Joslin Blair strikes gold at WMRA Mountain Running International Youth Cup (U18)

At today’s 13th WMRA Mountain Running International Youth Cup (U18), in Lanzada, Italy, Joslin Blair, 17, Eagle, Colorado, bested a field of 46 girls to win gold, the first-ever medal for Team USA at this championship event.

Temperatures were in the 60s under sunny skies when the races got underway at 11:00 a.m. with the girls’ race, followed at 11:45 for the boys’ race. After a short section of road through the village, the course quickly climbed a series of steps and it was here that Blair took the lead, which she never relinquished over the two-lap mountain course of 4.3 kilometers. Her time of 23:50 was just 11 seconds ahead of Turkish runner Ezgi Kaya. In bronze-medal position was Laura Marina Corhana, Romania, timed in 24:11.

With three girls in the top 10, Italy won team gold with a score of 17. Taking the silver medal was Romania with a score of 25, and with a score of 29, USA earned bronze. There were 11 scoring teams in the girls’ division.

Bronze medal winning USA women’s team.

Likewise for the men, England’s Matthew Mackay, led after the first climb on the rocky steps through the village and maintained his position throughout the course. He finished in gold medal position with a time of 20:10, followed closely by his countryman Euan Brennan in 20:34. Rounded out the top three was Estaban Olivero, France,in 20:37.

England, with a near-perfect score of eight, took the gold. France scored 18 points to take the silver, and Italy finished in bronze position with 36 points. There were 14 teams on the boys’ side.

Team USA provides their thoughts on the course and their one go-to word to describe the course.

Joslin Blair, 17, Eagle, CO, Eagle Valley High School: “Challenging”
23:50, 1st place
“I’m so honored to have represented Team USA in Italy! The course was a true mountain course and absolutely beautiful. I was grateful for the opportunity to run with such great teammates and athletes as well as being able to see my training come together.”

Joslin Blair winning the 13th WMRA Mountain Running International Youth Cup.

Anna Shults, 17, Lafayette, CO, Peak to Peak High School: “Relentless”
25:26, 7th place
“The course was tough, but I was tougher. Representing Team USA was incredible and I made new life-long friends.”

Anna Shults on her way to 7th place at the Mountain Running Youth Cup.

Brin Strouse, 17, Frederick, MD, Urbana High School: “Thrilling”
26:37, 21st place
“It was exciting representing Team USA and helping my team members get on the podium. The uphill was the best part of the course and it was exciting to run in such a beautiful location.”

Brin Strouse on course at the Youth Cup.

Carley Bennett, 17, Lakewood, CO, Lakewood High School: “Brutal”
28:32, 35th place
“The experience is indescribable. I loved meeting all of the other teams and it was cool to experience the language barrier. Everyone was super welcoming and Lanzada was a beautiful place to be able to race. My teammates were amazing and this is an experience to cherish forever. Racing is a lot more prideful when you are representing your country.”

Carley Bennett finishes up lap 1 of the Mountain Running Youth Cup.

Jaden Evans, 17, Telluride, CO, Telluride High School: “Exhilarating”
22:16, 21st place
“Racing among international athletes was surreal and it was quite an honor. It was extremely competitive, but I was very impressed by all the sportsmanship. The course was hot and hilly, but a lot of fun.”

Jaden Evans leads the US boys team with a 21st place finish.

Nathan Schmitt, 17, Lake Bluff, IL, Lake Forest High School: “Madness”
22:25, 22nd place
“Running for Team USA has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. And to race for the US in such a different type of race than I’ve ever been on, made the whole experience all the more incredible.”

Nathan Schmitt heads out on lap 2.

Colin Szuch, 16, Evergreen, CO, Evergreen High School: “Crazy”
22:45, 25th place
“Running in Team USA has been one of the best experiences of my life. The race in Lanzada was surreal and crazy. I met so many great people from all over the world.”

Colin Szuch running strong in Lanzada.

Gabriel Dinnel, 17, Washougal, WA, Washougal High School: “Intense”
48th place, 26:40
“The course was incredible and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to compete in such a beautiful area on behalf of USA. The course was extremely challenging, but really fun to run on. It was definitely different from the courses at home.”

Gabriel Dinnel starts his second lap thru the streets and alleys of Lanzada.

Team USA staff member Mark Weeks said, “The USA teams exceeded my expectations. Our athletes were tough as nails. What an awesome squad. I’m so proud of what they accomplished today.”

USATF Mountain Ultra Trail chairperson and team staff member Nancy Hobbs said, “We are building a solid mountain running program in the United States, which is evident from our youth results today. This success helps shine a light on our sport. The athletes on this year’s team, like those on prior squads, become prized ambassadors to take and share their experiences with others and help us grow our program.”

Complete results:
Individual Boys and Girls:

Read the story of the Youth Cup from the World Mountain Running Association.

Video by Maurizio Torri – SPORT DI MONTAGNA.