The 11th North American Central American Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships will be held on Sunday, July 20, at Carrera La Chupinaya in Ajijic, Jalisco, over a 13.8-kilometer course, the same venue which hosted the event in 2011.
Although the event is open to 31 member nations, USA, Mexico, and Canada have traditionally been the only countries fielding competitors. And, as in the past, teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States are expected to compete this July.
Teams are comprised of up to four men and four women with the top two finishers scoring for their respective country. For Team USA, athletes will be selected based on their finish at past international mountain running events. The selection process for 2014, recently approved by USA Track & Field’s Mountain Ultra Trail Council, is as follows: Athletes who competed on the 2013 U.S. Mountain Running Team are given first priority; next preference is given to members of the 2012 team; and then to former NACAC team members. Typically the team fills from the first two criteria, which was the case for 2013.
USATF provides team uniforms, but does not provide any funding. The local organizing committee in Jalisco covers transfers to and from the airport as well as accommodation during the two- to three-day stay. The 2014 U.S. squad will be announced in early June.
Competitors will race over a 13.8-kilometer course which will start in the principal square of town, head toward the mountains, cross two creeks and start ascending. The majority of the course is within the Sierra Madre Mountains offering amazing views of Chapala Lake, with a downhill finish back at the town square.
Richard Bolt will travel with the U.S. Team to Mexico as team leader. He said, “I'm looking forward to bringing the U.S. team back to Ajijic for what is a truly unique and challenging mountain championship. The local support was absolutely fantastic at the 2011 event with people packing the town square where the start / finish was held. The course will be tough as the first and last mile are on very rough cobblestone streets and the upper course run over narrow, steep, muddy mountain trails.
“Combine this with the hot, humid weather in Central Mexico and this race will only be won by a tough and experienced mountain runner. In 2011, we brought a very strong team and our U.S. team members Joe Gray and Maria Dalzot came away with the wins. I hope that this year we can again bring a few experienced team members and fill out the team with younger elite mountain runners looking to gain experience at a high-level international event.”
The NACAC Mountain Championships have been held since 2004, with the event rotating between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. This is the fourth time Mexico has hosted the event having previously staged the championships in 2006, 2008, 2011. Canada hosted the championships in 2007, 2010, and 2012, while the U.S. hosted every other year with last year’s NACAC Mountain Championships held at the Cranmore Hill Climb in North Conway, NH.
Joe Gray is the defending men’s champion and also won the NACAC Mountain Running Championships in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. The defending women’s champion is Morgan Arritola from Team USA. For past results visit this link.