Team USA selected for WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge

Team USA will compete in the 10th WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running World Challenge to be held in Szklarska Poręba, Poland, on August 3, 2013.

Stevie Kremer (center) won the 2012 World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge

The WMRA Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge has been held every year since 2004 when Sierre-Zinal hosted the event. Since then, the event has showcased races with international prestige to include Switzerland’s Jungfrau Marathon which twice hosted the event, the first in 2007 and a return last year. There have also been two visits to Pikes Peak in Colorado. In 2006, the Pikes Peak Marathon was the host, and in 2010, the Pikes Peak Ascent was the host. It was announced in January 2013 that the Pikes Peak Ascent will again host in 2014.

Team competition began in 2009. Teams are comprised of up to five men and five women, with the top three finishers’ times from each country added together for scoring. All of the team members must be members of their respective athletic federations. In the case of Team USA, this entity is USA Track & Field.

US men’s team at the 2012 event.

Slated to compete for Team USA are Jason Bryant, 40, Elkin, NC, Josh Ferenc, 30, Keene, NH, Zac Freudenburg, 35, St. Louis, MO (presently living in The Netherlands), David James, 35, Flagstaff, AZ, and Gabriel Rodriguez, 35, Baltimore, MD, on the men’s side. For the women, Alison Bryant, 34, Elkin, NC, Stevie Kremer, 29, Crested Butte, CO (presently living in Italy), Amber Reece-Young, 34, Asheville, NC, Sesalie Smathers, 43, Asheville, NC, and Michele Yates, 31, Littleton, CO.

Located in the western portion of Poland, Szalarska in the valley of the Kamienna River. It is surrounded by mountains with the highest point, 1362-meter high Mt. Szrenica.  The race course will be approximately 44 kilometers with 2150 meters of climbing and 1380 feet of descending. The route follows along the Karkonosze Mountain ridge.

Team USA athletes are looking forward to the event. Michele Yates said, “It is a life long dream to visit Poland and now that I have an opportunity to represent my country at something I love, somewhere I have always wanted to go…I truly feel on top of the world!”

US women at the 2012 event.

Teammate Amber Reece-Young replied, “We have a strong team and I am looking forward to the World Long Distance Challenge. I’m super excited and ready to push my limits. It is such a blessing to have this opportunity and I am so grateful.”

Gabriel Rodriquez said, “I am very excited and honored to be a part of the 2013 Long Distance Mountain Team for Poland. We have a great mix of experience and youth. Obviously, this past weekend I had the pleasure of battling with LD Mountain Teammate, Josh Ferenc, at Mount Washington (we placed 6th and 7th, respectively in tough conditions), so I know we are fit and ready to climb and take on any course and competition. We will have great leadership once again with Jason Bryant, and Zac is our most seasoned ‘Euro.’”

Last year’s U.S. teams were on the podium, with the women’s team winning gold, and the men’s team winning silver. Results for the 2013 event will be posted at this link.  In advance, visit the organizer’s Facebook page at this link.

Story by Nancy Hobbs.