INDIANAPOLIS - One of the strongest fields ever heads to Boulder, Colo., for the 2007 USA Cross Country Championships presented by Gleukos this Saturday, February 9.
This year's field includes 12 U.S. Olympians and seven former USA Cross Country Championship titlists. With 2006 being the last year for a long-course and short-course two-day program, and now with the return to a one-day format at the World Championships, the U.S. championship will once again be a "One Race, One Champion" event.
The event will serve as the trials race to select the Team USA squad that will compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, to be held in Mombasa, Kenya on March 24. The 2007 USA Cross Country Championships will be televised in association with the Tyson Invitational February 11, from 1-3 p.m. on ESPN 2.
The championship field will see 2004 Olympians Alan Culpepper (Lafayette, Colo.), Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.), and Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), return to the USA Cross Country Championships for the first time since 2003, and each will see challenges from an assembly of strong contenders.
The men's race is stacked with potential winners, including Culpepper, a two-time USA Cross Country 12 km titlist (1999, 2003). He will face off with the likes of 2000 Olympian Adam Goucher (Portland, Ore.), who himself has taken home four USA Cross Country titles, one 12 km (2000) and three 4 km (1999, 2000, 2006). Goucher is the only U.S. man to win both the 12 km and the 4 km titles.
Also looking for a win will be USA Cross Country 12 km champion Dathan Ritzenhein (Boulder, Colo.), 1998 USA Cross Country 4 km champion Dan Browne; two-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman (Tucson, Ariz.); and Jorge Torres (Boulder, Colo.), one of the local favorites along with Culpepper and Ritzenhein, who won the 2006 USA 10,000m title.
The women's field will feature 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, Kastor, also the owner of seven USA Cross Country titles, with six coming in the 8 km (1997, 1999-2003) and one in the 4 km (2000). Looking to challenge Kastor is Shalane Flanagan (Pittsboro, N.C.), a two-time USA Cross Country 4 km titlist (2004, 2005). Flanagan recently shattered the indoor 3,000 meter American record at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games on January 27.
2003 USA Cross Country 4 km champion and two-time Olympian Shayne Culpepper (Lafayette, Colo.) leads the hometown favorites after a second-place finish in the mile at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, her first major race since giving birth to her second child last summer.
Also looking to challenge for the title will be Kara Goucher (Portland, Ore.), the top U.S. performer for 10,000 meters in 2006; Elva Dryer (Gunnison, Colo.) and Kate O' Neill (Palo Alto, Calif.), the respective champion and runner-up at the USA Half Marathon Championships in January; and 2006 USA 10 km road champion Katie McGregor (Minneapolis, Minn.), who will be going for her fifth USA Cross Country team in a row.
Leading the junior men's field is 2005 Footlocker champion Andrew Acotsa (Oceanside, Calif.), while 2006 Footlocker champion Aislinn Ryan (Bellvale, N.Y.) is favored in the junior women's race.
The 2007 USA Cross Country Championships will be the topic of a documentary called "Showdown", which takes fans behind the scenes with Abdirahman, Culpepper, Keflezighi, Ritzenhein, and Jorge Torres.
Shot on location in Houston, San Diego, and Tucson, as well as in Edinburgh, Scotland, the movie's action will culminate this weekend in Boulder, Colorado, at the 2007 USA Cross Country Championships.
The DVD will be released later this spring in partnership with USA Track & Field (USATF), and feature richly cinematic "look and feel". It will show in 16:9 widescreen format, with high-definition footage rarely seen before in the sport. A 2-minute trailer can be previewed here.
For more information on the 2007 USA Cross Country Championships presented by Gleukos visit www.usatf.org.