Due to the two-year hiatus caused by the COVID pandemic and the lingering travel issues it left behind, the International Team Challenge at last year’s Bolder Boulder renewal didn’t feature the same depth of talent as pre-pandemic levels.
Little by little, that’s changing.
The expected roster is set for the pro field in the 43rd Bolder Boulder, which will take off on Monday morning. Six men’s teams will compete in the international field, with five in the women’s field.
As has become custom, there will be two US teams in the men’s and women’s field, with one in each race comprised of Colorado-based runners.
In the men’s field, that includes defending Bolder Boulder pro champ Leonard Korir, who will be joined on the USA-Colorado team by Sam Chalenga and Teshome Mekonnen. Korir and Chalenga both are Kenyan-born runners who starred at the NCAA level. Chalenga became the 11th men’s runner to win back-to-back NCAA cross country titles at Liberty in 2009 and 2010, while Korir won an indoor title in the 10K while at Iona.
The other USA team includes Connor Mantz, Clayton Young and Jared Ward. Mantz, like Chalenga, won consecutive NCAA cross country titles at BYU at the end of the delayed 2020 season and again months later in the fall 2021 season. Young also was a BYU standout, earning eight All-American honors for the Cougars and winning the 2019 outdoor 10K national championship. Ward placed sixth in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
All three competed last year, with Ward finishing fourth and Clayton six seconds behind in fifth. Another recent NCAA standout, Wesley Kiptoo, will lead the Kenyan team. Kiptoo was a seven-time All-American at Iowa State and the winner of a 2021 NCAA title in the indoor 5K.
Last year’s pro winner, Aliphine Tuliamuk, isn’t racing this season, but the women’s field still will feature a defending champion in Laura Thweatt. The former CU standout won the citizen’s race a year ago, but this year she will be joined by Emily Durgin and Ednah Kurgat on Team USA. Kurgat won the 2017 NCAA cross country championship while leading New Mexico to the team title.
The USA-Colorado team will feature Neeley Gracey, Maggie Montoya, and former CU Buff Carrie Verdon.
Tanzania men’s team won the title last year, and returns this year along with teams from Kenya, Mexico and England. In addition to the two USA teams, the women’s field also will include squads from Kenya, Mexico and Colombia.
Following the citizen’s race, the women’s pro race begins at 11:11 a.m. on Monday, followed by the men’s race at 11:22 a.m. The annual Folsom Field Memorial Day tribute begins following the pro races.