Tag: World XC

True Leads US Men to Silver Medal

Ben True continues to rack up the accolades and pad his résumé in 2013. The newly crowned US 15k champion led the US men’s team to a stunning silver medal at the world cross country championships in Poland on Sunday. In what has been dubbed the ‘Miracle on Dirt’, Ben finished in sixth place and (along with Chris Derrick) earned the automatic ‘A’ standard for the 10,000m at the world championships. The USATF thought so highly of his race that Ben was named their Athlete of the Week.

Pics used for this action sequence are courtesy of Michael Scott. Looks ridiculously fun, doesn't it?

Pics used for this action sequence are courtesy of Michael Scott. Looks ridiculously fun, doesn’t it?

Once Ben got back to the states we were able to conduct a quick interview with him:

Was their a team wide strategy for Team USA? I saw a lap by lap listing of positions, and it looked like you guys methodically worked your way up the field as the race progressed.

After previewing the course, we all knew that it was a difficult course where going out conservatively would be beneficial in the end. We all thought that the tough conditions would favor us, so we were calm and confident. Chris Derrick and I were able to work together for most of the race, as we held onto the back of the lead group as it slowly whittled down to ten.

Was this the most challenging course you’ve ever run? What made it so? Was it the course itself, the conditions, or the combination of the two?

The course was definitely extremely difficult. Lack of straightaways, an interesting combination of thick mud, snow and ice, as well as running up and down a steep alpine skiing slope, made it a challenging course. Staying upright and on your feet was almost as important as running fast.

Having to deal with Lyme disease leading up to the Trials last year not only deprived you of a shot at Olympic spot, but also to show everyone your ‘A’ game and possibly becoming more of a household name. Even with the success you’ve experienced on the roads since then, do you think that you might’ve been flying under the radar still leading up to this race?

Yes, I definitely believe that. Most people view running success with results on the track (making teams, etc.) or winning marathons. Everything else sort of slips under the radar.

What did you guys do to celebrate?

The entire team and staff toasted champagne afterwards to celebrate the great racing by everyone.

What do you plan on doing with the silver medal? Are you the type to put it on display, tuck it away out of view, or make an insanely awesome belt buckle out of it?

Never heard of the belt buckle idea- I like it! Although, most likely it will be tucked away in a drawer somewhere. I’m not the type who displays them.

Will you be returning to Boston to defend your crown at the BAA 5k again?

Unfortunately I am not racing the BAA 5k this year. I’ll be heading out to California for a few track races instead.

Thanks to Michael Scott for the amazing pictures. Find more of his great work here on his Shutterfly page.

Spence Gracey Earns an ‘A’ at World XC

It was a very exciting day for the USA in Poland on Sunday. Neely Spence Gracey led the US women to a fourth place finish at the World XC championships. Neely ran masterfully over the technical and challenging course and finished thirteenth place, and in the process earned herself an automatic ‘A’ standard for the 10k world championships.

Neely graciously answered a couple of questions that I sent her way after the race:

Was this the most challenging course you’ve ever run? What made it so? Was it the course itself, the conditions, or the combination of the two?

It was true cross country. Europe loves their challenging courses, and this one met every expectation a true XC fan or athlete could imagine. I think they combined a tough mudder, cyclocross, horse jumping, and skiing all in one big test of athleticism (Not to mention the best athletes in the world…).

Courtesy of Michael Scott, Team USA photographer.

Courtesy of Michael Scott, Team USA photographer.

What was your strategy?

My goal going in was to maximize myself. Use my strengths and rely on my intuition to get me through every step. I had a goal for each lap: 1-Get out, 2-Establish, 3-Battle, 4-Finish.

Do you view this as a break-through race?

My coaches had higher expectations for me going into the race than I had for myself. Very few races do we finish knowing that everything was executed perfectly and the results surpass the initial goal. So I am enjoying this rare sense of satisfaction… for a few days, then it is back to the grind to make more dreams reality!

This race certainly gave me greater recognition on the world scene, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was and is to continue the journey of exploring my capabilities as an athlete and person. This was a good-sized step in the right direction :)

It was an incredible day for Team USA. First the women get fourth, then the men come through with the silver medal. What was the mood like, when the dust (er, mud) settled after the all the races?

It was really special to be a part of the success Team USA had, but even more special to share it with a great group of people. Cross country is unique in that the teams are much more cohesive, and on the pro scene there are few opportunities to experience this. I am very grateful that I could be a part of this group and learn and grow from the knowledge of others.

Congrats on getting the automatic A standard, too. Does attaining that now change your race plans at all? Would you race less now, and sort of save your ammo for the big meets? Or will it allow you to cherry pick your schedule a bit?

Actually, it fuels my fire to WANT to run the 10k. I see my goal of a mid 31 10k as reality for this season, but definitely plan on running and getting the mark… I want to actually earn it through a time that shows. The plan is to race 5k at MT SAC and 10k at Peyton Jordan! It is a nice thing to have earned that elite status though, but the time standard is just as much a goal as ever!

Good luck to Neely as she shifts her focus over to the track. It’s going to be exciting to watch. For more on this race, you can find a recap of it by her teammate Danielle Brenon here. You might also want to consider following Neely on Facebook and Twitter as she’s very good at engaging her audience. She just recently gave away her bib from this race to the follower who correctly guessed how long it took her to get from the hotel back to her home. The correct answer: 22 hrs, 24 mins. I did not win.

Thanks to Michael Scott for the amazing pictures. Find more of his great work here on his Shutterfly page.

World XC

World XC Championships were held this morning in Poland. For those up early enough (and remembered) to catch it, it was a heck of a day for the USA. It also was on ridiculous course, according to Letsrun:

“The course consists of repeated 1,950-meter loops, but think of the overall shape as more of a narrow rectangle that the runners constantly snake through with very few straight portions or wide rounded turns. As the runners come back to the start there is a huge very steep hill off the rectangle, that the runners go up and down each time (there was a rope lift towing skiers to the top of an adjacent hill of the same height). From the bottom of the steep hill, it’s less than a quarter to the finish.”

Exciting, right? That does sound so much better than a road or track race.

The women ran first, and Neely Spence Gracey finished 13th overall and as the top American. As a unit, the American ladies placed an impressive fourth.

Neely at the 2012 CVS Downtown 5k (courtesy of Scott Mason)

Neely at the 2012 CVS Downtown 5k (courtesy of Scott Mason)

They set the bar high, but the men accepted that challenge and came through with a huge performance of their own. The US narrowly edged Kenya by two points to come in second overall. Ben True led the way with an incredible sixth place finish in the sloppy conditions.

Did you watch the race? What did you think?

Side note: the top finishers for the US have both been featured prominently on Level Renner. Coincidence? Not likely. The Level is the media equivalent of high altitude training…we’ll take you to the next level.

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