Legions of Colorado runners will make their way to the west coast this weekend for the Saturday's USATF National Club Cross Country Championships. This year's course, designed by trail and mountain running great Max King, is projected to be a far cry from the more common groomed-golf-course-grass-track style cross country courses typical at many races, in an effort to bring cross country back to a more European style featuring more difficult terrain. But the course, combined with the over 3,000 feet of altitude in Bend, Oregon, will hopefully tend to favor runners out of Colorado.
Photo by Mike Scott
Last year, Colorado teams and individuals made their presence known with the Boulder Running Company/adidas women taking second overall to Team USA Minnesota, Boulder Track Club's women taking 5th as a team in their first year, Colorado Springs' Mattie Suver (BRC/adidas) taking home the individual crown, with Golden's Brianne Nelson (BRC/adidas) just seconds behind as runner-up. A trio of women out of Boulder--Addie Bracy (Hudson Training Systems), Laura Thweatt (BTC) and Kara Lubieneicki (HTS)--were 6th, 10th, and 13th respectively while Fort Collins' Ellie Keyser (BTC) took 15th. The BRC/adidas men were third to Hanson's-Brooks and the Asics Aggies, while the Boulder Track Club men were 6th in their inaugural year as team. Sean Quigley (BTC) of Boulder was 6th as an individual and also qualified for Team USA at Edinburgh, while Andy Wacker (BRC/adidas) and Kenyon Neuman (unattached), both out of Boulder, also turned in top-20 individual finishes with their 11th and 19th places. Colorado Springs' Simon Gutierrez (Team Colorado) was 8 seconds out of the master's win. This year will see numerous returnees and even more depth out of Colorado.
Both Bracy and Lubieneicki raced beneath the HTS banner last year, but without the 5 runners necessary to score as a team. Bracy's finish earned her a spot to represent Team USA at the Bupa Great Edinburgh cross country race and Lubienicki qualified to race as part of Team USA at the NACAC Championships. This year the two will be backed by their Hudson Training Systems teammates of Tera Moody, Sara Vaughn, Nicole Feest, Alia Gray, Nicole Mericle, Brooke Kish, Maggie Callahan, Nikki Codd, Shannon Kinney, and Amanda Lee. The newly-instated team won the women's title at the Colorado Club Championships last month, and will be likely to turn some heads on the national stage of the club running scene in their inaugural year with a strong team finish, and perhaps by their unique singlets as well. Leo Castillo will be racing for the HTS men.
BRC/adidas will return last year's champion, Mattie Suver, who has had a stellar and extremely consistent year, turning in a steady stream of PR's and top-5 performances on the national road racing circuit culminating in receiving the Roads Scholar grant last month. Runner-up Club champion Brie Nelson will return as well along with Alisha Williams, who was absent at last year's Clubs in favor of winning the California International Marathon. Last spring, Williams clocked a world-leading 15:09 5k on the track. Colorado newcomers Rochelle Kanuho, out of Northern Arizona University and the victor at the Colorado Club XC Championships last month, and Brittni Hutton, formerly of Rochester Hills, Michigan and an Oakland University alum, will add depth to this year's team as will Wendy Thomas, who has put together a streak of consistent top finishes on the roads this year. Making up the remainder of this year's very strong team will be Rachel Gioscia-Ryan, Lori Walker, Ashley Luna, Stephanie Bylander, Sarah Young, Lara Johnson and Shannon Payne.
Photo by Mike Scott
The Boulder Track Club won't return a full team this year on the women's side being just shy of five runners, however they'll still be represented by Laura Thweatt, Ellie Keyser, Allison Steele, and Emma Keenan. Thweatt will go into the race with an outstanding year behind her, having had set PR's on the track this spring in the 5k (15:36) and the 10k (32:15), and most recently had a breakthrough performance at the USA 12k Championships in Virginia with her 3rd place berth behind Molly Huddle and Shalane Flanagan, before helping the U.S. women to their 5th place team finish at November 23rd's Chiba Ekiden Relays in Japan. Keyser similarly put together a solid track season last spring while notching a 5k PR of 16:15 at Mt.Sac in the process. Although she was sidelined with injury later in the year, she will likely have a strong comeback and certainly shouldn't be counted out of this year's top finishers.
