Collegians Ready for Trail Running National Championships
2022 Collegiate Trail Running National Championships will be held within the Thunderbunny 11K Trail Race in Athens, Ohio
May 5, 2022 – Athens, OH - The Collegiate Running Association (CRA) and the Southeastern Ohio Trail Runners (SEOTR) are set to welcome the 2022 Collegiate Trail Running National Championship back to Strouds Run State Park near Athens, Ohio. The 11K event will be the third Collegiate Trail Running National Championship ever held and will offer prize money specifically reserved for college students.
The Thunderbunny events, interrupted by COVID for two years, take on a new format this year with the 11K taking place on Friday evening and the 25K and 50K events starting on Saturday morning. The eyes of the college running community will be focused on the 11K which will host the 2022 Collegiate Trail Running National Championships for men and women.
The entry list for the collegiate trail championship boasts strong fields for both the men and women with 2019 runner-up, Josh Park making a return to his backyard. As runners look to the 5:00PM start on Friday afternoon, the weather could become a factor with thunderstorms expected to pass through the area throughout the day and evening.
The men’s field is competitive and the title could come down to the last mile to determine the Collegiate National Champion. Expected to push the pace up front will be Joshua Park (Ohio University), Noah Campbell (University of Richmond), Michael Tonkovich (Ohio University), Jordan Bendura (University of Richmond), Jack Myers (Ohio University), Jake Ethridge (Ohio University), and Ian Switzer (Ohio University)
Park is coming into the race following a strong track & field season for the Ohio University Bobcats. He recently ran 14:26 for 5,000M on the track and boosts a lifetime best of 29:16 in the 10,000M. Park finished 2nd in these championships in 2019, in what was at the time the closest finish in Collegiate Running Association Championships history missing the win by one second.
University of Richmond sends a tandem in Noah Campbell and Jordan Bendura. Both recently finished in the top seven at the Collegiate 10K Road Race Championships held within the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, Virginia. Campbell has run 14:36 for 5,000M and represented team USA in the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships (U20) in Italy. Bendura, placed 4th in the Collegiate 10K Road Race Championships two weeks ago and coms into the race in good form.
Michael Tonkvich (Ohio University) is one to keep an eye on. He has run 3:48 in the 1500M this spring and has top marks for cross country distances. If he can transfer his speed to the trails he could be a threat for the over-all title.
For the women, the front three are expected to battle over the hills and single track trails of Strouds Run State Park from the start. Front runners will be Mary Kate McElroy (Ohio Wesleyan University), Jessie Hartman (Ohio University), Hannah Kemp (West Liberty University), Madelyn Bartolone (Ohio University) and also keep an eye out for Mikayla Heydt (Illinois).
This should be an incredible race to determine the Collegiate National Champion. Kemp is certainly one of the favorites for the Collegiate Women’s Championship. She has a personal best of 17:15.88 in the 5,000M and has shown great form in her recent races which include a 2nd place finish in the 5K and 3rd place in the 10K at the Mountain East Conference.
Don’t overlook Bartolone and Hartman. They have been consistent performers for the OU Bobcats. Bartolone has a 5,000M best of 17:32.16 and Hartman has run every distance from 800M to 10,000M in her college career. Her 5,000M best of 17:42.97 could put her in contention for the win. McElroy had a stellar career at Ohio Wesleyan University where she excelled in distances from 800M up to the 5,000M and 3K Steeplechase. Look for Heydt to round out the top five favorites.
“We are really excited about tomorrow’s race,” said Collegiate Running Association Co-Founder Steve Taylor. “The excitement of being back on the trails of Strouds Run State Park after two years of COVID interruption, has me on edge. Trail running and its growing popularity, along with the great reputation of SEOTR Events makes this one of our favorite destinations. You just have to see, feel and smell the overload to the senses from the amazing wild flowers which decorate the course. If you have not run Thunderbunny you really need to place it on your list.”
“One of the goals of the CRA is to create opportunities for college students in areas of the sport which do not currently exist”, continued Taylor. “The Thunderbunny 11K provides an opportunity for college students to compete for a national championship in trail running. We are ardent supporters of trail running, and this event opens trail running to a broader group including college students who have never participated in a trail run or race.”
The Thunderbunny 11K is scheduled for tomorrow (May 6) and will take place in Strouds Run State Park near Athens, Ohio, the home of Ohio University. It sits on the fringes of the city of Athens with park boundaries coinciding with the city limits in several places. The course is a mixture of mostly single track dirt and grass trails and will have a total of 1,099 feet of elevation gain spread throughout the beautiful loop course. The park comprises 2,600 acres, and includes Dow Lake, a 160-acre lake created in 1960. The start and finish lines are located next to the lake which is a common destination of Ohio University students to enjoy the weather on sunny spring or summer days.
“SEOTR is excited to partner with the CRA to bring the Collegiate Trail Running National Championship to Athens and the Thunderbunny 11K. The Thunderbunny Trail Runs is already such a great weekend and this makes it even better with more opportunity for college runners” said Michael Owen, SEOTR Director. Owen added, “I've been a big promoter of college runners getting into the sport of trail running, and SEOTR shares that same belief. I teach a trail running course at Ohio University, and it's always exciting seeing the passion this age group has for the trails. So, bringing the Collegiate Trail Running National Championship to Athens gives not just OU students, but college runners all around country, a great opportunity to fuel their passion for trail running. Whether a recreational runner, or an elite runner, they'll have an opportunity to be part of a great sport, and I hope this type of opportunity motivates them to stay involved beyond college”.
Participants will be chasing Collegiate Running Association All-American honors (top 5) and $3,000 in prize money specifically reserved for the top three male and female college eligible finishers with distribution as follows:
1st Place- $750