Boulder has been a hot spot for championship events this year. The U.S. Cyclocross Championship was held at Valmont Bike Park in January. In February, the 2014 USA Cross Country Championship was hosted at the Flatirons Golf Course, the same site when Boulder hosted the championship in 2007.
Although the cold and wind kept the crowds from reaching the estimated 10,000 fans that attended in 2007, about 3,000 hearty souls braved the weather and mud to watch running legends, current professionals and average citizens compete in the 2014 Championships. "The crowds were slightly above average for any of the six XC Nationals I have run in since 2003 with the only one being better was 2007 Nationals in Boulder," said Billy Edwards, former professional triathlete and Boulder resident who ran the 12k.
Twenty three year old Portland Oregon resident Chris Derrick repeated covering the 12k course in 36:13. In the 8k twenty four year old Amy Van Alstine surprised the field breaking away around 5k and finishing in 26:34. Runner-up and Niwot High School senior State XC Champion Elise Cranny won the Junior Women's 6k race in 20:13 while Standford college freshman Sean McGorty won the Junior Men's 8k in 24:44. Both junior racers dominated their fields.
Gregory Mitchell won the Master Men's 8k race in 26:55 and Nuta Olaru won the Master Women's 6k race in 22:23. Sixty five racers completed the Community Run 4k with six year old Tara De Reuck (yes one of two daughters of Colleen who finished third in the Masters Women's race and Darren who placed 38th in the Masters Men's race) being the youngest finisher.
Edwards, head coach of the U.S. Naval Academy Triathlon Team, finished 78th of 112 runners in the 12k. "I did the race because I grew up running XC, and it is good to attempt to keep myself sharp with running," he said. "It is tough and I think you have to constantly keep testing yourself even in your strengths. I am further from the speed I had in college, but I ran respectably, but I was never planning on being near the top. The guys in the first 20-40 are always just so amazing. I think my best placing ever was 60 something. I was only the third guy over 35. This race is for the younger dudes. 12k is frickin' long and XC is just something different where I have lost a bit doing so much racing on the roads."
No doubt the over 600 racers shared the same point of view about cross country as Edwards does. Two-time Olympian and 2007 U.S. XC Champion Alan Culpepper handed out medals as well as 2004 World Cross Country Championships winner and Australian Olympian Benita Willis. Men's race winner Chris Derrick received his medal by Frank Shorter, four time U.S. XC Champion and gold medal winner in the marathon in the 1972 Olympics.
The race returns to Boulder for 2015 and will serve as a qualifier for the 2015 World Cross Country Championship in China. "I think it will be better attended next year as this year's coverage comes out, and I am hoping Boulder as a people steps it up and does a better job of supporting with crowds in 2015 like those in 2007," said Edwards. There is no question that Edwards will be at the starting line again lacing up the XC spikes and cheering on the other competitors around him.