SAINT GALMIER, FRANCE - All 36 members of the Team USA roster practiced Friday at the Hippodrome Horse Race Track in Saint Galmier, France, the venue for the this weekend's World Cross Country Championships.
The Championships begin Saturday with the Junior Women's race at 2:30 p.m., with the Open Men's 4 km race at 3:20 p.m. The first day of competition will conclude with the Open Women's 8 km race at 4:00 p.m. Competition will resume Sunday with theJunior Men's 8 km race at 2:25 p.m., followed by the Open Men's 12 km at 3:15 p.m. and the Open Women's 4 km at 4:15 p.m.
Athletes practiced Friday under partly sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s. Identical weather is forecast for this weekend. The Saint Galmier course is primarily flat with two small mounds and seven small logs for athletes to deal with. Aside from one mud patch, the dry course is mostly long grass with patches of hard dirt.
Following Friday's practice session, Team USA members Adam Goucher, Dathan Ritzenhein, Shalane Flanagan and Galen Rupp talked about the course.
Adam Goucher: "It's a pretty interesting course. It's pretty cool though and it's going to be fun. It's pretty bumpy and rough out there and there's a spot they're intentionally going to make really muddy, and that will be interesting."
About the importance of a good start in a 4 km race. "I think you're going to have to risk it a bit and go out real fast because in a race like this it's so fast that if you don't get out it's really hard to move throughout the course. One good thing is that there is only one real spot that's really muddy, which will allow you to make some moves throughout the course. If the entire course is really muddy that's impossible."
Dathan Ritzenhein: "It's real bumpy and rough. Looks like there's going to be a lot of stop and go that will dictate changes of pace. I don't think that it will be as fast as it seems, even though the ground is pretty hard. It's blazing hot out there. We were thinking that it would be cold and muddy."
On his confidence going into the championships: "I'm undefeated in cross country this year. I was training through the other two meets this season and I feel really rested, and a lot sharper than I did a few weeks ago, and I feel like the best I've ever felt. I'm looking forward to this a lot."
Shalane Flanagan: "I'm surprised that the course is a bit easier than I thought; however on Sunday it might not be so easy. It's a little less treacherous than I thought it would be from the pictures that I've seen."
On the women's 4 km race being the last race of the championships: "The strategy still stays the same as if we were still in the traditional spot of the second-to-last race of the meet. The course will be muddy in spots, but I don't think it would be as trashed if we were still in our old spot in the program."
On the team's potential to medal: "We have a phenomenal group of women. We are shooting for a medal. We'll sit down at dinner and figure out who we have to look at for that third medal. We've got a great group of girls. We are excited and passionate about it and I think we're feeling really fit and ready to go."
Galen Rupp: "It's going to be a pretty fast race. It's pretty flat, and the hills aren't too big, and the muddy sections aren't as bad as I thought. It was muddier at the Nationals. I've never run over hurdles and short consecutive hills, but overall I think the course is good."
On his chances Sunday: "I am going to go out hard, and give myself a chance to run well. I don't think going out conservative and hoping to finish 20th is a good plan. I'm going to go out hard and see how close I can stay to them (the lead group)."
On training with Adam Goucher and Dave Davis in Portland: "Being able to train with them and stay up with them in the workouts gives me a lot of confidence. If I can stay up with them and I'm training the same as they are, then that gives me a lot of confidence."
For more information on the 2005 World Cross Country Championships, visit www.iaaf.org.