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September 25, 2005

U.S. Mountain Running Teams Battle the World's Best

(Wellington, New Zealand) – Under blue skies and above the shimmering waters of this city's Oriental Bay, the world's greatest mountain-running talent did battle on the slopes of Mount Victoria at the 21st World Mountain Running Trophy Championships (WMRT).

The Elite Men's Race took place with all eyes on four-time WMRT champion Jonathan Wyatt. Wyatt attacked the course—his home course as he is a resident of Wellington—early and never looked back. He led by :35 at the top of the race's first lap, and eventually prevailed by 2:12. With his victory in this year's up-and-down race format, Wyatt became the first-ever champion in the WMRT's two formats (up and up-and-down). The Italian team claimed second, third and fifth, winning their 21st consecutive WMRT team title.

Simon Gutierrez led the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team to a sixth-place team finish on the day – an improvement from the team's eighth-place 2004 finish. Gutierrez went out fast, ran the down hills strongly, and finished a career-best tenth overall at the Championships. Eric Blake ran a solid race, shining on the uphill sections of the course, and finished in 23rd place. Tim Parr (36th place) and Paul Low (50th) rounded out the men's team scoring.

The day's finale featured a women's race that many considered wide open. Defending champion Melissa Moon was the hometown favorite, but was upstaged by fellow Wellingtonian, Katie McIlroy. McIlroy blasted to an early lead and won by two minutes. She was followed by Scotland's Tracey Brindley and Anna Pichrtova of the Czech Republic.

The U.S. women were led by Laura Haefeli and Chris Lundy. Both staked their claims from the start and held tight to their places. An exuberant Haefeli cracked the top 10, finishing 8th. Lundy finished an impressive 18th. Rounding out the women's team performance, Julie Bryan came 37th. Team veteran and 2004 USATF Masters Mountain Runner of the Year Anita Ortiz aggravated an injury early in the race, yet endured to finish back in the pack.

Earlier in the day, the boys' and girls' Teva U.S. Mountain Running Teams aimed to further assert themselves against the traditional powers of the mountain-running community. This was only the fourth year that the U.S. has sent a junior team, and many signs point to the program's increasing future success. The boy's team finished 10th overall. The girl's team fought hard, but landed in the back of the pack. Still, they gathered experience that should pay off in future competitions.

Complete World Mountain Running Trophy Results are available at www.wmra.info .

 

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