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September 10, 2007

2007 Teva U.S. Mountain Running Departs for Switzerland

Seventeen athletes representing eight states will race on the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team at the 23rd World Mountain Running Trophy in Saillon, Ovronnaz, Switzerland, on Saturday, September 15, 2007.

The women’s team includes gold medalists from the 2006 team Rachael Cuellar, 25, Albuquerque, NM, and Chris Lundy, 36, Sausalito, CA and 2004 bronze medalists Laura Haefeli, 39, Del Norte, CO, and Anita Ortiz, 43, Eagle, CO. The top three finishers score for the team.

The men’s team will be led by eight-time team member Paul Low, 33, Belchertown, MA. Joining Low will be six-time team member Simon Gutierrez, 41, Alamosa, CO, two-time team members Rickey Gates, 26, Boulder, CO, and Shiloh Mielke, 27, Weaverville, NC, and newcomers Clint Wells, 32, Boulder, CO, and Payton Batliner, 23, Boulder, CO. The top four finishers score for the team.

Gates has been racing in Europe since the beginning of July finishing fourth in one of the prestigious World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Grand Prix races – Austria’s Grossglockner – on July 15, a finish which impressed the WMRA VIPs on site in Austria. Gates has kept in close contact with the team staff and recently said, “I am excited for the race but apprehensive towards setting forth any predictions.” Gates has been training on the World Trophy course most recently with junior team member Alex Jodidio.

First-time team member Clint Wells said of his preparation, “Training has been going pretty well and I have been able to improve my fitness since the qualifier in Steamboat. As always I would like my fitness to be better, but who wouldn’t! I think I am ready for a good race. My preparation hasn’t been too much different than my normal training routine. However, I have been trying to run on the trails a little more and do a few mountain runs that I haven’t done since college. I think my strengths for the course will be the uphill sections. I will have to really concentrate on the downhills to stay in the race; that is where I usually lose ground.”

Juniors must be at least 16 and not yet 20 in the year of competition. The USA squad includes 2005 team members Jonny Stevens, 18, Vail, CO, and Christian Thompson, 19, Candor, NY, 2006 team member Zach Rivers, 17, Victor, NY, and newcomer Alex Jodidio, 17, a U.S. citizen living in Grimentz, Switzerland. The top three score.

Stevens says, “I'm super excited for the trip. My training is going well, my high school cross country season is in full swing, and we've been doing our long runs on the trails around town.” Stevens raced on his Battle Mountain High School Cross Country Team on Saturday, September 8 in Leadville, CO where he finished first overall. Stevens felt that the race in Leadville would be a good tune up before the “Big One” next Saturday.

Thompson said, “My training is going great. I have been doing a lot of hilly runs at altitude in and near Boulder, CO. I am preparing for the Trophy by using by cross country training. I have just been adding in a little extra hill work. I ran in a CU time trial and finished the 8k course in 27:15 and was ninth overall on the team. I am very excited for this year as I feel that I am much and stronger and much for fit and feel more experienced on how to run the hills. If I can run the uphills very smart I believe that I will be able to make up a lot of time that I will loose on the downhill section.”

Rivers reported, “The news of snow and cold weather (in Switzerland) could not sound any better. I am tried of 90 degree days, and want to see snow! Right now my downhill training is going down the steepest part of our local ski area and seeing how that feels, and it is getting better since my first time going down anything extremely steep like (Mount) Cranmore (in New Hampshire). I am still in cross country training for high school and that is going very well. As for the course, we are going to need to have a little more speed along with a massive amount of strength. I feel very confident on my uphill strength, which I believe it to be better than last year, and I have been working on my down hill strength, which should make this years trophy race very interesting. Can’t wait to be there!”

The junior women’s team includes 2005 team member Katherine Helmerick, 18, Cheyenne, WY, and newcomers Anna Lieb, 19, Golden, CO, and Maria Dalzot, 19, Morgantown, WV. The top two score for the team.

Dalzot says, “My training has gone very well leading up to the Championships. I have had many successful workouts and training runs that are geared toward being prepared for the mountains in Switzerland. I have been visualizing the course and running the race in my head. I am healthy, injury-free, and mentally and physically ready for this race.”

Lieb reports, “I've been doing some intervals with Scott Elliot (a multi-time champion of the Pikes Peak Ascent), practicing both uphill and downhill bursts of speed, as well as some breathing techniques. We've been running in the Boulder Mountain Parks, which are as beautiful as they are challenging. I've been biking every couple days rather than running to avoid overuse injuries. I'm extremely excited about Switzerland. Other than that, my preparation mostly involves getting ahead with my course work and making lists of people to buy Swiss chocolate for.”

Team manager Nancy Hobbs, Colorado Springs, CO, team leader Richard Bolt, Portland, Oregon, team manager for the juniors Dave Dunham, Bradford, MA, and women’s team manager Ellen Miller, Vail, CO will accompany the team to Switzerland.

This year’s Trophy races are up/down events (as opposed to even-numbered years when the events are held on uphill courses) with the senior men running three loops of the 4.050 kilometer course for a distance of just over 12km, the senior women and junior men running two loops of the 4.050 course for a distance slightly over 8km, while the junior women run one loop of the course at 4.050km.

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