Running for Red, White and Blue
What it takes to make the women's United States Mountain Running Team
Photo by Joe Viger
Earlier this year I decided to compete for a spot on the women's United States Mountain Running Team (USMRT). Mountain running is not only a melting pot of road speedsters and trail running uphill-downhill specialists, it is one of the few ways a trail runner can represent her country on a world stage. For me, the chance to wear USA on my racing jersey was reason enough.
I began training in early April, incorporating track work and tempos for the first time since college. I lifted weights and focused on speed. I was told the qualifying race was going to be a fast course—cross-country like, so I worked hard to get faster. I entered races in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup (a proclaimed "European style mountain series" across the country consisting of half marathons to 30Ks) to get myself accustomed to shorter, faster races. Suddenly it was June and $750 in airfare later, I found myself flying from Colorado across the country to run 4.8 miles.
I was headed to North Conway, New Hampshire, to run the sole qualifying race for the USMRT—the Cranmore Hill Climb—on June 25, 2011. Directed by Paul Kirsch, this year's United States Mountain Running Championship would be a short race at the Cranmore Mountain Resort—one of the oldest ski resorts in the country. This would be my one shot to make the team; you could call it the "Olympic Trials" of mountain running.