Team USA selection for NACAC Mountain Championships

Article by Nancy Hobbs, Executive Director, American Trail Running Association

The 2015 NACAC (North American, Central American & Caribbean) Mountain Running Championships will take place on Saturday, July 18, at Cypress Mountain, located just north of Vancouver, BC, Canada. Cypress Mountain Ski Area was one of the venues at the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Olympics.

This is the twelfth consecutive year that the NACAC Mountain Championship have been held, with the event rotating being the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. This is the fourth time for Canada to serve as host, having been the venue for the championships in 2007 and 2010, at Canmore, Alberta, and 2012 at Cypress Mountain.

This year’s race route will consist of up-and-down terrain to mirror the format of the World Mountain Running Championships which are up and down in odd-numbered years and uphill-only in even numbered years. The course will include loops at the top of the ski hill, rather than running from Horseshoe Bay to the top which was the route when Canada hosted the event at Cypress Mountain in 2012.

The proposed course for the men’s race can be viewed at this link. Organizers suggest that the women’s race will likely follow a similar route, but would cut off the first loop at the bottom (the Yew Lake loop). According to race organizer Adrian Lambert, “The course features some excellent terrain and should be a challenging course.”

Both individual and team competition are staged, with nations competing head-to-head with one another. Teams are comprised of up to four men and four women with the top two finishers scoring for their respective country.

At the 2014 NACAC Mountain Running Championships, Mexico and the U.S. fielded teams with the U.S. women’s team earning gold as well as the top three individual positions in the race. Likewise, the Mexicans, fielding an A and B team, swept the top three individual positions and earned a gold and silver respectively while Team USA earned the bronze. The event in 2014 was held at the Chupinaya Race in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

The criteria for selecting Team USA for this year’s NACAC Mountain Running Championships takes into consideration race results in 2014 and 2013 events on the international stage. Automatic berths are offered to the prior year team members based on their finish at the World Mountain Running Championships with the scoring team members (top four men and top three women) being offered spots first. Next, junior team scoring members at prior year’s World Mountain Running Championships. Next, scoring team members from two years prior are given the opportunity to accept a spot on the team – again starting with the top three women and top four men.

The next selectees are generated from the NACAC Mountain Running Championship team scoring members from the prior year. Should these spots not be filled by the aforementioned, the athletes will be selected based on their results at past international or national mountain running events. The U.S. team will be announced by June 1, 2015.

Team members receive full USATF-issued team gear, but no funding for the travel. The host country will provide transportation to and from the nearest airport to the venue and lodging and meals for two nights and two days.

For more information on the U.S. mountain running program click here, or follow on Twitter @USMRT. For past results at the NACAC Mountain Running Championships, click here.