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September 11 2006

U.S. Women Take Gold

The Teva US Mountain Running Team had its most successful day in the 22 year history of the World Mountain Running Trophy (Championship). The women's team finished first with 35 points, turning back challenges from the Czech Republic and Italy with 37 and 39 points respectively. A record 36 countries competed to determine the top mountain runners in the World. Medalists came from five continents, and World Mountain Running Association President Danny Hughes noted ’This should send a message to the IAAF that mountain running is reaching the level that should be fully recognized as a World Championship. Currently the IAAF offers the status of "patronized" to the race, hence it being called the World Trophy.

The team was led by first-time team member Nicole Hunt who finished in 9th place overall in 50:13. Nicole was closely followed by another first-time team member Rachael Dobbs (50:24) and Chris Lundy (51:21) in 10th and 16th places respectively. Lundy was second for the US team in scoring last year in Wellington, New Zealand. Lisa Goldsmith, the top US women nearly ten years ago in Upice, Czech Republic, ran 53:22 to finish 30th in a field of 83 runners. This was the first time the US has taken home a team Gold, and only the second team medal ever by a US team. Rachel noted that she "didn't know what to expect but kept working" throughout the race.

The women traversed an 8.5 Kilometer (5.2 mile) course which climbed 3,000 feet. The overall winner was Andrea Mayr of Austria in 47:11. Mayr, one of the pre-race favorites, lived up to that billing, forging and early lead which grew over the punishing second half of the course.

The men's team was led by five-time team member Simon Gutierrez (59:21) and Eric Blake (59:28) who finished in 10th and 11th place respectively. Eric keyed off of Simon after moving through the top twenty over the early kilometers of the race. Ricky Gates placed 25th in 1:01:08, and Paul Low (running in his seventh World Championship) closed out the team scoring with his 67th place finish in 65:17. Shiloh Mielke and Kevin Tilton placed 77th and 87th respectively in 1:06:46 and 1:08:08 in a field of 149. Shiloh called the course generally hard, and the competition was very good". He also noted that he will "try at least one qualifier next year" with a hope of improving at the next World Trophy.

The team finished with 113 points, which is the lowest (best) point total ever, topping the 143 point total from 2002. The 5th place finish was also a US best. The team competition was fierce with Eritrea ending Italy's 16 year streak of victories taking the win with 37 points to Italy's 44. The host country took bronze with 62 points.

The 12 Kilometer (7.5 mile) race climbed 4,300 feet from Bursa to the small mountain settlement of Sarialan. Five-time Mountain Champion Jonathan Wyatt was unseated by Colombian Rolando Ortiz in a sprint finish. Ortiz took the victory in 56:16. Wyatt may have been affected by dog bites he sustained from an attack two days earlier while previewing the course.

The Junior boys team competed over the same 8.4 Kilometer course as the women. Andrew Benford, a freshman at the University of Richmond, was the top US finisher taking 12th place overall in 46:36. Andrew's place was the best ever for a Junior boy. Zach Rivers, a junior at Victor High School (NY), was 43rd in 51:36. Rory Egelus, running on his fourth US junior team, closed out the team scoring, taking 47th in 51:44. John Horn finished in 57th, covering the course in 53:27. The junior team placed 8th in a field of 80 runners representing 20 countries. This was the best finish ever for the Junior team and their 102 points ties for the lowest point total by a Junior team, although the field was significantly larger this year. Eritrea was the top team scoring an incredible 9 points.

Story from Bursa, Turkey
Written by Dave Dunham, Manager - Junior Team
More details to follow September 12

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