Monday, March 26, 2007

World Cross Country: The Aftermath

All accounts from the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Mombasa, Kenya make it sound like it was a brutal event. Although the fears of a terror attack thankfully didn't come true, the heat, travel, and stiff competition made for a hard racing for the Minneostans envolved.

Heck, if the five-time defending champion is forced to drop out of the race in heat-induced confusion, you know it's no cakewalk.

(A photographer friend of mine at the meet described the the conditions as, "Intense tropical heat and humidity." He also said long-time World Cross attendees thought the Mombasa crowds, estimated at 35,000, were the largest ever for the event.)

Cack Ferrell had the best race of the three Minnesotans in the US delegation, placing 30th in the open women's 8K in 29:34. She led her team to an 8th place finish in the team standings, which Ethiopia won.

"Honestly, it was so much fun," she told USATF media staffers after the race. "We all decided that we were going to go out a little more conservatively. It was good that Renee [Metivier], Kathy [Newberry], and I went out the way we did. It was reassuring to know that they were right there."

"Kathy made the point that in these international races, you have to keep moving up, because you really don't know where you are actively seek out people ahead of you. This has been an amazing experience. I am so honored to be part of this team."

Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson (pictured), who finished 88th in the senior men's 12K race in 40:41, used a similar race plan but wondered in the end if he shouldn't have been more aggressive.

"I don't have much experience competing in the heat," he said, "but I was pretty calm, and was able to offer advice to the guys, like to not get caught up in the race early, especially on the Kenyan home turf, and because it's a 12K, to be patient. I think I might have played it a little too conservatively, and wished that I had worked a little bit more with Michael [Spence], and maybe I could've placed higher."

Marty Rosendahl, an MSU-Mankato alum who runs for the Hansons-Brooks team in Michigan, was 103rd overall in 41:25. The USA senior men finished 11th; hosts Kenya defended their title.

Photo by Victor Sailer, courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

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