Inaugural Waterville Valley Mountain Race Set to Become Another New England Classic

It’s less than a month until elite mountain runners from across the country converge in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains for the first ever Waterville Valley Mountain Race. As host to USA Track & Field’s annual Mountain Running Championship this event will feature $3000 in prize money and serve as the sole selection race for the 2019 US Mountain Running Team.

Race day is Sunday, September 29. The top four women and men will earn an automatic spot on the team and represent the United States at the 35th World Mountain Running Championships on November 15 in Villa La Angostura, Argentina.

The are currently 200 pre-registered mountain, trail, road, track & cross country runners from 22 U.S. states and Canada including defending USATF Mountain Running Champion and 2016 World Mountain Running Champion Joe Gray (Colorado Springs, CO). Joining Joe on the start line will be runners like Eric LiPuma (Stowe, VT) who was recently the 3rd US male at the 2019 IAU 50 km (Road) World Championships, finishing 24th in 3:04:14. Another recent world championship finisher is 2011 World Mountain Running Champion Kasie Enman (Huntington, VT – pictured top of page) who was the top American at the 2019 Trail World Championships this past June in Portugal.

Eric LiPuma on his way to winning the 2018 USATF 50 km Road Championships in Caumsett, NY.

The train of world championship alumni doesn’t end there. Former US Olympic cross country skier Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) was just named to the US Long Distance Mountain Running Team. If she finishes in the top 4 at Waterville Valley, she’ll be able to race the short distance or “classic” 14 km World Mountain Running Championship race the day before the 42 km World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship. Morgan also ran the World Mountain Running Championships in 2012 (3rd place) and 2015 (10th place).

No stranger to doubling up short and long World Mountain Running Championships is Andy Wacker (Boulder, CO) who raced both championships in 2017 and 2018 and was recently selected for the 2019 US Long Distance Mountain Running Team. The 2017 world championship races were just one week apart. If Andy qualifies this year, it remains to be seen if he will race back to back championships again.

Andy Wacker’s signature high kick finish upon winning the 2016 USATF Trail Half Marathon Championships.

Kim Nedeau (Leverett, MA) led the American women to a team bronze medal at the 2016 World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria where she finished 9th overall. She’ll debut as a master at the Waterville Valley Mountain Race but will no doubt be among the top overall women’s finishers.

Another top master and world championship alumni is 55 year old Dave Dunham (Bradford, MA). Dave was on a dozen US Mountain Running Teams and had a best finish of 2nd at the 1993 World Mountain Running Championships in Gap, France. Not just an accomplished mountain runner, Dave also raced in the IAU 100 km (Road) World Championships, won the US National Snowshoe Championships and even dabbles in orienteering races.

Dave Dunham at the 1994 International Kitzbuehel Horn Mountain Run.

Hardly a dabbler in mountain running, Eric Strabel (Anchorage, AK) started his athletic career as a cross country ski racer finishing as high as 8th place at the 2001 FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Karpacz, Poland. After retiring from skiing, Eric twice won the iconic Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. He’s also won Alaskan classics like the Crow Pass Crossing and Matanuska Peak Challenge.

Eric’s wife Denali Strabel (Anchorage, AK) is no stranger to mountain running but this will be her first USATF Mountain Running Championship appearance. Denali has finished as high as 5th at the Mount Marathon Race, 10th at the 2018 USATF Trail Marathon Championships and 5th at the 2019 Broken Arrow Skyrace.

Denali Strabel at the 2019 Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K.

It’s not just mountain and trail running regulars who plan to attend this year’s mountain running championship. Several very fast road & track athletes plan to mix it up at the front of the race including Grayson Murphy (Salt Lake City, UT). Grayson has track PR’s of 15:58 (5K), 32:28 (10K) and ran 54:35 in a 10 mile road race.

Also with an IAAF profile is Chandler Reid (Lafayette, CO) who has track PR’s of 3:50 (1500 meters) and 14:06 (5000 meters). Look for Najim Mahmoud (Flagstaff, AZ) who runs for Arizona Elite and has PR’s of 4:02 (1500 meters) and 15:57 (5000 meters) and Joseph Demoor (Carbondale, CO) who has run 9:01 (3000 meters) and 15:24 (5000 meters).

Adams State standout Chandler Reid has strong cross country running results having run a 10K in 30:44. Photo by Adams State.

Among the women’s track stars coming to Waterville Valley is Samantha Lewis (Moscow, ID) who’s run 4:41 (1500 meters), 17:07 (5000 meters) and 35:33 (10,000 meters) on the track. Amber Zimmerman (Albuquerque, NM) was a standout runner at the University of New Mexico and has a 4:26 PR at 1500 meters. This will be Amber’s second USATF Mountain Running Championship. Not just an accomplished short distance runner, Kristen Findley (Austin, TX) has run 4:14 (1500 meters), 15:53 (5000 meters) and has a marathon PR of 2:40:27.

These runners and many more will tackle a 7 mile course which climbs and descends 3000 feet on the ski slopes of Waterville Valley; one of New England’s oldest ski resorts. Check out the 3D course flyover so get a closer look at the course.

While this is a brand new race, the team at acidotic RACING, LLC (aR) is no stranger to hosting competitive championships and challenging events for runners of all abilities. aR has hosted eight of the past ten USATF Mountain Running Championships alongside their popular Loon Mountain Race and Cranmore Mountain Races. Last year’s championship at Loon Mountain featured equal participation by women and men as well and a record 1200 finishers.

Athletes who participate in National Championships and Team USA competitions are subject to drug testing performed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in accordance with the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing.

Finally, it’s not too late to sign up for the Waterville Valley Mountain Race and it’s cheap – $40 pre-registered or $50 day of race. You can register HERE. Want to know who’s already pre-registered? Check out the full list HERE.

USADA conducted anti-doping tests at last years USATF Mountain Running Championships.

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