BYDGOSZCZ, Poland--Have finally got my bearings together to write a post for the blog.
As I was three years ago, I am here assisting USA Track & Field with media operations at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on Sunday.
They've made several changes to the course since they hosted the meet three years ago.
In 2010, the athletes ran the loop counter clockwise; this time around, they will run in the opposite direction.
This course, even without snow and ice covering the ground, as is the case here in the last week or so, is a difficult one to establish any sort of rhythm. Don't let the fact that the course is essentially a 2-k loop fool you. There may be a stretch of 150 meters that one may consider straight, but there are lots of turns within the loop that will potentially take runners out of their comfort zone.
The biggest change organizers made was the addition of a hill to make it more difficult.
As our friends at LetsRun.com wrote in their preview, "The hill is very steep – think the top part of Van Cortlandt Park’s famed Cemetery Hill. But here, when you go down it, they even have a jump halfway down the middle of downhill. And once you hit the bottom, if it’s the last loop, you have about 200 to the finish."
I will agree with what the LetsRun.com guys say--if this course were used for a big meet back home like the NCAA championships, coaches would be in an uproar with the difficulty and terrain. You don't have 500 meters until the first turn--try about 100, which could possibly mean runners may want to run close to their PR--in the 100 if they want to have good positions.
The three Washington state affiliated runners--Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver, and Spokane preps Andrew Gardner (above/photo by Paul Merca) and Katie Knight are all in good spirits so far. I have not run into Amy-Eloise Neale from Snohomish yet, as the British team is staying at a different hotel than the USA.
Here's a link to the story I wrote for USATF naming the four team captains--Deena Kastor, Chris Derrick, Craig Nowak, and Emily Stites.
Expected temperatures and conditions are sunny skies and highs in the upper 20s-maybe low 30s for Sunday. Needless to say, the course could be interesting, especially with the number of bulldozers on the course trying to clear out the snow the last few days.