Via Matt at Inside Trail‘s Euro Bureau: Americans feeling this globalization bug that’s going around.
To reiterate: What a spectacular weekend for Americans in Europe. Max King and Kasie Enman shocked the world on Sunday (yeah even the loyal teammate, coach, prescient prognosticator, grandma or cousin Vinnie was fairly surprised) with individual gold medals at the 27th World Mountain Running Championships in Tirana, Albania. Although the men’s and women’s teams both finished fourth, just missing the podium, it’s safe to say the USMRT and most racing fans can appreciate this . On the men’s side, Joe Gray finished 11th, Ryan Woods 49th and Matt Byrne 51st. Inside Trail had a little preview and more or less overlooked the Americans. Why? A) take a look at results from previous WMRC trophy events, especially the last couple of years, which have been dominated by the Africans (Ugandan, Kenyan, and Eritrean runners to be specific) and Europeans; B) have a gander at some of the recent race results of our two ringers, Max King and Joe Gray; and C) refer to the 12.47k course, which set-up for more of “A”.
Although some certainly had their eye on Enman because of her return to health and consistent form, and her U.S. mountain running title at the Cranmore Hill Climb in New Hampshire, still this individual gold shattered her and her team’s expectations, especially considering she’s the first U.S. women’s world champ ever, not to mention her first participation in the WMRC. Megan Lund-Lizotte finished 12th and Michelle Suszek ran into 21st for the American squad.
King’s result is also simply awesome. Like Enman, he beat all comers at the Cranmore Hill Climb. And he too delivered individual gold in Albania. Max (52:06) was joined on the podium by Ahmet Arslan (52:41) from Turkey and one of the Italian Dematteis twins, Martin (52:57). His brother Bernard (54:16) and Sierre-Zinal winner Marco De Gasperi (54:33) round-out the top 5. So, what happened? Since 2009 the Africans have largely smothered the top 10. Not this year. King actually recalls seeing one of the Ugandan runners late: “[He] was 30 seconds ahead of me at the top of the third
climb and I passed him with about 800 meters to go. ” Despite the pre-race odds, a little parity transpired in Tirana.
Quick spin: the course set-up was described as a mix of grass, dirt and single-track among a fairly typical amount of up and down (based on other WMRC trophy courses). The rub was the less technical terrain;the faster African runners would enjoy the speedier conditions. However, that sounds like a course that King might enjoy, as well. “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,” said King, who happens to be a seasoned and successful cross-country athlete.
What about his Sierre-Zinal 20th, or his DNS at Pikes Ascent? Those (who know him or) perhaps caught Nick Clark’s interview of King prior to Sierre-Zinal might recall he talked about wanting to be ready for Worlds in September, despite sounding under the weather, maybe a bit uninspired. To the contrary, maybe he was simply finding his way to the WMRC start, a runner who had an A race focus, who executed to perfection, becoming the first American man to win the gold since Jay Johnson in 1987.
WMRC men’s and women’s results when they become available.
Either way, we have a couple of runners who knew exactly what was possible in Albania on that particular course, in the face of so much international dominance. Brilliant and inspired goods. Congrats to Mr. King and Kasi Enman and American mountain running at large. Let this inspire others to administer like carnage on the global stage.
Likewise, in the Netherlands Michael Wardian (6:42:49) and Andy Henshaw (6:44:35) ran 2nd and 3rd throughout most of the 2011 IAU 100k World Championships, trailing only Italy’s Giorgio Calcaterra (6:27:32), who also won this race in 2008. Wardian and Henshaw, along with Matt Wood’s sixth place in 6:50:23, propelled the Americans to a team gold. World travel at its finest.
The women’s team secured silver, highlighted by the incredible work of 50 year-old Meghan Arbogast’s 5th place in 7:51:10, Annette Bednosky’s 6th place in 7:54:59 and an 11th place finish from Amy Sproston in 8:10:11. What are they smoking over there? Especially Ms. Arbogast, who simply knows something the rest of the world is missing out on. Congrats, ladies! The race was won by Russia’s Marina Bychkova in 7:27:19. Unfortunately, Ellie Greenwood recorded a DNF and was not able to repeat her victory from 2010, which shouldn’t dim her spectacular 2011 race season much at all, having already won the Frozen Ass 50, Chuckanut 50k, American River 50, Western States 100 and Powderface 42.