AMMAN, Jordan--The 23-member Team USA squad practiced Friday at the Al Bisharat Golf Course, the venue for this Saturday's 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
The championships begin Saturday with the Junior Women's six-kilometer race at (all times local) 2:30 pm, with the Junior Men's 8 km race at 3:00 p.m. The Senior Women's 8 km race follows at 3:40 pm, and finishes with the Open Men's 12 km at 4:30 p.m.
Athletes practiced Friday under sunny skies over the Al Bisharat Golf Course with temperatures in the low 60s.
Saturday's weather forecast calls for partly sunny skies and occasional clouds with temperatures in the mid to high 50s.
The Al Bisharat Golf Course consists of a 200 meter starting area, then transitions to a left turn which starts the opening loop of approximately 1,500 meters. Following the 1,500-meter loop will be a loop of 2,000 meters, with an additional stretch of approximately 300 meters after the final lap to the finish.
Following the course preview, Team USA captains Edwardo Torres, Max King, Katherine Newberry, German Fernandez, and Neely Spence gave their impressions of the course along with a preview of what to expect for Saturday's races:
Edwardo Torres (Boulder, Colorado): "Hard ground, lots of hills, and tight turns. I have to say this is a true cross country course. I expect a fast first 200 meters to the turn. I think that a lot of people will pay for it with the fast start at the end. (At the same time) it's a bit narrow, and it may be hard for people to pass."
Max King (Bend, Oregon): "It's going to be tough actually. It's actually hillier than I thought it was, I knew it was going to be hilly but I would have been doing more hills if I knew it was going to be like this.
It's almost like pavement out there really with a few rocks interspersed in hard-packed dirt so I don't know it's going to be interesting.
I wish it was going to be muddy, that would definitely make it a little bit better."
Katherine Newberry (Williamsburg, Virginia): "I think its going to be a very good course, and it plays to our strengths. It's challenging. It's got some nice long downhills and flat stretches, and it also has some good transitions going into and coming out of a hill. If the course is dry, it's going to be dusty, but I'm looking forward to it. The finish will be challenging. This course is unique. It's dusty like (St. Etienne) France, and it's hilly like (Brussels) Belgium and last year (in Edinburgh), but certainly the hilliest course I've seen in a while."
German Fernandez (Stillwater, Oklahoma): "It's a hilly course but it's pretty similar to the one we have back home at Oklahoma State. It has a lot of down hills so a lot of people are going to be flying so you've just got to run smart. Go out hard but you've got to run smart and be in position because it's not that wide to make a move so you've got to be ready to make your move. Whenever you make your move, you've got to make it fast."
Neely Spence (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania): "I felt really good today running the course. I was expecting more like sand and that sort of thing so I'm pleasantly surprised. From what I hear, it goes out really fast so I think I'm just going to try to stay conservative in the beginning and not get too carried away and then try and work my way up."
Following the conclusion of Friday's course preview, German Fernandez spoke to members of the international media at the IAAF press conference at the Al Hussein Youth City sports complex:
German Fernandez (Stillwater, Oklahoma) -"My main goal is for the team to be on the podium-a top 3 finish. Individually, I want to be in the top fifteen, but I want the team to make the podium. I have a stress reaction in my right foot. After the world championships, I'll probably take a month off.
(On his inspirations while starting out his running career) "The person who inspired me when I was starting out was (2008 Olympic marathoner) Ryan Hall. I started running seriously when I was a freshman in high school. There was something about him when I saw him that made me want to run. I remember running my first mile as a freshman in 4;21 with no training, and my coach told me that I had a gift, and that got me thinking to myself that if you believe in yourself, that you can do anything you want with your life.
The 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be available on-demand on www.universalsports.com and will feature a total prize purse of $140,000 for individuals placing in the top-six in both the men's and women's senior races with $30,000 going to the champions. An additional $140,000 is on the line for the top-six teams in the senior divisions with the top men's and women's teams receiving $20,000.
For more information on the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, visit USATF.org.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.
For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.