Team USA shares experiences from the World Mountain Running Championships

Written by Nancy Hobbs, USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Council Chairperson.

Following the US haul of five medals – three bronze, one silver, and a gold – from yesterday’s competition at the 33rd World Mountain Running Championships, the athletes reflect on the course and the experience.

Junior Competition:

Distance – 6.5 kilometers with 1800+- feet of climbing
Finishers – 55 Junior Women, 11 Teams; 59 Junior Men, 14 Teams
Team Medals: Gold: Uganda Junior Men; Romania Junior Women
Silver: Romania Junior Men; USA Junior Women
Bronze Medal: Italy Junior Men; Italy Junior Women

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

“Loud” – Talon Hull, 18, Ogden, UT, 3rd place in 28:01.
“Amazing” – Joseph Simmons, 19, American Fork, UT, 22nd place in 30:11.
“Fun” – Jackson Brill, 19, Boulder, CO, 29th place in 30:55.
“Grinder” – Nate Fedel, 19, Omaha, NE, 40th place in 32:58.

Junior men’s thoughts on the competition:

Talon Hull: “I came in hoping and thinking I could place top three. Before the race I didn’t know anything about my competition so it was kind of unexpected. I mean I thought I could (place top three), but I didn’t think I would. I’d never run a mountain race before so I didn’t know what to expect.”
I really enjoyed running through the town and the really steep climbs. The town is pretty, it’s just a beautiful place to run. It’s fun running on that cobblestone…I’ve never run on that before. The people leaning out their windows cheering and all the flags – it was an amazing experience and I’m glad I came. It’s pretty cool to have the bronze medal.

Talon Hull

Joe Simmons: “This course was fantastic. Probably one of the coolest courses I’ve ever run in my life and one of the toughest. It was a clean course, but it was kind of raw how hard it was. It was a grind from the gun. I’ve caught the mountain running bug – it’s in my veins.”

Jackson Brill: “I felt really good. I didn’t get passed after the first part on the grass. I was near the back at the start and then worked my way up.” His favorite parts of the course were the flat sections and the uphills, as well as the downhill where he passed a lot of runners. Having previewed the course, Brill said he was surprised that he ran a couple places that he thought he would hike. He also said the start seemed harder than he thought it would be. “The race went out really fast. I also thought there would be a bottleneck and there really wasn’t.” Brill, who enjoys longer distance races looks forward to making more teams because, “It’s a really cool experience.”

Nate Fedel: “Compared to cross country running, mountain running is it’s own beast. I found the camaraderie between nations really cool. Before the race I was intimidated by the steep hills so my goal was just to survive them during the race. I really loved the finish line experience with screaming fans and the scenery along the course was amazing. It was an honor to represent the United States at this competition and really cool to see the mutual respect between all the nations competing.“

Nate Fedel

One word to describe the course from the junior women’s team.

“Brutal” – Lauren Gregory, 18, Fort Collins, CO, 3rd place in 33:33.
“Ridiculous” – Quinn McConnell, 16, Erie, CO, 11th place in 35:11.
“Versatile” – Soleil Gaylord, 16, Telluride, CO, 16th place in 36:04.
“Challenging” – Julia Jaschke, 19, Greenwood Village, CO, 38th place in 40:03.

Junior women’s thoughts on the competition:

Lauren Gregory: “I just wanted to learn how to react. I’d never done anything like this before. I loved it. I had a great time. It was so difficult for sure, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was worth the pain. It’s a career choice (mountain running). Maybe post-collegiate. This makes me never want to run on the track again.”

Lauren Gregory

Quinn McConnell: “It was amazing and nothing like I expected, so it was fun to come here and surprise myself. It was cool to run with girls from other countries. Even though it was hard, I enjoyed every minute of it and want to come back.”

Soleil Gaylord: “I had a fantastic time running alongside athletes I very much admire in the unparalleled mountains of Italy. I love sharing my love for running with other athletes.”

Soleil Gaylord

Julia Jaschke: “I feel so lucky to have been on such a strong team. The team spirit in the days leading up to the race really helped me throughout. Premana is incredible and the memories I’ve made here will stay with me forever.”

Senior Competition:

Distance = 13 kilometers with 3600+- feet of climbing
Finishers – 99 Senior Men, 23 Teams; 64 Senior Women, 15 Teams
Team Medals:
Gold Uganda Senior Men; USA Senior Women
Silver Italy Senior Men; Italy Senior Women
Bronze USA Senior Men; Czech Republic Senior Women

One word to describe the course from the senior women’s team.

“Rad” – Allie McLaughlin, 26, Nashville, TN, 5th place in 1:06:06.
“Extreme” – Addie Bracy, 30, Longmont, CO, 8th place in 1:07:46.
“Diverse” – Kasie Enman, 37, Huntington, VT, 13th place in 1:09:11.
“Hot” – Caitlin Patterson, 27, Craftsbury, Commons, VT, 23rd place in 1:12:14.

Senior women’s thoughts on the competition:

Allie McLaughlin: McLaughlin, who grew up in Colorado, recently moved to Tennessee and felt that her training there helped get her ready for Worlds, “Nashville prepared me for the race; the heat and the terrain is similar.” Preparation also included more strategy than in the 2014 championships, which McLaughlin ran (finishing third overall and leading Team USA to a bronze podium spot), primarily because the race this year was longer for women (the same distance as the senior men). “We (my teammates) talked about being conservative in the first lap knowing we had a long race to go. Addie and I stayed together in the early part of the race, rather than chasing anyone.”

