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home > races/results > usa: new hampshire > the montrail-mountain hardwear usatf new england mountain running circuit and ne mountain running championship

The Montrail-Mountain Hardwear USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit and NE Mountain Running Championship
Are you ready for a new and exciting challenge? Are you prepared to shift gears and energize your running? These six mountain races will change everything, including your attitude about hills. Try this unique challenge and you will have an entirely different perspective on course difficulty. See how tough you are!

The Montrail-Mountain Hardwear USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit and NE Mountain Running Championship

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Active Running

By Skip Cleaver
Posted Thursday, 20 May, 2010

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, 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 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

The Circuit Includes USATF-New England Trail Running Championship and USATF-New England Mountain Running Championship

Northfield Mountain: This year the Northfield Mountain 10.3K race (6.4-miler) is the first of the series, and will serve as the USATF-New England Trail Running Championship race in addition to the Mountain Circuit kickoff. The Northfield Mountain race runs Saturday, May 22 in Northfield, Massachusetts. Northfield’s course is rolling, as well as up and down. It is 100% trail, with single track and double track (maintenance roads). It will run from the Northfield Mountain Visitors Center, 99 Millers Falls Road (Route 63), just two miles north of Route 2.

Mount Wachusett: The Wachusett climb runs Saturday, May 29 at 9:30 a.m. This is the eighteenth annual run up and down the ski mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts. There are “only” 1095 feet to climb, with much of that elevation change in the first mile. There is a downhill trail section after the one-mile mark. The race fittingly begins on Mile Hill Road just below the ski lodge. The route is closed to traffic, and after the first 1.3 it is all on trails. This was once a road-only, however construction required course changes from 4.3 all road to the summit to 5.3 miles of road and trail combination up and back down to the lodge.

Pack Monadnock: The third event is the Pack Monadnock Challenge 10 Miler, running from Wilton-Lyndeborough High School to the top of Pack Monadnock Mountain in Temple, New Hampshire. This is the 18th annual edition of the race, one of the original races in the circuit (Wachusett is the only other). This race is also included in the New Hampshire Grand Pix. Pack Monadnock is often compared in difficulty with Mount Washington, mostly because after running 8 miles on rolling hills with a few challenging climbs, the last two miles are exceptionally steep. Total climb is 2,000 feet, but most of that is in the first mile and final two miles. The last 1.3 miles on the summit road becomes very steep—especially the final 200 meters. Pack is the longest of the six mountain races.

The course is beautifully picturesque along country roads, woods and farms, including 1.5 miles of dirt roads. The first mile is steep. The last portion of the course climbs through Miller State Park to the summit. It will run on Sunday, June 6, at 9:00 a.m. Registration and number pickup will be at the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School. It is point-to-point with a 1.5 mile walk down from the summit for the post race cookout and awards at the former Temple Mountain Ski Area, directly across from Miller State Park and the summit road.

Mount Cranmore: The Mount Cranmore Hill Climb is a terrific mountain race, and very challenging, as a championship course should be. Some would argue this is the most difficult of the six. It is certainly unique with its two loops—up and down twice. It has great facilities and sponsorship, thanks to Inov-8, a premier maker of trail running and mountain shoes, as well as host Cranmore Mountain Resort. It is set for June 27th this year—the week after Mount Washington.
It offers a different challenge with two laps up and down. Each loop is approximately 5.8K this year (it varies slightly year to year). The World Mountain Running Trophy alternates between uphill only in even years, and then up and down in odd years. Therefore Mount Cranmore was changed from all uphill to up and down in 2005 in order to become a USA Mountain Running Team qualifying race. Also, nearly all World Championship races have been mostly on trails, as is Mount Cranmore.
The Mount Cranmore Hill Climb will also serve as the USA Track and Field New England Mountain Running Championship this year. This is the 23rd annual Mount Cranmore race, one of the oldest mountain races in New England after Mount Washington.

Loon Mountain: This is a pure trail race to the summit of Loon Mountain, running
Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. The start and race headquarters are located at the Loon Mountain Ski Area, Lincoln, New Hampshire. Registration and number pick up will be at the Octagon Base Lodge, Loon Mountain Ski Area, 60 Loon Mountain Road in Lincoln just off the Kancamagus Highway.
Registration will be open from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

The start is in a parking area adjacent to the Pemigewasset River. The course winds its way to service trails heading up Loon Mountain, then follows a combination of single track trails, service roads, and ski trails to the Summit Lodge. From there it travels across the ridge and up North Peak, with a final loop around the summit, returning to the finish at the gondola lift. It is an ascent-only race. For course maps, registration and more information visit

Mount Ascutney: The final race is the Mount Ascutney Run to the Summit, starting at 10:00 a.m. July 11th, and running entirely in the state park. No rolling hills warm-up for this one. It is short at 3.8 miles, but it starts immediately uphill and continues at a 12% grade to the summit area parking lot. Please note that the combination road/trail course of last year has changed back to the original auto road only. The road is on the east side of the mountain with spectacular views of the Connecticut River Valley. There are several switchbacks where you can take stock of the competition—and the view.

Mount Ascutney is near Windsor, the birthplace of Vermont. Ascutney is shortest but also the steepest of the six races on average, as well as the highest elevation. It is very similar to the first half of the Mount Washington Road Race. The grade is constant with only a few brief level spots. This is the tenth anniversary year for Mount Ascutney, the concluding climb for the Circuit where the overall Circuit and age group champions will be decided.

The 2010 Schedule:
May 22 (Sat.) Northfield Mountain Northfield, MA 9:00 a.m. Trail 6.4 Miles (10.3K)
(USATF-NE Trail Running Championship) up-down

May 29 (Sat.) Wachusett Mountain Princeton, MA 9:30 a.m. Road/Trail 5.25 Miles

June 6 (Sun.) Pack Monadnock Wilton-Lyndeboro, NH 9:00 a.m. Road 10.0 Miles
8.0 Rolling, 2.0 steep ascent
June 27 (Sun.) Mount Cranmore North Conway, NH 9:00 a.m. Trail 11.6K, 7.2 Miles
up-down 2 loops, 5.8K each

July 4 (Sun.) Loon Mountain Lincoln, NH 9:00 a.m. Trail 5.7 Miles Up

July 11 (Sun.) Mount Ascutney Windsor, VT 10:00 a.m. Road 3.8 Miles Up

*The 50th Mount Washington Road Race (closed entry) will run on Saturday, June 19, 2010;
USA Mountain Running Championship.

Take the Challenge
Yes, this is your chance to challenge yourself and set an entirely new set of goals for your running in 2010. This is nothing like those flat land races with their minor rolls. Gravity offers a new challenge, and mountains offer a way to get in really good shape for other races later in the year. These six unique events take place within an eight week time frame. After you run these events, your racing (and attitude about hills) will never be the same. The sense of accomplishment, and often the spectacular views, will change your outlook and running career. You will also view mountain peaks in a whole new light. Try it. Accept the challenge. Set those unique goals that grab the distinction of being a “Mountain Runner”, or perhaps even a “Mountain Goat”!



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