Excerpts from USA Cross Country Championships Press Conference

Excerpts from USA Cross Country Championships Press Conference

Provided by USATF

ST LOUIS--In advance of Saturday's USA Cross Country Championships at Forest Park, leading contenders Aaron Braun, Sara Hall, Molly Huddle, and Chris Rombough met with members of the media at a press conference.

Here are excerpts from their time with the media:

AARON BRAUN: The course is pretty fair. It's a speed friendly course in the first part of the loop, but there are enough hills to break up the rhythm and make it feel like a traditional Midwest cross country course.

This is the most fit I've been overall over the last few years.

The 12k is a relatively new distance, but I've done 15ks before and 10 miles. I've been preparing for (the distance). Being on grass will make it a little different on the legs, but I've always loved cross country. It's only another 2k or another six minutes.

SARA HALL: I like the layout of the park.

(on stepping up to the 8k distance) My training has been more of a long term focus, so I wasn't planning on running fast this early (she ran 8:54 for 3000 in Boston last week). I wanted to get into a race where I could test myself at a longer distance. Any time you can get to compete at a national championship and do what you love to do is great,

(on what her focus will be for the Olympic Trials) I hope to run more 5ks on the track and improve my (steeplechase) hurdling, and see what direction I want to go from there.

MOLLY HUDDLE: The course looked pretty flat, but yet challenging on the hilly parts of the course.

(on her chances of winning) That would be the ultimate goal, to wait until she (defending champion Shalane Flanagan) is out of the way to try and win something, so I'll take all the chances I can get.

This race is my rust buster, as I took some time off after getting injured at the world championships last August.

Over the last few years, I've always run cross country at this time of the year. I've done this meet since 2008 when there was an Olympic Trials.

CHRIS ROMBOUGH: I like that the course is fairly flat early. I also like the fact that the layout is spectator friendly.

For me this is another opportunity to race, as I've been out for so long during the summer and fall months (he was injured during that time last year), with the focus on hopefully gearing up for the Olympic Trials in the 5000. This was a good spot in the training to get in a race.

This race will help me find out what kind of shape I'm in. This is also my rust buster.

The 2012 USA Cross Country Championships also serve as the trials race to select the Team USA squad that will compete at the the 2012 North America, Central American, & Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championships, which will be conducted in Port of Spain, Trinidad on March 17, 2012.

The championships will consist of six cross country championship races for men’s and women’s categories with national titles on the line for junior, masters and open divisions. The nation’s premier cross country event, the Championships will feature $35,000 in prize money.