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2011 Cross Country National Team Program
Joined: May 2010
Athletics Canada has published the Selection Guidelines for the 2011 Cross Country National Team Program on the website. NACAC Cross Country Championships Feb 19, 2011 http://www.athletics.ca/page.asp?id=549 IAAF World Cross Country Championships Mar 20, 2011 http://www.athletics.ca/page.asp?id=520
Joined: May 2010
There are many good points in the Selection Criteria as posted... Over time, I would advocate for the following changes.... 1) Re-instatement of a specific Cross-Country Trials, in Canada, at some appropriate time between the 3rd weekend in January and the 1st weekend in February. This would: a) Select a team which is currently cross-country fit and ready to go, within the season they are meant to be competitive. b) Give a lot of athletes extra incentive to keep building a very good aerobic base through November, December, January, February, and March, if they make the team(s). This is essential for our development in events 1500 metres and longer. c) Offer a great hosting opportunity for sites in Canada, and also including a lot of Athlete/Coach meetings, discussions, information sharing, and bonding into a large group of Canadian runners & their Coaches who are determined to raise the bar for Canadian distance running. d) Allow some athletes to focus more on their high school and University Fall Racing Season, without also feeling it essential to add in Provincial Club Championships and National Championships. This just allows more possible options for all to work out their best individual program. It has worked very well in the past, and would work well again. 2) Tying NACAC and Worlds together for the athletes will cost us some great CIAU and/or NCAA///NAIA Indoor runners, who will perhaps not be able to go to NACAC, but could be very fit for Worlds. This of course, will make it all the more difficult for a Canadian Team to qualify for Worlds, as the current criteria insists on a top 2 team finish at NACAC, in order to go to Worlds. I can easily visualize the possibility of very strong teams from USA and Mexico at NACAC, and a 3rd or even 4th place finish at NACAC could be the fate for even a very strong Canadian team. By the way, as far the the Indoor, don't forget there have been lots of great Canadian results at World Cross-Country, with athletes using the CIS Indoors as a tune-up. Intelligent, well-planned training for Worlds can easily incorporate a couple of Indoor Races as part of the buildup to achieving excellent results at Worlds. 3) As referred to previously, it would be fine to win NACAC team titles, of course. But setting that as a possible determining criteria in sending a Team is counter-productive and confusing the goals, i.e., we can't determine how well a top-notch USA team (for example) could run at NACAC, but we can do all in our power to select and prepare the best possible Canadian Teams. That's all that we can do, and any and all verbiage contrary to that is not useful. 4) Similarly, top 1/2 team finishes at Worlds, are relatively meaningless. If a whole bunch of Countries decide not to send teams, as the whole International Cross-Country Running scene is in a state of flux, then obviously the only teams that do show up will be very, very strong teams.... I could easily see a strong Canadian team finishing say 10th in the Men's Team, and if only 17 or 18 of the strongest teams in the World are on the start line, that could be a very excellent performance. To ANYONE IN THE KNOW, finishing in the Top 10 Men's Teams in the World, is about equivalent to being on or near to the Podium in most of the Winter Sports. Enough for now, but I do congratulate Athletics Canada, as the effort and will to look carefully at what the Cross Country Program can and should be, and how important it is to Canadian Distance Running as a whole, is very much evident and appreciated.
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