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Flanagan leads Team USA at World Cross Country Championships


Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
(317) 713-4690

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Shalane Flanagan’s finish in the senior women’s short course race was the top performance for Team USA Sunday at the 2004 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium.

Sunday’s races at Ossegem Park in Laken Brussels were held under mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the low 50s. Stiff winds provided a challenge to the competitors along with slippery and muddy conditions due to Saturday’s considerable rainfall. Due to the muddy condition of the turns, those areas became especially treacherous to the athletes, who were forced to slow down considerably to avoid slipping.

A two-time NCAA cross country champion and the 2004 U.S. 4 km cross country champion, Flanagan, who is currently red-shirting prior to her senior year at the University of North Carolina, had the most impressive U.S. performance of the day by finishing 14th in the women’s short course competition. Three-time NCAA 5,000m champion and the collegiate record holder at 5,000 meters Lauren Fleshman was the next American across the finish line in 24th as the U.S. placed seventh in the team competition.

Additional U.S. finishers included Christin Wurth-Thomas (Fayetteville, Arkansas), 43rd, Melissa Buttry (Waverly, Iowa) 60th, Sarah Hann (Winchester, N.H.) 64th and Janet Trujillo (Superior, Colorado) 77th. Ethiopia narrowly won the gold medal over Kenya (19-21) with Canada grabbing the bronze medal.

2000 Olympian and 2001 U.S. 10,000-meter champion Abdi Abdirahman (Tucson, Arizona) led Team USA’s 12 km men’s squad to an 11th place finish by placing 34th. Two-time Olympian and 2004 U.S. 12 km cross country champion Bob Kennedy (Indianapolis, Ind.) was 44th, with Richard Brinker (Utica, Mich.) finishing 51st. Dave Davis (Portland, Oregon) was 82nd, with Nolan Swanson (Springfield, Oregon) 93rd and Joshua Eberly (Gunnison, Colorado) 108th. Ethiopia won the men’s team competition with 14 points, with Kenya the runner-up with 30 points.

The first to hit the course on Sunday were the Junior Men, with Team USA being led to a seventh place finish in the team competition by Aurora, Colorado, prep standout Ryan Deak, who placed 34th. Stanford University freshman Forrest Tahdooahnippah was 37th, with Joshua McDougal (Peru, N.Y.) 49th, Pete Janson (Boulder, Colorado) 55th, Trent Hoerr (Peoria, Illinois) 60th and Ian Burrell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 81st. Kenya edged out Ethiopia for the team gold medal 20 points to 25. Uganda was third with 33 points.


Individual Standings: 1. Edith Masai (KEN), 13:07; 2. Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH), 13:09; 3. Teyba Erkesso (ETH), 13:11; 4. Werknesh Kidane (ETH), 13:14; 5. Isabella Ochichi (KEN), 13:18.

Team USA: 14. Shalane Flanagan – 13:34; 24. Lauren Fleshman – 13:56; 43. Christin Wurth-Thomas; 14:21; 60. Melissa Buttry – 14:33; 64. Sarah Hann – 14:38; 77. Janet Trujillo – 14:57.

Team Scoring: 1. Ethiopia – 19 points, 2. Kenya – 21; 3. Canada – 87, 4. Morocco – 101, 5. Great Britain – 125, 6. Portugal – 127, 7. United States – 141.


Individual Standings: 1. Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), 35:52; 2. Gebre-egziab Gebremariam (ETH), 36;10; 3. Sileshi Sihine (ETH), 36:11; 4. Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), 36:34; 5. Charles Kamathi (KEN), 36:36.

Team USA: 34. Abdi Abdirahman – 38:09, 44. Bob Kennedy – 38:28, 51. Richard Brinker – 38:36, 82. Dave Davis – 39:30, 93. Nolan Swanson – 40:03, 108. Joshua Eberly – 41:03.

Team Scoring: 1. Ethiopia – 14 points, 2. Kenya – 30, 3. Eritrea – 66, 4. Morocco – 68, 5. Australia – 101.


Individual Standings: 1. Meba Tadesse (ETH), 24:01; 2. Boniface Kirrop (UGA), 24:03; 3. Ernest Meli Kimeli (KEN), 24:16; 4. Barnabas Kiplagat Kosgei (KEN), 24:16; 5. Mulugeta Wendimu (ETH), 24:44.

Team USA: 34. Ryan Deak – 26:27; 37. Forrest Tahdooahnippah – 26:29; 49. Joshua McDougal – 26:50; 55. Peter Janson – 27:03; 60. Trent Hoerr – 27:08; 81. Ian Burrell – 124.

Team Scores: 1. Kenya – 20 points; 2. Ethiopia – 25; 3. Uganda – 33; 4. Morocco – 61; 5. Japan – 105.

Senior Women 4 km quotes:

Shalane Flanagan: All I wanted to do today was to get some experience. I'll come back with some vengeance next year. We have a good team this year, but I'm sure we'll have a better team in the years to come. I was in so much pain, and I look down at my chest (glances at USA logo), and said to myself, 'that's why I'm running today'. It makes me proud that I'm not only representing USA, but my school, my family, and my parents. This race is much more physical than anything I've been in. I was throwing some elbows out there and was making my own space as best as I could. Those ladies are fierce competitors and I tried to come in with that mentality. This race helps me realize how great the world's top runners are and how much harder I have to train.

