Taken from a posting from last year, but as I am training and getting psyched about these races, I thought this was a good one to explain what is in store for me at each race….
The thirteenth annual La Sportiva USATF-New England Mountain Circuit blasts off on Saturday, May 26th, at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts. This kick-off contest is the moderately steep 4.3-mile Wachusett Mountain Hill Climb. It’s a great way to start because Wachusett has the least amount of elevation change of the six. And the second race is in the Granite State, the Pack Monadnock 10-Mile Challenge. These two uphill battles, along with Mount Kearsarge, made up the original Mountain Circuit twelve years ago when it began as the only such series in the country-it still is the one and only.
Three of the Mountain Circuit Races are on roads, and the other three mostly on trails. Four are all uphill, point-to-point to mountain peaks, and two are up-down loops. Runners must be members of USATF to score in the series. You can sign up at www.usatfne.org, or call the New England office of USATF at (617) 566-7600. As for Circuit scoring, USATF officials have decided on a best five-out-of-six scoring format. Points will be awarded as a percentage of the winner’s time, first man and first woman, but only the best five runs’ totals will be counted. This will allow runners to miss a race–or have a bad day–without penalty.
Awards will be given for the series in women and men’s open, masters, seniors, and veteran’s categories. There are separate awards for the individual races. A unique T-shirt will be given to all “Mountain Goats” who complete all contests. Cash and gift certificates will be awarded to the first three women and men in series points.
And all races have on-line registration.
You can check out the fascinating history of the Mountain Running Circuit, founded by Dave Dunham (former Chair of the USATF-New England Mountain, Ultra, and Trail [MUT] Committee). It includes all past winners, all-time points leaders, all-time appearance leaders, and all age group champions. Dunham, by the way, three-time winner and former record holder at Mount Washington, won the open championship the first two years and the masters’ championship the last two. The circuit has included nine different mountain races over twelve years. Go to www.usatfne.org and click on Mountain/Trail.
As noted, the USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit is the only one of its kind in the nation. And the interest and success it has generated helped spur the National USATF to organize the National Mountain Running Championship. The fourth annual USA Championship will run at Mount Cranmore after such past venues as Vail and Mount Washington.
National Mountain Running Championship
One of these six outstanding races, Mount Cranmore, will host the USA National Mountain Running Championships. It will also serve as a selection race for the National Mountain Running Team. This will be the second year in a row New Englanders have had the National Championship in their back yard, and the second straight year it has been in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It will run at Cranmore Mountain Resort on Sunday, June 24th. The 20th Annual Cranmore Hill Climb was awarded the bid for the National Championship at the December meeting of USA Track and Field in Indianapolis. In 2006, the Mount Washington Road Race served as the National Championship.
Mount Cranmore will also serve as a qualifying race for the Teva US National Mountain Running Team. The top two U.S. men and top U.S. woman will be awarded automatic spots on the team. The Hill Climb is one of three qualifying races, the other two taking place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and at Mt. Tam in Mill Valley, California.
Mount Cranmore is a terrific mountain race, and very challenging, as a championship race should be. It has great facilities and sponsorship, thanks to Inov-8, a premier maker of trail running and mountain shoes, as well as host Cranmore Mountain Resort.
It offers a different challenge with three laps up and down the mountain for men (total 13.5K), and two laps up and down for women and juniors (9K). Each loop is approximately 4.5K with a steep downhill section. The race is designed to mirror the course of this year’s World Mountain Trophy in Saillon, Switzerland, the primary target race of the National Team. The World Mountain Running Trophy alternates between uphill only in even years, and then up and down in odd years. Therefore 2007 will be up-down at Saillon. Also, nearly all World Championship races have been mostly on trails, as is Mount Cranmore.
The Mount Cranmore Hill Climb will also serve as the La Sportiva USA Track and Field New England Mountain Running Championship. This is the 20th annual Mount Cranmore race, one of the oldest mountain races in New England after Mount Washington.
Paul Kirsch is the Chair of the USATF-New England Mountain, Ultra, and Trail (MUT) Committee, and also serves as the Cranmore Hill Climb Race Director. He also directs the Loon Mountain race. Paul can be reached at 603-367-8676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Circuit Includes USATF-New England Trail Running Championship
New this year, the Northfield Mountain 10.3K race (6.4-miler, 1,200 feet climb and descent) is the third of the series, and will serve as the USATF New England Trail Running Championship race in addition to the Mountain Circuit. The Northfield Mountain race runs on June 9 in Northfield, Massachusetts. Northfield’s course is rolling, as well as up and down. It is 100% trail, with single track and double track (maintenance roads), and it is both up and down. This race has also been chosen as part of the famous Hockomock Swamp Rat Series. Check it out at www.hockomock.net. It will run from the Northfield Mountain Visitors Center, 99 Millers Falls Road (Route 63), just two miles north of Route 2.
The USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit is the only one of its kind in the nation. The New England Championship race has also been unique to New England, and the interest and success it has generated helped spur the National USATF to organize the national championship, running for the fourth time at Mount Cranmore after such venues as Vail and Mount Washington. The first US woman and man at each of the three qualifying races win automatic berths to the national teams. The remaining members-three men and two women–will be selected by the USATF Mountain, Ultra, and Trail Running Sports Council. The men’s team will have 7 members, the junior men (under 20) four; the women’s senior team has 5 members and juniors three.
The Other Races of the New England Mountain Running Circuit
Many of the past and future members of the USA Mountain Running Team will be racing the New England Circuit and the National Mountain Running Championship, hoping to qualify for the World Championships (World Mountain Running Trophy) in September. The New England Circuit presents unique challenges-each race singly, and especially as a group of six. Teva, Inov-8, and the All-American Trail Running Association (AATRA) support the USATF New England Circuit.
Mount Wachusett: The Wachusett climb runs Saturday, May 26 at 9:30 a.m. This is the fifteenth annual 4.3-mile run to the top of the ski mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts. There are “only” 1095 feet to climb, with much of that elevation change in the first mile and the last mile. There is a short downhill section after the one-mile mark. The race fittingly begins on Mile Hill Road just below the ski lodge. The last 3.3 miles are entirely within Wachusett State Park. The final assault on the summit parking area for the finish is very steep. The route is closed to traffic. There are spectacular views all around with a wide-open summit. Eric Morse (24:14 in ’99) and Julie Peterson (29:38 in 2000) hold the records.
Pack Monadnock: The second event is the Pack Monadnock Challenge 10 Miler, running from Wilton-Lyndeborough High School to the top of Pack Monadnock Mountain in Temple, New Hampshire. This is the 12th annual edition of the race, the oldest continuous mountain race in the circuit. Pack Monadnock is often compared in difficulty with Mount Washington, mostly because after running 8 miles on rolling hills, the last two miles are exceptionally steep. Total climb is 2,000 feet, but most of that is in the first mile and final two miles. The last 1.3 miles on the summit road becomes very steep-especially the final 200 meters. Pack is the longest of the six mountain races.
The course is beautifully picturesque on country roads, woods and farms, including 1.5 miles of dirt roads. It will run on Sunday, June 3, at 9:00 a.m. Registration and number pickup will be at the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School. It is point-to-point with a 1.5 mile walk down from the summit through Miller State Park for the post race cookout and awards at the former Temple Mountain Ski Area, directly across from Miller State Park and the summit road.
Loon Mountain: This is a 10K trail race to the summit of Loon Mountain, running Sunday July 8, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. The start and race headquarters are located at the Loon Mountain Ski Area, Lincoln, New Hampshire. Registration and number pick up will be at the Octagon Base Lodge, Loon Mountain Ski Area, 60 Loon Mountain Road in Lincoln just off the Kancamagus Highway. Registration will be open from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.
The start is in a parking area adjacent to the Pemigewasset River. The course winds its way to service trails heading up Loon Mountain, then follows a combination of single track trails, service roads, and ski trails to the Summit Lodge. From there it travels across the ridge and up North Peak, with a final loop around the summit, returning to the finish at the gondola lift. It is an ascent-only race. For course maps and more information visit www.whitemountainmilers.com
Mount Ascutney: The final race is the Mount Ascutney Run to the Summit, starting at 9:30 a.m. July 14th, and runs entirely in the state park. No rolling hills warm-up for this one. It is short at 3.8 miles, but it starts immediately uphill and continues at a 12% grade to the summit. The mountain road is on the east side of the mountain with spectacular views of the Connecticut River Valley from the top. There are several switchbacks where you can take stock of the competition. Mount Ascutney is near Windsor, the birthplace of Vermont. Ascutney is also the steepest of the six races on average, as well as the highest elevation. It is very similar to the first half of the Mount Washington Road Race. The grade is constant with only a few brief level spots. This is the seventh year for Mount Ascutney, the concluding climb for the Circuit where the overall Circuit and age group champions will be decided.
*The Mount Washington Road Race (closed entry)
Take the Challenge
Yes, this is the chance to challenge yourself and set an entirely new type of goals for your running in 2007. This is nothing like those flatland races with their minor rolls. Gravity offers a new challenge, and mountains offer a way to get in really good shape for other races later in the year. The six unique events take place within a seven week time frame, the last week in May to the middle of July. After you run these events, your racing (and attitude about hills) will never be the same. The sense of accomplishment, and often the spectacular views, will change your running career. You will also view mountain peaks in a whole new light. Try it. Accept the challenge. Set those unique goals that come with the distinction of being a “Mountain Runner”!