The World XC is the meeting place of distance runners of all makes. Joe Henderson, former RW editor, called cross country, “the meeting place of mile and marathoner.” Aarhus was a tough course and a huge success. Here is Justin Lagat’s comments on the World Cross Country, which happened on March 30, 2019.
1. The tough and hilly course.
Even before the event began, many had already nick-named it the toughest world cross country meeting ever. It was. The part of the course that will remain memorable was the steep incline, just after the muddy section. It is interesting to think that someone thought about adding weights (mud), and not water, on the runners’ spikes before they could ascend the slope.
2. Joshua Cheptegei’s redemptive win.
After the humiliation that Cheptegei suffered in front of his home crowd in Uganda during the last edition of the world cross country championships in Kampala, it was obvious that it was in his mind to make amends for that.
For the first time since 1980, a senior individual and team title went to a country other than Kenya and Ethiopia and not only was Cheptegei’s win redemptive; it was also an historic one.
3. The close finish in the women’s U20 race.
It often happens in the 100m and 60m sprint events that it may require some judges’ intervention to decide the winner. But, for the first time in a cross country race there was confusion as to who won the race among three runners who ran past the finish line at the same time. The results at first showed Ethiopia’s Alemitu Tariku as the winner, but looking at the play back video, Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet was the first one to cut the tape and was eventually declared the winner. Chebet left her tears to flow down her cheeks as her nation’s national anthem was being sung during the medal awarding ceremony.
4. Hellen Obiri’s gutsy run.
10km was definitely a new distance for Hellen Obiri who is known well for her exploits on the track, in events ranging from the 1,500m to the 5,000m. But, Obiri had one thing to accomplish. She wanted a world cross country title in her life; just once.
Obiri is one athlete who usually pushes herself to the limit and has a strong resolve to achieve whatever she sets her eyes on. This was evident as she battled for the title against Dera Dida and Letesenbet Gidey in the last stages of the race. Not sure whether it had anything to do with the hard course in Aarhus, or whether she already got all that she needed to achieve in this event, Obiri said that she will not run in another world cross country event.
5. The people of Aarhus were great hosts and did enjoy the event as well.
The people who line up the course, to cheer and clap for athletes, do add to the excitement of an event. The fans in Aarhus were amazing and very supportive to the athletes. There were young runners running alongside the competitors as they cheered their favorite athletes. Others were raising their countries’ flags high while others were extending their hands to greet the winners and take pictures with them at the finish.