Madeleine Burns made the most of her time in Italy at the World Mountain Running Association’s Under-18 Mountain Running Youth Cup, after she had a top-10 finish in the first international race of her career.
The Durango High School girls cross-country star finished in seventh-place on Saturday in Susa, Italy, a village in the Piedmont region of Italy, and helped her USA Track & Field teammates earn the bronze medal at the event. Burns was the second-fastest finisher for Team USA, after she completed the 4.1-kilometer race in 20 minutes, 55 seconds.
The host, Italy, won the gold medal after it scored six points on the podium, while both Team USA and Turkey scored 30 points, but Turkey’s third runner finished in 15th-place, while Steamboat Springs’ Maggi Congdon was 18th in 21:48. Samantha Blair of Eagle was the highest-finishing American, and took fifth-place in 20:27. Italy had all three medalists after Katja Pattis won the race in 19:52, Luna Giovanettu took home the silver in 20:05, while Axelle Vicari finished in third-place in 20:06.
Burns, daughter of Andy and Emily Burns, said she had never seen a course quite like Saturday’s before.
“This race was a lot of fun. I’d never done any race like this before,” Burns told Richard Bolt of the American Trail Running Association. “There were parts of the course, like in the middle of the race, where I thought ‘Wow, I’m running through a castle in Italy – this is amazing!’ This was such a challenging race but the huge variety of terrain made it really fun. Being here was also a super great learning experience because it was different than any races we have in the U.S. Experiencing the culture of mountain running in Italy has been incredible.”
Her teammate Samantha Blair said the runners were aggressive and all looked to make their moves on a tight and narrow course.
“This course was like nothing I’ve ever raced,” Blair said. “I couldn’t have predicted how the race would have unfolded. The start was like the Liberty Bell – a big cross (country) running race in Colorado – but way more European style. Other runners ran way more aggressively than I expected making the racing very intense. My favorite part of the course was running up narrow stone stairs into the castle courtyard. The race is a really good kick off for my cross-country running season. It makes me more excited for all the upcoming races at home in Colorado.”
The technical course featured 200 meters of ascent and descent, and runners had to compete on various surfaces, including pavement, cobblestone and single-track mountain paths that were highlighted by steep climbs and rapid descents. While Susa sits at an elevation of only 1,650 feet, other athletes said that even though they fared well with the elevation, the challenge was the varying degrees of terrain.
Team USA finished fifth on the boys side as it picked up 40 points. James Gregory of Fort Collins took fourth and crossed the finish line in 17:02, Rafael Sanchez of Los Alamos, New Mexico, finished in 15th with a time of 17:54, while Lafayette’s William Ledden finished in 21st, and crossed the finish line in 18:10. France had all three medalists in the boys race, as Hugo Schropfer edged Basile Basset for the gold medal and finished in 16:54, and Mael Allaire took third-place in 17:00. France also won the gold medal with six points, Wales finished in second with 33 points while Turkey finished in third with 36 points.
With her first international race completed, Burns will travel back to Durango where she will have the remainder of the cross-country season ahead of her. Durango will compete at the Joe Vigil Invitational Sept. 7 in Alamosa.