Getting the opportunity to compete internationally is a feat that is often unparalleled, while competing internationally for your country is often reserved for sports’ elite athletes.
On Jan. 7, Shippensburg University alumna Katrina Spratford laced up her cleats for Team USA, representing the country at the Great Edinburgh Cross-Country Challenge in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“It was really awesome. It was a great trip and a great experience for sure,” Spratford said.
Spratford was selected to represent Team USA after competing at the United States Track and Field Club Nationals. USATF picks six people from the race to represent the country in Edinburgh. Spratford finished the race in Tallahassee, Florida, in 12th place, but was picked to go after other athletes turned down the opportunity.
The next step for Spratford was to get her gear. For Spratford, putting on the Team USA clothing was an unreal experience.
“They sent a big package of Team USA gear which was the coolest day of my life,” Spratford said. “We got to wear all that and were told to pretty much exclusively wear USA gear so I was pumped.”
The race marked the first time that Spratford represented the country as a member of Team USA.
“It was my first team so that was really awesome, and it meant a lot to me that it was a cross-country team because I love it so much,” Spratford said. “It’s my favorite season, so it was definitely cool to go over there and race on the crazy European courses with tons of mud and rivers and mountains. It was really cool.”
In the race, Spratford covered the 6K course in a time of 22 minutes and two seconds, which was good enough for 21st place among women.
The event also presented Spratford with new opportunities, including her first trip overseas.
“It was my first time going overseas and competing internationally and all that so it was a really big experience,” Spratford said. “I feel like I learned a lot in terms of how to handle myself off no sleep, time change and a lot of factors you normally don’t have to deal with when you race here so it was a great experience.”
At SU, Spratford was an elite runner, earning eight All-American awards in three sports.
“I loved my time at Shippensburg. I think that Coach [Steve] Spence creates a really positive culture and environment for the team,” Spratford said.
“When I transferred to Shippensburg everything kind of clicked. My running took off and things really started to come together and I had a really great time. I think coach Spence did a really good job developing me as an athlete and helping me get to my senior year and still love running and want to continue on after college. It was great.”
Spratford currently runs for New England Distance, which is based in Providence, Rhode Island. Spratford has adjusted to being a member of a new team, and hopes to continue shaping a career in professional running.
“Hopefully this is a start. I kind of struggled coming out of college and transitioning to a new team and a new coach, and a different kind of training,” Spratford said. “Things just aren’t quite as quick now that I am three-and-a-half years out, but it is nice that it is all coming together now.”
Spratford also believes that her time at SU has helped her get to where she is today.
“I think Coach [Steve] Spence develops you as a person and as an athlete so I feel like you just sort of grow in a really positive way so by the time you’re done at Shippensburg, you’re ready for whatever is next,” Spratford said.
While working to further a professional career, Spratford said she has “unfinished business” on the track.She hopes to crack 16 minutes in the 5K and break the 33-minute mark in the 10K. Spratford also plans to start hitting the road for half marathon and 16K races as well.
For Spratford, the next step will be a set of road circuit races, which are a series of road races that are put on by the USATF. All the races are different lengths and are US Championship races.
Spratford plans to run the 15K U.S. Championship, the Gate-River Run in Jacksonville, Florida, alongside former teammate Neely Spence Gracey.
While it may have taken Spratford some time to get adjusted to running after graduating from SU, Spratford has found her groove.
With one Team USA under her belt, Spratford looks to continue improving in upcoming races.