|Mike Scott, Bill Roe, Eleanor Fulton, Brianna McLeod, Aretha Thurmond,|
Gavin Parpart & Paul Merca are part of the Team USA delegation
at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships
(Jiro Mochizuki photo)
KAMPALA, Uganda—The 28 men and women representing Team USA previewed the Kololo Independence Grounds for the final time Saturday, as teams got one last look at the course where Sunday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be contested.
While the course is mostly flat, the 2000-meter course that loops around the Kololo Independence Grounds has two sets of two logs laid out on the course that the athletes have to either step or hurdle over, along with a man made hill, a ditch, and two other small hills that the runners must traverse, with the final hill approximately 600 meters from the finish of the loop.
Though there are points on the course where meet organizers could’ve made it easier on the runners by incorporating long stretches in the straightaways, they have put in some short sharp left and right turns to break up the rhythm.
The championships begin at 2 pm, local time (7 am, eastern time) with the 4x2k relay, followed 30 minutes later (7:30 am, eastern time) by the women’s Under-20 6k race.
The Under-20 men’s race commences at 3:10 pm (8:10 am, eastern time), followed at 3:55 pm (8:55 am, eastern time) by the senior women’s 10k.
The championships conclude at 4:55 pm, local time (9:55 am, eastern time) with the senior men’s 10k.
The spotlight at these world championships will shine the brightest on Olympic 5000 meter silver medalist Paul Chelimo, who will team with Cory Leslie, University of Washington alum Eleanor Fulton and Pasco HS grad Marisa Howard in the inaugural 4 x 2k co-ed relay; reigning USATF cross country champions Aliphine Tuliamuk and Leonard Korir; and, Shadrack Kipchirchir, who was on the Olympic team last year with Chelimo and Korir.
After the course preview, Chelimo, who stated that he will run the anchor leg on the mixed 4 x 2k relay team, said that the course is to his liking, except for the corners.
On the two double logs that the runners will have to step over or hurdle during the race, the Olympic 5000m silver medalist said that he had some initial concerns about the barriers being spaced too close together, but that the organizers have spaced the logs to a more reasonable distance.
Reigning USATF senior women’s cross country champion Tuliamuk said the man made obstacles equalizes the course and doesn’t favor any particular runner or running type.
She said that the weather Sunday (projected to be 78 degrees with a 20 percent chance of rain) may play a factor, as Kampala had some precipitation in the early hours of Saturday morning, making some spots less than ideal, including the man-made ditch the runners must cover.
“I think that what we went through in Bend (with the snowy conditions) will help our runners deal with the kind of adversity the course brings,” she said.
Kipchirchir said that training with fellow American Distance Project team members Korir and Sam Chelanga has been an asset, noting having them in Sunday’s 10k race will give each other someone to key off of. “We’ve been training as a group for almost a year, and our personal coach will be there, so being together will help.”
The University of Washington's Gavin Parpart will run in the Under-20 men's 8k for Team USA, while Sedro Wooley HS senior Kristen Garcia and incoming UW freshman Shona McCulloch will be in the women's Under-20 6k. McCulloch will run for Team Canada.
At Saturday’s team meeting, Stephanie Bruce (senior women), Shadrack Kipchirchir (senior men), Madison Fruchey (U20 women) and Paul Roberts (U20 men) were selected by their teammates as the captains of their respective squads.
At the last world cross country championships two years ago in Guiyang, China, the senior women finished fifth, while the senior men were seventh. Team USA’s Under-20 men were sixth, and the Under-20 women were eighth.
The IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be aired on a delayed basis on Universal HD online from 11:30am to 12:30pm, and broadcast from 9pm to 10pm, also on Universal HD.
Follow along with #USATF on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook using #Kampala2017.
QUICK RECAP OF MEETS FROM AROUND THE STATE...
While we are here in Kampala, there is action around the Pacific Northwest as the outdoor track and field season gets underway across the state.
Most of Washington’s nine Division I and II teams were competing at various meets, most notably at the Sam Adams meet hosted by Whitworth University in Spokane on Thursday and Friday, and at the Doris Heritage Distance Classic at West Seattle Stadium, hosted by Seattle Pacific.
At the Sam Adams meet, Brock Eager of Washington State won the hammer on Thursday with a throw of 225-1 (68.68m), the fourth best mark in school history, and a new personal best.
A small contingent of athletes from the University of Washington went across town to compete at the Doris Heritage Distance Classic Saturday at West Seattle Stadium,
Those who did go collected eight wins, led by hammer throwers Carey Campbell and Onyie Chibuogwu, and 1500 meter runners Emily Hamlin and Andrew Gardner.
NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report. Paul Merca of paulmerca.blogspot.com is in Kampala working as the USATF press officer at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Also contributing to this post are the sports information offices at the University of Washington, Washington State, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and Seattle Pacific.