Story by +Nano Hobbs – Photos by +Richard Bolt
The 11th North American Central American Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships will be held on Sunday, July 20, at Carrera La Chupinaya in Ajijic, Jalisco, over a 13.8-kilometer course, the same venue which hosted the event in 2011.
Although the event is open to 31 member nations USA, Mexico, and Canada have traditionally been the only countries fielding competitors. And, as in the past, teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States are expected to compete this weekend. Teams are comprised of up to four men and four women with the top two finishers scoring for their respective country.
Competitors will start in the principal square of town, head toward the mountains, cross two creeks and start ascending. The majority of the course is within the Sierra Madre Mountains offering amazing views of Chapala Lake, with a downhill finish back at the town square.
Says USA Team Leader +Richard Bolt, “Ajijic offers a truly unique and challenging mountain championship. In 2011, the local support was absolutely fantastic with people packing the town square where the start / finish was held. The course will be tough as the first and last mile are on very rough cobblestone streets and the upper course run over narrow, steep, muddy mountain trails. Combine this with the hot, humid weather in Central Mexico and this race will only be won by a tough and experienced mountain runner.”
The NACAC Mountain Championships have been held since 2004, with the event rotating between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. This is the fourth time Mexico has hosted the event having previously staged the championships in 2006, 2008, 2011. Canada hosted the championships in 2007, 2010, and 2012, while the U.S. hosted every other year with last year’s NACAC Mountain Championships held at the Cranmore Hill Climb in North Conway, NH.
+Joseph Gray is the defending men’s champion and also won the NACAC Mountain Running Championships in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. The defending women’s champion is +Morgan Arritola from Team USA. There will be a new champion this year as neither Gray nor Arritola will compete in Mexico.