Connelly wins bronze at Skyrunning Championships in Italy

August 2, 2019

Michael Connelly of Chugiak is a world championship bronze medalist.

Representing Team USA, Connelly, 17, placed third in the Vertical Kilometer event at the International Skyrunning Federation Youth World Championships in Fonte Cerreto, Italy.

Michael Connelly

Connelly posted a time of 42 minutes, 22 seconds, trailing only runners from Andorra and Spain in the Youth A Division for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Gavin Block, 17, of Palmer placed 19th among 32 participants in 48:25.

According to the International Skyrunning Federation, the Vertical K — which typically climb steeply for about 1,000 meters, or 3,280 feet — started with sunny conditions and ended in wind, rain and a hailstorm, though the conditions that Connelly experienced are unknown.

Connelly, the 2018 junior Mount Marathon Race champion, was crestfallen when this year’s MMR was canceled due to smoky conditions. He’d been training hard and hoping to take a crack at Bill Spencer’s junior record dating to 1973.

Connelly instead refocused on the Youth Skyrunning Championships, where 192 athletes ages 23-and-under from 28 countries are participating. Connelly recorded the 27th fastest time among 111 male participants despite competing in the youngest of three divisions.

In 2018, Connelly placed 5th in the vertical kilometer race at the same venue and event.

Alaskan juniors have medaled on the world stage before. At the 2015 World Junior Mountain Running Championships in Wales, Allie Ostrander of Soldotna was the female champion while Levi Thomas of Kodiak won silver for the boys.

Connelly will next participate in a 21-kilometer event on Sunday that concludes the championships being held in central Italy’s Abruzzo region.

-By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog Contributor