Written by U.S. Team manager Andrew Simmons. Andrew is also head coach at Lifelong Endurance and head coach at Peak Performance Running.
The U.S. Under 18 Mountain Running Team arrived in Saluzzo, Italy for the 15th International U18 Mountain Running Cup organized by the World Mountain Running Association and Federazione Italiana Di Atletica Leggera. Eight young American runners are ready to tackle an exciting 4.4km course with 155 meters of ascent and descent and a mix of cobblestones, steep climbs through narrow alleys, castle grounds, and a winding course through the foothills of the Piedmont Mountains.
The race will take place on Sunday, June 26th. The International U18 Mountain Running Cup will start at 10:15 am (local time) with the Girls race, followed by the Boys at 11:00 am. Get updated from the race on Twitter @usatf_mut.
After a long travel day the U.S. athletes arrived, fit ready, and excited. Team manager Andrew Simmons took a moment to sit down with each athlete to talk a little about their experience so far and what they’re looking forward to in the race. Here’s what they had to say:
Garrett Stickley | Winchester, VA
What do you think of the course? The course looks very challenging but I think it’s conquerable. I have good feelings about it and I think that when it comes time to run it on Sunday I’m well prepared for what’s ahead of me.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience so far? I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to experience a different culture and learn how people in Italy live. Everything from the architecture; it’s all very different and exciting.
What are you most excited about leading into the race? I think I’m most excited about the competition with other people that are on the world stage. I think of teams like Hungary and Italy. This opportunity to race for my country is beyond exciting. I’m very blessed for the opportunity be here representing Team USATF.
Porter Middaugh | Avon, CO
What do you think of course? After the course preview today, I’m excited to race this unique course. The cobblestones and steep climbs through the city into the park are amazing.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience so far? What I’ve enjoyed most about my experience is the to walk through the town and see all the stores and spend time with people that I didn’t know very well. I came in not really knowing anyone and we’ve made quick friendships.
What are you excited about leading into the race? I think I’m most excited about is getting to run a true mountain race against people my age and people from all around the world. This course is going to be really fun at speed, I’m excited to put my fitness to the test.
William Wachter | Highlands Ranch, CO
What do you think of the course? I think it looks pretty fun. I think it’ll be a really fast race and I’m thinking that after the first initial climb and the hilly trail section is over things will get really tactical. I’m feeling really confident Team USA can compete for a top spot.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience so far? I’ve enjoyed being in a country that I’ve never been before because I’m able to see what a different culture looks like and I’m able to experience meeting new people.
What are you most excited about leading into this race? I’m most excited for being able to compete against the best from around the world because I’ll be able to test my highest capabilities.
Milaina Almonte | Edwards, CO
What do you think of the course? I think the course is pretty challenging. We ran the course twice today and I t was really unique. It was so cool running through all the buildings, I’ve never done anything like that and I’m really excited to race this course.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience so far? Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed just walking around and seeing all the people and the historic buildings. I’ve never been here before so just being in a different country with a different culture is really cool.
What are you most excited about leading in this race? I’m excited to race people from all around the world and to get to do it on challenging course in a beautiful city!
Benjamin Anderson | Highlands Ranch, CO
What do you think of the course? I think it’s good, it’s steep throughout and I think that plays to our strengths. I’m especially excited to come down from altitude so I think the climbs will come a little easier. The rolling course and steep downhills will really show who has the best all around fitness.
What if have enjoyed most about your experience so far? It’s been amazing. Making new friends and meeting people my age from different countries is really special. Italy is really pretty and the old buildings and narrow alleys are fun to explore.
What are you most excited about leading into this race? I’m excited to just race other athletes and represent Team USATF and just run on the world stage.
Rosie Mucharsky-O’Boyle | Denver, CO
What do you think of the course? I’m really excited for everything but the first major hill, the cobblestones are going to be pretty tricky and it just rained so there is a chance that they could be slippery. I think it’s gonna be fun because there’s lots of places to practice in Colorado, and we’ve run a lot of hills so I think that plays in our favor for the 5 of us from. Colorado. I’m excited for a downhill finish, it will be really fast. It’s a pretty long straightaway at the end so you just Gotta go for it and try your hardest.
What have you enjoyed most about your experience so far? It’s so beautiful and everywhere you look is an amazing church, alleyways, or piazza. The course looks itself will be a run through history. I’ve really enjoyed meeting all the people, the team members are so great and it’s been a lot of fun so far. It’s great to have people to explore the city with, walking everywhere. We’ve met a few people from the other teams that have been really sweet; I’m excited to meet all the other teams as they show up.
What are you most excited about leading into the race? I’m excited to run for my country and Team USATF. I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s just such an amazing experience.The opportunity to do this at such a young age is so special and I feel like it just brings excitement level up a notch.you have remember that you’re for more than yourself or your high school or even a state tile, you’re running for the whole country and representing Team USATF which makes this so special!
Victoria Rodriguez | Seven Valleys, PA
What do you think of the course? I think the course is really technical, it has some pretty steep areas, add in the cobblestones and it’s going to be fast into the finish.
What are you enjoyed most about your experience so far? It’s been nice to connect with my teammates on Team USATF and see a new country. Being able to walk the streets, see all the shops, and experience a new culture is so special. This is a beautiful city!
What are you most excited about leading into the race? I’m excited to race this course at full speed with all of the adrenaline of competition. This course has a lot to consider and I’m excited to see how it all plays out.
Alyssa Sauro | Williamstown, WV
So what do you think of the course so far? I like the course a lot! There’s a lot of hills but I think we can do really well. It’s a technical course unlike any other course I’ve run before.
What have you enjoyed about your experience so far? I’ve enjoyed meeting athletes from new countries and exploring Italy. Getting to know people on Team USATF has been special too, excited for what we can do!
What are you most excited about leading into the race? I’m excited to tackle this challenging and hilly course. Racing other countries will certainly be new for me but it’s great competition that will push me!
Find even more photos of the U.S. U18 Mountain Running Team on Google Photos.
U.S. Team Staff
Lin Gentling is leading the U18 for the first time in Saluzzo, Italy. Lin has been an athlete member of two 100K national teams and a 100K national champion. She has led the U.S. 100K & 50K national teams in world championship events for several years. Lin brings a history of personal performance and experience on the international stage.
Andrew Simmons is also leading the U18 team for the first time in Saluzzo Italy. Andrew has coached 3 athletes to the team since 2017: Mary Fox, Colin Szuch, and Nate Schmitt. Andrew is the head coach of Peak Performance Running in Golden, Colorado. Andrew brings his experience as an endurance coach and youth coach to Team USA in Saluzzo, Italy.