His performance at the USAFT Cross Country Championships earned him a spot on the USA national team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships (basically the Olympics of the sport).
So why did he turn down the spot?
Read the post below by Scott.
The World Cross Country Championships
The IAAF World Cross Country Championships is an absolutely unreal event. It’s run every other year, and when it happens, it HAPPENS. It’s quite possibly the most competitive and talent rich event in long distance running.
Physically, the challenge is daunting. The race goes out impossibly fast.
I was fortunate enough to make the United States team in 2017, when the race was held in Kampala, Uganda. I ran flat out for the first 600 meters and was absolutely buried. The leaders ran the first mile of the 10k race in about 4:10. Over thick grass. And hills. In 85-degree weather. At 4000 feet above sea level.
The environment is absolutely unmatched, fans cram themselves into every available nook, cranny, gap, and seat to watch a field of hundreds of athletes stampede around the two-kilometer course five times. It’s like a tunnel of thunder from the start to the very finish. In 2017, I suffered through one of the most difficult and painful races of my life for my worst finish of my professional career – 36th place.
I loved every second of it.
Earning My Spot on the 2019 Team
In the US, to become one of the six members of the World Championship Team, you have to earn your spot. The USATF holds a Cross Country National Championships every February, and on years when there’s a world championship, the top six finishers are given the opportunity to represent the USA on the world stage. It’s a huge honor to pull on a uniform with the letters USA printed across the chest, so lots of people show up to the national championships with the hopes of making the team. As a result, the race is an absolute slug fest and this year was no exception.
I fought and clawed and struggled and pushed myself for the whole 10,000 meters. I came down the last straight away in sixth place and it felt like my legs were going to give out in my final few steps. I crossed the line and a race official handed me a little yellow piece of paper…
I had made the team.
Photo by Justin Britton
Making the Decision to Turn it Down
I walked over to the tent where the USATF officials process the runners who qualified. I told them that I wasn’t going to take the spot, I signed a few forms, and just like that, my ticket to this year’s world championships was gone.
It hurt to turn down this opportunity to run the World Championships, to wear the USA across my chest again. But it was the right decision. I had already committed to run the Boston Marathon, which is only three weeks after the World Championships. Both events require the best out of you. The absolute best. And I didn’t want to go to a World Championships, where I am representing my country in anything but my best shape. And I don’t want to show up to Hopkinton in anything but my best shape.
Running cross country is special, particularly at the World Championships. It’s the pinnacle of our sport. But Boston is Boston! It’s universally adored and cherished as the race of the people and there’s something beautiful about that.
Boston is going to test me, like it tests everyone who runs through Wellesley and Newton and over Heartbreak Hill and past Boston College and ultimately onto Boylston Street. So, as much as it pains me to have to miss out on crushing across the mud and grass and hills of cross country with the USA jersey on my back, it’s the right choice.
I’ll see you guys in Boston!