From Nancy Hobbs, USATF MUT (Courtesy Running USA Wire #73-09-11) –
At the 27th World Mountain Running Championship, held on Sunday in Tirana, Albania, the USA set the bar with historic gold medal performances by Huntingdon, Vermont’s Kasie Enman and Bend, Oregon’s Max King.
“In my nine years as team leader, I’ve never been more proud of our athletes than I am today,” said Richard Bolt. “Kasie and Max’s performances blew me away. They made winning a World Championship look easy.”
“This is the first time I have represented the U.S. in a World Mountain Running Championship,” said Enman. “I’m very did not expect to win.”
With her victory Enman becomes the first Senior woman from the U.S. to earn an individual gold medal. She led the Senior women to a fourth place finish. Her time was 40 minutes, 39 seconds over the 8.59 kilometer course. She was followed by Megan Lund in 12th place in 43:56, Michele Suszek in 21st place (44:48) and Brandy Erholtz in 26th (45:56).
“It’s an historic day for our women,” said women’s team manager Ellen Miller. “Kasie’s victory honors the past 17 years of U.S. women’s mountain running.”
For King, this was his second consecutive appearance at the World Mountain Running Championship, and he bettered last year’s 16th place performance with a decisive victory today.
“I’m tired, but I feel very good,” said King. “This is my first individual medal (last year’s Senior men’s team took the silver), and I’m proud to have it in an up / down year especially in Albania.”
King’s gold medal becomes only the second gold for a U.S. male. Jay Johnson, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Boulder, Colorado, won gold in 1989, and since that time, Johnson has been an ardent supporter of Team USA.
About his gold medal performance King said, “It was a good course for me having both the hard technical uphill and the fast and somewhat technical downhill. I had no idea I was in the lead until I crossed the finish line. The Ugandan runner was 30 seconds ahead of me at the top of the third climb and I passed him with about 800 meters to go. I didn’t think that he was the one I was trying to catch, I thought it was a lapped runner.”
King led the men’s team to a fourth place finish with his time of 52:06 over the 12.7 kilometer course. He was followed by teammates Joseph Gray in 11th (55:33), Ryan Woods 49th place (1:01:51), Matt Byrne in 51st (1:01:58), Tommy Manning in 79th (1:08:10) and Jared Scott 96th place (1:20:21).
“It was strong team finish, but we were obviously disappointed that we didn’t finish in the medals,” said King.
Before the Senior races, the Junior men and women competed. In the Junior men’s 8.59 kilometer race, University of Richmond sophomore Ryan Lee posted an impressive 11th place finish. He was followed by fellow Spider Billy Fayette in 28th place and Oliver Bear Don’t Walk IV in 54th place. The Junior men finished tenth.
The Junior women raced 4.49 kilometers. Krisztina Dearborn, a sophomore at Central Connecticut State University, finished in 24th place followed by Johns Hopkins sophomore Lara Shegoski in 29th place and University of Richmond freshman Clare Moretz in 30th place.
“I’m tremendously proud of the efforts of our Junior athletes today,” said Paul Kirsch, manager of the Junior team. “They raced against the best in the world and held their own. I’m grateful to their college coaches who realize the tremendous opportunity this gives a collegiate athlete to race on a world stage.”