West Coasters Excel at
USA Mountain Running Championships in New England
North Conway, NH
— On a humid, overcast morning in the New England hamlet of North Conway, NH,
Washingtonian Joseph Gray, 24, Lakewood, WA and
Californian Christine Lundy, 38, Sausalito
outpaced one of the deepest U.S. mountain running fields in
recent memory to become the 2009 USA Mountain Running Champions today. The pair
also led team USA to gold medal podium spots in the
men’s and women’s division of the North American Central American Caribbean
Mountain Running Championships.
The race featured two 5.5 kilometer loops and 2400
feet of vertical gain which included a mixture of steep climbing, single track
terrain, super fast descents, and flat sections across open meadows. Spectators
at the base of the mountain could watch the runners as they climbed in the
distance and then cheered runners on as they passed the start/finish area for
the second and final loop.
A former collegiate steeplechaser, Gray, in his
third season mountain racing, was with a lead pack of seven within the first
kilometer which included Simon Gutierrez, 43, Alamosa, CO, Zac Freudenberg, 30,
St. Louis, MO, Eric Blake, 29, New Britain, CT, Matt Byrne, 34, Scranton, PA,
and Shiloh Mielke, 29, Asheville, NC. The group stayed together up the first
pitch, but at the top of the climb Gray took off. Freudenberg and Gutierrez were
in second and third respectively, followed closely by Gates, Byrne, and Blake.
Mielke didn’t stick with the group on the first downhill.
After the first loop it was Gray leading by about
40 seconds posting a 28 minute loop with Freudenberg in second, Gutierrez in
third, “I was feeling confident, like I could hold third,Û¢bCrLf said Gutierrez in a
post race interview, “Even going up the second climb I felt good. Then Rickey
and Matt caught me about 1 kilometer into the second climb. They started pushing
it. Joe was gone. I could see Rickey and Matt until the last 200 meters of the
“After that I survived to get down. My legs were
shot, Eric passed me and I caught up to him and we ran together for the last 2
kilometers. Shiloh blasted by us with about å_
mile to go,Û¢bCrLf said Gutierrez who in a sprint-to-the-finish with Blake fell down
just a few feet from the line to settle for seventh.
Gray kept a solid, steady, and rather blistering
pace to finish in 48:37 followed by Freudenberg in 49:48, Byrne in 49:57, Gates
in 50:04, Meilke in 51:38, Blake in 51:50, and Gutierrez in 51:54. Aaron Saft,
Kevin Tilton, and John Tribbia rounded out the top ten.
With his win, Gray made his second consecutive
Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. Freudenberg and Byrne also were named to the
team. All three were members of last year’s bronze-medal winning team at the
World Mountain Running Championships in Switzerland.
Lundy, with her win, becomes a four-time Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team
member earning the sole team spot at Cranmore for the women. Lundy was on her
first U.S. mountain team in
2005 and is the only two-time team gold medalist as a member of both the 2006
and 2007 U.S. teams at Worlds. She raced to
victory posting a time of 57:16, besting her nearest competitor, Brandy Erholtz,
31, Bailey, CO,
by approximately 35 seconds, and was followed by Laura Haefeli, 41, Del Norte, CO, in 58:30. Kasie Enman (VT), Gina Lucrezi, Megan
Lund, Abby Larson, Amber Moran, Trish Steidl, and Christa Benton, rounded out
the top 10.
Masters champion Laura Haefeli, when interviewed
about her race said, “I felt good. I was psyched that we (team
USA in the NACAC competition ÛÓ Lundy,
Haefeli, Enman, and Erholtz) were all running together. The start was fast.
Brandy, Chris and Kasie were in front of me, but we were all really close. Abby
was close behind. Abby passed me on one of the steeper sections and I was fifth
to the top after the first climb. On the first downhill, I knew Abby was running
really hard and I passed her on the rocky section. I figured if I could get
enough distance on her on the downhill I could hold her off on the uphill. I was
hoping that anyone behind me on the first loop wouldn’t catch me.
“I was gaining on Kasie, and I thought I was even
gaining on Chris. It was definitely tougher on the second time around. I caught
Kasie just before the steep climb and started to put some distance right after
the climb and increased my lead. Once I crested the top, I was gone. I knew from
the first lap I was running well on the downhill and didn’t think anyone would
catch me on the downs. By the time I crested, I didn’t see Brandy or Chris. At
the last part of the downhill I saw Brandy, but didn’t see Chris. I wanted to
minimize the gap from second place.Û¢bCrLf
When asked about the competitive field Haefeli
said, “I definitely felt I had to step up my game for this race. I felt that
there were at least eight girls going for the team. In 2007 when I was third at
Worlds, I felt that I couldn’t lose contact with the top runnersÛ¢and I felt the
In the NACAC competition the top two runners for
each country scored. Lundy and Erholtz scored for Team USA to earn the gold medal with Canada
in silver medal position. On the men’s side, Gray and Gates scored for Team
USA which included Blake and
Gutierrez. Final results were not available at press time for the men’s NACAC
The Cranmore Hill Climb included open runners as
well as USATF members vying for national championship honors in their respective
five year age groups starting at 40 years old for masters runners. USATF results
will be posted at www.usatf.org.
“We were really excited to have such high caliber
runners come to the Mount
Washington Valley and the race was a great success.
We had 250 registrants and nearly 40 finishers more than our previous high. I
would say this is due to the national championships which attracted runners from
22 states. The White Mountain Milers are planning to submit a bid to host the
Championships again in 2011,Û¢bCrLf said event director Paul Kirsch (NH).
was distributed as follows (equal for men and women): $200 first place $150
second place; $100 third place; $50 first place master. The top NACAC teams each
Results will be posted at www.whitemountainmilers.com/cranmore.
and final Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team selection race will be held in
Colorado Springs at the July 26 Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race presented by
Walmart where the top two U.S. women and the top two U.S. men will earn a berth
on this year’s team. For details visit www.trailrunner.com.
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