US Juniors Reflect on Their Experiences at the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For many young athletes, representing Team USA while still in high school or college is a dream come true. On November 15, 2019, eight talented young athletes, ages 16-19, competed for the US Junior Mountain Running Team at the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships in Villa La Angostura, Argentina. The 8-kilometer race featured heavy rain, tough climbs, and a river crossing. The US junior men and women placed two runners in the top ten.

US junior women Joslin, Samantha, Lydia and Maggi in Argentina. Photo: Myriah Blair.

See the full race recap, results and photos of the senior teams on this website. In this article, the US Junior Mountain Running Team reflect on their experiences competing for Team USA at the World Mountain Running Championships:

Michael Hancock (Dearborn, MI) 26th place. If I could have known one thing about the race beforehand, it would have been the difficulty of the course. I’ve been on some cross country courses with big hills, but nothing like this. It was true mountain running. They actually had to change the initial course because of how dangerous it was! Overall, the experience was surreal and I’m so glad I was able to participate in the event. I had the opportunity to meet many different people and experience something completely new.

David Cardenas (Grand Junction, CO) 20th place. Something I could take away from this race is definitely the start. I had never experienced such an aggressive start. Also, being a returner this year really helped because I was much more comfortable meeting new people. I wasn’t as shy to go up to people and talk to them. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.

Maggi Congdon (Steamboat Springs, CO) 23rd place. My top two takeaways from the World Mountain Running Championships are; Learn to go with the flow! Things change all the time (courses, weather, etc.) and stressing about those changes never helps! Also, Be open to new experiences and new people. You will never regret something you try, you will only regret not trying.

US junior team member Anthony Hancock tearing up the mud in Argentina. Photo: Myriah Blair.

Joslin Blair (Eagle, CO) 15th place (pictured top of page. Photo Myriah Blair). One of my biggest takeaways from the World Mountain Running Championships was the opportunity to meet and form relationships with new people from all over the world. I competed on the US Junior Mountain Running Team last year, as well as the US Youth Mountain Running Teams the last two years. I’ve seen a lot of the same competitors at these races which has given me the chance to learn about them and the places they come from. It’s been really cool to form friendships with people from all over the world. This race also gave me the chance to form relationships with my own teammates, most of whom I had never met before. We were able to get really close as a team and become really good friends!

A tip for next years juniors would be to be ready for anything! The weather was great all week long before the race, then it was pouring rain on race day. This made the trails really muddy and the river crossing more challenging. It wasn’t what I had expected going in, but ended up still being a super fun race and experience.

Tyman Smart (Grand Junction, CO) 6th place. I’d say that I took away a new outlook on what a team could be. Most of us juniors met only a couple of days before the race but it felt like we were really tight. We still talk on a group chat almost every day. I would tell the juniors of next year to be ready for any conditions on the course. It can get super gnarly!

All eight US junior mountain runners at the opening ceremonies. Photo: Andy Wacker.

Learn more about these athletes from our junior team announcement article published this past Fall.

See also my own takeaways from competing on the 2015 US Junior Mountain Running Team at the World Mountain Running Championships in Wales.