Monday, March 29, 2010

Bairu Places 12th at Cross Country World Championships

Bairu 2009 Canada XCIn the deepest distance race on the planet, Simon Bairu represented Canada, Nike OTC, and KIMbia impressively by taking 12th place** at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, held in Bydgoszcz, Poland on Sunday. The 12k race consisted of six 2k loops, and Bairu established himself early, tucking into 19th place, just three seconds behind the leaders, as the field completed the first lap.  From there he would continue to pick off runners.

Staying close to race favorites Paul Tanui and Joseph Ebuya of Kenya, Ethiopia’s Gebre Gebremariam, and Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, Simon remained just seconds back from the lead pack, even as the racing heated up on the 4th circuit, working himself up as high as 12th and just five seconds outside of the Top 5. Conceding two spots on the penultimate lap, Bairu would fight back on the 6th and final tour of the course as eventual champion Ebuya broke the race open, and the Canadian finally crossed the finish line in 13th**, the highest position he had reached all race. He would subsequently be awarded 12th place, after the disqualification of the athlete in front of him.

A World Cross Country Championships veteran making his fifth appearance at the event, Bairu had said back in December that he was shooting for a Top 10 finish, explaining that “World Cross is definitely the hardest world championship race there is, but I’m confident that by March I will have put myself in a position to accomplish my lofty goal.” He certainly made good on that prediction, remaining in contention for Top 10 — and even Top 5 — all race.  And while Bairu fell just short of his Top 10 goal by a mere nine seconds, noting that the man in 10th was the defending champion and 26:52-man Gebremariam, bespeaks the quality and depth of the field, and what a fine showing 12th truly is.

Following up a personal best, course-record win over Ryan Hall in the Rock ‘N Roll Arizona Half Marathon in January, Bairu’s finish in Poland was an impressive improvement on his previous performances at World Cross, having come 30th in the Junior Race in 2001, and 52nd in his previous start in the senior race, in Lausanne in 2003.  As he looks toward a marathon debut in the Fall, there is every reason to believe that Bairu will impress once again.

[**UPDATE, 29 Dec 2010: Simon crossed the line 13th in this race, but has subsequently been moved up to 12th in the results after the disqualification of Chakir Boujattaoui of Morocco for a  doping-related offense. Details of Boujattaoui's offense can be found on this IAAF page.]

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