Top U.S. Mountain Runners Converge on Andorra for World Championships

For the first time ever, three of the sixteen U.S. team members racing at the World Mountain Running Championships are former world champions. Kasie Enman became the first U.S. female World Mountain Running Champion at the 2011 up/down-format event in Tirana, Albania. In 2016, Joe Gray won the uphill event in Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria for his first world championship. This past June, junior team member Joslin Blair won the Mountain Running International Youth Cup (U18) in Lanzada, Italy.

These three champions are joined by a strong group of experienced U.S. team members. Along with Gray; Andy Wacker, Matt Daniels and David Fuentes were on the first-ever U.S. men’s gold medal winning team at the 2016 World Mountain Running Championship. Gray and Wacker were also on the U.S. men’s silver medal winning team at the 2018 Long Distance Mountain Running Championships this past June in Karpacz, Poland.

Joining Enman on the U.S. women’s team are Allie McLaughlin and Addie Bracy who were on the gold medal winning team at the 2017 World Mountain Running Championships. Both McLaughlin and Bracy finished in the top 10 against a strong women’s field on the 13 km up/down course with 860 meters of ascent and descent. New on the U.S. women’s team is Annie Bersagel who ran the second-fastest half marathon for a U.S. athlete in 2014 at IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in 70:10 and has a marathon personal best of 2:28:29.

For the first time, every one of the four members of the junior women’s team have competed on previous U.S. teams. Joining Blair on the 2018 team, Soleil Gaylord raced in the 2017 NACAC Mountain Running Championships, 2017 & 2016 World Mountain Running Championships and the 2017 Mountain Running International Youth Cup (U18). Quinn McConnell finished 11th at the 2017 World Mountain Running Championships helping the U.S. junior women’s team to a silver medal. Anna Shults finished 7th at the 2018 Mountain Running International Youth Cup (U18) helping the U.S. women’s team to a bronze medal.

Nathan Davis is the only member of the U.S. junior men’s team with international experience competing at the 2017 Mountain Running International Youth Cup (U18). Davis will be joined by experienced off-road runners Soren Knudsen, Denver Perry and David Cardenas.

Top 5 men at the 2018 USATF Mountain Running Championships – the sole selection race for the US Mountain Running Team. David Fuentes, Andy Wacker, Joe Gray, Matt Daniels and Lee Berube.

The 34th annual World Mountain Running Championship takes place this weekend in Canillo, Andorra on the heels of a big announcement from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on the future of the championship. In recognition of the growth of off-road running, the IAAF will organize a combined Trail and Mountain World Championship starting in 2021. This represents a significant accomplishment for a race first organized by the World Mountain Running Association in 1985 with just 87 athletes from 8 countries.

On Sunday September 16, America’s fastest off-road runners will compete against over 320 elite mountain runners from 38 countries. The U.S. Team is made up of four senior men, four senior women, four junior women (U20) and four junior men (U20). The senior athletes will race a 12 km course climbing 3372 feet. The junior athletes will race 7.3 km climbing 1890 feet.

For the first time in the history of this championship there will be prize money awarded to the top 3 women and men. Equal prize money will be distributed to women and men; $1500 for first, $1000 for second and $500 for third. Prize money will be paid after the top three athletes have passed WADA certified anti-doping tests.

Below are quotes and photos from athletes representing the United States at the 34th World Mountain Running Championships:

Quinn McConnell (#367)

Quinn McConnell, 18, Boulder, CO
While tuning up for the championship, Quinn recently ran 17:38 at the Liberty Bell 5K.

“I am so excited to be traveling to Andorra in less than two days. I cannot wait for the incredible people we are going to meet and the chance to show the world how powerful U.S. mountain running is!”

Follow Quinn on Instagram.

Soleil Gaylord

Soleil Gaylord, 18, Telluride, CO
A freshman at Dartmouth College, Soleil recently won the under 19 division at the Sneffles Half Marathon in a time of 1 hour, 27 minutes.

“I am so thrilled to join our extremely talented 2018 U.S. Junior Mountain Running Team. Every year is a true thrill, and I can’t wait to reconnect with all of USMRT’s fabulous athletes and compete in the mountains of Andorra!”

Follow Soleil on Instagram.

Joslin Blair

Joslin Blair, 17, Eagle, CO
A few weeks ago Joslin won the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede.

“I’m excited to be able to test my running in the mountains of Andorra and honored to be representing the USA on a global level. Not only will I be able to race abroad, but I’ll also have the chance to meet athletes from different countries. I can’t wait to challenge myself and work with my teammates. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

Follow Joslin on Instagram.

Anna Shults

Anna Shults, 17, Lafayette, CO

“I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to race on a team with some of the best junior girls from Colorado! I can’t wait to meet all the other athletes, line up on a start line with athletes from all over the world and my teammates by my side, and give it my all from the start.”

