Team USA finishes final course preview ahead of Kampala 2017

Team USA finishes final course preview ahead of Kampala 2017

Provided by USATF

KAMPALA, Uganda -- The 28 men and women representing Team USA previewed the Kololo Independence Grounds for the final time Saturday, as teams got one last look at the course where Sunday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be contested.

While the course is mostly flat, the 2000-meter course that loops around the Kololo Independence Grounds has two sets of two logs laid out on the course that the athletes must either step or hurdle over, along with a man-made hill, a ditch, and two other small hills that the runners must traverse, with the final hill approximately 600 meters from the finish of the loop.

Though there are points on the course where meet organizers could’ve made it easier on the runners by incorporating long stretches in the straightaways, they have put in some short sharp left and right turns to break up the rhythm.

The championships begin at 2 pm, local time (7 am, eastern time) with the 4x2k relay, followed 30 minutes later (7:30 am, eastern time) by the women’s Under-20 6k race.

The Under-20 men’s race commences at 3:10 pm (8:10 am, eastern time), followed at 3:55 pm (8:55 am, eastern time) by the senior women’s 10k.

The championships conclude at 4:55 pm, local time (9:55 am, eastern time) with the senior men’s 10k.

The spotlight at these world championships will shine the brightest on Olympic 5000-meter silver medalist Paul Chelimo, who will team with Cory Leslie, Eleanor Fulton and Marisa Howard in the inaugural 4 x 2k co-ed relay; reigning USATF cross country champions Aliphine Tuliamuk and Leonard Korir; and, Shadrack Kipchirchir, who was on the Olympic team last year with Chelimo and Korir.

After the course preview, Chelimo, who stated that he will run the anchor leg on the mixed 4 x 2k relay team, said that the course is to his liking, except for the corners.

On the two double logs that the runners must step over or hurdle during the race, the Olympic 5000m silver medalist said that he had some initial concerns about the barriers being spaced too close together, but that the organizers have spaced the logs to a more reasonable distance.

Reigning USATF senior women’s cross country champion Tuliamuk said the man-made obstacles equalizes the course and doesn’t favor any particular runner or running type.

She said that the weather Sunday (projected to be 78 degrees with a 20 percent chance of rain) may play a factor, as Kampala had some precipitation in the early hours of Saturday morning, making some spots less than ideal, including the man-made ditch the runners must cover.

“I think that what we went through in Bend (with the snowy conditions) will help our runners deal with the kind of adversity the course brings,” she said.

Kipchirchir said that training with fellow American Distance Project team members Korir and Sam Chelanga has been an asset, noting having them in Sunday’s 10k race will give each other someone to key off of. “We’ve been training as a group for almost a year, and our personal coach will be there, so being together will help.”

At Saturday’s team meeting, Stephanie Bruce (senior women), Shadrack Kipchirchir (senior men), Madison Fruchey (U20 women) and Paul Roberts (U20 men) were selected by their teammates as the captains of their respective squads.

At the last world cross country championships two years ago in Guiyang, China, the senior women finished fifth, while the senior men were seventh. Team USA’s Under-20 men were sixth, and the Under-20 women were eighth.

The IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be aired on a delayed basis on Universal HD online from 11:30am to 12:30pm, and broadcast from 9pm to 10pm, also on Universal HD.

Follow along with #USATF on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook using #Kampala2017.

Contributed by Paul Merca, Team USA press officer at Kampala 2017