Team USA is already shaping up to be highly competitive in the 2016 Bolder Boulder International Team Challenge. Three of the top eight overall finishers from last year’s race – including Bobby Curtis and Jared Ward, the top two US men respectively, and Mattie Suver, the top US woman – have already committed to return to Boulder this Memorial Day to try to help Team USA bring home the victory.
All three runners were top-ten overall finishers in the Pro division in 2015 (4th, 6th and 8th respectively), and should be well represented at the Rio Olympic Games this summer: Ward is already on the Marathon team, while Curtis and Suver are two of the top favorites to qualify in the 10K.
Early results and training reports this season bode well for the trio. Ward’s 2:13 (his PR) at the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles, despite oppressive heat, shows his strong form; Suver has also notched a major victory, recently winning the 2016 US Cross Country National Championships in Bend, Oregon, in an impressive 36:38. Curtis spent the winter focusing on the marathon, building up an outstanding base for spring racing.
“Suver is clearly on top form, judging by her dominant win at Cross Country Nationals. She’s also finished in the top 10 multiple times at the BolderBOULDER,” says Don Janicki, Pro Athlete Coordinator at BolderBOULDER, and former professional runner. “Early this year Bobby emailed me enthusiastically saying he wanted to return after his incredible 4th place last year – his first attempt ever at our race, and he came from sea level. And then there’s Ward, whose outstanding performance in LA speaks for itself! This is a very promising start for Team USA.”
The BolderBOULDER International Team Challenge includes runners from all over the world that run on three person teams in a team-by-country format that compete for the largest non-marathon prize purse in the United States. Teams are allotted points according to the three finishing positions, and the least points wins. Thus, the team with the winning overall racer may not necessarily win the Team race – it’s consistency that counts. Having three top-eight finishers from 2015 bodes well for the US team this year: The strong individual results from Suver, Ward and Curtis helped the men’s and women’s teams finish second last year, ahead of perennial powerhouses like Eritrea and Kenya respectively.
Race Director Cliff Bosley expects especially tough competition this year. “We think the timing of our event works perfectly with the Olympic Track & Field Trials starting July 1st – one month out should provide a perfect opportunity for one last all-out race effort before focusing on qualifying,” says Bosley. “This should help make this year’s race packed with top names and more exciting than ever!”
Other notable teams returning to the BolderBOULDER include perennial favorites and last year’s men’s and women’s individual and team champions, Ethiopia. Their biggest rivals, Kenya, will also return, along with potential challengers Eritrea and nearby Mexico. More athletes and teams will be announced in the coming weeks.