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June 21, 2007

13 Former Mountain Team Members to Race at USA Mountain Championships

This year the honor to host the first of three Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team selection races was granted to Cranmore Mountain Resort, North Conway, NH. The race, the 20th annual Cranmore Hill Climb, will be held on Sunday, June 24 and also serves as the fourth annual USA Mountain Running Championships. And with just three team spots up for grabs, many of the 13 former team members are focusing more on the title of USA Masters Mountain Running Champion.

“I’ve previewed the course with quite a few athletes and the route is in really good shape. There’s some serious downhill which will suit runners who excel on daring descents. Nicole Hunt has spent this past week training on the course and will certainly be looking to defend her USA Mountain Championship title. Men’s defending champion Paul Low has also spent some time on the course and is looking strong after his recent wins in the New England Mountain Circuit,” said race director Paul Kirsch.

A record number of participants is expected for this year’s race. “I anticipate more than 200 runners with athletes coming from across the country to compete. The possibility of making the team coupled with the USATF championship designation makes this year’s event very attractive to athletes,” said race director Paul Kirsch.

When asked to comment on the race and the course, veteran mountain racer, USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit founder, and race director Dave Dunham remarked, "I'm excited about this race and at the same time scared. I ran the less extreme two-loop version last year and can only imagine how difficult a third loop is going to be. Paul Kirsch puts on high quality events and I look forward to racing against the best mountain runners in the country on a course that he designed."

On the masters competition, Dunham said, “Dan Verrington has beaten me in 50 of our last 52 meetings over the last three years. I beat him last weekend at Mt. Washington and anticipate a battle with him for the 40+ national title."

The top two USATF male runners and top USATF female runner in the championships earn automatic spots on the Mountain Team which will compete at the World Mountain Trophy Race on September 15 in Saillon, Switzerland. Additional team members will be selected at the USA Trail Championships on Saturday, June 30 in Steamboat Springs, CO, where the top two U.S. men, and top U.S. woman will receive automatic berths. Traveling to the West Coast on July 15, competitors will enjoy the third and final selection race, the Mt. Tam Trophy Race in Sausalito, CA where the top U.S. male and top U.S. female finisher will receive an automatic team berth. The remaining members of the squad, (one male, one female), will be selected by USATF’s Mountain Ultra Trail Council with input from the team staff based on results at the selection races, past World Trophy events, national and international racing experience including mountain, road, cross country, and track. Athletes MUST run a selection race in order to be considered for the team. To be considered for the team all team members MUST be current USATF members prior to running a selection race.

The race at Cranmore features three 4.3km laps up and down the mountain for men and two 4.3km laps up and down the mountain for women. Junior men will run two laps and junior women will run one lap. This year's course has been set up to mimic the WMRT course in Switzerland which boasts a 3km ascent with an extremely fast and steep 1.3km descent.

Cranmore will award a $1000 prize purse with additional prizes provided by event sponsors which include Windermere Real Estate of Teton Valley and FuelBelt who are also sponsors of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team.

On the men's side, the field includes:

Paul Low, 33, Belchertown, MA. Low is a seven-time Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team member and a three-time USATF Mountain Runner of the year. Paul is coming off three strong wins at the Mt. Wachusett, Pack Monadnock, and Northfield Mountain races, the first three events in this year’s USATF-New England Mountain Circuit. Low is a top-five finisher at Mount Washington in the five times he has raced at the mountain finishing second this year to six-time World Mountain Champion and Mt. Washington course record holder Jonathan Wyatt, 35, Wellington, New Zealand.

Kevin Tilton, 25, Conway, NH, is a two-time member of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team and has finished as high as fifth at Mount Washington. Tilton won the Cranmore race the last time it served as an uphill-only qualifying race in 2004 and is coming off his third consecutive win at the Jackson Covered Bridge 10km race in Jackson, NH. He finished tenth at this year’s Mount Washington.

Josh Ferenc, 25, South Acworth, NH, was a member of the 2004 Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team and was a two-time All American runner in college at Keene State. He was the top New Hampshire finisher in the 2004 Mt. Washington Road Race and most recently won the USATF-NE 10km Grand Prix race in a time of 31:32.

Dave Mackey, 36, Boulder, CO, is a versatile athlete competing in events from snowshoe racing to ultra running, adventure racing to mountain racing. He recently finished seventh at the Teva Mountain Games 10km to win his age group. He is a two-time USATF Ultrarunner of the Year (’04 and ’05), and a past winner of the MIWOK 100km (CA), past U.S. 50km Trail National Champion, champion at the Mountain Masochist 50, and winner of the Way Too Cool 50km . He is a five-year board member of the American Trail Running Association and is an active member of the Boulder Trail Runners. Mackey is employed as a real estate agent and professional athlete.

