This report comes from our very own Bill "It's Only One Hill" Morse...
Although I've run the Mt. Cranmore Hill Climb many times, the 2013 race on was one of the most unique, and challenging hill climb races I have ever done. As this race was the USA Mountain Running Championships, and qualifier for the remaining USA team slots available to compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in Poland, the best hill climb runners in the USA were all present, including "junior" competitors. Also, through race director Paul Kirsch's efforts, this race would serve as an opportunity for both Mexico and Canada to compete for the often overlooked North American Hill Climb Championship title. So obviously some of the best uphill runners on the planet were on the summit of Mt. Cranmore via chairlift on race morning. I was both excited, yet very humbled by the star-studded presence of folks who I usually read about in this crazy sport where competitors think running up and down "double black diamond" ski trails is fun. So here are some of my observations about this unique event:
The weather was perfect. The heat and humidity of the previous week were gone, replaced with cool mountain air, a crystal clear sky, and a slight calming breeze.
The trip to the summit on the chairlift was very peaceful with spectacular views of Mt. Washington Valley. The cloudless summit of the "rockpile", Mt. Washington was clearly visible just to the north.
The assemblage of runners at the summit looked a bit international with lots of USA, Mexico, and Canada singlets proudly displayed, with a singular Comp Racing singlet, no doubt looking a bit odd. Before the racing started the national anthems of Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. echoed from the summit.
The women's race went off first with the ladies doing two 4K loops down and up the mountain. No surprises with the results where 6 out of the top 10 hailed from Colorado and Idaho. A similar result would occur in the men's race.
Thirteen year old Veronica de Loa Angel came all the way from Mexico to win the junior girl's race by flying through her race's one 4K loop in only 26 mins. I would only average about 33 mins. for each of the men's three loops.
My strategy was to do the first loop very conservatively, try to run a bit faster on the second loop, and just see what was left in the tank for the third loop. I quickly found myself going back and forth with age-grouper Tom Derderian. Tom placed 2nd at the Mt Wash. race in 1974 and was in the top five there several times. He has finished in the top 25 in the Boston Marathon. I really had no expectations of challenging such talent, but somehow Tom was close by for the entire race. I struggled a little on the last super steep climb to the summit allowing Tom to take 5th in the age group, and myself barely getting 6th (out of 19) with another age grouper about 10 sec. behind me and closing fast.
For about three days after this race my quads were screaming. Up and down stairs was a chore.
On the ride down the chairlift I met a runner from Connecticut who was just starting mountain running. He was excited to tell me that he planned to run the Mt. Washington Road Race in 2014. He then asked me if I had ever run Mt. Washington. He! He! I won't bore you with how that conversation went but I'm sure that the poor guy couldn't wait for the chairlift ride to end.