TEAM LOOKS TO BUILD ON PAST PODIUM SUCCESS

The 2010 Team in Kamnik, Slovenia

Tirana, Albania – September 5:  The U.S. Mountain Running Team heads to Tirana, Albania, this week to take on 32 countries at the 27th annual World Mountain Running Championships on Sunday, September 11.  At the 26th World Mountain Running Championships, the men’s team won their second-ever team medal – a silver –  while the women narrowly missed out on their fifth team medal.  This year’s senior and junior teams look to capitalize on that history and bring home medals again in 2011.

This year’s 17-member squad is a diverse group, hailing from 10 states and covering all geographic regions of the country: The Northwest, the Rockies, the Southwest, Southeast and Northeast.  The senior team members earned their spots with top finishes at this past June’s U.S. Mountain Running Championships at Mt. Cranmore in North Conway, New Hampshire.  The Junior Team (must be 16 in the year of competition and not yet 20), was selected by the mountain team staff based on running resumes and coaches’ recommendations.

“This year’s team is a combination of seasoned veterans and first-timers,”  remarked Team Manager Nancy Hobbs, “Every year the competition gets more intense with high-caliber athletes coming from varied backgrounds – road, track, cross country, trail, and mountain – vying for spots on the team.  It’s great for the sport and also improves our chances of medaling at Worlds”.

Ellen Miller, Women’s Team Manager, noted, “It’s such an honor for me to be the Women’s Team Manager again this year.  Our team members work so hard to make the team and towards a strong performance at Worlds.  If everything goes right, our women have a great shot at returning to the podium.”

This year’s team will be racing an up/down multi-lap course in the capital city of Tirana.  The running track consists of a short section on pavement at the start and finish and includes a course primarily of dirt, grass, and single track through forested areas within a national park. The course – being an up/down year (in even-numbered years the World Championships course is an uphill-only route) – has something for everyone and will surely favor those with great descending skills.

“Up/down courses require different skills than uphill-only years. Depending on the steepness of the uphill or downhill sections, it can favor either your strong climbers, or those who excel at steep downhills,” said Hobbs. “We’re fortunate because Team USA has a good mix of climbers and descenders.”

The junior women will run 4.49 kilometers with an average grade over 11 percent and the steepest uphill section boasting a 40 percent grade. The vertical gain over the course is approximately 284 meters. The junior men and senior women will each run 8.59 kilometers with a total gain of 547 meters and an uphill section a bit steeper than the junior women’s climb. The senior men will run 12.7 kilometers with 799 meters of climbing and a maximum steep climb of 41 percent.

“I’m looking forward to some great performances from Team USA at this year’s World Championships in Albania.  The course is less steep and less technical than past years and should suit many of our faster team members,” noted Richard Bolt, U.S. Team Leader.

In the junior competition, the women can run up to three athletes with the top two scoring for the team results (combined places indicate the final score), the men run a maximum of four athletes with the top three scoring. Likewise, the senior women can run up to four athletes with the top three scoring. For the senior men, six men can run on the team with the top four finishers to score.

“I’m really excited about the prospects of our juniors this year.  Thanks to the support of some great college and high school programs, the quality of the athletes vying for spots on the team just keeps getting better and better,” said Paul Kirsch, Manager of the Junior Team.  “I’m optimistic about our chances for both the young men and women.”

For the World Mountain Running Championships, preliminary entries list 51 junior women, 71 junior men, 60 senior women and 124 senior men.

This year’s U.S. team consists of the following athletes:

Max King (Bend, OR), winner of multiple events in 2010, including the U.S. Half Marathon Trail Championships, XTERRA World Championships,  also placed 16th at the World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia.  King was the second U.S. finisher at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Spain in March of 2011.  King finished first at the U.S. Championships at Cranmore and was a member of the Silver Medal U.S. team in Kamnik at the 2010 World Mountain Running Championships.

Joe Gray (Lakewood, WA), a four-time U.S. Mountain Running team member, finished 10th at the World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia to lead the team to silver, and won the 2009 Cranmore Hill Climb/U.S. Mountain Running Championships.  Gray finished in second place at this year’s U.S. Championships. He was the top finisher at the 2011 North American Central American Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships, a title he has held for three years running.

Ryan Woods (Boone, NC) has a personal best of 13:50 at 5000 meters (track), but is no stranger to mountain and trail running.  He finished 3rd overall at Cranmore this year.  He won the La Sportiva Mountain Cup in 2010, and also finished second at the 2009, 2010, and 2011, U.S. 10km Trail Running Championships.

Matt Byrne (Scranton, PA), finished 3rd at Cranmore in 2009 finished 4th this year at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships, and 4th at the Mt. Washington Road Race in 2008.  Byrne is a three-time member of the mountain running team, including the 2008 Bronze medal team.

Tommy Manning (Colorado Springs, CO), was 3rd at the 2010 Cranmore Hill Climb and 4th this year at Cranmore at the U.S. Champs, finished 6th at the U,S, Mountain Running Championships in 2010 at Mt. Washington, and was the third U,S, finisher at the World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia last year. He was a member of the 2011 U.S. Team at the NACAC Mountain Running Championships and recently placed second at both the Pikes Peak Ascent and the inaugural Pikes Peak Road Ascent.

