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In Stunner, U.S. Men Beat Kenya For Silver at World Cross

An amazing performance by the U.S. men, as they finished second to Ethiopia and beat Kenya to take second place at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. It was the highest U.S. finish in the senior men’s race since 1984. As you can see from the highlight video, the conditions and the course were tough. Ben True comes through in sixth place just as the video ends. Chris Derrick finished 10th, Ryan Vail 17th and Bobby Mack 19th. By our calculation, if Rupp or Ritz or Meb had attended this race and finished in the top seven, the U.S. men would have won gold.

Ten Things to Know About World Cross

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.
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