Recent Kenai Central graduate Allie Ostrander has been named to the U.S. Junior Mountain Running Team, meaning she will get to compete this fall in North Wales in the 31st World Mountain Running Championships.
Ostrander said she got an email from the Alaska Mountain Runners in late June asking if she would be interested in applying for the U.S. team.
The response for Ostrander was simple: “Well, it’s in Wales, so yeah,” she said Sunday night.
While the senior men’s and women’s teams were selected a week ago at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships in Bend, Oregon, the junior squad — for those between 16 and 19 during the competition year — is selected by resume and letters of recommendation.
That obviously wasn’t a problem for Ostrander, who won the 2014 Nike Cross Nationals title and has proven her climbing and descending chops year after year on Seward’s Mount Marathon.
Ostrander won the junior girls race six times, capping that off by winning the coed race outright in 2014.
This year, in her first year as a senior, she finished second to international mountain running superstar Emelie Forsberg, but beat Nancy Pease’s vaunted former course record of 50 minutes, 30 seconds, by 2 seconds.
So it’s off to Snowdonia, North Wales, for the Sept. 19 competition.
Of course, Ostrander’s first priority is cross-country and track at Boise State, but she said the Broncos don’t have a meet that weekend.
“My coach is just really supportive of mountain running,” Ostrander said of Boise State’s Corey Imhels. “The only hard part will be that I miss four or five days of school.”
In addition to getting the free trip to Wales, Ostrander said it will be great to compete for her country and to meet athletes from all over the world.
One athlete she will already know is fellow junior team member Levi Thomet, a three-time state cross-country champion who recently graduated from Kodiak.
Other junior team members are Katie Bowe of Virginia, Lily Tomasula Martin of Colorado, Ben Butler of Colorado and Tayte Pollman of Utah.
Ostrander also said she looks forward to more exposure to the sport of mountain running.
While she didn’t get to talk to Forsberg and fellow international superstar Kilian Jornet much in Seward, she did follow them enough on social media to get intrigued.
“It seems like they lead an awesome life,” she said. “They do all these races up awesome mountains.
“It seems like they are living the dream.”
Forsberg and Jornet compete in sky running, which is a different discipline than mountain running.
According to the USA Mountain Running press release, juniors will do one, four-kilometer lap with an elevation change of about 820 feet in the race.
By comparison, Mount Marathon has an elevation gain and loss of 3,022 feet in a course that is about five kilometers long.
“It seems to me like it will be a really hilly cross-country course,” Ostrander said. “I always thought mountain running was racing up and down a mountain, but this sounds really different.
“It sounds more like Alaskan cross-country courses.”
Ostrander is set to leave for Boise State on Aug. 15. In the meantime, she is looking forward to the finale of the five-run Salmon Run Series on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Tsalteshi Trails.
Ostrander thought up the Salmon Run Series for her Caring for the Kenai project, and this Wednesday two-time Olympic skier and two-time Mount Marathon champion Holly Brooks will be there as an advocate for Healthy Futures.
The race starts at the Skyview Middle School trailhead.
Ostrander said she told Brooks about the Salmon Run Series at the premiere of the Mount Marathon documentary “3022 ft.” in late June.
Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect the correct date of the World Mountain Running Championships.