Rickey Gates, 26, Boulder, CO, was a member of last year’s mountain team finishing in third for the U.S. He hopes to make his second mountain team this year. He is a past winner of the grueling Imogene Pass 17.1 miler, was third at last year’s Mt. Washington, and won the Run the Register Stair Climb in Denver this past February (47 floors, 1,014 steps). His 10km PR is 31:43 recorded at the Bolder Boulder in May of this year. He once won America's Uphill (held annually in March) on Aspen Mountain racing in a clown suit. He competed in college one year while at Lewis and Clark in Portland, OR. Gates plans to travel to Europe in July to compete in several mountain races.

Dave Dunham, 43, Bradford, MA, is a seven-time member of the mountain team. He is a former silver medalist at the World Trophy in 1993 and is presently serving as the manger of the juniors who compete on the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. Dunham was third master at Mt. Washington this year and twelfth overall.

Richard Bolt, 36, Portland, OR, is team leader of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team (since 2003) and was on two previous mountain teams as an athlete. Bolt is nursing a recent injury and although he will not compete, he will serve as the USATF liaison for this event.

Dmitry Drozdov 34, Waltham, MA, is a mountain, road and adventure racer. He won the 1996 NCAA steeplechase title for Iowa State and beat Low to take first place at the 2006 Northfield Mountain race in Northfield, MA. As a member of Team Eastern Mountain Sports, he has placed first in numerous adventure races in New England. He also won the 2006 Muddy Moose Trail Race in Wolfeboro. Drozdov finished 13th at this year’s Mt. Washington.

Joe Dare, 21, Souderton, PA, is new to mountain running but is coming off a strong senior year at LaSalle University in Philadelphia where he ran a 29:25 10km at the Penn Relays. He also placed in the top five at the 2006 Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championships.

Dan Verrington, 44, Bradford, MA, has been on eight mountain running teams and has also represented Team USA at the World Cup 100km Road Race. Last weekend at Mt. Washington Verrington finished seventh in his age group and 22nd overall.

Sylvester Coons, 34 Verdi, NV, finished seventh at the World snowshoe championships in Austria in 2007. He is a snowshoe racer and cross-country racer who returned to competitive running in 2006 after a 10-year hiatus to focus on career and family. He raced track and cross country at Louisiana State University. The Cranmore race will be his first USA Mountain Championship race.

On the women's side, six-time Mt. Washington Road Race winner Anna Pichrtova of the Czech Republic, recently finished eighth at the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon and has been on the podium at the World Trophy, will be competing against a strong field of U.S. Women including:

Nicole Hunt, 37, Deer Lodge, MT, led the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team to its gold-medal finish at last year's World Trophy where she finished in ninth place overall. Her most recent races include a win at the Great Aloha Run in Honolulu this past February, fifth place in the World's Richest Mountain Race (Mt. Obudu in Nigeria) in November, and an eighth-place finish at the USA 10 km Road Championships (Tufts in Boston) in October. Hunt finished second to Pichrtova at Mount Washington this year. Hunt is the 2006 USATF Mountain Runner of the Year.

Chris Lundy, 36, Sausalito, CA, is a two-time member of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. She was on the gold-medal squad at last year's World Trophy finishing 15th overall and was 18th overall, second American, at the World Mountain Trophy Race in Wellington, New Zealand in 2005. Lundy recently finished as the fifth American at the 2007 Boston Marathon.

Kelli Lusk, 37, Belchertown, MA, is a three-time member of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team and is coming off wins at the Pack Monadnock 10 Miler and Northfield Mountain. She finished in seventh place at last year’s Mt. Washington and was eighth this year. Lusk is a former U.S. Snowshoe Nation Champion and past winner of the Barr Mountain Trail Race in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Suzy West, 44, Putney, VT, has competed on two mountain teams (’99 and ’00). She finished ninth at this year’s Mount Washington just behind masters winner Lisa Goldsmith.

Anita Ortiz, 43, Eagle, CO, is a four-time member of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team and a member of the 2004 women's team who won a bronze medal at the World Trophy race in Italy. Ortiz is coming off of a stellar snowshoe racing season, where she won almost every race she entered, setting four course records along the way and winning the Colorado Snowshoe Championships. In April 2007 she won the Spring Desert Ultra Trail Race 25 miler in Fruita, CO, and most recently won the Teva Mountain Games 10km trail race in Vail. She set course records at both of these races as well.

Julie Bryan, 39, Jackson Hole, WY, is a four-time member of the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. She has two top 10 finishes at Mt. Washington and a versatile mountain runner with numerous victories on her home turf in Jackson Hole and also wins in Colorado including the Barr Trail Mountain Race. Recently, she was the top woman at the 6 Tunnels Half Marathon in Las Vegas.

Keri Nelson, 25, Grand Junction, CO, is a competitive cyclist, triathlete, snowshoe racer, mountain, and ultra runner. In 2007, she was victorious at the North American Snowshoe Championships and second at the U.S. Snowshoe National Championships. She was also first at the U.S. Winter Triathlon Nationals in Breckenridge, CO and in 2006 was third at the Pikes Peak Marathon and third at the Mt. Evans Ascent in Colorado. She was seventh at the trail 10km at this year’s Teva Mountain Games.