The men's field looks strong and ready for the national trail tilt. Bobby Mack, 26, will return to defend his crown. The Raleigh, N.C. resident has already won the USA 8K road championship this year; can he match it with a trail title repeat? Ryan Woods is also back, trying to improve on his runner-up finishes the last two years. Ryan and Jared Scott have been racing against each other since February in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup series; Jared beat Ryan at two races, but Ryan beat Jared when he met him on his home turf in North Carolina. Jared accumulated enough points to come out as the winner of the series. Both are on the 2011 U.S. Mountain Team to compete in Albania. Other men to watch are Joe Moore and Timothy Sykes.
For the Masters men (40 and older), Chris Wiley and Dave Dunham should place high, plus rumor has it that Tim Van Orden is returning to defend his Masters crown from 2010.
On the women's side, Maria Dalzot is coming to Laurel Springs for the first time. She recently competed for the USA and won the NACAC Mountain Championship against some tough competition. Molly Nunn also returns, following her second place finish last year. She is currently ranked high in the 2011 NC USATF Long Distance Series. Tara Mooney, Alicia Parr and Alison Bryant should also be in the mix.
The national championship will also be competitive in the age group categories. These runners race for age group titles in five year increments from 40 and above. Joyce Hodges-Hite, age 74, is back for her third run up, down and around the mountain. There are also Team Championship titles being contested in both Open and Masters divisions.
The NC USATF Association welcomes everyone who is traveling out to the picturesque mountains. The race site, 75 miles northeast of Winston-Salem, sits on the brim of the Blue Ridge Mountains, right along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The race starts and finishes right on the Eastern Continental Divide with the course sending runners on loops off both sides of the divide. Go to www.continentaldividetrailrace.com for more information.