Stevens, 15, returns from World Mountain Running Championships |

Stevens, 15, returns from World Mountain Running Championships

Shauna Farnell
Special to the Daily/Jerry Stevens Local runner Jonathan Stevens, 15, makes his way down the finish stretch of the World Mountain Running Championships in Wellington, New Zealand on Sept. 25.

VAIL – There are some indications for a high school runner that he’s not at any old cross country meet: He’s surrounded by some of the world’s best trail runners. There are different languages being spoken around him. People are stretching and taking practice runs as if their lives depended on it. It’s almost summer. Battle Mountain sophomore Jonathan Stevens was eager to get to his bed after returning from the World Mountain Running Championships last weekend.Stevens, in the footsteps of his older brother Grant, is one of the most talented athletes in the Huskies squad. But he’s missed a few team meets the last couple of weeks while matching strides with runners from all over the world in Wellington, New Zealand.

“As far as the experience, I really enjoyed it,” said a groggy Stevens from the car on his way back to the valley from the airport in Denver Sunday night. “It was really cool to be out there with all the runners.”Stevens was the third finisher from the United States in the World Mountain Running junior boy’s race. He finished with a time of 44 minutes and 26 seconds on the 9.1-kilometer course on Mt. Victoria, and was 41st overall. New Zealand local men’s runner and Olympian Jonathan Wyatt had the top time of the day, finishing in 36:60.Stevens said the course was “gnarly” and the beginning portion consisted of a steep climb that was “pretty much straight up,” followed by a tricky descent full of roots and awkward, off-camber turns.Stevens landed one of four spots on the U.S. Teva Mountain junior boys team when he applied with a 5K finish of 16:45 and ringing endorsements from some of the valley’s best professional runners, including Josiah Middaugh, Lisa Isom and Anita Ortiz, the latter who also competed in the Championshiops. Ortiz ran for the Teva women’s masters team and took fourth among U.S. women with a time of 49:12. Placing 45th overall, the finish was a disappointment for Ortiz, who is a four-time masters world champion. During the race, Ortiz re-injured a torn plantar fascia she suffered in last year’s championship race, an injury that set her back significantly throughout the summer race season.

Stevens, who happened to be in Ortiz’s kindergarten class, was not happy with his result, either.Two days before the race, Stevens was struck with a sudden virus that had him throwing up for hours on end.”I don’t know what it was. I was getting a cold the day we got there. I was sniffling and sneezing, but I felt fine,” Stevens said. “We all went out to dinner and hit the hay pretty early. I couldn’t fall asleep. I ended up over the toilet. The day before the race, I wasn’t able to eat a lot. I got some stuff down in the afternoon. I’m not sure if I had an empty tank or what.”The one thing Stevens knows is that he’s not finished running yet. His immediate goals are to win regionals with his Battle Mountain team and to top the school record of 16:32, which his brother set as a senior. The 15-year-old already matched the record earlier this year, in addition to blowing away his age group in local trail races and finishing second or third overall behind the likes of seasoned runner Bernie Boettcher and pro adventure racer Mike Kloser.

“Talking to some of the senior guys, I’d definitely like to keep up with this and get on the senior team as well,” Stevens said. “There are some guys making a living out of mountain running. As a mountain runner, I was kind of able to see where I could go with that. Now, I see more options in running.”Next year’s World Mountain Running Championships will take place in Bursa, Turkey, and will consist of an all-uphill course.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

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