Photo by Bret Stevens
Adams State alum Kristen Arendt (formerly McGlynn), who has stacked up a number of great performances on the local road race scene in recent months, along with Melody Fairchild and Amanda Scott, will be running for Team Alchemy/Newton Running Elite. Tyler McCandless will be the team's lone representative on the men's side and will go into Clubs with an exceptional year to his credit, having set PR's on the roads this year in everything from the marathon down to the 10k while garnering first-American performances at the Boilermaker 15k, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and the Kauai Marathon, where he was the victor. The Steve Jones-coached quartet will be the first group that Team Alchemy/Newton Running Elite will have had at Clubs.
Oiselle has picked up numerous runners to sponsor across the country this year, and among their Oiselle-Colorado runners will be Rebekah Adams, Jessica Harper, Allison Krausen and master's runner Lori Stich.
Racing unttached will be Clerc Simpson of Colorado Springs, who clocked a personal best 16:07 5k at Mt. Sac last spring while running for Brooks.
Although the BRC/adidas men may take a hit this year with the absence of their top finisher from last year, Andy Wacker, out with injury, along with James Strang, who represented Team USA at the World Cross Country Championships last spring, they should nonetheless be able to string together a solid group of scoring runners. Among those will be Ian Burrell, who was the winner of last September's El Reto Powerade Half Marathon in Costa Rica, and Brandon Birdsong, who has had a strong year and was the easy winner at the Colorado Club Championships and runner-up in the citizen's race of the Bolder Boulder this year. Most recently, he took 3rd at the Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run--10 seconds behind winner and Austrailian Olympian David McNeill, and 3 seconds under the former course record. Birdsong will come into the race with a year's worth of marathon mileage under his belt. Mike Chavez and CSU assistant cross country coach Scott Dahlberg--who finished 4th and 5th behind Birdsong in Fort Collins as their tune-up for Clubs--along with Brandon Johnson--the Colorado 10k Champion on the roads this year for his win at the Evergreen Town Race last July--will combine to give the men a very strong top five. Also in the mix are going to be Greg Reindl, Bobby Reyes, Jay Luna and Robby Young.
Photo by Bret Stevens
The Boulder Track Club men look poised to have a strong team in their second year at Clubs. They're likely to be led by Sean Quigley, who knocked his 10k PR on the track down to 27:50 at last May's Payton Jordan Invite. After rebounding from an injury sustained during the elite race of the Bolder Boulder, he went on to help the U.S. Men's team to 5th place at the Chiba Ekiden Relays. Quigley will be backed by his BTC teammates Austin Richmond, Curtis Begley, Clint Wells, Andrew Sturner, Jason Simpson, Dan Phillips, and Lee Troop among the masters.
Photo by Tim Bergsten
The Champions League Athletics Performance team is a newly assembled Boulder-based squad, but with the likes of CU alums Martin Medina, Brent Vaughn, and Kenyon Neuman, along with Macklin Chaffee, Richey Hansen and Kurt Roeser, they'll have a very tough group and will likely to be vying for top team honors.
Additionally, BRC/adidas will also have a solid masters team on the men's side for the first time in its history, who have the hopes of giving last year's team champions, the Atlanta Track Club, a run for their money. Multiple-time Team USA Mountain Runner Simon Gutierrez will likely lead the team of Cody Hill, CJ Hitz, Craig Greenslit, CSU cross country coach Art Seimers, and CU-Colorado Springs cross country coach Mark Misch. Consistently among the top master's runners, last year Gutierrez was runner-up to individual champion Malcolm Campbell of Atlanta Track Club, was also runner-up in 2010, and was the master's victor in 2008.
Photo by Mike Scott
Also competing among the masters will be Kyle Hubbart and Scott Tucker, representing the Colorado Racing Club.