Jared Scott (Flagstaff, AZ),  like Woods, is a newcomer to the U.S. Mountain Running Team earning his spot with a sixth place finish at Cranmore.  He finished first at the Don’t Fence Me In 30K Trail Race in 2010, as well as a 6th place finish at the U.S. Snowshoe National Championships in 2011.  He holds several Colorado State Championship titles at distances to include 1500 meters and 5k (cross country). He excelled in college and was part of the national Championship squad at the  University of Colorado.

The women’s field includes:

Kasie Enman (Huntingdon, VT),  the women’s winner at this year’s U.S. Mountain Running Championships.  She finished fourth at the 2009 Cranmore Hill Climb and has finished in the top three at the Mt. Washington Road Race.  Enman was the top New Englander at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and has qualified for the 2012 Women’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.  Enman  set four course records this year at mountain races across New England, including breaking her own course records by several minutes at the Ascutney Mountain Challenge and Loon Mountain Race.

Michele Suszek (Loveland, CO) is an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and has won five marathons during her career.  She made her first mountain team with her impressive second place finish at the U,S. Mountain Running Champs.  Suszek also finished second at the 2010 Xterra National Championships.

Brandy Erholtz (Evergreen, CO), is a four-time member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team,  and two-time champion at the Mount Washington Road Race. Erholtz finished third at this year’s U.S. Mountain Champs in a hard-fought battle with teammate Megan Lund-Lizotte, and eventual fifth-place finisher Amber Moran.

Megan Lund-Lizotte (Basalt, CO) finished fourth this year at Cranmore and is a four- time team member and two-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier.  Lund-Lizotte finished 16th at the 2009 World Mountain Running Championships and finished in 6th Place at the 2009 Cranmore race.

JUNIOR MEN

Oliver Bear Don’t Walk (Age 18, Everson, WA), currently holds the American Junior 50km record (3:10:07) and has also qualified for the USATF Junior Track and Field Championships in the 10,000 meters in 2010 and 2011.  He has a 5K road personal best of 15:06 and finished 5th overall at the U.S. 15km Trail Champs in 2011.  He attends Stanford University.

Chase Caulkins (Age 19, Ketchum, ID/Portland, OR), was a member of the 2010 team where he finished as the top U.S. Junior.  His 5km track personal best is 14:09 and he recently finished in an impressive 4th place in the 5000 meters at the USATF Junior Track and Field Championships in June.  Caulkins also ran 24:19 for 8 km during the cross country season.  He is entering his sophomore year at the University of Portland.

Billy Fayette (Age 18, Clarendon Hills, IL), is a recent graduate of Hinsdale Central High School where he set numerous school records and was winner of the prestigious Jim Carmignani award- best all round male athlete/leader at Hinsdale Central HS in 201.  Fayette ran a 14:39 (3 mile) in the IL State Cross Country championships.  He has PRs of 9:09.96 in the 3200m and 4:10.33 in the 1600m.  He attends the University of Richmond.

Ryan Lee (Age 19, Wilmington, DE), is a sophomore at the University of Richmond.  Last season he finished 12th in the 5000m race at the USATF Track and Field Championships, where he competed against now-team mate Chase Caulkins.  Lee has PRs of 8:45 (1500m), 14:33 (5000m), 25:32 (8km XC).

JUNIOR WOMEN

Krisztina Dearborn (Age 19, Mirror Lake, NH), is a sophomore at Central Connecticut State University, where she ran this year to personal bests of 18:39 in the 5000m and 38:44.22 in the 10,000m.  She went to high school at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro where was second in the 2009 Lakes Region Cross Country championships.  Dearborn also got to preview what the World’s course will be like when she competed in the 2011 U.S. Mountain Running Championships.

Clare Moretz (Age 18, Madison, VA), while a senior at Madison High School (a 2011 graduate), had PRs of 5:07.71 in the 1600m and 11:16.18 in the 3200m.  After being undefeated for the first half of her 2010 cross country season,  she suffered a stress fracture that left her unable to compete for the rest of the cross country season.  Moretz turned that around in the spring where she was 1st at the VHSL Group A State Championships in the 3200 and set a school record in the 1600m with her second place finish at the Championships.  Moretz qualified for the championships in the 400, 800, 1600, and 3200.  She is a freshman at the University of Richmond.

Lara Shegoski (Age 19, Belle Mead, NJ), had a strong freshman year (2010-11) at Johns Hopkins University where she had a 17:37 personal best in the 5000m and had her 6000m XC personal best at the Division III National Championships in November. While at Montgomery High School in New Jersey, she was All American in the 5000m indoor and outdoor. Shegoski’s leg speed will serve her well at the relatively fast course in Albania.

You can follow the team’s pursuits online at any of the following sites:

Website:  www.usmrt.com and www.usatf.org

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/usatfmut

Twitter: www.twitter.com/usmrt

The official race website for the 2011 WMRC http://www.wmrc2011.al