Collegiate trail running team setting the pace
by Brian Boyle, Marketing Communication, Western Colorado University
For the second consecutive year, Western Colorado University’s trail running team is sending a contingent to Europe in the summer to compete internationally.
Three male and three female student-athletes will travel to Gastein, Austria for the 2019 adidas Infinite Trails World Championships (aIT) June 27-30. The event features a three-runner relay over three different distances with three unique route profiles across more than 120 kilometers with 7,000 meters of vertical.
Western’s trip to aIT is fully funded, compliments of adidas Terrex, which will provide airfare, lodging, race entries and meals as well as adidas Terrex shoes, product and accessories for Western’s trail runners.
Trail running team coach Josh Eberly announced the roster this spring. The female team is Rya Berrigan (alternate), Kendall Cox, Maddie Hart and Elle Walton, with Skylar Drakos, Jeshurun Small and Brian Whitfield making up the men’s squad.
“My favorite part about the trail running team is all the amazing people I have met as well as the amazing places we have been able to run in,” says Hart, a junior environment and sustainability major with a minor in biology. “I think running allows some of the closest friendships to form, and the trail team is filled with genuine, kind, excitable runners who I am lucky to be able to call my friends. In addition, being able to go on trips to the most amazing places—such as the Grand Canyon and Ouray—and run with these amazing people is my favorite part of the team.”
In addition to making its mark on the racing scene, WCU’s trail running team is starting to influence the sport itself, says Eberly.
“In the world of trail running and ultrarunning, it really was once just an ‘old-guy sport,’” says Eberly, who won an NCAA Division II national championship at Western in the 10K, enjoyed a professional running career and, most recently, won the 2018 Leadville Silver Rush 50 Run. “Mainly, the older guys crossed over to do these trail and ultra races. Now, we are introducing these kids to the trail/ultra world at a young age, which will directly affect the competitiveness and landscape of the sport,” says Eberly.
Western’s trail running team has even captured the attention of Jamil Coury of Run Steep Get High. The ultrarunning luminary published a video on his YouTube channel of a recent homecoming visit to campus that included a trail run with the team.
“These kids are the future of trail running and adidas Terrex and Western’s mountain sports program have invested in showcasing this,” Eberly says.