Lauren Fleshman: That was a challenge! I don't know how you prepare for a race like this and I'm not sure you can create something to simulate a race like this. That was an eye opener for me, and tells me what I need to do in the next few months. I need to get better racing, but that's okay, this lets me know what I am up against...there's a lot of tough women out there. I might have gone out a little quick with the start, but I wanted to take a risk, but I thought that it would be worth it to stick my nose in and go out the first 2k and try to be in the top 15 and see if I could hold on to it. I don't think I am at a point in my training that I can do that.

Melissa Buttry: It was really good. I didn’t run that well at all, but it was great to be here to go after it. I didn’t get out as fast as I wanted. I just couldn’t get my legs going. It wasn’t really a good race for me, but the team did really good.

Sarah Hann: I ran in Dublin (2002 World Cross Country Championships) and I don’t remember it being this tough. I got a bad start this time around and I tried to make up a lot of ground on the second loop. I felt strong on the second loop this time. I was more confident and strong here and in Dublin I was scared. This time I was a little more focused on doing well. I’m just proud to be a part of the U.S. team.

Christin Wurth-Thomas: It was fun. It’s a tough cross country course and that’s what it’s all about. I wanted to go out strong, especially in the second loop. The conditions were difficult and the turns were especially difficult. It was tough. I’m going to go back home and focus on track again.

Janet Trujillo: The hills affected me right in the beginning, and the mud puddles, but I'm glad that four people scored, and I was rooting for my team from back there. I was trying hard to finish decently, but it turned out the way I wanted it, but I gave it all I had. I really couldn't recover after the first 400 meters.

Senior Men 12 km quotes:

Abdi Abdirahman: I ran the way I wanted to run, but I was bothered by something in my hip with about two laps to go. For about three laps I was where I wanted to be, and I was positioning myself, then everything changed that lap (when the lead pack made their move). This is a real cross country course. This course shows your strengths and weaknesses. The Belgians really know how to put together a cross country course.

Dave Davis: This is definitely the hardest race I've ever been in. I think I should have gone out a little bit easier than I did and I got eaten up alive. If I had to do it over again, I would go out a little more sensibly and try and pick off people as I go along. I should have been smarter about it. I just got away from my plan.

Bob Kennedy: I didn't feel good...I never did. I felt decent warming up, but I never felt right. For at least three kilometers I was in the position I wanted to be, with the idea that I would start picking through the pack, but I went the other way.

Richard Brinker: I had to race the way I train and that’s the way I went out. If I would’ve pushed it hard early I would’ve finished dead last. My goal was to run an even pace, but I think I slowed down about ten seconds per lap. This has been a helluva time. I’m glad to be here. It was my goal in college to make a U.S. team and it was a great experience once I got here.

Nolan Swanson: I guess I went out to hard through the first 800 meters because I couldn’t run from there to 8K when I stopped to rub out a stitch. After that I felt okay the last lap and a half. I got it out of there and I kept rubbing it and I ran faster the last lap and a half than I did from 4K to 7K. We didn’t do very well. I didn’t catch anybody but two or three people in the last lap. I ran like a rookie.

Joshua Eberly: I definitely started out too quick. After about 1K I started to feel the lactic acid and then it was tough. It was a good experience and I’m still young, I just turned 23. It’s a great experience to be with Bob (Kennedy) and Abdi (Abdirahman) and everyone else. Hopefully next year I’ll improve and step up.

Junior Men’s Team quotes:

Joshua McDougal: It was a great experience in the mud. Everything was incredible. I just went out the last few kilometers and had absolutely nothing. After the first 2K I didn’t feel that great and I kept falling off from there. We didn’t want to go out too fast. We wanted to pace ourselves and take the race as it came. It was great to see where I stood against the rest of the world. It wasn’t as good as I hoped.

Pete Janson: They went out really fast. I’ve never seen anything like that before. A lot of guys got out fast and I think that was a good thing. I went out kind of slow. That was my strategy hoping that some people would come back. It seemed that people were going up the hills really easy and going down the hills really hard. I went kind of even on both. It didn’t work out that much. I stayed at about the same position relative to about everyone in the entire race.

Trent Hoerr: I got out really slow and I couldn’t get anything going on the first lap and tried to move on the second lap and got passed by about 50 guys, and pretty much that was it. I was just tired today. We talked about going out and bunching up but that didn’t really work.

Ryan Deak: It went perfect. I got a great start. I didn’t feel like I was going fast at all, but I was ahead of some Kenyans, so I relaxed about the next 100 yards and I relaxed up the hill and then relaxed to the first K point. About the 6K mark I got a horrible cramp in the side of my stomach and that totally killed my last loop. I got passed by about 10 guys, but for the most part I felt tremendous out there and it’s the best I’ve ever felt. My race plan worked out perfectly.

Forrest Tahdooahnippah: I tried to stay low-key during the week and tried not to get too worked up. As soon as I got here, with all the different countries and people chanting “USA, USA” and all the spectators from all over, it was amazing. As far as the race itself, I looked out and saw the people and decided to sprint as hard as I could for the first 200 meters and it turned out really well. I was passing a ton of people and a ton of people were passing me. I was able to dig in with about a kilometer left and I was able to get some people, but the last 100 meters I was out of everything.

Ian Burrell was not available for comment.

For more information on the 2004 World Cross Country Championships, visit

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