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In the same month she won gold, Mandy Ortiz’s quest for a full recovery from recent hip surgery led the cross country runner to redshirt her freshman year this season at CU.
Coming into her first year with the No. 15 Buffs, Ortiz was expected to be a star. She won gold in the women’s junior division at the 29th World Mountain Running Championship Sept. 8 in Krynica-Zdroj, Poland.
Her time of 22:56 on the 4.65-kilometer course led team USA to score 17 total points. The women’s team placed second overall.
“Going in I was a little nervous…but the race was really great,” she said. “There was a lot of uphill, which is a good strength for me, so I think it fit me well.”
Ortiz’s performance in Poland led to her being named the USA Track and Field Athlete of the Week on September 11, which she said was an honor.
“It was really unexpected, and it just meant a lot to me,” she said.
In the mental world of running, Division 1 collegiate courses prove to be significantly faster, harder, and more taxing on the body than in high school. After running at Battle Mountain High School in Colorado for four years, Ortiz feels that difference, she said, despite her experience with the altitude.
“It’s definitely a lot tougher than high school, but I like it that way,” Ortiz said. “Living in Vail, we ran a lot of mountain courses, and down here a lot of stuff is flat.”
With her strength in mountain running, Ortiz is embracing the chance to run faster courses at CU. The priority of saving energy and conserving oxygen is different without any incline, and for a runner, that mental shift is the key to reaching a new level of racing.
Despite her absence from competitions, Ortiz said she has not missed out on being a part of the Buffs’ cross country team.
“All the girls are supportive of each other and help push each other to become better, rather than compete to beat each other,” she said.
The Buffs’ next meet is at 9 a.m. Saturday here in Boulder at the Rocky Mountain Shootout.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jordyn Siemens at Jordyn.email@example.com.