Indy to host USA Cross Country Championships
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
INDIANAPOLIS - America’s finest cross country runners, including six-time returning women’s long course champion Deena Kastor (formerly Drossin) and 1992 men’s champion and American record holder at 3,000 and 5,000 meters, Bob Kennedy, will compete at the 2004 USA Cross Country Championships February 7-8 at the Fall Creek and 16th Street Park in Indianapolis.
In addition to crowning national champions, the USA Cross Country Championships serve as the selection event for the U.S. team that will compete at the 2004 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, March 20-21 in Brussels, Belgium. The USA Championships follows the same format as the upcoming World Championships, with six races over a two-day span.
More than 400 athletes will compete in six championship races that will be conducted in Indianapolis. The top six finishers in the Senior (open/no age limit) and Junior (age 19 and under) competitions qualify for the U.S. team that will travel to Brussels for the World Championships. In addition, the U.S. Masters Men and Women National 6 km Cross Country Championships for athletes ages 40 and over will take place on Saturday, February 7. The event will be hosted by the Indiana Invaders and the City of Indianapolis. Sponsors include the National Institute for Fitness and Sport, St. Vincent Sports Medicine, The Indianapolis Zoo, White River State Park and the End Result Company, Inc. The circuit, located just northwest of downtown Indianapolis, features a spectator-friendly, international-style 2000-meter loop grass course.
Last year, Kastor easily won her sixth consecutive U.S. women’s long course title and seventh national cross country crown of her career in Houston. Kastor completed the muddy terrain in 29 minutes, 6 seconds, finishing 36 seconds ahead of runner-up and 2002 World Cross Country Championships bronze medalist Colleen De Reuck. In March, Kastor won the silver medal for the second consecutive year at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, which led Team USA to the bronze medal. Kastor continued her dominance as America’s finest long-distance runner by breaking the American record for the marathon with her third-place time of 2:21:16 at the 2003 Flora London Marathon on April 13. Her time broke the previous mark of 2:21:21 set by Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1985. Also in 2003, Kastor won her third USA Outdoor 10,000m title, and she won her fourth USA 15 km crown in the new American record time of 47:15.
Kennedy returns to the USA Cross Country Championships following his victory November 8 at the 2003 USA 10 km Championships in Mobile, Alabama. He ended the 2003 season ranked #5 in the U.S. at 5,000m and 10,000 meters. Kennedy’s 2003 success came following a difficult period where he faced a series of health and injury setbacks shortly after winning his fourth U.S. 5,000m title in 2001. His greatest season in cross country was in 1992, when he became the first runner since Al Lawrence 32 years earlier to win the NCAA and USA cross country crowns in the same year. With his participation in the long course event on Sunday, Kennedy will compete in Indianapolis for the first time since the 1997 USA Outdoor Championships, where he won the 5,000 meters.
Many of America’s top distance runners are expected to compete, including defending men’s 4 km champion Robert Gary and 2000 Olympians Abdi Abdirahman and Adam Goucher. On the women’s side, Colleen De Reuck will challenge Kastor once again in the long course race, as will three-time NCAA 5000m champion Lauren Fleshman. 2002 World Cross Country Championships team member Mary Jayne Harrelson and 2003 U.S. runner-up and Word Cross Country Championships competitor Collette Liss are favorites in the women’s 4 km race.
A press release previewing this weekend’s races will be issued on Thursday. The schedule for this year’s U.S. Cross Country Championships follows. All times are Eastern Time. Saturday, February 7 10:00 a.m. Youth Run 10:30 a.m. Masters Women’s 6 km Championship 11:30 a.m. Masters Men’s 6 km Championship 12:15 p.m. Junior Women’s 6 km Championship 12:45 p.m. Elite Men’s 4 km Championship 1:15 p.m. Elite Women’s 8 km Championship Sunday, February 8 9:15 a.m. Community Run 10:00 a.m. Junior Men’s 8 km Championship 10:45 a.m. Senior Women’s 4 km Championship 11:15 a.m. Senior Men’s 12 km Championship
A LITTLE HISTORY: This year’s national championships will be the 106th edition of the men’s event and the 40th race for the women. The men’s race dates back to 1890, when the first championship took place under the guidance of the Amateur Athletic Union (USATF replaced the AAU as America’s track and field governing body in 1979). No events took place in 1893-96, 1899-1900 and 1904. The USA Championships were not conducted in 1998 due to the change from hosting the event in early December to conducting the event in February, beginning in 1999. The first women’s championship took place in 1964. The men’s and women’s Championships were held together for the first time in 1979.
Past champions of the men’s event include all-time greats such as seven-time champ Don Lash (1934-’40), four-time winner and 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter (1970-’73), three-time New York Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, eight-time U.S. cross country champ Pat Porter (1982-’89), two-time Olympian Bob Kennedy and 1996 Olympic Marathon Trials winner Bob Kempainen. At the 2000 Championships in Greensboro, N.C., Adam Goucher became the first and only man in history to win both the long and short course races at the same Championships. The 4 km competitions for senior men and women were added in 1998.
The women’s competition has also seen many great champions including five-time U.S. champ (1966, 1968-71), and five-time World Cross Country champion (1967-‘71) Doris Brown-Heritage two-time champ Francie Larrieu Smith (1972-’73), nine-time U.S. champion (1985, 1987-’93, 1996) and three-time World Cross Country champion (1990-’92) Lynn Jennings, two-time short course champ Amy Rudolph (1998-’99) and six-time defending 8 km champion Deena Kastor. In 2000 Kastor also won the short course race, making her the only woman ever to win both titles in the same year.
The following lists the requirements for entry in each of the 2004 USA Cross Country Championship races:
SENIOR COMPETITION: All USATF-registered male athletes 16 years of age or older and female athletes who are 14 years of age or older on the day of the competition are eligible.
JUNIOR COMPETITION: All USATF-registered athletes who are 14 years of age or older on the day of the competition, and who will not turn 20 in 2004 are eligible to compete.
MASTERS COMPETITION: All USATF-registered age male and female athletes who are at least 40 years of age on the last day of competition who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens may compete in masters competition.
TEAM SCORING: Along with the individual competition in the Junior and Senior races, team scoring will take place. A minimum of four runners and a maximum of six runners will constitute a team. The combined points of each team’s first four finishers will determine a team’s score. Cross country displacement scoring will be utilized. The team with the lowest score will be the winning team.
MEDIA CREDENTIALS: For media accreditation for the 2004 USA Cross Country Championships, contact Tom Surber at (317) 261-0500 ext. 317. For more information on the event, visit the USATF Web site at http://www.usatf.org.