Eagle Valley’s Blair strikes gold in Italy race
LANZADA, Italy — Surprised?
No, one really shouldn’t be.
Now a junior at Eagle Valley, Joslin Blair continues to amaze the running world by winning the Mountain Running International Youth Cup recently in Lanzada, Italy. She’s the first American to win gold at the event.
“Not surprised,” Eagle Valley cross-country coach Melinda Brandt said. “She goes into competitions so confident, more confident than last year. She was in incredible shape this year.”
Blair finished 11th in this race in 2017 and knew what to expect.
“It’s such an incredible opportunity and experience, getting to test your running skills on the world stage as well as meeting athletes from other countries.” Blair said.
And, thus, the resume grows. After two years at Eagle Valley, Blair has finished 14th and seventh in the state during the fall in cross-country. Last spring, she won state gold in the 1,600 meters, bronze in the 3,200 and was fifth in the 800.
The Youth Cup, at its core, is just a race, but, then again, it isn’t.
One wants to approach it like it’s the Anna Banana meet during the regular season, but perform like it’s state.
“It goes both ways,” Blair said. “I prepared with my training similar to cross-country, but a little bit different. I did similar length (repetitions), but added hills for transitioning to uphill and downhill.”
Ironically, given the severe ups and downs of the Lanzada course, Blair called on her experience from the Battle Mountain Invite at Beaver Creek and the Lead King Loop 12.5K race near Aspen.
And then there were the stairs. The Youth Cup starts up church steps and more are in the two-lap course. The Blair family went to Europe as a group, and while there, Blair found ancient city steps and ran them as training.
And Blair ended up winning in 23 minutes, 50 seconds ahead of Turkey’s Ezgi Kaya and Romania’s Laura Marina Corhana.
“I felt stronger, just my training coming off track and I knew what to expect, having raced there before,” Blair said. “It was crazy. It was amazing. I still quite haven’t processed it.”
Back to work
Not surprisingly, Blair is already back to work, training for her junior cross-country season, building up that base ahead of Eagle Valley’s first practice of Aug. 16. Yet after the Youth Cup, she took some time to be tourist like the average American teenager in Europe, visiting Croatia, Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany. Dubrovnik in Croatia was probably her favorite because of its history.
Given that she was 14th at state her freshman year and seventh in 2017 at the state cross-country meet, expectations for this fall are high.
“I’d definitely like to improve my placing, maybe get into the top five or top three,” she said.