A record 496 runners crossed the finish line at the Loon Mountain Race presented by Northeast Delta Dental, held in Lincoln, New Hampshire, on Sunday July 6, 2014, of which 23 were registered in the inaugural Collegiate Mountain Running Championships.
In order to be eligible to compete and vie for prize money in the Collegiate Running Association’s (CRA) Mountain Running Championships, participants had to be enrolled in a college course at the time of the race or have completed a course during the spring semester of 2014, and be current members of the CRA (a free membership).
In addition to the collegiate competition, the event also hosted the USA Mountain Running Championships where additional prize money, as well as USATF medals were awarded. At the event, the top six men and top four women across the line earned a berth on this year’s U.S. Mountain Running Team which will compete at the World Mountain Running Championships in Casette di Massa, Italy, on September 14.
The course for the event included a mixture of terrain from dirt and gravel pathways to grassy meadows, steep ascents and descents over the 4.8-mile women’s course and 7-mile men’s course.
Co-founders of the CRA, Steve Taylor and Jon Molz, were on site at Loon to coordinate the logistics of the championships. Earlier in the year, the CRA hosted a successful inaugural road championships as part of Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by Martin’s with more than 1,100 CRA participants.
“Our initial goal was 10% of the race entries to be collegiates,” said Taylor, “This is about were we were for the 10k. We were below this for Loon, but we’re still pleased with the turnout.”
Taylor’s biggest fear was that some of the eligible athletes would not be pre-registered for the CRA championships so he and Molz were at packet pickup the day before the race to ensure that all of the participants knew about the championships division. It was a good strategy as a few additional collegiates were captured on Saturday including eventual winner Patrick Smyth, 27, Salt Lake City, UT.
For his top finish, Smyth was presented a check for $1000. His counterpart in the women’s competition was Morgan Arritola, 28, Ketchum, ID, who also received a check for $1000. Both Smyth and Arritola were runner-ups in the open competition. Joseph Gray and Allie McLaughlin earned the U.S. Mountain Running Championship titles.
The remaining $4000 in CRA prize money – $750, $600, $400, and $250 respectively for second through fifth position – was awarded to Jordan Chavez, 20, Southlake, VA, Andrew Benford, 26, Austin, TX, Drew Best, 32, Amherst, MA, and Patrick Rich, 37, South Hamilton, MA. On the women’s side Megan Deakins, 24, Mountain View, CA, Tori Tyler, 27, Danville CA, Emily Graber, 21, Richmond, VA, and Marisa Ruskan, 19, Richmond, VA, earned second through fourth money equal to the men’s purse.
Regarding the inclusion of the collegiate division at Loon, co-race director of the event Paul Kirsch said, “I applaud Taylor’s amazing vision to start the Collegiate Running Association. After seeing Taylor’s men's T&F program canceled two years ago (at the University of Richmond), there were a lot of ways he could have reacted. He took that negative and turned it into a real chance for college students to get exposure in the sport of mountain running, which benefits all of us. I so enjoyed seeing Taylor’s (Richmond) team compete and seeing Jordan (Chavez – a member of the 2013 U.S. Mountain Running Junior Team) do so well (seventh overall), is a testament to everything Taylor is working towards.”
In addition to presenting sponsor Northeast Delta Dental, additional support for the Loon Mountain Race came from Seacoast Orthopedics, Salomon, Julbo, Hammer Nutrition, Road ID, 603 Brewery, and Meadow View Sugarhouse in Union, New Hampshire.