Running until your feet ache, and your muscles hate you when you wake up the next day — that’s nothing new for racers in the La Sportiva Mountain Cup, a competitive mountain-running series that saw 4,000 participants this summer. The series’ events, sponsored by Fleet Feet Sports and W.L. Gore & Associates, included mountainous venues in locales as far flung as Asheville, N.C., Squaw Valley, Calif., and Bend, Ore. The 10-race series — which had a $25,000 prize purse — ended Aug. 22 in Ketchum, Idaho.
Mountain running has grown amongst the trail running crowd. Picture a ski hill. Now run up it. Races ranged from grueling hill climbs to European-style mountain races to forest loops ensuring every racer had something that would suit their running style. The Squaw Valley Mountain Run, in Squaw Valley, Calif., for instance, was a 3.6-mile run entirely on forest service roads. The Half Wit Half, in Reading, Penn., though, was a 13.1-mile (half marathon) that is 100-percent singletrack.
Racers could expect to encounter elevation changes of around 1,000 feet to 4,500 feet, and top finishers saw times between about 30 minutes for a 3.6-mile, 2,000-foot gain forest service run to 1.5 hours for a 12-mile, 3,600-foot gain singletrack race. Each runners’ top five finishes from the series were used to determine overall series rank in four categories (men’s open, men’s master, women’s open and women’s master).
Congratulations to Matthew Byrne, Shiloh Mielke and Jason Bryant who took the top three spots in the men’s open category; Megan Kimmel, Caitlin Smith and Rachel Cieslewicz who dominated the women’s open; Bernie Boettcher, Simon Gutierrez and Matt Carpenter who finished at the top in the men’s master division; and Lisa Goldsmith, Susan Nuzum and Laura Haefeli who took the top three spots in the women’s master category.