Kenenisa Bekele, Haile Gebrselassie, and Paul Tergat have written an open letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge in an effort to return cross country running to either the Summer or Winter Olympics. Here’s a copy of that letter:


President of the IOC, Mr. Jacques Rogge and president of the IAAF, Mr. Lamine Diack

We the undersigned global champions and record breakers would like to invite your two highly esteemed federations to consider the re-introduction of cross country running into the Olympic Games programme, either as a summer or a winter sport.

Cross country running is of course the most natural, indeed elemental of all sports. It is a fascinating discipline whose roots are lost in the earliest history of mankind.

In the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, cross country running was so far seen for the last time with the victory of one of the greatest ever Olympians, Finland’s Paavo Nurmi.

The official report at the time noted that a combination of unseasonal hot weather and the effects of the heat of a near-by industrial chimney – yes we had global warming in those days too! – meant that the air temperature on the course was as high as 36 degrees Centigrade (96.8 Fahrenheit). As such, of the 38 starts, 23 failed to finish. The problems of 1924 were certainly unique.

So we humbly and respectfully ask, what is your opinion about returning cross country running to a future Olympic Games, either on the programme of a summer or winter celebration?

We think it would be wonderful to give the worlds best cross country runners the chance to compete in the greatest of all sporting festivals, and are hopeful of a positive response.

Yours in sport,

Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Paul Tergat

I would love to see cross country in the Olympics, as well as some event such as a 24 hour or 100 mile trail race. I think that those sorts of sports lend themselves well to not only the Olympic Spirit but also to the Olympic Marketing Machine. Right now, the only foot race off of the track is the marathon, and I would love to see some other races that took to the streets (or preferably, the fields and woods.)

Realistically, I don’t expect to see an ultra- event in the Olympics, but I could see cross country being added in 12 or 16 years or so. I certainly hope to see it, and would make it a point to watch as long as whoever is providing the coverage deigned to allow it.

(More Info: Original Letter [PDF] – Hat Tip: Runner Vision)