Father and son team John and Ryan Kerrigan, Duxbury, have been appointed as U.S. coaches for the 2018 Sky Running Youth World Championships.
“From sea to sky, skyrunning spans the great outdoors, across the world’s mountain ranges … and the imagination of thousands of participants and fans. It’s a sport born in the wild, where the logic was to reach the highest peak in the shortest time from a town or village. Today it represents the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality and counts some 200 races worldwide with around 50,000 participants from 65 countries,” longtime Harwood Union cross-country coach John Kerrigan said.
“From a distance, it looks as if runners were literally dropped out of the sky,” he added.
The Kerrigans traveled to Andorra last year with seven Vermont runners.
“We were looking for unique opportunities for Harwood runners and members of VTXC (Ryan’s running program),” the elder Kerrigan said. “The World Junior Championship Skyrace was everything we wanted. It was international (Andorra is a small country in the Pyrenees), it was on unique terrain (mountain tops) and it was held at a convenient time for our runners (summer vacation),” he added.
The Vermont runners had a wonderful experience, but also they made an impression on the race directors. Sergio Roi, referee of the youth world championships, commented on the friendly attitudes and skill levels of the Vermonters. Sam Hodges of Cornwall and Erin Magill of Moretown had podium finishes. This was the very first time Americans attended a youth skyrunning event in Europe. Roi asked the coaches to return in 2018 and bring runners not just from Vermont but representatives from across the U.S.
The Kerrigans have assembled a talented group of runners from Alaska, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Washington and Vermont.
The races this year consist of a Vertical Kilometer on August 3 and 15 or 25 km mountain ridge run on August 5. Races will take place in the Gran Sasso region of Italy located 100 kilometers east of Rome. Gran Sasso (Big Rock) is also the site of the southernmost glacier in Europe. It is also not far from the last battle of the Tenth Mountain Division in Italy during WWII.
“Vermonters were well represented in the 10th Mountain infantry. Their motto 'Climb to glory' expresses the goal of what the U.S. Skyrunning youth hope to accomplish at the event this year, only the third time this event has been held,” John Kerrigan said.
As Ryan Kerrigan (current director of U.S. Skyrunning) says, running mountains has another benefit. “Running on steep, hilly terrain through forests and over mountaintops, on and off trail is our heritage,” his father pointed out.
“I am both honored and excited about representing this very talented group of young athletes. We are hoping to improve upon our sixth-place finish from 2017,” the younger Kerrigan said.
The team is fundraising for the event. A link to their GoFundMe page is below. It includes photographs and bios of each of the runners and coaches attending the 2018 Skyrunning Youth World Championships.