Two races, 12 miles, 6800’ of vertical, twelve automatic US Mountain Running Team spots on offer
This weekend will kick off the first-ever back-to-back weekend double-header of USATF Championships in Mountain Running. On Saturday, July 2, the popular Whiteface Mountain Race will host the USATF Mountain Running Championships in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The following weekend will see the inaugural USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships take place at the Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
These iconic steep and short off-road events will also serve as selection races for the U.S. Mountain Running Team scheduled to compete at the first ever World Mountain and Trail Running Championships this coming November in Thailand. Additional team spots will be available for the U.S. Team scheduled to compete in the Challenge Stellina International Meeting of Nations on August 28 in Susa, Italy.
July 2 – USATF Mountain Running Championships (Whiteface Mountain)
The Whiteface Mountain Race was founded in 2015 by experienced race director Ian Golden. No stranger to hosting some of the country’s top off-road runners, Golden also organizes the Cayuga Trails 50 Mile which hosted the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017. At 10 km in length with 3800 feet of climbing and descending, this year the Whiteface Skyrace is the toughest-ever version of the race which takes place at Whiteface Mountain Ski Area; host of the alpine skiing events at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games and features the most vertical drop of any ski area in the Northeast United States.
For the past decade the USATF Mountain Running Championships has served as the sole selection race for the U.S. Mountain Running Team. This year’s race at Whiteface will be no exception; the top 3 men and top 3 women will earn automatic spots on the U.S. team competing in the classic mountain running race at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Saturday, November 5.
July 10 – USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships (Loon Mountain)
Founded in 2006 by Paul Kirsch and Chris Dunn and now hosted by Six03 Endurance, the popular Loon Mountain Race has hosted the USATF Mountain Running Championships and U.S. Mountain Running Team selection race in years past when the World Mountain Running Championships was an uphill-only format. The 6-mile course, with over 3000 feet of ascent, has had some variations over the years as it was designed from inception to mimic the world championship courses. This saw Loon host the national championship in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
One benefit of the World Mountain Running Championships being absorbed into the combined World Mountain and Trail Running Championship is the creation of two mountain running events – “classic” mountain running and vertical mountain running – essentially a vertical kilometer.
At the national level this created the need for two USATF championships – each following the mountain running formats at the world level. More events means more opportunities for top U.S. mountain runners to qualify for competitive international competitions.
The top man and top woman at the USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain will earn U.S. team spots and compete in the vertical mountain race at the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships on November 4 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
But wait, there’s more! The top two men and two women at the USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain will earn automatic spots on the U.S. team slated to compete at the 34th annual International Meeting of Nations / Challenge Stellina Race on August 28 in Susa, Italy.
More than 250 runners are signed up for the Whiteface Mountain Race / USATF Mountain Running Championships and another 75 in the non-championship Whiteface VK. It’s not too late to register!
The Loon Mountain Race / USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships has more than 630 runners currently pre-registered. Over $3000 in prize money is on offer for this Trail Sisters-approved event. It’s not too late to register!
Over 50 hearty mountain runners are registered for both mountain running championships; a sign of just how popular these two races have become. In addition to those “doubling up,” the elite fields are packed with talented athletes from several endurance sports including mountain runners, obstacle course racers, cross country skiers and biathletes.
The Elite Women – Whiteface
Unfortunately, the defending USATF Mountain Running Champion Grayson Murphy will not be racing at Whiteface. She earned an automatic spot on the 2022 U.S. Mountain Running Team by winning the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina. Murphy is registered for the Loon Mountain Race / USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships on July 10.
The women’s USATF Mountain Running Championship field will see past members of the U.S. Mountain Running Team including Rachel Tomajczyk (2021), Megan Lacy (2021), Samantha Lewis (2019), Caitlin Patterson (2017) and Bethany Sachtleben (2016) running head-to-head for podium positions. Patterson will be strong having represented the United States twice at the Winter Olympic Games in cross country skiing. Don’t count out Tabor Hemming (Kremmling, CO) who was on the U.S. Mountain Running Team in 2014 where she helped the junior women run to a team silver medal at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy.
Also vying for top finishes will be 2021 Finger Lakes 50s 25K winner Donna Langerfeld (Port Byron, NY) and 3rd place finisher at the 2022 Breakneck Point Marathon Nora Jodrey (Bethesda, MD). Corey Dowe (North Conway, NH) should also be among the top finishers as she’s a past champion at the Cranmore Mountain and Waterville Valley Mountain Races. Among the Nordic skiers is 2022 Winter Olympian and 2022 Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K winner Sophia Laukli (Salt Lake City, UT) who has finished as high as 5th cross country skiing world cup races. Another Nordic skier scheduled to race Whiteface is 2019 Loon Mountain Race 10th place finisher Emily Stitt (Jericho, VT).
Don’t count out OCR athlete Lindsay Webster (Sutton, QC) who won the 2019 Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K when it was part of the WMRA Mountain Running World Cup.
The Elite Men – Whiteface
For the first time in over a decade, defending USATF Mountain Running Champion and two-time World Mountain Running Champion Joseph Gray will not be racing in this championship. Joseph has been on 33 national teams and is automatically qualified for the 2022 U.S. Mountain Running Team by virtue of being the defending World Mountain Running Champion from 2019. Gray is registered for the Loon Mountain Race / USATF Vertical Mountain Running Championships on July 10.
Vying for the top spot in Joseph’s absence will be six-time US Mountain Running Team member Andy Wacker, 2021 US Mountain Running Team member Joseph Demoor and Eric LiPuma who recently qualified for the IAU 100K Road World Championship and the 80K event at the inaugural World Mountain & Trail Running Championship in Thailand. Also joining the fray at the front of the field is USATF Half Marathon Trail Champion Lee Berube.
Other top contenders in the Whiteface Mountain Race include two-time Breakneck Point 21K winner Chris Mateer (Philadelphia, PA), perennial second place finisher (2022 Broken Arrow 26K, 2022 Broken Arrow VK, 2022 Way Too Cool 50K and 2021 Bobcat Trail Races 25K) Eli Hemming (Kremmling, CO) and 2021 USATF Mountain Running Championship 15th place finisher Adam Pacheck (Syracuse, NY).
Representing a strong OCR contingent Canadian Ryan Atkins (Sutton, QC) is scheduled to toe the starting line at Whiteface. Ryan has finished second and two prior Whiteface Mountain Races and has been a top finisher at the Broken Arrow Skyraces.
Another veteran joining the fray is Morgan Elliott (Salida, CO) who recently finished 6th at the Broken Arrow Skyrace 26K. Expect a strong challenge from 2016 US Trail Team member Jared Burdick (Fayetteville, NY) who stood on the podium at the 2016 USATF 50 Mile Trail Championship and won the 2016 USATF 50K Road Championships in Caumsett, NY.
Scrapping it out for masters glory will be a pair of perennial mountain runners and past national champions Tim Van Orden (Bennington, VT) and Todd Callaghan (Beverly, MA).
Follow the Races!
The Whiteface Mountain Race women’s start takes place on Saturday, July 2 at 8:00 AM. The men’s race will start at 8:30 AM. You can get updates from the race on the USATF MUT Twitter page – @usatf_mut and the Trails Collective on YouTube and Facebook.
The Loon Mountain Race women’s start takes place on Sunday, July 10 at 7:30 AM. The men’s race will start at 8:00 AM. You can get updates from the race on the USATF MUT Twitter page – @usatf_mut
Stay tuned to this website for full results, post-race story and photos of the Whiteface Mountain Race and a detailed elite athlete preview for the Loon Mountain Race.
Athletes who participate in National Championships and Team USATF 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.