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Mountain Running’s Best Headed to New Hampshire

Written by Nancy Hobbs.

For the first time, the USA Mountain Running Championships, the North American Central America Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships, and the U.S. Mountain Team selection will all happen simultaneously - NORTH CONWAY, NH - The nation’s best mountain runners will literally descend  Cranmore Mountain on Sunday, July 21. The 26th Cranmore Hill Climb presented by Northeast Delta Dental offers a four-kilometer loop course, which the men will run three times and women will run two times. The route is a mixture of single-track trail, wide pathways, meadows, rocky terrain, and some steep ascents and descents to test the mettle of competitors.

For the first time, the USA Mountain Running Championships, the North American Central America Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships, and the U.S. Mountain Team selection will all happen simultaneously at Cranmore resulting in the, ‘race within the race,’ moniker and the promise of an amazing day of competition.

“We are continuing to see a higher and higher level of competition at our USA Mountain Running Championships every year,”noted Race Director Paul Kirsch. “The tremendous success the team has had at the World Mountain Running Championships over the past decade is causing a real growth in the depth of the field at our qualifying events and championship.”

Of the 200 runners registered to date, over 80 percent are members of USATF which is the national governing body for the sport.

Athletes vying for a spot on this year’s U.S. Mountain Running Team which will compete in Poland at the 29th World Mountain Running Championships on September 8, include many past team members. Leading the way are 2011 World Mountain Running Champions Max King, andKasie Enman. King is a two-time member of the team having won the competition in 2011 and was a scoring member on the silver-medal winning team in 2010. Enman, who just gave birth to her second child last month, is just resuming her training.

“I'm looking forward to seeing 2011 World Mountain Running Champions Max and Kasie back for an up/down championship and to how they will fair against the many young and fast newcomers we have in the elite field,” said Richard Bolt, U.S. Mountain Running Team Leader.

Other past team members set to race at Cranmore include Joseph Gray (2008-2012), Matt Byrne (2008, 2009, 2011), Tommy Manning, (2010, 2011, 2012), Ryan Woods (2011), Glen Randall (2012), Shiloh Mielke, (2006, 2007), Kevin Tilton (2005), and Dave Dunham, (1993-96, 1998, 2000).

Those hoping for a berth on the team include Coloradoans Brandon Birdsong, Manitou Springs, who has PRs of 14:09 5,000 meter indoor and a sub-30 10K.Andy Wacker, Boulder is a two-time NCAA Division 1 Cross Country All-American and was 11th at the 2013 US Cross Country Championships. He holds a 13:41 5K PR and a 28:52 10K. Ryan Hafer, Colorado Springs, who in 2005 at age 19, was the youngest winner of the Pikes Peak Ascent. Hafer is also the course record holder for the grueling Barr Trail Mountain Race. Alex Nichols, also of Colorado Springs, is no stranger to mountain racing. With a sub-1:03 at Mount Washington and a second-place finish at last year’s Pikes Peak Marathon, he’s sure to be in the mix.

King will have company from fellow Bend, Oregon training partner Mario Mendoza, the 2010 USATF Trail Runner of the year, as well as Ashland, Oregon residentsRyan Ghelfi and David Laney. Ghelfi owns a 31:03 PR for 10K, and Laney is the course record-holder for the Chuckanut 50K.

Christopher Zablocki of Essex, Connecticut, is a sub-2:20 marathoner and holds a 29:56 10K PR.Zachary Ornelas of Ann Arbor, Michigan, ran Division 1 at the University of Michigan, and has a 3K Steeplechase PR of 8:57, and a track 5K PR of 14:12. He is a strong cross country runner with an 8K best of 24:10, and is also the winner of the Flagstaff Snowbowl Hill Climb.

Alex Varner of San Francisco holds a 5K PR of 14:17 and received the fastest time award in the Dipsea Race (2009-2012). Gabriel Rodriguez of Ellicott City, Maryland, is an accomplished ultra runner, but also holds a 14:28 5K best.

For the women, past team members who will join Enman in the quest for a spot on the team includeMegan Lizotte (2009, 2010, 2011), Michele Yates (2011), Megan Kimmel (2008, 2009), Christine Lundy (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009), Laura Haefeli (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008), and Morgan Arritola (2012).

Amber Reece-Young of Ashville, North Carolina, narrowly missed making the team in 2011, and is on her third NACAC Mountain Running Team this year. She will be joined by newcomers to the team selection race, including Rachel Viele (Vail, Colorado), Haley Juno-Galdes (Pinehurst, North Carolina),Juliane Masciana (Austin, Texas), and 2008 Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet (Oakland, Calif.) who, at the IAAF World Cross Country championships, earned back-to-back bronze medals representing the USA in the team competition in 2010 and 2011.

The race will have a separate start for men and women. The women’s race will begin at 8:15 a.m. while the men will set off one hour later. The chairlift will be running at the mountain starting at 7:00 a.m. on race day so that both competitors and spectators can get to the start and finish area.

In addition to berths on the mountain team, USA Mountain Championship and NACAC Mountain Running Championships titles, there is a $4,000 prize purse at stake.

To learn more about the U.S. mountain running program visit, and Follow the mountain team and look for live updates from Cranmore on Twitter @usmrt.