Report30 Nov 2023

Wildschutt and Wasserman win cross country crowns in Austin


Adriaan Wildschutt (36) on his way to a win at the Cross Champs in Austin (© Kevin Morris)

South Africa’s Adriaan Wildschutt and USA’s Katie Wasserman were victorious at the Cross Champs – this season’s seventh World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold meeting – in Austin, Texas, on Thursday (30).

Wildschutt kicked away from defending champion Edwin Kurgat of Kenya to win the men’s title, while Wasserman held off her compatriot Katie Izzo to claim the women’s crown after racing over 8km on a rainy morning at Camp Mabry.

Wesley Kiptoo went out hard from the start of the men’s race, forcing the field to string out. A breakaway group of six ran single file before regrouping, with Kiptoo to the fore as the first mile was covered in 4:25. David Ribich held on to the back of the pack but when he was dropped that lead group was down to five, with Kiptoo, Kurgat and Wildschutt joined by Charles Hicks and Ahmed Muhumed.

Racing on a mile loop course, the second circuit was covered in 4:26 before Kiptoo moved to the back of the pack midway through the third lap, with Wildschutt pushing the pace.

From there Wildschutt, the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championships runner-up who placed 14th in Austin last year, maintained the momentum and led through the three-mile mark in 13:12 after a 4:20 lap. The group covered the penultimate mile in 4:22, with Wildschutt, Kurgat, Hicks and Kiptoo all still in contention.

Then Wildschutt and Kurgat made a break and they were engaged in battle as the clock showed 20 minutes, while Kiptoo overtook Hicks to move into third place.

Looking determined, Wildschutt kicked again and glanced over his shoulder but there was no major threat and he crossed the line unchallenged to win in 22:08, four seconds ahead of Kurgat.

Kenya’s Kiptoo, who finished 12th on his marathon debut in Chicago last month, held on for third place in 22:15, finishing narrowly ahead of Britain’s 2022 NCAA champion Hicks, who recorded the same time for fourth. USA’s Muhumed was fifth in 22:27.

“Our plan for the team was to go out pretty hard and keep it honest,” Wildschutt told RunnerSpace after leading Hoka NAZ Elite to the team title. “I was just trying to see how it felt running under 4:30 for the first mile, to see how the course was. It’s rainy, but it’s not terrible, so I just tucked in there to see how long I could go.

“When the pace started to slow down in the middle of the race I made sure to push it a little bit to keep it up there, because I think that’s my strength. Coming around for the last two laps I thought okay, this is my chance. It was tough because obviously the competitors are fierce,” added the multiple national record-holder, who finished 14th in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Budapest.

Now targeting the 10,000m at the Paris Olympics, Wildschutt hopes to race over 5000m indoors before preparing for the outdoor season.

In the women’s race, Wasserman was always to the fore and she ran alongside Dana Klein at the front of a large lead group that covered the first mile in 5:35.

Katie Wasserman (82) leads at the Cross Champs in Austin

Katie Wasserman (82) leads at the Cross Champs in Austin (© Kevin Morris)

With 10 minutes on the clock the lead group had reduced to 11, led by Kassie Parker, but Wasserman looked in control as she took the pack through the two-mile mark in 10:57.

That pick up in pace led to a seven-strong breakaway pack featuring Wasserman, Izzo, Parker, Klein, Marisa Howard, Abby Nichols and Mercy Chelangat, and they forged ahead to cover the third circuit in 5:20.

Chelangat was alongside Wasserman as they reached four miles in 21:33 after a 5:16 penultimate loop. A group of four – Wasserman, Izzo, Chelangat and Nichols – then broke away over the hay bale section of the course on the final circuit and when Nichols couldn’t maintain the pace, the race was down to three.

Although Wasserman ran wide and had to cross back on to the course in the closing stages, she had built enough of a lead to ensure that she could cross the finish line clear, clocking 26:50 to win by two seconds ahead of Izzo.

“I’ve never run an 8km before so I was like, I have to make sure I can make it to the final lap before I decide to push,” said Wasserman, who also led Hoka NAZ Elite to the team win. “Then I was feeling good, so I was like okay, it’s time to go!”

Chelangat, who recently ran 1:11:37 on her half marathon debut in Boston, was third in 26:55, while Nichols was fourth in 27:09 and Howard fifth in 27:11.

Leading results

1 Katie Wasserman (USA) 26:50
2 Katie Izzo (USA) 26:52
3 Mercy Chelangat (KEN) 26:55
4 Abby Nichols (USA) 27:09
5 Marisa Howard (USA) 27:11
6 Dana Klein (USA) 27:12
7 Kassie Parker (USA) 27:30
8 Angelia Rafter (USA) 27:35

1 Adriaan Wildschutt (RSA) 22:08
2 Edwin Kurgat (KEN) 22:12
3 Wesley Kiptoo (KEN) 22:15
4 Charles Hicks (GBR) 22:15
5 Ahmed Muhumed (USA) 22:27
6 Olin Hacker (USA) 22:59
7 Alec Basten (USA) 23:18
8 Casey Comber (USA) 23:20

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