Monday, March 31, 2008

There aren't many lists where Ethiopia, Kenya, Qatar and Eritrea find themselves at the top. Results at World Cross Country Championships, without doubt the most competitive races in the world, are like that. In the men's race today, Kenya placed 7 in the top 12 on its way to a rout of Ethiopia, which held off Qatar and Eritrea for second place. After that, we find Morocco and Uganda before coming to the United States. Also in the bottom half of the results are Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and Canada. Unlike the time we lost to Angola in basketball, Canada's men beat Botswana (population 1.6 million, AIDS infection rate of 40%). Our women, however, were last of the 12 teams entered.

The first 18 men to finish were all born in Africa: 11 in Kenya, 4 in Ethiopia, 2 in Uganda and a lone Eritrean. All of the first 10 women were born in Africa. It has gotten to the point where most European countries don't bother sending teams and focus instead on the European championships. Maybe it has to do with race and maybe it has to do with money, but whatever the case, no country outside Africa is close to the African powers of Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco and Kenya-B (Qatar) when it comes to distance-running.

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