Eleven of the top American ultra-trail runners have arrived in Benicàssim, Spain for this Saturday’s 85 km Trail World Championship race. Along with athletes from over 50 countries, the Americans have settled into Hotel Intur Orange just blocks away from long sandy Mediterranean beaches. The beaches may beckon, but first the athletes must tackle the rocky, technical trails of the 85 km (4900 meters climb / descent) point to point course ending at Santuari de Sant Joan de Penyagolosa 1400 meters above sea level.
On Thursday the team drove 90 minutes out to the third aid station in the small mountain town of Vistabella (62 km) at 4000′ above sea level. From here athletes were able to preview the most technical, rocky sections of the course. That evening the team took buses into the nearby city of Castellon for the parade of nations & opening ceremonies. The parade route was packed with locals who turned out to view the spectacle. Introduction of the teams, speeches and local performers continued the festivities in the old town square. The evening was capped off with fireworks, a light show and music.
Find even more photos of #TeamUSATF athletes on Google Photos.
The race starts at 6:00 AM local time Saturday in Spain. USA team staff will be posting updates and photos on Twitter @USAultrarunning. Also be sure to follow @iRunFar for more extensive race day updates and live track from http://penyagolosatrails.com
Here are quotes from #TeamUSATF athletes in advance of tomorrow’s championship race:
Amy Leedham, 33, Larkspur, CA – “Being here now is wild and it’s really fun having all the teams in the same hotel. Everyone is really nice and I’m enjoying the team aspect which is like what I experienced with cross country running.”
Clare Gallagher, 26, Englewood, CO – “High excitement in Valencia right now! We’re ready to rep for the USA against a stout field. It’s hot outside!”
Sabrina Little, 31, Robinson, TX – “We’re trained, rested and so eager for the race to begin. It’s going to be a tough, awesome Saturday for our crew!”
Kaytlyn Gerbin, 28, Issaquah, WA – “Being in Castellon and meeting athletes from all over the world has been amazing. Team USATF is excited and I’m looking forward to racing tomorrow.”
Dani Filipek, 26, Rochester Hills, MI – “This entire experience of representing the United States at these world championships has been such an exciting opportunity! It has been absolutely amazing time from being part of parades to touring the course with the USA logos across our back. Not many get to represent Team USATF or get to travel the world so I feel so super blessed! Go Team USATF!”
Sarah Pizzo, 35, Lakewood, CO – “We’re looking forward to taking on the best trail runners in the world on a tough course. We’ve all trained really hard for this race so we’re physically and mentally at our best.”
Chris Raulli, 29, Manlius, NY – “I’m really excited to be here in Spain representing the USA. Much of my family is here to support me, so I hope to make them proud. I’ve trained extremely hard for this race and think I can compete with the best guys here. Team USATF is strong this year and I think we can have a great day tomorrow!”
Zach Ornelas, 27, Ann Arbor, MI – “I’m excited to compete in the hardest race I’ve ever done as I continue to explore my limits. Ready to fly with Team USATF.”
Zach Miller, 29, Manitou Springs, CO – “The competition is strong, the stakes are high, and the course is challenging. It’s time to give it all we’ve got and hold nothing back in the race.”
Olin Berger, 32, Seattle, WA – “I’ve scouted the course, met the competition, and have a great plan for the post race buffet. I hope the race goes as well.”
Mario Mendoza, 32, Bend, OR – “We are focused on the aspects of the race that we can control; that is our effort and grit. The goal is to give it the best fight possible as a team.”