Junior Men’s Mountain Running Team ends Medal Drought in
Team USA’s junior men struck double silver at the 31st
World Mountain Running Championships held at Betws-y-Coed, Wales on Saturday,
September 19, earning the first-ever junior men’s medals at the event.
Team USA started the junior mountain running program in 2002
and has realized junior women’s gold, silver, and bronze medals over the past
decade in both individual and team categories, but the best finish for the men
had been a team fourth and several individual top-ten finishes.
Alaska’s Levi Thomet finished 2nd, ending the U.S.
junior men’s drought with a gritty performance over the 8.9-kilometer course
comprised of two loops boasting 239 meters of elevation gain per loop.
After the first loop, Thomet was chasing early men’s leader
Ferhat Bozkurt from Turkey with the pair well ahead of the field of 63
international competitors. The two held
their positions to the finish with Bozkurt extending the gap to win in 33:56, followed
by Thomet in 35:50. Mustafa Goksel
finished three seconds later in 33:53
In the team competition, Turkey had a near-perfect score of
9 to take gold among the fourteen teams. With two top-ten performances by
Thomet and ninth-place finisher Ben Butler, who ran 36:49, USA nabbed silver
with a score of 28. Tayte Polmann, who passed six athletes on the descent,
finished 17th in a time of 37:46 as the final scoring member and
Connor Wilson finished 46th in 41:52. Home country Great Britain raced to bronze
with a score of 30.
The 4.7-kilometer junior women’s race preceded the junior
men’s race and Team USA realized a gold medal by Alaska’s Allie Ostrander, the
first world champion of the day. The petite 18-year-old with a bright and
engaging smile and personality, bested the field by 38 seconds to take the win
in 19:44. Second across the line was Michaela Stranska, Czech Republic, in
20:23. Rounding out the top three was youth challenge champion from 2013, Elsa
Racasan, France, in 20:31. Racasan is currently a student at Rice University in
With six points, the Czech Republic took the team gold medal
among the 16 teams. Great Britain earned silver with 13, followed by France for
Bronze with 20 points. The top two
finishers score for the team with up to three racing. The final scoring member
for Team USA was Lily Tomasula Martin in 30 position timed in 22:49. Katie Bowe
finished 38th in 24:29.
Switching gears to the senior competition, Team USA again
made the podium with a silver medal, led by sixth-place finisher Kimber Mattox,
who raced the 8.9-kilometer course in 39:31. Not even one second separated the
next two US finishers, Kasie Enman and Morgan Arritola, who finished in tenth
and eleventh respectively in 40:11. Not far back, was Allison Grace-Morgan in
18th with a time of 40:59. This was the first time all four U.S.
women finished in the top 20, and the first team silver. The U.S. women
previously won gold in 2006, 2007, and 2012, and bronze in 2004, 2009, and
Great Britain took the team gold with 9 points and Uganda
earned bronze with 28 points, just one point behind USA. There were 14 teams.
Sunshine, ever-present throughout the day, continued through
the senior men’s race, which was the final event of the championships. The
men’s course was, “Deceptively difficult,” according to US team member Josh
Eberly. “It was a combination of everything, the grueling climb, the slickness
of the rocks, the shoe-sucking mud, the long descent. It was a tough course.”
The course consisted of 13-kilometers requiring three loops,
which meant three long climbs and three long descents. The course required
strength, endurance, speed, and focus. The first runner to the line was
Uganda’s Fred Musobo in 49:00, followed by Italy’s Bernard Dematteis in 49:42.
Rounding out the top three was Robbie Simpson, Great Britain, in 50:31.
With an outstanding fifth-place performance, and first finisher
for Team USA, was Colorado’s Joseph Gray with a time of 51:16. Second for Team USA was fellow Coloradoan Andy
Wacker in 13th position timed in 52:25, followed by Oregon’s Ryan
Bak in 22nd with a time of 53:30. The final scoring member was Nevada’s
John Patrick Donovan in 37th place timed in 54:44.
Also for Team USA, Josh Eberly, Colorado, in 45th place timed in
55:29, and Andrew Benford, Arizona, in 50th place with a time of
With 25 points, team gold was awarded to Italy. Uganda
finished in silver-medal position with 38 points, followed by Great Britain for
the bronze with 46 points. There were 19 full teams in the senior men’s
Thirty-three countries participated in the championships.
Next year, Bulgaria will host the World Mountain Running Championships on an
uphill-only course slated for Sunday, September 4, 2015.
For complete results visit www.wmra.info.