The 9th NACAC Mountain Running Championships was hosted at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, Canada, on a rain-soaked morning. While the weather forecast called for clearing skies, temperatures were in the upper 50s at the start with humidity at 94% amid cloud-filled overcast skies. The conditions at the finish line some 1100 meters up the mountain, were slightly cooler with rain showers filling puddles of water around the finish area, while mist rolled off the trees.

The 11 kilometer course included a variety of terrain from significant ascents to a few steep and technical descents, rocky hillsides with grades up to 40%, and some single track trails through forested areas and open green meadows. The event was organized by the 5 Peaks Running Series which conducts a series of races in the various provinces of Canada.

Defending champions Team USA took the women’s gold medal for the 8th time, and the Canadians repeated their men’s team win from 2011 when the NACAC event was held in Mexico.

Both individual gold medals were won by team USA with Joseph Gray winning for the fourth consecutive year and Brandy Erholtz winning for the women. Last year’s defending NACAC champion Maria Dalzot was the third scoring member this year for Team USA while Amber Moran was second. Michele Suszek finished fourth for Team USA. Canada’s top scoring woman, Laura Estey, finished fourth overall. Next up for Team Canada was Jessalyn O’Donnell in sixth followed by Syl Corbett in seventh.

The Canadian men’s team, led by James Gosselin, finished all their scoring squad members before Team USA’s second scoring finisher, Ryan Woods, crossed the line in fifth. Woods was followed by Jared Scott in seventh and Tommy Manning in eighth. Team Canada scored 9 points while Team USA scored 13.
Mexico was expected to compete, but there was a delay with Visas which prevented them from traveling to Canada.

Next year’s competition will be held in late June at Mount Cranmore in New Hampshire, USA on an up/down course.

Story by Nancy Hobbs.  Photo by Richard Bolt

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