Although the 2012 World 24-hour Championship was held only nine months before the 2013 race is scheduled to take place, that fact has not dampened runners’ enthusiasm for the event. Participation is again at over 250 runners (not including the Open division) for the 10th edition of the World 24-hour Championship in Steenbergen, The Netherlands. I am also happy to see that, for the first time in its history, the number of women runners competing has broken 100. Way to go ladies!
As with last year's race in Poland, runners from 34 countries will be competing at the 2013 World 24-hour Championship. For the team competition, 25 men’s team (up from 24 teams in 2012) and 23 women’s team will toe the starting line. Again, the women’s teams continue to increase, up from 20 women’s teams from last year. New to the competition from 2012 are women’s teams from The Netherlands, Sierra Leone and Spain.
The US women are looking forward to defending their Team Gold medal and bringing home another one. We have two new members, Sabrina Moran Little and Traci Falbo. Both are very strong runners. Coupled with super-athlete Connie Gardner (2012 Silver medalist), Suzanna Bon (5th in 2012) and Carilyn Johnson (making her 4th appearance at Worlds), I am anticipating big mileage numbers from my teammates.
Competition, however, looks stiff. Starting with the Japanese, World 24-hour track record-holder Mami Kudo will be leading the charge followed by her teammate Mikie Sakane (PB of 243k). Lizzy Hawker, World 24-hour road record-holder, will be joining the already strong team from Great Britain. The French team has two runners with over 230k as personal bests, Anne-Marie Vernet and Cécile Nissen. Germany has two runners with personal best of over 228k, Melanie Strass and Antje Krause. And of course there are many amazing individual runners including 2012 Gold medalist Michaela Dimitriadu from the Czech Republic and Monica Casiraghi from Italy. And I am sure I have missed some. It will be an exciting race!
On the men’s side, unfortunately 2012 Gold medalist Mike Morton will not be running on the US team as he is injured. Nonetheless, I expect the US men will be right in contention for a medal with new team members Jon Olsen, Nick Coury and John Dennis. US Bronze team scorers from 2012, Harvey Lewis and Joe Fejes, will be returning. Last year, Germany won the men’s team Gold, followed by France with Silver breaking the dominance of the Japanese men's team for the last several years. The Japanese men collectively had a bad race in Poland so do not underestimate them for the 2013 race. Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning that World 24-hour record-holder Yiannis Kouros will be competing for Greece. Although he is 57 years old, he is still running strong and an inspiration to watch.
Good luck to all runners or, as they say in Steenbergen, “Veel geluk!”