NCAA Cross Country Championships Fan Guide

Here it is, everything you ever wanted to know about the 2012 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships (but were afraid to ask).

Key links:

NCAA Championship home page
Flotrack coverage page
Runnerspace page
Live results

All your questions answered!

When is it?
This Saturday (November 17). The women’s race is at noon (Eastern time), the men’s race is at 1:15pm. The races will be at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky.

How can I watch?
There are two ways. One is to get your butt down to Louisville. The other is to watch the live and free webcast at NCAA.com.

How do I get there? How much does it cost
If you’re going, the host website has your info on directions, parking, tickets ($10 a head), and so forth.

Will it be on TV?
Unfortunately, no. Your only chances to see it are in person or on the web.

Will there be a pre-race show?
You betcha! It will go live at 11:00am (Eastern time) at Flotrack.org and yours truly will make an appearance.

Who qualified?
For both the men’s and women’s races, thirty-one teams plus another forty individuals. You can see the complete lists here. They qualified from nine different regional championships held last Friday, with a mix of automatic qualifiers and at-large bids.

Who are the favorites?
The latest coaches’ polls were released yesterday. The top five men’s teams are Oklahoma State, Iona, Stanford, Wisconsin and Texas. The top five women’s teams are Florida State, Oregon, Iowa State, Stanford and Arizona.

The strong favorite among the men’s individuals is the defending champion, Lawi Lalang from Arizona, who has never lost a college cross country race. Possibly giving him a challenge is Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech, a junior transfer from Wayland Baptist where he won two straight NAIA championships, and who is also undefeated this year. Other top men’s runners include Lalang’s teammate Stephen Sambu, Mo Ahmed of Wisconsin, Henry Lelei of Texas A&M, and Paul Chelimo of UNC-Greensboro.

The favorites among the women’s individuals are much less clear-cut. The list of challengers for the title is headed by Jordan Hasay of Oregon, Betsy Saina of Iowa State, Laura Hollander of Cal Poly, Aliphine Tuliamuk of Wichita State, and Risper Kimaiyo of UTEP.

How far do they race?
The men go 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and the women go 6 kilometers (3.7 miles). The difference in distance is a vestige of the era when men thought if women ran too far their uteruses would fall out, or become communist sympathizers, or some other idiocy like that.

What’s the course like?
There are course maps, or check out this Flotrack course preview video. The big deal is that the course narrows significantly fairly early on, which means that many runners will go out like gangbusters to avoid getting caught in a bottleneck.

Watch more video of Cross Country Course Previews on flotrack.org

How will we know who’s winning?
There are two ways. One is to look for a lot of similar uniforms near the front of the race, and fortunately two favorites wear ugly but easily recognized jerseys: the Oklahoma State men and Oregon women. The other is just to watch the webcast (or the big screen if you’re at the meet) because there will be live team scoring updates at multiple times during the races. Also, Flotrack will have live updates, and DeltaTiming.com will have live results.

What’s with the mustache thing?
The “Stachies at Nachies” contest is run by Flotrack.org and is tied to the larger Movember movement and is all in fun. Don’t be surprised if someone breaks out into The Village People’s “Macho Man”.

What’s this “Foot Locker curse” people are talking about?
No women’s winner of the annual Foot Locker-sponsored national high school cross country championship has ever gone on to win an NCAA championship, a streak that is now 31 years old. There’s a good chance that it will be broken this year, as Jordan Hasay is a former champion. In fact, all of the last seven girls’ Foot Locker champions will be running on Saturday.

Where can I go for more information?
The best sources are Flotrack.org, Runnerspace.com, and NCAA.com. Flotrack will have massive amounts of interviews and previews and Runnerspace aggregates info from every corner of the web.

Is it fun to go to this thing?
It is a rockin’ good time with a great party atmosphere. People tailgate. They’ll let you go and run the course before the meet. It’s social, it’s loud, and it’s crazy. You must go sometime.

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4 Responses to NCAA Cross Country Championships Fan Guide

  1. Allen Thurman says:

    How are the last 7 girls footlocker champs in the race? I feel like it could only be 5 due to eligibility reasons. I believe you. Just curious about that.

  2. admin says:

    The last seven champions:
    2011 Molly Seidel 17:21 12 Midwest WI San Diego
    2010 Aisling Cuffe 16:53 12 Northeast NY San Diego
    2009 Megan Goethals 17:06 12 Midwest MI San Diego
    2008 Jordan Hasay 17:22 12 West CA San Diego
    2007 Ashley Brasovan 17:20 11 South FL San Diego
    2006 Kathy Kroeger 17:29 10 South TN San Diego
    2005 Jordan Hasay 17:05 9 West CA San Diego

  3. scott hubbard says:

    Jesse, from what I’ve gathered (in talking w/a few coaches), the reason the women run 6 km vs say, 8 km, is about competition. The thinking being the race will be more competitive at the shorter distance than if you lengthen it. I’m not sure I completely buy into that but, so far, it’s worked fine. Coaches aren’t blind to the world around them – they know women are fully capable of racing at longer distances. However, they do make a good argument for the competitive aspect of 6 km. It’d prove interesting if you polled a # of coaches in all 3 divisions, see what they think.

  4. admin says:

    We know it’s not why they currently run a different distance, but without a doubt it’s why it started off that way back in the 1960s. The first AAU Championships for women were 2 miles while the men were running 10k at that time. By the time the AIAW started up, the AAU ran 5k, so the AIAW followed suit. For whatever reasons, inertia has reigned.

    I’ll play devil’s advocate: if it’s so much better a distance for competition, why not have the men run only 6k?

    When queried, Arkansas coach Lance Harter said it was all about the desire to have middle-distance runners be able to compete. He noted the tremendous fight just to get it from 5k to 6k, and he wants it further yet.