INDIANAPOLIS - America's finest cross country runners, including defending women's short course champion Shalane Flanagan and defending long course champion Colleen De Reuck, will compete February 12-13 at the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships and World Cross Country Team Trials. The Championships will take place at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Wash.
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 2005 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. The top six finishers in the Open and Junior races are eligible to compete March 19-20 at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Saint Galmier, France. The USA Championships follows the same format as the upcoming World Championships, with six races over a two-day span.
More than 600 athletes will compete in six championship races in Vancouver, located near Portland, Ore. 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 12.
The site of the 2001 and 2002 USATF Winter Cross Country Championships, the Fort Vancouver layout is a rolling, European-style course consisting of 2 km loops on long grass.
Defending U.S. cross country 4 km women's champion Shalane Flanagan defeated a talented field last year on a treacherous snow- and ice-covered course in Indianapolis. Flanagan was in the lead pack from the beginning before displaying a strong finishing kick that got her to the finish line two seconds ahead of runner-up Carrie Tollefson. A two-time NCAA Division I cross country champion while at the University of North Carolina, Flanagan competed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens after placing third in the 5,000 meters earlier that summer at the Olympic Trials.
Flanagan will be challenged in the women's 4 km race by 3-time NCAA 5,000-meter champion Lauren Fleshman and three-time NCAA Division III cross country champion Missy Buttry, who placed third and fourth respectively last year in Indianapolis. 2003 USA Winter Cross Country champion and 2004 Olympian Shayne Culpepper is also in the field.
The women's long course field is headlined by 2004 U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials winner Colleen De Reuck, who won last year's 8 km championship in Indianapolis. The 2002 World Cross Country 8 km bronze medalist, De Reuck won the 2004 U.S. long course crown by a 31-second margin over runner-up Katie McGregor, who will challenge De Reuck on Saturday, as will 2004 Olympian Jen Rhines.
Many of America's top men's distance runners are expected to compete in Vancouver, including mile sensation and 2004 Olympian Alan Webb, who won the USA Club Nationals Cross Country Championship in 2003. Webb will face 2003 men's short course champion Robert Gary in the men's 4 km race, along with 2004 Olympians Tim Broe, Daniel Lincoln and Jonathon Riley, along with 2002 NCAA Cross Country champion Jorge Torres.
Broe, Riley and Torres also are slated to compete in the men's 12 km championship, along with 2003 NCAA cross country champion and 2004 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, who was the surprise winner of the 2005 Reebok Cross Country Challenge on January 9 in Belfast, Ireland, against a strong international field. Also look for two-time Olympian and four-time U.S. World Cross Country team member Abdi Abdirahman to vie for top honors.
A press release previewing this weekend's races will be distributed on Thursday. The schedule for the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships follows. All times are Pacific Time.
Saturday, February 12
9:15 a.m. Community Run
10:30 a.m. Masters Men's 8 km Championship
11:45 a.m. Junior Women's 6 km Championship
12:15 p.m. Open Men's 4 km Championship
12:45 p.m. Open Women's 8 km Championship
1:30 p.m. Masters Women's 8 km Championship
Sunday, February 8
10:00 a.m. Junior Men's 8 km Championship
10:45 a.m. Open Women's 4 km Championship
11:15 a.m. Open Men's 12 km Championship
A LITTLE HISTORY: This year's national championships will be the 107th edition of the men's event and the 41st 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 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) and three-time New York Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, all National Track & Field Hall of Famers. Past winners include 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 and two-time champ Francie Larrieu Smith (1972-'73), both National Track & Field Hall of Famers. Past winners include 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 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 2005 USA Cross Country Championship races:
OPEN 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 2005 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 2005 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.