I posted my USA Cross Country Preview at Runner's Tribe two days ago. I discuss a little about the state of cross country in general and then get into a short race-by-race breakdown. A snippet:
As I wrote in last year's USA Cross Country Preview, I've always kind of liked cross country more than track and field. Once track season gets underway, athletes get more and more locked into their specialties. You don't get to see top steeplers, milers and 10k runners going head-to-head all that often.
On top of that, the course itself is a major factor. The track is designed for speed, but cross country is designed or strength. To be a great cross country runner you have to be more than just a kicker or a pace-runner or a beast on the hills. You need to be a tactician, tweaking your strategy to suit the course and the competition. Cross country victories don't just go to the best, they go to the best prepared.
On the world level this is pretty much understood. Most fans acknowledge that the World Cross Country meet is the toughest distance race in the world to win. You have to beat the best of the best to be a world champion in cross country, not just the subset of the best who happen to focus on your event, like in track. Given that, the USA Cross Country Championships must be the toughest distance race in the US to win, right?
Um, no. Unfortunately, the majority of our country's best distance runners treat cross country like the proverbial "red-headed stepchild". They begrudgingly make time for it in their schedules every once in a while, but they don't really pay it the attention it deserves.
What we will see this weekend are a bunch of very good runners who probably don't get their due. After all, the gap between AAA and the majors isn't that wide. Could one of them break out and become a star in "the majors"? Absolutely, and maybe that breakout will start this Saturday. In the meantime, let's get a little background on who's actually running in these races.
Check out Runner's Tribe for the full article. By the way, Flotrack should be streaming the races live, so if you're like me and you have no idea what Max King looks like, tune in to watch it live!