The Best Cross Country Race on the Planet

Pete Julian leading his race, ‘The Best Cross Country Race on the Planet’ which he started to offer top level competition to elites training for US Cross Country Championships usually held in February.

This week we pay tribute to the 2007 USA Cross Country Race Director, Pete Julian.

A native of Ashland, Oregon, Julian attended the University of Portland where he was a 4x All American (3x in Track and 1x in Cross Country). Julian competed 10+ years post collegiately both on the track and roads attaining personal bests of 3:41 in the 1500m, 13:33 in the 5,000m and 28:05 in the 10,000m. He also qualified for the 1997 and 1998 World Cross Country Championships and competed at the 1999 IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Seville, Spain. Julian was a bronze medalist at the 1999 Pan American Games in the 10,000m.

In 2005, Julian turned his attention to coaching. He led the Metro State Roadrunners (Denver, CO) for 4 seasons, producing their first national champion in the 800m. He then moved onto Washington State, where he led the Cougars to their first NCAA Cross Country berth since 2006. In August of 2012 Julian joined the Nike Oregon Project coaching staff working with Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

I think we’re all inspired by different things when running a cross country race, but we all have a common goal, which is to get to the finish line as fast as we can and beat as many people as we can. Pretty simple stuff. That’s why it’s great! – Pete Julian

In 2005 Julian was inspired to host the 2007 USA Cross Country Championships after successfully directing ‘The Best Cross Country Race on the Planet’.

“I just felt like things needed to change and we needed to take a more youthful approach to promoting and packaging the USA Championships,” said Julian. “I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but I knew how I wanted the race to look and feel from not only an athlete’s perspective, but a fan’s perspective. With the help of many, we pulled off a great race.”

2007 US Cross Country Championship race director Pete Julian is hoisted on shoulders by the winners of the race, all CU alumni.

2007 US Cross Country Championship race director Pete Julian is hoisted on shoulders by the winners of the men’s race, all CU alumni.

Julian commented about the championships returning to Boulder, “When Sean Nesbitt (Pete’s brother-in-law) told me a few years ago that he was thinking about trying to bring the US Champs back to Boulder, I thought it was great and that he was just the guy to lead an organizing committee to make the Boulder ’14 and ’15 even better than it was seven years ago.”

“I’ll be there as a fan this time and have even told Sean he can put me to work over the weekend, I’m just hoping he doesn’t put me on port-a-john duty.”

When asked about his favorite cross country memory he replied, “It would probably be my senior year in high school (Ashland High School ’88, Ashland, OR) when our team won the Oregon state meet. When they called out the results, it was just such a great feeling to celebrate a great accomplishment with the guys on my team who were also my closest friends. My dad was also the coach, so this made things even more special. That was nearly 25 years ago, but it still makes me happy when I think back upon that day.

What can we learn about ourselves when running XC?

“I think running cross country teaches us that getting muddy, tripped up, and pushed around is a actually good thing for our soul. We’re hardwired for these sort of things, so once you get out there and actually allow these things to happen to you – you can learn the more valuable lesson of fighting back.”

“I think we’re all inspired by different things when running a cross country race, but we all have a common goal, which is to get to the finish line as fast as we can and beat as many people as we can. Pretty simple stuff. That’s why it’s great!

Catch more Throwback Thursdays on the Boulder USA XC facebook page. Register for the community 4k race at 8:30 the morning of February 15.