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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bizarre World XC

I wish I had seen it. I planned to watch yesterday's 3:00 WCSN webcast, but saw the results on the WCSN page beforehand (arg!) and then after wading through an hour of opening ceremonies and government-type people blathering on and on and on (double arg!) I just gave up.

It was hot, really hot. 90 degrees, with tropical humidity. Over 30 runners DNF'd in the senior men's race alone, including five Ethiopians--leaving the team favorites out of the scoring alltogether. "That race had bodies strewn across the course." Wejo has a good summary.

The statheads at T&FN say this dropout rate is higher than usual, but not ridiculously so. The conspiracy theorists at Let's Run have all types of wild ideas, but one does seem to make some kind of sense:
Based on history (and present), Ethiopians don't get along with the Eritreans. The reason why Bekele dropped out (and many other Ethiopians) was because they were going to be beaten by someone from Eritrea. In their minds an Ethiopian CANNOT be beaten by an Eritrean. It is very disgraceful. So instead of losing, you are better off dropping out. That is the real reason. If you look back at the Olympics and other races when Bekele raced against someone from Eritrea, he refused to shake their hands afterwards. It is sad, but it is true.
The men's winner was Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea. (If you're not up on the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, two good synopses can be found here and here.) In the Ethiopian ebsence, Kenya of course easily won.

Over on the women's side, Lornah Kiplagat left Tirunesh Dibaba some 24 seconds in arrears. I have no idea what Kiplagat's racing plans for this year are, but regardless she'll probably do well. Generally the women's world XC champ has gone on to a dominating season, and stomping Dibaba puts a big exclamation point on that victory.

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