CMC's cross-country team

The newly sanctioned Colorado Mountain College cross-country running team, in blue, is On’s first collegiate partnership. The team is based at the 12-location college’s Leadville campus, at 10,200 feet the highest-altitude college campus in the country. CMC’s cross-country running team includes, from left, Jack Setser, Caleb Neel, Chris Rohlf (behind Neel) and Connor McDermott. Not pictured: Tyrone Chavez and Jason Macaluso. Photo Phil Dunn

By Carrie Click

LEADVILLE, COLO. – Call it an appropriate coincidence. The small town of Leadville, Colorado, sits at 10,200 feet, and its nickname is “Cloud City” because of the high-altitude cloud cover that often blankets the community.

Now Colorado Mountain College has a newly sanctioned running team based at its Leadville campus, the highest-altitude college campus in the country. And first in line with a partnership providing performance running shoes and apparel? On Inc., which has patented shoes with what they call CloudTec technology. On’s cloud-inspired shoes – named Cloudswift and Cloudventure, among others – appear almost as if they were made for Leadville.

‘A lot alike’

The six-member CMC Eagles cross-country running team joined the National Junior College Athletic Association this year, which allows them to compete against NJCAA and NCAA teams.

“Colorado Mountain College is our very first collegiate partnership,” said Andrew Wheating,

sports marketing specialist at On. “When I first heard from the head coach, Darren Brungardt, I knew this was going to be the perfect opportunity for On to get its feet wet on the collegiate level.

“It turns out, On and CMC are a lot alike,” Wheating said. “We’re young, hungry – and we live ‘On Clouds’ and in the mountains where terrain requires the best quality footwear.”

‘No better place’

Rachel Pokrandt, vice president and campus dean for CMC Leadville and Chaffee County, noted that Leadville has a well-known history as a running mecca.

“The Leadville campus is thrilled to have On as a partner for our cross-country team,” she said. “Runners from all over the world dream of coming to Leadville to race in the Leadville Trail 100 Run and race series, so there is no better place for students to start their collegiate running career and no better location for a world-class trail running brand like On to direct their support.”

On was founded in 2010 in Zurich, Switzerland. According to Wheating, On has been the fastest-growing running brand for three years in a row. On’s shoe and active clothing lines are now in 50 countries. Its United States base is in Portland, Oregon.

“In addition to Colorado Mountain College, we support a number of individual elites around the globe as well as two professional post-collegiate teams in the U.S.,” said Wheating. “We choose to support authentic athletes who are not only inspirational in their sport but also in their character and life outside of running. We never sign someone just because they are fast.”

The CMC team hosted its first meet, the 10,000 Foot Invite, on Aug. 31 in front of a hometown Leadville crowd and followed that with meets in Alamosa, Colorado; Denver; and Colorado Springs. They’ll finish the season in Leadville Oct. 27, with the Haunted Hills Races Presented by On Running.

“We are honored to be a part of CMCs history, supporting their very first cross-country team and we look forward to growing with the program,” said Wheating.