Allie McLaughlin

Her favorite part of the course was the start and finish on the road, “It gave us a chance to get our legs moving at the start, and on the pavement at the finish, you could just sprint it out and the fans were so loud. On the course I saw the view at one point. I looked up and could see the peaks in the distance. It was a gift.” She also really liked the downhill saying, “It was fun, though you really had to let it go.”

As to podium aspirations prior to the race, “The team medal I thought a lot more about this year. We knew we could place high knowing it was a longer race. Today, I was counting knowing there were my teammates behind me.” As to the competition, “There’s something about foreign athletes – they’re so intense,” said McLaughlin. “But we’re just as strong. It’s so exciting to win gold.”

Addie Bracy: “It was unexpected to upset the home team of Italy. I knew where the Italians were and where Allie was and it was exciting and I was happy to see us ahead of the Italians on their home course.”

Addie Bracy

Kasie Enman: “I was motivated to do well for the team, so it feels like a successful day. For me, it was more about the team than for me.”

Kasie Enman

Caitlin Patterson: “It’s been an amazing experience to be a part of this mountain running team and to have tagged along with the other strong US senior women to win the team gold medal. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these new teammates. I’ll be bringing great memories and experiences back to my training looking towards the coming winter.”

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

“Emotional” – Joseph Gray, 33, Colorado Springs, CO, 4th place in 55:35.
“Steamy” – Patrick Smyth, 31, Santa Fe, NM, 8th place in 57:19.
“Electrolytes*” – Brett Hales, 30, Layton, UT, 22nd place in 59:30. (We are including an asterisk for Brett’s word because he was very depleted and had to spend some time in the medical tent post-race recovering from the heat and stress of the course. Brett recovered quickly and joined his teammates to accept their bronze medal.)
“Blazing” – Andy Wacker: 28, Boulder, CO, 30th place in 1:00:52.

Brett Hales

Senior men’s thoughts on the competition:

Joseph Gray: “It was a challenging course with technicality, but the cheering crowds were energetic. I didn’t feel pressure as the defending champion because this was an up/down course. I have been saying we have a men’s team with medal winning potential so that was a goal and one we achieved. To me this was the most competitive field I’ve run against with was another reason I didn’t feel there was a target on my back as defending champion.”

Joseph Gray

Patrick Smyth: “The atmosphere in Premana was amazing. Everything they did to host this event was pure class. My goal was to finish better than I did in 2014, which I did by one place. I liked the runnable uphill and downhill sections, but I still haven’t figured out how to run fast up really steep hills. This race started like a World Championship Cross Country race where everyone goes out too hard in order to get in a good position before the course got narrow. I really enjoyed the Italian hospitality, the mountain view from our room and just hanging out with teammates.”

Patrick Smyth

Andy Wacker: “My goals for the race were for a team medal and top 20 as an individual. I didn’t have a great race, but knew that every place I could pick up would help our team. Once I knew my race wasn’t going well I changed plans and raced for the team. I loved the diversity of the course; it was technical in places and fast in others. The one part of the course I was worried about was a super-steep grass downhill with a 90-degree turn at the bottom. Italy truly is a special place for mountain running, the food is amazing and the people of Premana showed us great energy.”

Brett Hales: “The race brought out the demons inside your head because lap 1 wasn’t so bad but it set the tone and put you in the hurt locker going in to lap 2. From there on it was surviving the heat/humidity, steep vert, and tricky descent. I felt like my electrolytes were depleted and I started cramping pretty bad so my focus quickly turned to just make it down without falling and cracking your head open. But even a bad day of racing in Italy is still a fantastic day in the end. The course was exciting and the fans were loud and boisterous, and the atmosphere was electric. Probably my favorite race ever!”

Team Staff Reflects on the 33rd annual World Mountain Running Championships:

Richard Bolt, Mountain View, CA, Team Leader since 2003: I’m really proud of this year’s American team. We had a great mix of experienced team members and talented newcomers. A special thanks to our hosts in Premana for their hospitality and enthusiasm evidenced throughout the competition.”

Richard Bolt

Ellen Miller, Vail, CO, Women’s Team Leader since 2006: “I’m thrilled to see the American women earn the title of World Champions again. Being part of the experience this year was incredible.”

Paul Kirsch, Madison, NH, Junior Team Leader since 2010: “The US junior program continues to thrive. This year we had a record number of applications and the selection committee made great choices in this year’s squad, which is obvious from the finish results. I couldn’t be prouder of these athletes.”

Chairperson, USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Council:

Nancy Hobbs, Colorado Springs, CO: “The level of competition continues to improve at the World Championships and likewise, Team USA rises to that challenge as they did this year in Premana. To earn a medal across all divisions is something we have never done before as a team. Seeing the stars and stripes of the American flag flying overhead five times during the awards ceremony was beyond inspiring, and makes me so proud of our athletes and staff.”

Senior Men’s Team

Final Statistics from the event:

36 countries participated
24 medals awarded including
Uganda = 6
USA = 5
Italy = 5
Romania = 2
Kenya, Czech Republic, Turkey, Great Britain, Austria = 1 medal each

275 photos of Team USA on race day by Richard Bolt: 

Results summary by Corsa in Montanga:

Links to complete results: