US Mountain Running Championships: Events for all ages and abilities

Central Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor is a popular winter destination for skiers, riders and snowshoers, but did you know it’s also a first class destination for adventurous trail runners? Free from winter time crowds, the mountain is a rugged but approachable challenge with epic views of nearby Broken Top and Sisters mountains. Now almost 5 years after the demise of MBSEF’s Sunrise to Summit, trail racing is coming back to the slopes of Mt. Bachelor with the USA Mountain Running Championships – an official USA Track & Field event. Taking place Saturday, July 25 at Sunrise Lodge, the event features 3 races: a 12k championship for men; 8k championship for women; and a 4k open race for youth runners or anyone new to mountain running. All the races take place on a challenging 4k loop that climbs and descends 820’.

Photo credit Nate Wyeth
photo: Nate Wyeth

Considered the most competitive sub-ultra distance trail race in the United States each year, this championship is coming to Oregon after 5 years in New Hampshire. Top finishers go on to represent Team USA at the World Mountain Running Championships in September, while overall and age group national champions are named – all competing for $16,000 in cash and a year of bragging rights. What also makes this championship special is that anyone – you! – can toe the start line and see how you stack up against the top trail runners in the country. Unlike national championships in track & field, the marathon, and other road distances, there is no qualifying required for the USA Mountain Running Championships. In fact, last year’s championships at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire had over 500 finishers.

Also taking place within this event is the 2nd annual Collegiate Running Association (CRA) Mountain Championships. The CRA was founded with a mission to promote healthy lifestyles among college students by providing and expanding opportunities in the sport of running. Any student/athlete taking college courses is eligible to compete in the CRA championship.

While this event is sanctioned by USA Track & Field and will attract elite runners from across the United States, it’s ultimately a local event brought to you by local trail runners. Directing the event is Max King, the 2011 World Mountain Running Champion, 2014 100K World Champion and all around jack of all running trades. Max ran the 6th fastest time at the 2012 Steeplechase Olympic Trails and ran a 2:14.36 at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trails. In between all this running Max designed the mountain championship course on Mt. Bachelor.

More than just a running race, this event will feature several social opportunities. Friday night before the race will be a shake out run with the crew from Nike Trail Running. On race day there will be several vendor tents set up at Sunrise Lodge including Nike Trail Running and Picky Bar. As the folks at Picky Bar like to say; stop by and pick up a dose of Booyah!

For more information and to register for the race go

Elite trail running athletes already registered include:
– Max King, 2014 IAU 100k World Champion and 2011 WMRA World Mountain Running Champion.
– Kasie Enman, 2011 World Mountain Running Champion.
– Stevie Kremer, 2012 World Long Distance Mountain Running Champion.
– Mandy Ortiz, 2013 Junior World Mountain Running Champion.
– Joe Gray, defending USA Mountain Running champion.
– Patrick Smyth, 10th place at the 2014 World Mountain Running Championships.
– Anita Ortiz, Western States 100 winner, 11th place, 2002 World Mountain Running Championships.
– Andy Wacker, 3rd place finisher at the 2014 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.
– Megan Lizotte, 2009 World Mountain Running Championship women’s team bronze medal.
– Nicole Hunt, 9th place, 2006 World Mountain Running Championships, team gold medal.
– David Laney, 2nd place team at 2015 IAU Trail World Championships.
– Other recent US Mountain Running Team members planning to race include David Roche, Zach Miller, Jordan Chavez, Zach Freudenburg, Nick Schuetze, Megan Kimmel, Brandy Erholtz, Christine Lundy, Magdalena Boulet.

Ask the expert: What is “mountain running”? Mountain races don’t have to take place on a “mountain” but must have large amounts of climbing or climb and descent. While they generally take place on trails, some are mountain road ascents like the Mt. Washington Road Race (7.6 miles, 4600’ of climb). Other mountain races like the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb (13.3 miles, 5600’ of climb) utilize paved roads, dirt roads, single-track trails, and open mountain slope.

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