By Clay Shaw
The course was planned to be remarkable in many ways. “Hard” would be an understatement. The winners would be forever known as the “World’s Toughest Runners.” Anyone who took part in the World XC Championships would always remember, and should be proud of being part of this epic event. From a time standpoint, world-class runners often run several minutes faster than they would at Aarhus. The course featured an uphill start, a beer tent known as “Runner’s Valhalla,” the Club Zone, the Water Splash (RG photographer Karen Mitchell ended the day quite muddy and wet), the Mud Pit, the Sand Pit, the Viking Gauntlet, the Moesgaard Museum Roof (a 10% Grade), The Berm before an uphill, then a hairpin turn and a downhill finish. The winning times in the 10K were 31:40 for men and 36:14 for women. That’s how hard the course was, as they had to repeat the 2K course five times. Weather in Denmark, could be rainy, windy, and cold in March; however, it was sunny, dry, and in the upper 50s with reasonable winds.
Senior Men: Uganda Dominates, Cheptegei Makes Amends
Joshua Cheptegei thrilled the home crowd in Kampala, Uganda in 2017. He led by a huge margin for much of the race, and then totally fell apart in the final lap and staggered to the finish in 30th place. Since then, he has had great results and was looking for redemption. He had a teammate, 2017 World XC junior champ, Jacob Kiplimo, to contend and work with against two-time World XC champ and three-time World XC Gold Medalist, Geoffrey Kamworor. This was an epic race, with a huge lead pack, with Kiplimo doing most of the leading. The Ugandan pair broke away to finish one-two, with Cheptegei winning in 31:40. Kiplomo was second in 31:44. Kamworor was third in 31:55. Showing class, Kamworor was quick to congratulate the pair upon finishing. USA runners Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei finished 34th and 35th. 140 men finished the race. Uganda won its first team World XC title ever, Kenya was 2nd, Ethiopia was 3rd, Eritrea was 4th, Burundi was 5th, and Bahrain taking 6th. The USA finished 11th.
Senior Women: Obiri Wins; Denmark’s Moller Thrills Crowd
Hellen Obiri of Kenya was the winner in 36:14. Dera Dida of Ethiopia was second in 36:16. Letsenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, a two-time U20 champ, was third in 36:24. Denmark’s own Anna Emilie Moller was 15th in 37:51 to lead the non-East Africans. Fionnuala McCormick of Ireland was 18th, Genevieve LaLonde of Canada was 20th. Stephanie Bruce of Flagstaff, AZ was 33rd and first USA in her second World XC event. 115 women finished the race. Ethiopia won their third team title of the day, followed by Kenya in 2nd, Uganda in 3rd, Great Britain in 4th, Australia in 5th, Bahrain in 6th, Canada took 7th, and the USA took 8th.