Thursday, March 29, 2007

Letter From Kenya II: " ... that was the hardest race I had ever run"

Yesterday, Marty Rosendahl told us about the "atmosphere" at the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya; today, he tells us about the atmosphere (no quotation marks) at World Cross, which was really, really hot ...

"The biggest challenge of the setting was definitely the weather environment," Rosendahl (pictured) said. " says that on March 24 at 5:oo p.m. -- our race was at 5:20 -- the temperature was 88 with a heat index of 97 and 66% humidity. At the start of the Junior Women's race, the temp was 90 with the heat index at 99, and our team tent stakeout was near the start-line medical center."

"About halfway through that race," he recounted, " some of the Kenya's team doctors/managers carried one of their girls past us to the medical tent, and she was lifeless, her eyes were rolled back in her head, etc. By the end of the race, the medical tent at the finish line was at max capacity, and the racing for the day was only 25% complete."

There were 20 DNFs in the 87 runner junior women's field.

"Once the junior men started needing medical attention," he continued, "there was no place to put them. Thankfully we had an incredible medical team traveling with us in Kenya, and anything that we needed we were able to get treated for by our own doctors so we were able to avoid the mess in the race medical tent."

"I guess I can't really say that I was surprised by the conditions," Rosendahl concluded, "but I was surprised by the effect of those conditions. I can't ever remember racing in any weather that hot, but for some reason I didn't think it was going to feel that bad. When the race was over, I felt like that was the hardest race I had ever run."

Rosendahl finished 103rd in 41:25 over the 12K course.

"The field told the same story with only about 75% of the field able to finish the race -- a little over 180 entered, about 160 started, and a little over 120 finished," he said.

And the greatest cross country runner in the history of the sport, Kenenisa Bekele himself, was left utterly humbled by the conditions:

“Suddenly, I felt that my coordination was not good and that my mind was dizzy," he said via a statement from his management team. "I even started to doubt about how many laps I still had to run.... I felt that I lost all my energy. I was slowing down and felt that I was losing control over my body as well as my mind. This is why I decided to stop the race."

Photo courtesy of Hansons-Brooks.

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