World Cross Country Championships: http://iaaf.org/competitions/iaaf-world-cross-country-championships
T his week, two Boulderites will travel to Bydgoszcz, Poland, for the World Cross Country Championships.
University of Colorado freshman Carrie Verdon will compete for the junior U.S. team with five other women, and Boulder Coaching's Darren De Reuck will coach the junior men's U.S. team.
CU runner Carrie Verdon, a 19-year-old freshman, qualified for the world championships by placing third in the women's 6K at the U.S. nationals earlier this year in St. Louis.
Verdon started running in high school after her family moved; she was starting her freshman year at a new school, and her parents encouraged her to join the team to help with the transition.
After one season on the Campolindo High School cross-country team, Verdon gave up playing soccer, her former sport of choice, and ran her way to two state championships.
The integrative physiology major credits her success to pure athleticism, some of which she said she inherited from her family. Her parents, Wayne and Lisa Verdon, are both cyclists, and her brother Spencer ran cross-country in high school.
"I've been really athletic my whole life," Verdon said. "I've done pretty much every single sport possible -- soccer, basketball, volleyball swimming. Also my parents' genes, they're athletic."
CU was her first official campus visit, and Verdon remembers telling her mom she didn't want to tour any other campuses -- she wanted to run for the Buffs.
One day at track practice while preparing to leave for Poland, Verdon sat inside Balch Fieldhouse and pointed to the list of All-American runners on the wall.
"It's insane," she said. "They have a lot of history here, and it just seemed right."
Does she expect to see her name on that wall someday?
"I hope so," Verdon said, laughing.
She hasn't had time to think much about her long-term goals at CU yet, but the 2016 Olympics in Rio have crossed her mind, she said. Her list of running idols includes fellow CU track star Emma Coburn, and alums Jenny (Barringer) Simpson and Kara Goucher.
While in Poland, Verdon said she hopes to get more comfortable with high-caliber international athletes, and has set her sights on finishing as the No. 1 or No. 2 American in the race.
At 5-foot-2, Verdon noted that her shorter stride length might give taller runners an advantage, but so far it hasn't stopped her.
"Sometimes people don't see me when I'm running behind them," Verdon said, laughing.
De Reuck, who is originally from South Africa, moved to the U.S. in 1993 with his wife and four-time Olympian Colleen De Reuck.
Now, both Darren and Colleen De Reuck, along with Simon and Lisa Lessing, coach runners of all abilities through Boulder Coaching.
De Reuck coached at the 2010 North American Central American Championships for USA Track and Field, and was asked to coach again for the world championships this year.
He'll coach the six men on the U.S. junior team, mostly collegiate runners, De Reuck said. He met them the weekend they qualified at U.S. cross country nationals earlier this year, and said they were all excited to compete on an international stage.
"My job is to get them to Poland and make sure all their needs are met," he said. "The weekend of the event, just be there for them at the start, just to guide them, help them keep their nerves down."
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.