Ingrid Kristiansen won't defend the women's title in her native land, but Olympic 5,000-meter champion John Ngugi of Kenya will try for a record-tying fourth straight men's crown in the World Cross Country Championships Sunday.
With an expected field of about 800 from more than 50 nations, the championships will be the biggest ever. For the first time since the 1903 premiere, the championships will have a women's junior class for a total of four races Sunday.All races will be held on Stavanger's golf club's course, with the main straightaway and finishing area on the 18th fairway.
The men's race covers 12 kilometers; the women will run 6K; the men's junior race is 8K, and the women's junior race is 4K.
Last year, the Kenyans took eight of the first nine places in the men's race in warm conditions at Auckland, New Zealand.
"I'm used to running in slush and snow, but the conditions here are good, quite spring-like," Ngugi said Friday.
Three other men have won the men's title four times - Jack Holden of England, Alain Mimoun of France and Gaston Roelants, the former steeplechase great from Belgium who was the last man to claim fourth titles when he won the 1972 championship.
Kenya is heavily favored to win the men's title. Only Ethiopia, second last year and the only other nation to break into the individual top 10, is expected to challenge the Kenyans.
Each team has nine runners, but only the top six count in the men's team standings. There will be six runners on each team in the other team competitions, with the top four counting.
Pat Porter of Alamosa, Colo., who won his seventh straight TAC cross country title last November, is the top American hope. The leading American finisher in the past three world championships, Porter was in contention for a while last year but wound up 28th. The U.S. men's team was seventh.