On Sunday, July 3, the nation’s top mountain runners will vie for the 10 coveted spots – 6 for men, 4 for women – on this year’s U.S. Mountain Running Team during the USATF Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The race will also decide the 2016 Collegiate Mountain Running Champions.
Challenging seasoned mountain veterans like eight-time US Mountain Running Team member Joe Gray and 2011 World Mountain Champion Kasie Enman, will be newcomers to the sport – those that are transitioned to the trails from road, track, or cross country backgrounds. “It’s exciting to see some fast roadies and talented collegiate track stars on the entry list,” said Nancy Hobbs, chairperson of USATF’s Mountain Ultra Trail Council. “I expect we’ll witness very intense competition for not only the championships titles, but also for the team spots. The course at Loon, although mostly uphill, has some flat sections and even a steep downhill past the halfway point. The last climb could be where the race is won, or lost.”
That last climb is the famed lung and quad-busting Upper Walking Boss. With a maximum grade at a severe 46.2%, positions can change from the base of the Boss to the finish line less than one mile away.
Like the World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria this September 11, the men and women will run separate races with both genders running approximately 10 kilometers on a mixture of dirt, grass, wide pathways, single track, and rocky sections. The average grade throughout the course is between 10-12 percent with the course gaining 3100 feet from start to finish.
Richard Bolt, USATF liaison for the event and leader of the US Mountain Running Team said, “After a two-year hiatus, I’m looking forward to the return of the USATF Mountain Running Championships to Loon Mountain. New Hampshire has been a great host to our championship and team selection races for over a decade while race organizers Paul Kirsch and Chris Dunn have created perfect custom course profiles to match the World Championships.”