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Mount Washington Road Race determines U.S. Mountain Running Team

Sage Canaday’s debut as a mountain runner was memorable. The two-time Olympic Marathon Trials participant and former member of the Brooks-Hanson Distance Project …

altPhoto by Dennis Coughlin

Sage Canaday’s debut as a mountain runner was memorable. The two-time Olympic Marathon Trials participant and former member of the Brooks-Hanson Distance Project won the U.S. Mountain Running Championship Saturday at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Road Race by over a minute. In the process, he qualified for his first U.S. Mountain Running Team (USMRT) and punched his ticket to the World Mountain Running Championship in Italy in September.

“My main goal was to finish in the top five,” says Canaday, who trained for the race by running on a treadmill with a steep incline setting. “Being in the lead was not part of my pre-race plan at all, but I figured that it might be a good strategy at that point. When I came through the halfway mark in just over 28 minutes, I was a little worried that my pace was too fast and that I might hit a wall before the finish line.”

Yet Canaday found his lead increasing as the finish approached. “By mile six, I did a little mental math and figured that as long as I kept my mile splits under 8:20 pace I would finish in under one hour,” he says. “The time goal became a huge motivator for me.”

USATF Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT) chair Nancy Hobbs says she knew Canaday would do well, but that even she was surprised by his runaway victory. “He was definitely my pick to finish top 10. I saw him the day before, and he looked extremely focused and ready to run,” says Hobbs.

The top six American men at Mount Washington qualified for the USMRT and the World Championship. Canaday, who recently relocated to Boulder, Colorado, finished in 58:27, the second-fastest time in course history. USMRT veterans Joseph Gray of Newcastle, Washington, and Eric Blake of New Britain, Connecticut, finished second and third, respectively, in 1:00:33 and 1:00:54.

Rounding out the top six were first-time qualifier Glenn Randall of Mesa, Colorado, who clocked a 1:00:58 for fourth; USMRT veteran Tommy Manning of Colorado Springs, who finished sixth in 1:01:52; and newcomer Tim Chichester, of Mount Morris, New York, who finished seventh in 1:02:06. Six-time World Mountain Running Champion Marco De Gasperi of Bormio, Italy, finished fifth in 1:01:38.

Defending U.S. and World Mountain Running Champion, Max King of Bend, Oregon, was battling an illness and finished one spot short of qualifying in 1:02:21.

“There were surprises, but with the dynamic of so many good people, it was impossible to predict what would happen,” says USMRT Team Leader Richard Bolt. “It was easily the best field we’ve ever assembled, and we’ve been saying that, accurately, each time we assemble a national-championship event. To have 32 people under 70 minutes on that course, and to have all six team members near or under 62 minutes, that’s the fastest team we’ve ever had.”

Hobbs says the unique format of the Mount Washington Road Race—an unrelenting 7.6-mile ascent up New England’s highest peak—makes results difficult to predict. “The field was really stacked, and it gets more stacked each year, as we get more exposure and more elite or sub-elite athletes realize [gaining a spot on the USMRT] is another chance to be on a world team or go for a national title,” she said. “[King] said it’s harder now to make the USMRT than the U.S. Cross-Country Team.”

Hobbs is excited about the prospects of the team, which won a team silver medal at Worlds two years ago and placed fourth last year. “I’m thrilled to have three veterans and three newcomers,” she says. “It is a great mix.”

The Mount Washington Road Race, which began in 1904 and has run annually since 1966, has served as the U.S. Mountain Running Championships and USMRT qualifiers four times. Bolt says it was selected as the qualifier this year because of its similarity to the World Championship course, which will be an uphill climb. The World Mountain Running Championship course alternates between a climb in even years and an up-and-down course in odd years.

The women’s USMRT will be determined at the Loon Mountain Race July 8 in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The top four American women will qualify to represent the United States at September’s World Championship.

Complete Mount Washington results can be found here: http://coolrunning.com/results/12/nh/Jun16_52ndNo_set1.shtml

Big Horn Trail Run

Montanans swept the top spots in 100-mile, 50-mile and 50K at Saturday’s Big Horn Trail Run in Dayton, Wyoming. Mike Foote of Missoula, won the 100-mile race (which started Friday) in 18:36:42, breaking the course record of 18:43:37 set by fellow Montanan Mike Wolfe in 2010. Foote was nearly two hours ahead of runner-up W. Jared Scott of Greenwood Village, Colorado, who crossed the line in 20:27:11, edging out Eugene, Oregon’s Dan Olmstead, who finished third in 20:32:40.

Boulder, Colorado’s Darcy Africa won the women’s race, finishing sixth overall in 22:27:26, breaking her own course record of 23:22:21 from 2007. Runner-up Missy Gosney, of Durango, Colorado, finished 21st overall in 24:46:51, and Suzanne Lewis, of Salt Lake City, finished third (25th overall) in 25:46:10.

In the 50-mile, Bozeman’s Damian Stoy won in 7:49:36, edging Park City, Utah’s Dominick Layfield, who was second in 7:52:08. Kyle Pietari of Edgewater, Colorado, was third in 7:57:07. Amie Blackham of Draper, Utah, won the women’s race and finished 10th overall in 9:35:28, over half an hour ahead of runner-up Meaghen Brown of Missoula, who was 19th overall in 10:08:52. Alison Forney-Gorman, also of Missoula, finished third (19th overall) in 10:12:23.

Complete results, as well as results for the 50K and 30K races, can be found here: http://bighorntrailrun.com/2012results.html

Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run

Both the men’s and women’s course records went down at the Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run Saturday in Davis, West Virginia. Frank Gonzalez of Forest, Virginia, won the men’s and overall races in 5:51:00, nearly eight minutes ahead of runner-up Robert Smith of Huntington, West Virginia, who finished in 5:58:41. Adam Casseday of Beverly, West Virginia, finished third in 6:18:13.

In the women’s race, Ragan Petrie of Arlington, Virginia, won and placed 10th overall in 7:03:51. Emily Warner of Winchester, Virginia, finished second, 25th overall, in 7:55:51. Rachel Corrigan of Fort Haywood, Virginia, was third, 27th overall, in 7:57:41.

Complete results can be found here: http://www.wvmtr.org/events/highlands-sky-40m-trail-run/highlands-sky-2012-results-race-reports-photos/

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