GRIFFITH PARK -- Athletes taking part in the 30th annual Bellarmine
Cross-Country Invitational Saturday at Griffith Park got their share
of excitement, running against tough competition and talented teams.
The young runners also received an unexpected surprise when one of
the most recognizable faces in U.S. track and field history -- Bruce
Jenner -- showed up to take in the meet and to watch his step-son
Jenner, a three-time world-record holder in the decathlon and the
1976 Olympic gold medalist, talked to some of the runners about the
importance of athletics and the benefits of competition. He
emphasized that cross-country is a great sport for high-school-age
“Cross-country is a real character-builder, and it’s real tough to
do,” said Jenner, who retired after setting the world record in the
decathlon with 8,634 points at the Montreal Olympics. “It’s up and
Jenner, whose step-son Robert Kardashian runs for Sherman Oaks
Buckley -- a Liberty League rival of Providence -- said many people
don’t realize the difficulty involved in distance running.
“It’s great to see young people who have the guts to go out there
and push themselves and train and get ready for these races,” said
Jenner, who will be 54 next month.
One thing that has frustrated Jenner, and many within the U.S.
track and field community, is the lack of quality American distance
runners on the international stage.
“Here in the U.S. at the Olympic level, once you get past 400
meters, we’re dead,” Jenner said.
“In this group [here], maybe there is that one person willing to
do the work and the person who has the talent and desire to go out
and represent our country.”
Jenner said he believes cross-country will continue to grow in
this country, based on what he has seen in the recent past.
“A couple of years ago, I went to the National Cross-Country
Championships up in Reno, and there were thousands of kids from all
over the U.S.,” Jenner said.