Friday, March 27, 2009

If it's Friday, I must be in Amman (part 2)...

(in part 1, I talked about the adventure getting to Amman. In part 2, I’ll give you an overview of Friday on the job).

Friday, I hit Amman on the run, literally and metaphorically speaking.

After breakfast at the team hotel, it was off to the Al Bisharat Golf Course just outside the city.

If your thoughts of a golf course are of lush greens and pretty fairways like what you see on the Golf Channel, this was far from the truth. Let’s just say that the putting surface was not green. In fact, let’s just say that there wasn’t much high grass (or any grass for that matter).

Here’s the course description for Saturday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships, as written in the USA Track & Field release:

“The Al Bisharat Golf Course consists of a 200 meter starting area, then transitions to a left turn which starts the opening loop of approximately 1,500 meters. Following the 1,500-meter loop will be a loop of 2,000 meters, with an additional stretch of approximately 300 meters after the final lap to the finish.”

Built amongst the site of a valley, the course is one of the hillier venues in recent world championships with a mostly uphill finish.

Let’s just say that the only real stretch of grass is at the finish, and it looks like it was planted just for the sake of television and internet viewers. The majority of the course is on packed dirt that’s been driven over by a steamroller.

In the state of Washington, there are no courses that compare to the world championship course, though there are elements of the Mt. San Antonio (Mt. SAC) college course in California, where the Foot Locker West regionals are run, and the rolling terrain of the USA national championship course in Derwood, Maryland, which some of the team members here in Amman said helped in their preparation for worlds.

As far as playing on this course, Ed Torres of Boulder, Colorado said it best. “I don’t think the PGA will be playing here anytime soon, unless Tiger Woods wants a challenge.”

After the usual team photos at the finish line, it was time to scout the course and the mixed zone area at the finish, where I will be based to conduct interviews for USA Track & Field.

One tradition at world cross was maintained—the appearance of the world famous football, which has traveled with me to every world championships since 2001. Noted track & field photographer Kirby Lee from Image of Sport took this photo of me at the finish, along with a photo of me doing a Heisman Trophy pose (above) in front of the sign.

After conducting course interviews with athletes, we headed back to our hotel, where we were met by Polly Wright of the IAAF, who requested an interview with two USA athletes for one of their upcoming shows. After a bit of scrambling to round up athletes, Torres and Samia Akbar were the chosen ones.

After a scramble to grab lunch and a change from Team USA gear to business casual wear, it was off to the IAAF press conference at the Al Hussein Youth City sports complex, with USATF CEO Doug Logan, team leader Jim Estes, and German Fernandez.

Here's a link to's coverage of the press conference...

Once the press conference concluded, it was yet another scramble back to the team hotel to help facilitate the video interview for Stephen Klotz of Youth Runner magazine with the junior men’s and women’s teams.

All in all, a busy day to say the least!

Now comes race day Saturday…we’ll do a short recap Saturday night!

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