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Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Official thrilled to land cross country race

December 15, 2005

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It seemed like a natural match for Bob Sanner, director of conventions and sports marketing for the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau.

USA Track and Field needed a location for its 2007 National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. And the city of Lawrence seemed to have all the necessary resources.

"We think it's a perfect fit," Sanner said. "We feel Rim Rock Farm is one of the premiere cross country parks in the country, and USA Track and Field is always striving to find the very best for its memberships."

Sanner and the city of Lawrence found out last week that it was chosen to serve as host for the Dec. 8, 2007, event, which will bring an estimated 2,500 participants to the surrounding area.

"To have that many athletes with their parents and coaches - it's going to make Lawrence a busy place for a few days," Sanner said.

Last week, Sanner flew to Jacksonville, Fla., to USA Track and Field's annual convention where the city made its final presentation to the voting delegates. He was informed of the group's decision after a vote a few minutes later.

"We showed or said enough to satisfy them, and we were awarded the event," Sanner said. "We're pretty excited about it."

The Championships feature five age divisions for both boys and girls, including bantam (10 and under), midget (11-12), youth (13-14), intermediate (15-16) and young men/women (17-18).

The races range from three to five kilometers, depending on the age group.

This year's event was held in Smithfield, R.I., which presented tough running conditions.

"Rhode Island was hit hard with a snow storm two days before, and the day before that, there was freezing rain," Sanner said. "Two-thousand braved Mother Nature and made it through."

Sanner said Lawrence's average temperatures, between 30 and 40 degrees in early December, should provide better running conditions.

Spokane, Wash., will serve as host to the 2006 Championships.

USA Track and Field officials toured Lawrence in October to evaluate both the city and the facilities at Rim Rock Farm.

The course, site of the Kansas Class 6A and 5A state high school cross country championships each year, turned out to be a major selling point.

"They zeroed in on Rim Rock Farm," Sanner said. "The report back was that it exceeded their expectations. They really liked the course."

The Championships are just one of many big-name events to come to Lawrence in recent years.

The city also held the 2005 Collegiate Road National Championships and the American Fastpitch Assn.'s national softball tournament in the past year.

"Lawrence has a lot to offer," Sanner said, "so it's our job to make people know what we have here."

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