This is the 15th year for the Montrail-Mountain Hardwear USATF-New England Mountain Circuit. This innovative mountain circuit consists of six races in three states--Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. This mountain circuit is unique in the country. It is intended to promote the sport of mountain running in New England and beyond. Initiated by Dave Dunham in 1996, the Mountain Running Circuit has provided many runners with unique and singularly satisfying challenges; it is a totally different type of running, and among the most gratifying of all. The Mountain Running Circuit is sandwiched around the famous Mount Washington Road Race, and several of the races were originally designed to emulate—or provide training runs for—the legendary Mount Washington race.
In fact those who complete all six Montrail-Mountain Hardwear USATF-New England Mountain Circuit races (achieve "Mountain Goat" status) will get automatic entry (bypassing the lottery) into the 2011 Mount Washington Road Race. They will also earn special prizes from the Montrail-Mountain Hardwear USATF-New England Mountain Running Circuit.
The USATF-New England Mountain Circuit blasts off on Saturday, May 22nd, at Northfield Mountain in Northfield, Massachusetts. This kick-off contest is a moderately steep 10.3K trail race which doubles as the New England Trail Running Championship. It's a great way to start. Wachusett Mountain is the second race, followed by the Pack Monadnock 10-Mile Challenge on Sunday, June 6. These two uphill battles, along with Mount Kearsarge, made up the original Mountain Circuit 15 years ago.
The first two are in Massachusetts; followed by three in New Hampshire, with the final event in Vermont. Three of the Mountain Circuit Races are exclusively on trails, two are on roads and the other is a combination of roads and trails. Three are predominately or all uphill, point-to-point to mountain peaks, and three are up-down loops. Runners must be members of USATF to score in the series. You can sign up at www.usatfne.org, or call the New England office of USATF at (617) 566-7600. As for Circuit scoring, USATF officials have decided on a best five-out-of-six scoring format. Points will be awarded as a percentage of the winner's time, first man and first woman, but only the best five totals will be counted. This will allow runners to miss a race--or have a bad day--without penalty.
Awards will be given for the series overall, as well as open, masters, seniors, and veteran's categories. There are separate awards for the individual races, and they vary. Unique awards will be given to all "Mountain Goats" who complete all contests. Cash and gift certificates will be awarded to the first three women and men in series points.
You can check out the fascinating history of the Mountain Running Circuit, founded by Dave Dunham (former Chair of the USATF-New England Mountain, Ultra, and Trail (MUT) Committee). It includes previous results, all past winners, all-time points leaders, all-time appearance leaders, and all age group champions. Dunham, by the way, three-time winner and former record holder at Mount Washington, won the open championship the first two years and also the masters' championship twice. The circuit has included nine different mountain races over 15 years. Go to http://www.usatfne.org/trail/ for rules and general information on the circuit and Mountain/Ultra/Trail.
National Mountain Running Championship
As noted, the USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit is the only one of its kind in the nation. And the interest and success it has generated helped spur the National USATF to organize the National Mountain Running Championship. The seventh annual USA Championship will run at Mount Washington.
Many of the past and future members of the USA Mountain Running Team have raced the New England Circuit and the National Mountain Running Championship, hoping to qualify for the World Championships (World Mountain Running Trophy) in September.
The Mount Cranmore Hill Climb, fourth race in the circuit, hosted the USA National Mountain Running Championships last year and also in 2007. This year the USA Mountain Championship will be the Mount Washington Road Race. This will be the fourth year in a row New Englanders have had the National Championship in their back yard, and the fourth straight year it has been in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It will run at the Mount Washington Auto Road on Saturday, June 19th. Mount Cranmore serves as the New England Mountain Running Championship this year.
Paul Kirsch is the Chair of the USATF-New England Mountain, Ultra, and Trail (MUT) Committee, and also serves as the Cranmore Hill Climb Race Director. He also directs the Loon Mountain race. Paul can be reached at 603-367-8676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.