Coloradans Dig Deep In Andorra At World Mountain Champs

Quinn McConnell and Anna Shults set a hot early pace. 

While we're in the thick of the high school cross country season, some of Colorado's best traveled halfway around the world to compete in the 34th annual World Mountain Running Championship at Andorra's Grand Valira ski area.

Colorado was well-represented on the girl's side of competition, with Eagle Valley's Joslin Blair, Peak to Peak's Anna Shults and Quinn McConnell, and 2018 Telluride grad Soleil Gaylord. On the boy's side Central's (GJ) David Cardenas donned the red, white, and blue for Team USA, and Colorado.

Junior competitors endured 1,800-feet of climbing, mostly in the final three miles of the 7.3-kilometer course. 

When the gun sounded, there were familiar hints of blue that streaked to the front, only it wasn't Peak to Peak blue, it was Team USA blue.

McConnell and Shults set a hot early pace, while Blair and Gaylord hovered within the pack. Gaylord wasn't only battling the challenging course, or the competition, she was battling a cold. 

Leading the way for the red, white, and blue was Peak to Peak's Shults, who went on to finish 14th in 47:15.

"Today, my goal for the race was to run fearlessly," Shults said in an interview with the American Trail Runner Association. "I really wanted to focus on staying mentally tough when it got difficult. I loved having all the U.S. fans out there screaming for me and being able to race with some of the best girls from Colorado was truly an amazing experience."

Blair was just a minute back in 48:21, good for 18th, while McConnell was the third Team USA member to cross the line in 50:06, for 25th place. Gaylord battled throughout, and was endured a 45th place finish in 54:35. 

The race was won by Uganda's Risper Chebet in 41:19.

As a squad, Team USA placed sixth out of 13 teams. 

On the boy's side of the competition, Cardenas finished 42nd in 44:53.