Andy Wacker

Andy Wacker, 29, Boulder, CO
This past July, Andy finished second at the USATF 30 km Trail Championships.

“Being a member of the 2016 Men’s Gold metal team was one of the best moments of my life! This year, the opportunity to be on Team USA, with three returning teammates is incredible! I can’t wait to get another chance for Team USA to compete against the Worlds best in Andorra!”

Follow Andy on Instagram.

David Fuentes

David Fuentes, 31, Austin, TX

“There is no greater pride I take than when I get to put the USA jersey on. To earn a spot to represent my country is something I don’t take lightly. Our expectations in Andorra are to win as a team. We are strong, fit, and fast. We know what it takes to race against the world’s best, and we are going to be ready to race.”

Follow David on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Joe Gray on his way to a bronze medal at the 2018 Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. Photo by BikeLife.

Joe Gray, 34, Colorado Springs, CO
Joe added another national championship to his trophy case in July, winning the USATF 30 km Trail Championships.

“I’ve never been to Andorra so I’m excited to check yet another country off the list. Beyond simply racing there for the first time I’m also eager to explore a new culture, food and mountains with my Team USA mates. Representing my country is and has always been a huge honor I look forward to each and every time I can race with the USA flag on my jersey!”

Follow Joe on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Matt Daniels

Matt Daniels, 30, Boulder, CO

“I’m thrilled to travel to Andorra with the opportunity to explore new mountains in the Pyrenees and represent the USA in the World Mountain Running Championships! Our Veteran team will do everything we can to bring another gold medal back to the United States. Although the competition will be tough we have experience and excitement on our side!”

Follow Matt on Instagram.

Addie Bracy

Addie Bracy, 31, Longmont, CO
Showing amazing versatility, Addie has been mastering the long run over the past few months winning the Never Summer 100K and finishing 2nd at the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Race.

“I’m very excited to be visiting a new place and to be racing next to such a strong women’s team. Last year we were able to snag the Team Gold Medal and it was a special feeling that I would love to replicate this year! It’s always an honor wearing a USA jersey and representing my country and I can’t wait to lay it all there on the course.”

Follow Addie on Instagram.

Annie Bersagel

Annie Bersagel, 35, Oslo, Norway

“This is the first time I’ll be running for Team USA after suffering what I thought might be a career-ending knee injury in 2015. We have a strong team and I will do my best to bring Team USA to the top of the podium.”

Kasie Enman

Kasie Enman, 38, Huntington, VT
Kasie recently won the USATF 50 km Trail Championships at Ragged Mountain, New Hampshire.

“This will be my first time competing at worlds on an uphill year, so that will be an exciting new challenge. I always love these team races because they give you that extra push to give it all you have. We’ve put together a strong and experienced group of women this year. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’d like to get as far up the podium as possible.”

Follow Kasie on Instagram.

Allie McLaughlin

Allie McLaughlin, 27, Nashville, TN

“I’m definitely looking forward to reconnecting with several foreign competitors/friends I’ve stayed in touch with from years past. It’s such a honor to be around athletes from other parts of the world while representing your own. One of my most favorite aspects of being on the US Team is that it gives more meaning to running. I often feel my training can be a selfish thing but when the work goes into something so meaningful, it is justified.”

Follow Allie on Instagram.

Nathan Davis

Nathan Davis, 18, Urbana, MD
Showing good speed, Nathan recently ran 28:01 for 8K at Colorado College.

“I’m super excited about representing the USA in Andorra! I can’t wait to meet tons of new faces and catch up with some old ones too. Not to mention competing in the World Championships, what an opportunity! I can’t wait to show the world what I can do.”

Denver Perry

Denver Perry, 18, Ogden, UT
Denver finished 2nd to a 34-year-old at the Wahsatch Steeplechase Trail Race

“It is such an honor to be able to wear USA on my chest. I’m super excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to leave it all on the course.”

Follow Denver on Instagram.

Soren Knudsen

Soren Knudsen, 19, Flagstaff, AZ

“I’m so excited to represent Team USA and learn from and love so many wonderfully unique and talented individuals!”

David Cardenas

David Cardenas, 18, Grand Junction, CO

“When I first got a call from Coach Paul I was extremely excited to hear that I made the USA Mountain Running team. I’m glad I get the chance to meet new people and travel to a new place. I’m proud and honored to represent Team USA!”

The USA team staff members have over 35 years of combined experience leading elite American athletes to World Championship events. The 2018 US Mountain Running Team staff are Paul Kirsch (juniors), Ellen Miller (senior women) and Richard Bolt (senior men). For real time photo and race updates follow the team on Twitter and Instagram.

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