WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Rising junior Sarah Hamon of the UNCW women's cross country team has been selected by USA Track & Field to join three other runners representing the United States at the 32nd World Mountain Running Championships this September in Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria.
The 19-year-old Hamon, from Cary, N.C., led the Seahawks in five of seven races last fall and was named Team MVP after pacing the team at the CAA Championships. A graduate of Cary Academy, Hamon is majoring in Biology at UNCW.
"It's a huge honor and not one that I expected," said Hamon. "I'm looking forward to contributing to the team. It's bigger than anything I've ever done before."
Hamon has been "trying to get a feel for it" by running incline intervals on a treadmill to simulate mountain terrain. She's already had a videoconference with her teammates and made plans keep in touch through the eight weeks leading up to the trip.
"This is a great opportunity for Sarah," said Layne Schwier, UNCW's interim cross country/track and field coach. "Anytime you have a chance to represent your country, it's a huge honor. It's an opportunity she couldn't pass up."
Members of the team must be under 20 years of age before January, 2017, and are selected on the basis of their running resume and letters of recommendation. Hamon will be joined on the team by Soleil Gaylord, 16, Telluride HS, Telluride, Colo.; Claire Graves, 18, Citrus Valley HS, Highland, Calif.; Julia Jaschke, 18, Kent Denver School, Greenwood Village, Colo.
"The junior team has been an important development program for the U.S. Mountain Running Team since 2002," said Richard Bolt, Team Leader for the U.S. Mountain Running Team. "After reviewing close to 50 applications I'm confident this most recent crop of young runners is the strongest we've ever brought to the world championships. I'm excited to watch them race in Bulgaria and think they have an excellent chance to win both team and individual medals."
Hamon and her new teammates will be tackling an uphill course of 3.6K with 531 meters of elevation gain. A junior men's team will also compete in Bulgaria and USA Track & Field will send senior men's and women's teams as well.
"Sarah has had to be creative with her training," added Schwier. "She just has to get as fit and strong as possible and see what happens. The CAA Championship and NCAA Regionals were both held on rather hilly courses, but those courses will seem like nothing after she climbs a mountain.
"To represent the USA, especially in an Olympic year, and to represent UNCW on the national and international level is always special. I'm sure Sarah will give it her best and represent us well. She'll benefit in so many ways from this experience."
Hamon, who plans to graduate from UNCW in May, said mountain running is "very different" than cross country and "very different than anything I've ever done before." She has never been to Eastern Europe before and hopes to see some of the country during training runs.
"I hope to explore some of the area during runs. I can't really set time goals for this. The biggest thing will be to work on consistency and not going out too hard, maintaining a pace and sticking with it.