David Fuentes has racked up quite a few running and racing accomplishments over the past few years, including winning the San Antonio Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in 2011, and more recently, posting three victories in the Austin Half Marathon. But making the USA’s Mountain Running Team has to be among the top for bragging rights.
Racing at the Loon Mountain Race, which served as the U.S. Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire on Sunday, July 8, Fuentes made the U.S. Mountain Running Team by finishing in the top four. The race was even more competitive than in 2016, when Fuentes was a member of the gold medal winning U.S. team at the World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria. At that time, six qualifiers raced, rather than four.
The grueling 6.6-mile race gains 3,200 feet of elevation on a nearly-all-uphill route, but Fuentes was ready for it.
“The race was loaded on the men’s and even more so on the women’s side,” said Fuentes. “We had some fast guys out there—sub-4 milers and 28-minunte 10k’ers.”
The race went out pretty fast, and Fuentes found himself in the top 15 or so through the first mile. But by one and a half miles, he had made his way to the top three.
“After a mile and a half, we went into the woods and ran this alpine/wooded section for two miles. It was a fast cross-country section,” said Fuentes, a member of the St. Edwards Track and Cross-Country Hall of Fame.
Pulling out of the woods, Fuentes and two other runners built a big lead on the field.
“I led those two guys to the first big climb that was about a mile and a half long,” he said.
At that point, Colorado Springs’ Joe Gray took off, and Fuentes hung in second for most of the way.
“The last 1,000 meters there’s a 42% climb, basically a double black diamond we had to climb,” said Fuentes. “I got caught with 400 meters to go by my friend and equally amazing mountain runner, Andy Wacker.
The team was formed as Fuentes ended up third behind Gray and Andy Wacker (Boulder, CO), while fourth place went to Matt Daniels (Boulder, CO).
“All four of us four were on the team in 2016 that won USA gold in Bulgaria for the first time ever in World Mountain Running Championships,” said Fuentes.
Allie McLaughlin (Nashville, TN, Addie Bracy (Longmont, CO) finished one-two while Annie Bersagel (Greeley, CO) and Kasie Enman (Huntington VT) took the third and fourth spots to make up the USA women’s team.
These four U.S. women and four U.S. men will represent the United States at the World Mountain Running Championships September 16 in Andorra, a small European country located in the high mountains of the Pyrenees between France and Spain.