Team USA women take fifth in 4 km at World Cross Country Championships


Jim Estes
LDR Programs Manager
USA Track & Field

FUKUOKA, JAPAN - Running in her second race of the weekend, Blake Russell (Marina, Calif.) finished 18th in the Open Women's 4 km to lead Team USA's women's team to a fifth-place finish at the 34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships at Umi-no-Nakamichi Seaside Park on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon's three races were run in strong winds and partly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 60s, with the humidity dropping as the afternoon's events progressed.

In the Open Women's race, Ethiopia's Gelete Burika Bati, the 2005 Junior Women's 6 km champion, cruised the 4-kilometer course in 12:51 for a two-second win over Priscah Jepleting Ngetich of Kenya.

Carrie Tollefson, the 2006 USA Cross Country champion at 4 km, took a spill near the top of the first hill. Despite the fall shattering her chances of a top individual finish, Tollefson was determined to regain as much ground as possible in an effort to support her U.S. team mates.

"I really didn't have much time to think after I went down," said Tollefson, who ultimately finished 34th. "This has never happened to me before in any type of competition. I knew I was out of it for a good individual finish, but I had to help my team. I just tried to fight as hard as I could."

Russell led the U.S. squad to place four athletes to finish in the top-thirty-five as Team USA scored 99 points to take fifth behind Ethiopia (25), Kenya (26), Australia (69) and Morocco (73).

Team USA men finish 12th in Open Men's 12 km

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, the champion from Saturday's Open Men's 4 km, dominated the second day of competition as he pulled away from teammate Sileshi Sihine, running 35:43 to win his fifth consecutive 12 km title by three seconds. Despite Bekele's dominant performance, Ethiopia was unable to defend the team title, finishing third behind Kenya (24) and Eritrea (28) respectively.

Also running in his second race of the weekend, Ryan Hall (Woodside, Calif.) was the first man on the Team USA squad, finishing 43rd as the team struggled to a 12th - place team finish, scoring 206 points.

U.S. takes ninth in Junior Men's 8 km

In the Junior Men's 8 km, Kenya's Mangata Kimai Ndiwa ran 23:53 for a one second victory over team mate Leonard Patrick Komon. Kiel Uhl (Ames, Iowa), ran 25:31 to finish 36th leading the U.S. junior men to a ninth-place team finish.

In the team competition, Kenya scored 16 points to win an eighth straight team title over Ethiopia (24) with Eritrea (45) finishing third. Team USA scored 178 points.

Open Women's 4 km

Individual Standings: 1. Gelete Burika Bati (ETH), 12:51; 2. Priscah Jepleting Ngetich (KEN), 12:53; 3. Meselech Melkamu (ETH), 12:54; 4. Benita Johnson (AUS), 12:55; 5. Lornah Kiplagat (NED), 12:55.

Team USA: 18. Blake Russell (13:21); 21. Kara Goucher (13:24); 26. Sara Hall (13:28); 34. Carrie Tollefson (13:36); 38. Sarah Schwald (13:40); 66. Amy Mortimer (14:10).

Open Men's 12 km

Individual Standings: 1. Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 35:40; 2. Sileshi Sihine (ETH), 35:43; 3.Martin Irungu Mathathi (KEN), 35:44; 4. Zersenay Tadesse (ERI), 35:47; 5. Mike Kipruto Kigen (KEN) 35:54.

Team USA: 43. Ryan Hall (37:29); 51.Patrick Gildea (37:45); 55. Brandon Leslie (37:58); 57. Max King (38:03); 74. Jason Hartmann (38:23); DNF- Matt Gabrielson

Junior Men's 8 km

Individual Standings: 1.Mangata Kimai Ndiwa (KEN), 23:53; 2 Leonard Patrick Komon (KEN), 23:54; 3. Tariku Bekele (ETH), 23:56; 4. Joseph Ebuya (KEN), 23:59; 5. Ibrahim Jellan Gashu (ETH) 24.04.

Team USA: 36. Kiel Uhl (25:31); 41. Andrew Bumbalough (25:41); 49. Scott Macpherson (26:13); 52. Jordan McDougal (26:26); 60. Michael Eaton (26:39); Chris Barnicle (DNF).


