On a difficult course in Denmark, Team USA placed eighth on Saturday at the 2019 world cross-country championships.

Rumor had it that race officials for the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships had something special in store when it came to the course design in Aarhus, Denmark. They didn’t disappoint, according to the athletes who took the challenge on Saturday, at the notoriously competitive race.

The 10.24 kilometers were broken up into five 2,000-meter loops. Each loop took the runners through a water splash, a mud pit, a sand pit, through a beer tent, up a 10-percent incline over the roof of the Moesgaard Museum, and around a 180-degree turn.

While the field is always full of many of the best distance runners around the globe, the terrain was a challenge unto itself. The American women were led by Stephanie Bruce, who took 33rd in 39:09, followed by Sarah Pagano (50th), Anne-Marie Blaney (51st), Karissa Schweizer (56th), Marielle Hall (58th), and Courtney Frerichs (78th).

“I’m proud of Team USA’s effort even if it wasn’t the result we were looking for,” Bruce wrote on an Instagram post. “We found each other, worked together when we could. We all managed fatigue out there.”

Frerichs, who is the American record holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:00.85) and world silver medalist in the same event, said she was disappointed with her performance, but hoping it builds strength for the upcoming outdoor track season.

“Well, not really sure what to say about that one except, ouch,” she wrote on Instagram. “Definitely one of the hardest days of racing I’ve ever had and without a doubt the toughest race I’ve ever experienced.”

Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, who is the reigning 5,000-meter world champion, won in 36:14, making her the first woman in history to claim world champion titles in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. After the race, she said she won’t return to the grass.

“It is really special,” Obiri said. “It was my debut IAAF World Cross Country Championships and my only chance to do it. I now don’t need to do any more cross country.”

Ethiopia won the women’s team gold, followed by Kenya (silver), and Uganda (bronze).

2019 World Cross Country beer tent
PHOTO: Mike Scott 2019 Karissa Schweizer and Marielle Hall run through the beer tent at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.
2019 World Cross Country Championship water pit
PHOTO: Mike Scott Marielle Hall makes her way through the water pit at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.
2019 World Cross Country Championships-Kelsey Bruce
PHOTO: Mike Scott American Kelsey Bruce ran in the open division, sponsored by LetsRun, at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.
2019 World Cross Country Championships leaders
PHOTO: Mike Scott Hellen Obiri of Kenya on her way to winning the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championship, Aarhus, Denmark.
2019 World Cross Country Champions hill
PHOTO: Mike Scott Jennifer Nesbitt of Great Britain and Dominique Scott-Efurd of South Africa charge up a 10-percent grade incline, one of several big hills on the championships course.
2019 World Cross Country Championship - Stephanie Bruce
PHOTO: Mike Scott Stephanie Bruce leads Team USA at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
2019 World Cross Country - Sarah Pagano
PHOTO: Mike Scott Sarah Pagano navigates the mud pit on her way to 50th place at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.
2019 World Cross Country Championships - Team USA
PHOTO: Mike Scott Stephanie Bruce, Sarah Pagano, and Courtney Frerichs splash through the water feature at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
2019 World Cross Country Champiuonships - Blaney
PHOTO: Mike Scott Ann-Marie Blaney runs to 51st place and third American at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.