Where are they now? Mancos runner Ott turns cyclist at FLC

Former Mancos High School runner Courtney Ott recently wrapped up a successful cycling career at Fort Lewis College. Enlargephoto

Courtney Ott/Courtesy photo

Former Mancos High School runner Courtney Ott recently wrapped up a successful cycling career at Fort Lewis College.

From 2006 until 2010, Mancos High School runner Courtney Ott was one of her school's top athletes.

But rather than pursue running at the college level however, Ott took up cycling, competed with some of the nation's best athletes.

Prep athletic career

Like many young athletes in the Mancos area, Ott participated in multiple sports.

A member of the inaugural Mancos Middle School cross-country team, she took to running early on.

After middle school, Ott qualified for the state cross-country meet four consecutive years and competed in multiple events in track.

Discussing what contributed to her success, Ott credited running guru Brady Archer, whom she called her "best coach ever."

"(Archer) coached me from sixth grade until 12th grade," she said. "He's just very quiet and reserved, but he knows exactly what you need."

College athletic career

Graduating from high school in 2010, Ott briefly attended Colorado State University before settling in at Fort Lewis College.

After joining the FLC cross-country team, she joined the cycling team.

"I started cycling in college because I wanted something different to do besides running," Ott said. "It was kind of funky for me to (join the team) and be like 'Hey, how do I ride a bike?'"

She soon found a niche in the cyclocross and helped FLC finish second in the nation amongst Division 1 cycling teams.

"(Cyclocross) is just basically riding on a glorified road bike in the mud and running up hills and over obstacles and things," Ott said. "It's fun because you're in the mud and the conditions are funky all the time."

A bright future

While cycling occupied a great deal of Ott's time during college, she worked for Outdoor Pursuits and led several outdoor trips.

Graduating last spring with a degree in writing, Ott is currently interning for a climbing magazine in the Durango area.

"I'm deciding whether I should go to grad school or not, but I would like to be a writer," Ott said. "I really enjoy creative writing and poetry and things like that."

Whatever she ends up doing, she wants to stay near home.

"I realized that I didn't' have to go somewhere to find what I needed," said Ott. "(Mancos) gave me a sense of confidence and a sense of community. Having those close connections helped me find my way."