The World Cross Country Championships are this Sunday in Bydgoszcz, Poland. In lieu of a full preview, here are 10 ticklers:
- Bydgoszcz (pronounced “Bid-goshch”) is worth 36 points in Scrabble — but there are three different kinds of Zs in the Polish version.
- The temps will be below freezing, and there will be snow on the course.
- The entry lists include 457 athletes representing 47 countries.
- Dathan Ritzenhein, who famously beat Ryan Hall and Alan Webb in the Footlocker high school x-c champs race in 2000, is not among them. He called the race “no longer relevant” but then apologized.
- Deena Kastor is running, which is amazing considering she finished third in the LA Marathon just this past weekend. Deena won two silvers at World Cross, in 2002 and 2003.
- The last U.S. champion in the women’s race was Lynn Jennings in 1992. The last U.S. medalist was Shalane Flanagan who won bronze in 2011.
- The last U.S. champion in the men’s race was Craig Virgin in 1981. Alberto Salazar was the last medalist with a silver in 1982.
- Kenya has won 24 of the last 26 men’s team golds. Ethiopia won the other two. The last time neither country won was in 1980, when England took gold.
- In the last decade, the third country on the men’s team podium has either been Eritrea, Uganda, Qatar or Morocco. The U.S. finished third in 2001.
- Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele has won 16 gold medals, including 6 long-course titles, 5 short-course titles, one junior title, and four team titles. Haile Gebrselassie has never won a gold at World Cross. Neither are running this year.