Two Routt County runners compete in national high school trail championships
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Jaydon Fryer stepped up to the start line of the National High School Trail Championships last weekend in Salida, it occurred to him it was the first time he was on a start line since October 2019 when he competed in the state cross country meet.
On July 25, the rising senior at Steamboat Springs High School stepped up to the start line in Salida. It wasn’t a jam-packed line like the state meet, as the race was going out in waves to comply with safety and health guidelines established amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fryer was just looking to have fun competing for the first time since the fall, but he ended up 18th in a talented field of 102 runners. Friend and Soroco High School senior cross country runner Alex Colby also decided to compete, finishing 61st.
“I thought it was going to be more of a dirt path, but it was a true trail course,” Fryer said. “It was an insanely stacked field. It was some of the best kids in Colorado that were all there, all just ready to give their best and enjoy racing again.”
The course was 5.4 miles long with some serious climbs up public singletrack trails. The field had a few runners from different states but was mostly composed of Colorado athletes.
The race looked a little different, with waves of 10 runners or less hitting the course every 30 seconds. Waves were composed of runners of similar pace based on their submitted times.
“It was nice to approach the starting line not just by myself. I knew that I was representing Steamboat Springs,” Fryer said. “Even though we didn’t start at the same time, I knew I had Alex with me, and we were doing this together.”
Colby and Fryer trained together, taking turns traveling to Steamboat and South Routt to run trails, hills, intervals and more.
“It didn’t hit me until I was about 200 meters into the race that I was actually in a race,” Colby said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it and then all of a sudden I was in a race.”
Both Colby and Fryer are used to staggered starts in Nordic skiing, but Colby said it was still strange to experience. All cross country running races are mass starts, and it’s a huge part of the race.
“It took away a little bit of the fun and competitiveness off the mass start and fighting for position and everything, but it still was a race,” Colby said. “You’re against guys with similar times.”
Both are hoping to have senior cross country seasons this fall, the fate of which has yet to be announced by the state. Neither have thought about what they’ll do if there isn’t cross country, but Colby has put a lot of thought into what he’ll do if there is.
“I’ve got some pretty specific goals, for sure,” he said. “I want to go below 17 minutes in the 5K, and I want to place at the state championships, if we have one.”
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