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Jenner takes in meet and talks with athletes

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.