USA ATHLETES TO VIE FOR WORLD ATHLETICS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS TEAM SPOTS FOR FIRST TIME IN FOUR YEARS
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved – Used with permission.
(20-Jan) — This Saturday in Pole Green Park just outside of Richmond, Virginia, USA athletes will compete for national team spots for the World Athletics Cross Country Championships for the first time in nearly four years. The COVID pandemic caused the postponement of the 2021 World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia, to February 18, of this year, so American athletes haven’t had a chance to make a World Cross team since February 2, 2019.
“Making any U.S. team is a huge honor and we recognize that this will be a difficult team to make,” said Coach Kevin Hanson of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “But, heading to a part of the world that most Americans have never been to makes this one even more special.”
Under the USA Track & Field (USATF) system, athletes will earn team spots for the Open and U20 teams (six athletes per squad) based solely on their order of finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships on Saturday. “In each event, the rank order of place finish in the Selection Event shall determine the eligibility of an athlete to be entered as a member of the Team or to be entered as an alternate on the Team,” says the official event instructions.
In both the men’s and women’s open races, a new champion will be crowned; neither of the 2022 champions, Alicia Monson (On Athletics Club) nor Shadrack Kipchirchir (Nike), are entered to compete this year. Monson is focused on her indoor season, and Kipchirchir ran the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon last Sunday.
In the open women’s race, two-time USA 5-K road running champion Weini Kelati (Under Armour/Dark Sky Distance) is the strongest athlete. Kelati, 26, who lives and trains in Flagstaff, Ariz., became eligible to represent the United States in international competition in June, 2021 (she was born in Eritrea), but has yet to compete on a national team. She dominated the last two editions of the USA 5-K road running championships, hosted by New York Road Runners at the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5-K in New York City, and last January in San Diego she finished second behind Monson at the USATF Cross Country Championships. Most recently, she ran 4:30.1 at the Kalakaua Merrie Mile in Honolulu on December 10.
Kelati’s key rival will…