On October 19, the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail executive committee unanimously approved the Cranmore Mountain Race to host the 15th USATF Mountain Running Championships to be held on Saturday, June 3, 2017, in North Conway, New Hampshire.
Said co-race director Chris Dunn upon learning the committee’s decision,“This is amazing news! We are so incredibly honored and excited.”
Dunn’s co-director Paul Kirsch added, “Chris and I both understand the responsibility and prestige of hosting a National Championship event. Our goal is to provide a premier course, event and experience for both out of town and local runners at Mt. Cranmore in 2017.”
To that end, the duo plans a weekend-long celebration. “This year we are focused on expanding the Cranmore Race to add to its appeal for more runners in New England to get involved in the sport of mountain running,” said an enthusiastic Kirsch. “The weekend will consist of four races along with a post-event awards party at a local Brewery (the Tuckerman Brewing Company in Conway).”
The weekend’s races will start on Saturday morning with a 5k loop course on the mountain, followed by the men’s championship two-loop course. Ninety minutes later, the women will run the same two-loop course as that of the men. On Sunday, an uphill mountain race will be staged.
Having separate starts for the men and women mimics the format of the World Mountain Running Championships. Since the Cranmore Mountain Race will serve as the sole selection race for the senior men’s and women’s squads, which will represent Team USA at this year’s World Championships in Premana, Italy, on July 30, 2017, the format flows perfectly.
This will mark the fifth time Cranmore will host the championships having also earned the designation in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013. Additionally, Cranmore served as a team selection race each of these years as well as in 2005.
This year’s team to the World Championships will include sixteen athletes comprised of four in each of the following categories: senior men, senior women, junior men and junior women. The top four men and women across the finish line at Cranmore will earn automatic berths on the team provided they are U.S. citizens and members of USATF. Juniors, age 16 and not yet 20 in the year of competition, will be selected to the team based on resumes and letters of recommendation from coaches, and/or parents.
The courses in Italy will be challenging and technical according to delegate Tomo Sarf of the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) who recently visited the venue. “Generally the course is a technical one, especially the descent will be very slippery in the case of wet weather,” said Sarf.
The senior men and women will run the same distance at this year’s World Championships, a rule change which occurred this past September at the WMRA Congress meeting. A rule fully supported and embraced by US delegate to the congress, Richard Bolt. “Having equal distances is something we in the U.S. have lobbied for over the years,” said Bolt. “The outcome of the vote in September demonstrated the collective feeling of the more than 30 countries represented at the Congress and is a welcome change by our entire U.S. contingent.”
The best part of the decision is that the women move up in distance, not down. “Hearing that the course in Premana will be 13 kilometers for both the men and the women makes me want to try out for the team again,” said multi-time US mountain running team member Brandy Erholtz who recently gave birth to her second child. “I’m excited to hear that it’s going to be 13K and not 8K.”
Courses in Premana for the seniors will be approximately 13 kilometers and will be run over a two-loop course with approximately 430 meters of elevation gain per loop. The start will be in town at 930 meters with the high point at 1440 meters. Juniors will run the one-loop course of 6.5 kilometers.
For details on the history of the World Mountain Running Championships visit www.wmra.info. For information on the US Mountain Running program visit www.usmrt.com. To learn more about the Cranmore Mountain Race visit www.acidoticracing.com/cranmore-mountain-race/. For details on the USATF Championships program visit www.usatf.org.