Published DateCONWAY – The Cranmore Hill Climb will mark its 25th birthday this Sunday, as runners from around New England take on the mountain to test their fitness. The race first started back in the 80s as a fund-raiser for the Cranmore Racing Team. Back then, it was an uphill-only race where you picked your own way to be the fastest one to the top of the mountain. Since then, it has changed into a multi-lap, up and down mountain race that has served as the U.S. Mountain Running Championships four times, and is scheduled to again in 2013.
"What is so great about the Hill Climb is, it's a mixture of runners of all ages and abilities." noted race director and White Mountain Milers' President, Paul Kirsch. "...There aren't a lot of sports where you get to toe the line with the best athletes in your sport. But in Mountain Running you can. That's what makes it so much fun. Everyone is low-key, there are no egos. Just people testing themselves against the mountain."
Last weekend the Valley saw many elite runners in the area to race at Mt. Washington, the site of the 2012 U.S. Mountain Running Championships. Many of those runners will return to the Valley in 2013 to race at Cranmore, which will host the 2013 U.S. Mountain Running Champs. In a stroke of good timing, six-time World Mountain Running Champion, Marco de Gasperi (pictured at right), came into town to race at Mt. Washington and is staying also to race at Cranmore. De Gasperi should shine at Cranmore, which should favor his incredible descending skills.
"Marco is legendary in mountain running circles" noted Kirsch. "In Europe it's not uncommon for his fans to follow him around to different races, much like you see at Skiing and Cycling events in Europe."
The Hill Climb is not just for elite athletes. It is open to anyone to race who is looking for a different challenge.
"Our oldest registrant this year is 78 years old," Kirsch said. "We get a great cross-section of runners at the Hill Climb. Mountain Running sounds so intimidating to people but there are smiles on everyone's faces when they finish. It's a great accomplishment. A lot of people have begun the movement over to trail running, and doing competitions like Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. Mountain running appeals to all facets of runners, both the casual and serious."
To register or learn more about the Hill Climb, visit whitemountainmilers.com/cranmore. The course will be flagged on Friday morning for anyone looking to preview the course. A race map is located at the website. The race is sponsored by Northeast Delta Dental, the White Mountain Milers, Inov-8, Julbo, Hammer Nutrition, and Cranmore Mountain Resort.