Senior Women's 4 km

Kara Goucher -I finished seventh at nationals, so I didn't make the team outright, but I knew that I belonged here. I was battling an injury at nationals. I got here, and I figured that I might as well go for it. I was pretty happy with my finish. I was inspired watching Adam in the 4k yesterday.

Blake Russell - I was hurting when I woke up this morning, form running the downhill hard, so I was feeling a little beat up. Once I got going, it was the most physical race I've ever been in-it was like a boxing match out there. It was physical going up the hill, and Carrie bit the dust.

Sarah Schwald -It was ok. I got spiked. It was tough battling the elements. I got into a bit of a rhythm when I got out of the wind, and things would open up a bit. We didn't get as good of a start as we'd like; then again, no one did, and the field didn't string out as quickly.

Open Men's 12 km

Max King - It was a tough race, but you could say that it wasn't my day. I was struggling to hang on. I wished I could've run a little better. I guess I didn't race as well as I wanted to. I was really shooting for top 50. With the wind, there was a lot of pace changing. Just being here is a good experience, and if I'm lucky enough to be back at worlds next year, I'll have what I learned here to draw on.

Jason Hartmann -The last four laps I had a cramp, and I couldn't get through it. It was more about trying to battle the cramp. I felt good, but I could never get into a rhythm.

I came here to run well, and not for the experience, so from that standpoint, it was frustrating.

Matt Gabrielson -I developed a cramp around 9k, and it became unbearable. I give credit to Max, Brandon, and Patrick for stepping up today.

Brandon Leslie -The competition was great, and just to be here. With all of the obstacles I've been through in my life, and knowing that this is only the eighth month of consistent training that I've had, it was more than I'd expected. I kept in mind what coach (Joe) Vigil said, and that's to race tough out there. Thinking about all of the Native American people back home kept me strong during the race. I was given a Navajo flag to take with me to remember who I'm running for, and to remember my people when I visit different countries.

Patrick Gildea - I was expecting it to be quicker than it actually was. With the wind and the elements, it was perhaps the best race that I could've run under the circumstances. I felt pretty good the second half. For the first time out, I can't complain. I wanted to keep Ryan somewhat in sight. It would've been nice to have the team run better. I think I did as good as I could today. Hopefully next time, I can be a little more aggressive.

Junior Men's 8 km

Kiel Uhl - It was pretty much a rough going today. I was a little surprised at the beginning, and once you get yourself in a hole with this kind of competition, it's hard to get out of it. I'll need a little more experience competing in a meet like this.

Scott MacPherson - It was tough and windy out there. Of course you'd like to finish better than that. I only ran one cross country meet at Arkansas, and it pretty much went the way it did today. Being able to put USA on your chest and walking out on the starting line is one of the best feelings you can have as an athlete.

Chris Barnicle - I caught a cramp on my right calf on the second lap going up the hill. I tried to run another 400 meters or so, and I just couldn't go.

Andrew Bumbalough - It was a battle out there with the wind. I tried to tuck in as best as I could behind people. It was so blustery out there. I got going the last 1000 meters, and get past a few people, but they worked together and got past me, and that was a little frustrating. Overall, it was a good experience, and I'm happy that I got to make the trip.

Jordan McDougal - I ran ok. I felt ok for the first lap hanging with the pack, then I started getting some little cramps. I hoped to run a lot better. I guess I really didn't know what to expect.

Michael Eaton - I nearly fell on my face at the beginning. I was hoping to get out a little better, but it didn't happen. I made it to the outside and tried to work my way to the front. That wind really sucked. I gave up trying to get up front and started drafting behind people. In the last stretch, this Canadian guy passed me, and I said, 'I don't think so', and I found another gear, and tried to push through it. There certainly are a lot of fast people out there. I'll work harder and try to get back here next year.

Over the weekend, Team USA athletes earned a total of $27,000, with the three fifth place team finishes, and Adam Goucher's sixth place individual finish in the open men's 4-kilometer race.

For more information on the 2006 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, visit