USA Cross Country Championships Returns to New York City, Record $50,000 prize purse on offer


Jim Estes
LDR Programs Manager
USA Track & Field

The USA Cross Country Championships and World Cross Country Team Trials will return to New York City and famed Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on February 18-19 for the first time since 1990, with an event prize purse of $50,000 New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg announced this week.

The USA Cross Country Championships Presented by Gleukos will be broadcast February 20 (late evening February 19) at 12:00 a.m. EST on ESPN 2.

"Cross country is running at its grittiest," said Wittenberg. "There are no water stops and no high-tech track, just the elements-snow, mud, hills, and heart. These races will be a common proving ground, attracting the best at distances from the mile to the marathon in an all-out race to the finish."

The host NYRR will put up a $50,000 total prize purse, which is three times larger than last year's $16,000 purse.

The Presidents' Weekend schedule features the men's open 4 km and women's open 8 km championship races on Saturday, February 18, and the women's open 4 km and men's open 12 km events on Sunday, February 19. The top six finishers in each championship race will earn a berth on Team USA for the 2006 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on April 1-2.

Early confirmed entries includefive-time World Cross Country Championships qualifier Abdi Abdirahman and Lauren Fleshman, the United States' topwoman at last year's IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Saint-Galmier, France.

Abdi Abdibrahim, 29,of Tucson, Arizona,whois comingoff an impressive fifth-place finish at the ING New York City Marathon2005, returns to theUSA Cross Country Championships after missing the 2005 event to recover from his 2004 marathon debut, also in New York.With five top-six performances in the 12 km race since 2000-including a runner-up finish in 2002-Abdirahman should contend for the title this year.

Fleshman, 24, of Palo Alto, California, finished fifth in the 4 km (13:30) and sixth in the 8 km (28:11) at the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships before placing 11th in the 4 km at the World Championships.