course, that the design is motivating. In the short time that she and the rest of the team have been in Aarhus, they’ve established a comfort level with the course and the elements.


After the final course inspection on Friday, Team USATF selected its four captains for Saturday’s world championships.


Selected as captains by their peers were Stephanie Bruce (senior women), Hillary Bor (senior men), Nicole Clermont (junior women), and Shuaib Aljabaly (junior men). Bruce’s selection marks the second straight world championship cross country championship team that she’s been selected as team captain.


Team USATF looks to improve upon their 2017 finishes at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. The senior women and men finished fifth overall in the team standings, while the junior men were ninth and the junior women finished 11th. The co-ed relay team finished sixth in Kampala.


Follow along with #TeamUSATF and #IAAFworlds on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Submitted by Paul Merca.




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