Generally speaking, this is a somewhat out of the ordinary race review. However, due to a lack of road races during these colder months, and in light of the recent Disney film McFarland, I have decided to review the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships which took place on Saturday February 7th.
I will use all of the normal criteria in reviewing the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships; Organization, swag, course, post-race food, and overall feel of the race. Keep in mind though that the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships is not a road race. They cater to a smaller niche, and their motivations are different. That being said, the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships, like all USA Cross Country Championships was an open event where anyone could enter, and I highly recommend anyone interested give it a try.
2015 USA Cross Country Championships Organization – C
I should start by saying that there was nothing wrong with the organization itself. I have run 4 USA championships races including the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships, and the organization was exactly what I have come to expect at USA championship events; extremely adequate. I would have given the organization a B because it really was a pretty solid, but they lost points with me when a member of my training group and myself went to get our shirts and they were out of the size that we had listed in our registration. They gave us Women’s Medium’s instead. For a $65 registration fee, I expect to get the shirt that I listed.
2015 USA Cross Country Championships SWAG – A
The swag bag was, overall, unimpressive, and seeing how I had a DNF result, I can’t really speak to the quality of the medal. I am basing my entire “A” grade on the shirt. While my shirt may be the wrong size it is very nice. That is one thing I will give to the USATF, their partnership with NIKE allows them to put together some pretty nice gear. The shirt actually fit me, but I will probably end up giving it to my wife since it is a women’s cut (gender specific cuts are another feature you don’t always see in race shirts.)
2015 USA Cross Country Championships Course – B
Grading a course is a bit tricky when it comes to Cross Country, the criteria is different than road racing, so I will tell you what I look for in a Cross Country course. I have personal preferences for Cross Country courses, but I will set those aside for now, and try to be as unbiased as possible. In my opinion, a universally “good” Cross Country course has a mix of challenging terrain and flat terrain; it has a mix of hills and flat; it does not favor any particular type of runner (mud runner, hill runner, etc.) It is challenging, but still fast.
The 2015 USA Cross Country Championships course was a 2k loop with 2 fairly muddy sections, there were some minor rises and falls, along with one steep 25 foot incline. The course was complete with 1 ditch-like obstacle. Many people would grade the course down for being a 2k loop when the race was 12k. However, I am keeping in mind that they had to accommodate multiple age groups, and various race distances. Also, most Cross Country courses at the championship level are loop courses.
2015 USA Cross Country Championships Post Race Food – B
The post-race food was pretty average actually. Classic mix of fruit and bagels. However, again I am grading this race on the “Cross Country Curve,” the fact that cross country is more raw, and less organized than road racing justifies a “B” for having post-race food at all.
2015 USA Cross Country Championships Overall Feel – A
Again, I am grading here on the “Cross Country Curve,” but I must say that I was very impressed with the overall atmosphere of the race. There was a central area at the finish line where there was a small race expo, music, and a stage for awards. The 2k loop course allowed spectators to get to every part of the course easily, and allowed runners to pass the main expo multiple times. This was by far the most vibrant, fun Cross Country race I have ever been to.
2015 USA Cross Country Championships overall GPA – 3.2
Overall, I would say that it was a very solid experience despite the fact that I finished poorly. I would highly recommend it to anyone, particularly anyone who has never run Cross Country. Go watch McFarland, and sign up for next year’s Cross Country Championships in Bend, Oregon.