Someone said, Joe Henderson, I believe, that cross country is the meeting place of the marathoner and the miler. How true. There is nothing like a good race in the mud and muck over eight to twelve kilometers with your friends, and then carrying on about it for several hours afterwards, assisted by a few stories, and perhaps, some liquid refreshments.
Well, the cast of characters in Edinburgh this weekend, besides the 70 plus teams, will be a whos-who of distance running. From the sold out Distance Running Summit on Friday night, to the open 5k on Sunday morning, to the World Cross on Sunday afternoon, the city of Edinburgh is celebrating one of the most hallowed traditions in the world's oldest sport-the world of cross country running!
The World Cross Country Championships will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland on Sunday,
but the celebration is just about to begin!
Seventy countries are fielding teams for the World Cross Country championships, the de facto distance running championships of the world. The meeting place of marathoner, miler, middle distance runner is the meeting place of real distance runners from around the world. Over 12 kilometers, at a break neck pace, the best in the world run hard, until there is one left-the king, or queen of global cross country!
This year, Kenenisa Bekele, who had such a difficult year last year, and Tirunesh Dibaba, both of Ethiopia will do their best to show that they are the kings and queens of their domains. Who will challenge them?
That is the fun part. There are new runners each and every year who come through the ranks, trying to challenge the best, trying to take the global stage from the past champions.
I for one, am disappointed about the drop in the short races. I do like the one day schedule, but I feel that the domination of the Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes in the long races, does take away from the interest globally.
Sports Fans respect global domination, well in football and basketball, but does not seem to resonate in athletics. Great thing is to see the Ethiopians challenging the Kenyans, and there are always the great surprises. Being in the top 25 in the World Cross country means something-you are a real distance runner.
Not sure what to do, though, but it is one of the challenges that the sport has. How does one make this a global sport, when the same runners win, year in and year out?
This does not take away from the brilliance of the running by Bekele or Dibaba. Or the amazing depth of the Kenyan and Ethiopian teams. But the challenge on marketing our sport is celebrating pure competition, and that is what cross country is all about!
The twelve kilometer race was a race run, in the seventies, by miler, 5,000 meter runner, 10,000 meter runner and marathoner. From John Walker, to Ian Stewart, to Bill Rodgers, to Pekka Paavarinta, the Finnish Cross country specialist.
Twelve kilometers for the men, eight kilometers for the women, featuring the best distance runners in the world-what a great afternoon of distance running!
For more on the World Cross Country, please try: http://www.insidethegames.com/show-news.php?id=2022
For even more, try the official site, located at : http://www.iaaf.org