Above photo: Men’s start at the 2013 USA Mountain Running Championships, North Conway, New Hampshire.
Longtime USA Track & Field partner Nike has expanded its support for trail running by becoming the first-ever title sponsor for a MUT (Mountain, Ultra, Trail) national championship. Just 18 months after forming its elite team, Nike Trail Running will sponsor the USA Mountain Running Championships coming up in Bend, Oregon on July 25. As the sole selection race for the US Mountain Running Team, this event has become the premier sub-ultra distance trail race in the United States and historically features the fastest trail runners in the nation.
The top six men and top four women earn berths to represent Team USA at the World Mountain Running Championships, September 19 in the Snowdonia region of Wales. National championship awards will be presented to the top 10 overall, top 3 masters in 5 year age groups (starting at 40) and junior runners (19 and under). The race is open to runners of all ages and abilities. The first 200 runners to register will receive a Nike tech-T included in their registration.
Nike Trail Running is adding $4000 in prize money to the $6000 already earmarked for the event. Combined with $6000 prize money for college students running in the Collegiate Running Association championship, the race will have a total prize purse of $16,000 up for grabs.
“As a long-time trail runner, I’m excited to see Nike coming back into our sport with focused products, elite athlete support and now championship support,” says co-event director Richard Bolt. “This is the first time we’ve had this championship in Nike’s backyard so it only makes sense to have them on-board.”
Visit Bend has hosted more than a half dozen USA Track & Field national championships for trail, ultra and cross country. “We love hosting National Championships in Bend Oregon as it exposes our wonderful community to people from across the country. Many times these are people who appreciate the recreational assets Bend is blessed with and ultimately turns them into frequent visitors,” says Kevney Dugan, Director of Sales of Sports Development for Visit Bend.
More than a championship and selection race, this event is also an opportunity for anyone to test their trail running skills on the challenging Mt. Bachelor course. First-time trail runners can run the 4k community race which climbs and descends almost 1000 feet and features epic views of the Central Oregon Cascade Mountains. Women will have a separate start and run 2 loops for 8k and 2000’ of climb and descent while the men’s race will have 3 loops and 3000’ of climb and descent.
Elite trail running athletes already registered include:
– Max King, 2014 IAU 100k World Champion and 2011 WMRA World Mountain Running Champion.
– Mandy Ortiz, 2013 Junior World Mountain Running Champion.
– Joe Gray, defending USA Mountain Running champion.
– Patrick Smyth, 10th place at the 2014 World Mountain Running Championships.
– Anita Ortiz, Western States 100 winner, 11th place, 2002 World Mountain Running Championships.
– Andy Wacker, 3rd place finisher at the 2014 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.
– Megan Lizotte, 2009 World Mountain Running Championship women’s team bronze medal.
– Nicole Hunt, 9th place, 2006 World Mountain Running Championships, team gold medal.
– Other former US Mountain Running Team members on the pre-reg list include Jordan Chavez, Zach Freudenburg, Nick Schuetze
These loop courses mirror the format and profile of the world championship race and make it easy for spectators to follow the action.
Post-event food, beverages and social hour will be available by Crux Fermentation Project. Nike will have its Kiger and Wildhorse trail running shoes available for on-site demos. Local favorite Picky Bar will be on-site with a dose of Booyah for athletes and spectators.