Friday, March 29, 2013

Bydgoszcz, Poland

I just wanted to start off this update with a big thank you to everyone who has expressed love and encouragement over the last few days.  I greatly appreciate the outcry of support and I am touched by the immense following.  

The course comprised of six laps of mud, ice and slop, with multiple knee-high dirt mounds to hurdle (created to "break up" one's rhythm) and no straightway longer than 50 meters.  Add in running up and down an alpine ski slope, below freezing temperatures, and you have yourself a proper cross-country course.

The race itself was a grinder of the highest order.  I got off the line well and settled near the front of the main pack.  By a lap into the race, the lead group had dwindled down to roughly twenty runners and from every lap thereon, the pack would get smaller and smaller.  My goal was to hang on as best I could, as I hoped to be dragged to a decent finish.  Luckily, I was able to do just that.  Counting the laps down in my head and pleading with myself to just hang for one more lap, just hang for one more lap, I was able to hang on to a sixth place finish, a mere three seconds out of fourth place.  But even more exciting was what happened behind me.  Everyone from the US had amazing races.  We placed two runners in the top ten (something that hasn't happened in decades), four runners in the top twenty, and all six athletes in the top forty.  Amazing.  Going into the event we believed that if everyone had their best day we could get our four scoring athletes in the top twenty-five and have a solid chance at getting a team bronze.  Never did we think that we could do one better and receive silver, beating the perennial favorite, Kenya, by two points.

The entire event was a great experience and I am honored to help the US win it's first silver medal since 1984.  The race serves as a huge confidence booster, demonstrating that we belong in these races and need not to except the notion of east African running supremacy.  Chalk one small victory up for Team USA.

Until next time,

Ben

Here are some photos from the race:
Note the expression on everyone's faces.  American's: pumped.  Ethiopian's: "who are these white guys next to us."  Kenyan's: "what just happened."
First US team to finish second at World XC since 1984.

The course: snow, ice, and lots of mud.



Slop




Race Highlight Video:

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