Race day came and the idea of running that long fast downhill twice still haunted me. The field of runners was pretty packed with runners from all over the States and Western Hemisphere. The main pack of runners I thought would be in medal contention included too many to name. Out of the top 10 there are probably 3-4 runners who have at one time or another won a National Championship or a few. With the tough climb on the first lap I figured Eric would really put the heat on us along with Simon who are both known for their climbing ability. Sure enough they did, however the race got even more interesting nearing the first 2k as Shiloh began to push the pack. We had a large group heading up one of the steepest sections of the course and then the race started to really come to life when Rickey took the lead dropping Shiloh and a few others that were in the pack leaving Simon, Eric, Zac, Matt and I up front. After his win at Mt. Washington I think we all got a bit nervous when he took the lead because hes a beast on the downhill as well, so definitely a wake up call in the race. Ironically this front pack was the team from the 2008 USA National Mountain Running Team that received the Bronze Medal at the World Trophy. Having raced at Worlds with them all before, I knew the whole pack was tough, so there were no dark horses or walk-overs in the front pack at this point. Behind them we still had a pack that included some experienced mountain runners such as Kevin T and John T. (AKA DT!). On the last technical climb I started to pull away. Rickey and I stayed pretty close to the top and sometime near the water stop I think the pack started to separate a bit. Heading into the second lap I felt great, but with Eric and Rickey still lurking I had to be nervous as they would most likely run the fastest 2nd uphill portion of the race and they probably did. I was shocked when I turned back near the top of the last lap to see Zac pulling in on me. From what I could see, Zac and I would most likely end up being either 1st or 2nd if we stayed trouble free on the down. That's the scary part of the downhill, anything can happen! I ended up winning the race with Zac and Matt rounding out the auto qualifiers for the National Team. Mt. Cranmore will always be embedded in my memory as this was my first National Mountain Running Championship win.
I was glad to meet some members from Team Inov-8 finally, which btw, I might add that we all did pretty damn well. I would like to send a special thank you to Paul Kirsch who put on an amazing event and one that I'm 100% positive every participant woke up feeling like they needed crutches. A special shout out to Joe F. and Suzanne A. for being super accommodating. Also, I want to thank our sponsor Team Inov-8 for all their support.