Silver Medal Winning Team USA shares experiences from the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships

Written by Nancy Hobbs, Treasurer, World Mountain Running Association. Photos by Richard Bolt, USA Team Leader. Editors Note: This article was updated on October 20, 2017 to show Francisco Puppi (Italy) as the winner of the men’s race after Petro Mamu was disqualified for a doping violation. 

Following the US silver medal day – two team one individual – from Sunday, August 6, at the 14th World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Premana, Italy, the American athletes reflect on the course and their experiences.

Course & Race Statistics:

Distance – 32 kilometers with 8000 feet of climbing & descending.
Finishers – 75 Men, 16 Teams, winning time 3:14:37 Francesco Puppi, Italy;
48 women; 10 Teams, winning time 3:56:45 Silvia Rampazzo, Italy
Team Medals Men: Italy Gold; USA Silver; Czech Republic Bronze
Team Medals Women: Italy Gold; USA Silver; Romania Bronze

One word to describe the course from the men’s team:

“Rocky” – Tayte Pollman, 21, Sandy, UT, 4th place in 3:24:46
“Gnarly” – Mario Mendoza, 31, Bend, OR, 12th place in 3:34:55
“Relentless” – Cole Watson, 25, Ashland, OR, 23rd place in 3:39:42
“Spooky” – Andy Wacker, 28, Boulder, CO, 38th place in 3:59:01
“Challenging” – Matt Daniels, 29, Boulder, CO, 69th place in 4:33:06

Quotes from the men’s team:

Tayte Pollman: “The technical downhills were probably what surprised me the most. Racing in Italy is something new for me. I had fun chasing the Italian guys on the descents. They’re insane. It was really cool. My finish place was totally unexpected. My strength is ascending…it’s what I love to do. It’s so exciting. The whole atmosphere is really cool. The Italians in the villages seemed to push us uphill with their cheering.”

Tayte Pollmann

Mario Mendoza: “It was a true mountain course. That was legit. It was the most technical course I’ve ever run. I fell early in the fist descent, pretty bad. It took some time to get my lungs back again. I think my strength today kept me tough. I got back into a rhythm and started passing people (moving from 24th to 12th). It’s such a long race you just had to stay patient.”

Mario Mendoza

Cole Watson: “That’s the coolest and craziest course I’ve ever run. There’s huge climbs, huge descents. There was thunder and lightning. It’s probably one of the more epic things I’ve done. The course was beautiful – great views. It was really hard to ever get a sustained rhythm. It was flat, then kicking with constant changes. Even if you had to walk, you did it with purpose.”

Cole Watson

Andy Wacker: “When the race wasn’t going great for me, no matter how I’d finish, I was still going to cross the line to honor my teammates and my competitors in front of me. It was a really beautiful course. It was very technical and more so because it was wet. The weather didn’t make it harder…it just made it unique. We ran through one section of woods and it was very dark. One of the aid stations even had lights on like it was nighttime. It made for a really cool experience.”

Andy Wacker on RAI Sport TV coverage of the race.

Matt Daniels: “Overall the experience has been good. Obviously for the race it wasn’t so good. I was battling cramps, and the weather…it made for a really tough day. At 19K, the cramps were really bad and the next aid station was the low point. I was trying to stretch my legs and get some salt. I don’t like dropping out, so I felt like I should finish. You put a USA jersey on and it makes you motivated even if you have to walk some to the finish.”

Matt had a tough race but held strong and finished.

One word to describe the course from the women’s team:

“Memorable” – Kasie Enman, 37, Huntington, VT, 2nd place in 3:57:30
“Scary” – Addie Bracy, 31, Boulder, CO, 6th place in 4:07:20
“Steep” – Kristi Spravzoff, 33, Flagstaff, AZ, 20th place in 4:28:11
“Ruthless” – Dani Moreno, 24, Santa Barbara, CA, 21st place in 4:31:12
“Stunning” – Anita Ortiz, 53, Eagle, CO, 26th place in 4:40:35

Quotes from the women’s team:

Kasie Enman: “I had a great day when I ran here before and returning, I had some really good memories that carried me through today. After the last climb I was thinking podium and team medal.”

Kasie crossing the course high point on RAI Sport TV race coverage.

Addie Bracy: “It was a very challenging course with very challenging conditions and the rain made it slick. It’s hard for me to focus for so long, but I knew Kasie was up ahead and it kept me going. Kasie and I were one-two on the highest point of the second climb. I got spanked on that downhill and was passed by four girls.”

Addie Bracy

Kristi Spravzoff: “Beautiful mountains, great competition. The cheering, the support from all the Italian families pushed me to keep going. I’ve never experienced that kind of support. It was awesome. When we came out after peaking the last climb, the weather opened up and I could see the whole mountain landscape.”

Dani Moreno: “It was a big eye opener for me. I went in thinking I’d take advantage of the downhills, and after rolling my ankle (about three miles in), my game plan changed and it became an uphill race. Overall it was a great experience. I love racing on teams. I haven’t done that since college. It keeps you going for the team.”

Dani and Kristi

Anita Ortiz: “ It’s the prettiest race course I’ve ever run. The weather…it was dark, murky. It made it mysterious. You can’t beat it when a course is lined with people.”

Team Staff Member Richard Bolt, “I was impressed by the gritty determination of our athletes who all finished this technical, steep, and difficult course. More often than not, long, difficult mountain races result in a couple DNFs so Team USA showed spirit by not quitting. It was great to see Kasie return for her second tie at Giir di Mont and although she didn’t win, second place is an incredible results in this World Championship filed. Tayte continues to break new ground for an athlete who was competing at the junior level just two years ago. After his fourth place finish, I look forward to seeing him on the podium very soon.”

Nancy Hobbs and Anita Ortiz

USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Council Chairperson Nancy Hobbs, “While I was out on the course in the ever-changing conditions, I could only imagine what the athletes were going through. Starting with cloudy skies, there were brief glimpses of sunshine, followed by heavy rains, rolling fog, and misty moments. A mixed bag was in store in terms of weather and terrain and our team persevered and posted fantastic results.”

Race results can be found here.

Find a race day photo album of Team USA athletes here: