On Sunday, July 3, the 10 senior members of the US Mountain Team were selected at the US Mountain Running Championships, which was held in conjunction with the Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
The top six men and the top four women across the finish line at the championships earned spots on this year’s team that will travel to Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria to compete in the 32nd WMRA World Mountain Running Championships on Sunday, September 11.
Joe Gray, and Andy Wacker will be the only veterans on the team. The Colorado-based pair has a combined 11 World Mountain teams between them including a record nine consecutive for Gray, the 32-year-old from Colorado Springs. This team marks the second for the Boulder-based Wacker, 27, who ran for the first time on last year’s squad in Wales. Wacker also has two appearances on the US Long Distance Mountain Running Team.
Joining the veterans will be fellow Coloradoan Matt Daniels, 28, Evergreen and Utah residents Brett Hales, 29, Layton, and Hayden Hawks, 25, Cedar City. The final team member is David Fuentes, 29, Austin, Texas.
Through his mountain running career, Gray has seen the dynamics of the team change and is looking forward to again representing the US in international competition. “I’m excited to run with this group of guys,” said Gray. “I think we’ll make USA proud.”
The biggest strength for this year’s squad according to Gray is experience. “Everyone in the top six have had a long career of running superb. They are tried and true. If everyone runs well on race day, that will equate to a good result.”
What has the veteran mountain runner told his fellow team members? “I let them know obviously Italy has a history. That’s the team to look out for and every team out of Africa,” said Gray. “Every place needs to work on the day. It’s important to let everyone know they matter on the team. It can’t be two or three, it has to be all six guys running well to compete.”
On the women’s side, Addie Bracy won her first race not held on the track, road, or cross country course to make her first US Mountain Running Team. The 29-year-old from Longmont, CO, represented the US twice before, at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International Cross Country Cross Country Championships in 2012 and 2013.
“I’m really excited about Bulgaria,” said Bracy who has formed no preconceived notions about the world event. “I have no concept. I want to be in the best place I can to represent the US as best as I can.”
Her teammates will be Bethany Sachtleben, 24, Manassas, Virginia, the youngest member on the team, and Kim Nedeau, 36, Leverett, Massachusetts, the oldest member on the team. Ladia Albertson-Junkans, 30, Seattle, Washington, will be the final member on the senior squad. Albertson-Junkans will also represent Team USA at this year’s NACAC Mountain Running Championships on July 10, in Mexico, a spot she earned last year with her sixth-place finish at the USATF Mountain Running Championships in Bend, Oregon.
In Bulgaria, the men will run a 12.7-kilometer course boasting 1,468 meters of climbing and 107 meters of descent, whereas the women will run 7.3 kilometers with 773 meters of climbing and 89 meters of descent.
When the WMRA Congress, a group of approximately 40 delegates comprised of one representative of each member nation, meets in September during the World Mountain Running Championships, they will consider making the distance equal for the senior men and women as well as equal team size. If approved, the changes will take effect in 2018.
The US Junior Mountain Running Team will be named later this month. Over 40 resumes have been received for the eight slots – four for the junior men, four for the junior women. The junior men’s course will mirror that of the senior women, while the junior women will run 3.6 kilometers with 53 meters of climbing and 14.5 meters of descent.
This year’s US Mountain Running Team staff of Richard Bolt, Mountain View, California, Paul Kirsch, Madison, New Hampshire, and Ellen Miller, Vail, Colorado has more than 25 years experience leading teams at international competition.
To follow the US Mountain Running Team visit www.usmrt.com. For more details on the US mountain running program as well as information on all upcoming USATF Championships, visit www.usatf.org. To support the US Mountain Running Team, donations are accepted by the American Trail Running Association www.trailrunner.com.
An article from this year’s USATF Mountain Championships in our Trail News section.