Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 Mountain series preview

The 2017 USATF NE mountain circuit is about to begin!  The first mountain circuit kicked off on May 11, 1996 at the (now defunct) Mt Kearsarge race in Warner NH.  The National Championships returns this year, this time to the up/down style at the Cranmore Mountain race.  The Ascutney Mountain race will not be part of the series this year, a race director was found but unfortunately it was too late to be included in the series.  The “goat” requirement adjusts accordingly and will be the best 5 out of 7 races.  Mountain goat status is coveted as it comes with not only bragging rights but a lottery by-pass into the following years Mt Washington road race.  113 runners completed 6 of 8 in 2016 earning the goat moniker including 18 runners who completed all 8 races.
The USATF NE Mountain series enters its 22nd year and as such is the oldest mountain race circuit in the country.
USATF-NE Mountain Circuit 2017 Schedule
April 30 - Sleepy Hollow Mt. Race
May 7 - Pack Monadnock
May 27 - Wachusett Mountain
June 3 - Cranmore Hill Climb (USATF-NE Mountain Champs & USA National Champs)
July 2- Loon Mountain Race
Sept 3 - Mt. Greylock Road Race
Sept 30 & Oct 1 - Bretton Woods Fell Race
According to senior series director and vice Provost Paul Kirsch “Seeing Sleepy Hollow get so many registrants, I am excited that this leads to a growth in overall series numbers. We are lucky again to have the US Mountain Champs at Cranmore as part of this year's series too”.
The big questions for 2017:
Will Richard Stockdale (GCS) continue his amazing streak of 98 consecutive series finishes from 2000 – 2016?
The Races
Sleepy Hollow: First held in May of 2012, the 6.4 mile course features three climbs and descents and a mixture of single-track, fields, dirt roads, and wide grassy paths.   The total climb/drop is 1,200’ and there is always mud somewhere on the course which is a cross-country ski area in the winter.  In 2014 the race served as the USATF NE Trail championship.  The first runner to the top of the first climb is crowned “King of the Mountain”.  Note on 2017 course: The 2017 race course will be the same as 2016. Darth Vader makes a return to lead you on the path to the dark side. 
Course records (Various)
Pack Monadnock: Typically held the first Sunday in June. The race moved to May this year to accommodate the change to Mt Cranmore.   Pack has been part of the circuit since 1996.  The race was been held continuously from 1990 through 2003.  The event was not held in 2004 or 2014.  The tem mile course climbs 2,000 feet and drops 300 feet over mostly paved roads from Wilton NH to the summit of Pack Monadnock in Temple NH.  The last mile, which is entirely within Miller State park, has climbs steeper than Mt Washington (11.5% average grade).  The final 200m has a grade of about 30%.  Amenities include mile markers, water stops, and baggage to the finish.    
Course records: Eric Morse 58:35 & Kelli Lusk 1:13:35
Wachusett Mountain Typically held on the last Saturday in May.  The race is hosted by the Central Mass Striders. The first race was held (twice!) in 1978 and was fairly successful.  It was contested from 1978 to 1986 when the host Montachusett Regional YMCA decided to cut back on its road race calendar.  CMS brought the race back in 1992 and it has been held continuously since.  The traditional course climbed over 1400 feet with 400 feet of drop in 4.3 miles of paved road.  In 2009 the course was changed to an up/down version as construction on the summit road made the original route unusable.  The course had slight changes in 2010-2012 with a number of different trails and finish line locations tested.  In 2013 the course changed again, this time returning to the summit and descending via paved and dirt roads, this version (with slight modifications) was again used in 2014 & 2015.  In 2015 scoring for the USATF series was based on the “up only” segment of the race.  The up will be used again in 2016.  Amenities include prizes in five age groups excellent management by the Central Mass. Striders.          
Course records (Various)
Mt Cranmore: Cranmore may be the oldest continuously held trail-mountain race in New England with this year marking the 31st running of the race.  It has been held on various dates, in more recent years in mid-July. The course has been varied throughout the years, from a straight run to the summit, to a three loop quad buster.  The current version of the course features two loops up and down the mountain climbing and descending 2,000’ over 10K.  The race is now managed by the acidotic Racing.  Cranmore has hosted the National championships six times (2005/2007/2009/2011/2013/2017) and been a selection race for the US team.  In 2009 & 2013 the race was also the NACAC championship.  The race was named one of “Outside” magazines ultimate races in 2015.  In 2017 Cranmore will be the sole selection race for the USA Mountain running team.   
Course records (Various)          
Loon Mountain:  Loon Mountain is typically held on the first Sunday of July although it has been run as early as the final weekend in June.  Loon has been part of the series since its creation by USATF NE Mountain chair Paul Kirsch in 2006.  The race was designated the USATF NE mountain running championship and served as a qualifier for the US Mountain running team in 2006.  The course was designed to mirror the 2006 World Trophy course in Turkey, thus giving runners in New England a taste of an international mountain race.  In 2007 the ½ mile of flat running on paved road at the base of the mountain was eliminated and became 5.6 miles with 2,800’ of climb and descent.  In 2012 the race was again the US champs and a qualifier for the women.  The elite women ran first and the men started 30 minutes later, both races covered a shorter 5 mile version of the course which finished at the top of West Loon Mountain.  The signature feature of the race is the 1 kilometer stretch climbing Upper Walking Boss, a grass slope with an average grade over 30%.  In 2014 the race again hosted the US champs and was the sole qualifier for men and women.  An additional 2 miles of “cross country” style trail was added (and has remained as part of the course).  Loon was again the sole qualifier and U.S. championship in 2016.  Race features include baggage transport to the summit, and wild strawberries lining sections of the course.  
Course records: Various
Mt Greylock road Race: 2015 marked the first foray to Western Mass for the series since Northfield ended a few years ago.  The Greylock uphill 8 mile road race will be held for the 42nd consecutive year on Labor Day weekend 2017.
Course records: Unknown (I’m working on this)
Bretton Woods Fell Race: First held in the fall of 2012, it was moved to June in 2014 as a replacement for Pack Monadnock.  In 2015 it moved back to its current place on the first weekend in October.  This is the only Fell race in the series the only race held in the fall.  It is also the only Fell race held in the country.  Fell is a term mainly used in the Lake District of England to describe mountains or high moorland. The sport of fell running can be traced to traditionally held races in those regions.  The major difference between fell running and mountain (or trail running) is that true fell running requires you to be able to navigate the course (often without paths) with route choice  between checkpoints being left to the individual.  At Bretton Woods a “consensus” course has been marked for the short course (the first three check-points on the long course), giving runners the choice to follow the somewhat longer route without having to navigate.
Course records: Various
Bretton Woods now has THREE racing options but you can only have one of the three races count towards your Mountain Goat Status.
If you go into Bretton Woods weekend with only 3 races completed, you cannot do 2 races at Bretton Woods to satisfy your goat status.
Sept 30th at Bretton Woods will feature an uphill only event.  If you participate in this race, it gives you 1 point for Mountain Goat Status.  October 1st at Bretton Woods will feature the short course and long courses like other years. 
The Short Course gives you 1 point in series standings and counts towards your 5 of 7 races. 
The Long course gives you traditional scoring points and counts towards your 5 of 7 races.
Can I run the races on Saturday and Sunday?  Sure, but only one will count towards your Mountain Goat Status. We hope people will run both days to make a weekend out of it!