WILMINGTON (UNCW) - When friends heard that Sarah Hamon was selected to represent the United States at the World Mountain Running Championships, their usual first reaction was a congratulations, followed by a common thought - how does one train for mountains in Wilmington?
"I just run, to be honest," said Hamon. "I can't train on hills in Wilmington, everyone knows that. I can go home a bit, run in Raleigh, but for the most part I'm just doing cross country training. You just do your workouts the same. They picked me for the runner I am, not the mountain runner I'm trying to be."
Hamon is getting set to begin her final season running for the Seahawks, and is coming off a successful year in which she finished first for UNCW in five of seven races, including the CAA Championships.
It'll be a journey just to get to the race itself. Hamon will drive to Raleigh, then take flights to JFK, Poland, and then Bulgaria, where she'll then drive a couple of more hours to the race location. The race, in Sapareva Banyathen, is 3.6K, with 531 meters of elevation gain, unlike any competition she's had as a Seahawk.
"The biggest challenge she's trying to prepare for is just the mental, the grind of the never ending hill," said her head coach, Layne Schwier. "That's going to be the biggest challenge. Physically I think she'll be ok. It'll be more of a mental challenge more than anything for her."
One thing's certain – Hamon says there won't be any nerves for any race she runs for the Seahawks this year, after toeing the start line for the US overseas. It's an experience she didn't expect, and there's no taking it for granted.
"I don't anticipate ever going to the Olympics," she said with a laugh, "...so this is an opportunity that I might not otherwise have and it's something that I'll never forget. Hopefully I can do something like this again, but if not, I'll cherish every minute of it."