MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Former West Virginia cross country and track and field athlete Maria Dalzot will be competing in her second North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships on Saturday, July 21, near Vancouver, B.C.
As a member of the USA women’s mountain running team, the Morgantown native looks to repeat as the women’s champion after taking the title at the 2011 race in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico last July. At the race last year, she broke Mount Chupinaya’s 13.8-kilometer course record by 36 seconds, crossing the finish line in one hour, 47 minutes and four seconds (1:47:04).
The race will take place on Cypress Mountain just north of Vancouver. With the event rotating between the United States, Mexico and Canada, the 2012 event marks the ninth consecutive year the NACAC race has been held. Canada is serving as hosts for the race for a third time, with the first being in 2007 and the other in 2010, held in Canmore, A.B.
Cypress Mountain Ski Area was one of the venues at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It is an all-uphill course that will be approximately 10 kilometers in length with approximately 1,000 meters of climbing. This uphill-only NACAC Mountain Championship follows the pattern of the World Mountain Running Championships, with odd-numbered years being up and down races and even-numbered years being uphill races.
The USA women’s team is represented by Brandy Erholz (34, Evergreen, Colo.), Amber Moran (33, Arden, N.C.), Michele Suszek (29, Littleton, Colo.) and Dalzot, the youngest of the group at 24 years of age. The USA men’s team is composed of Joe Gray (Newcastle, Wash.), Tommy Manning (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Jared Scott (Grand Canyon, Ariz.), Ryan Woods (Boone, N.C.) and Richard Bolt (Mountain View, Calif.).
To prepare for the race, Dalzot typically runs 65-70 miles per week with a long trail run on the weekends and mountain-specific training mid-week.
“I do mile repeats up Breakiron Road in Dellslow that climbs 663 feet in a mile,” she said. “I have also been supplementing my running with yoga, which I have found to really complement my training. I spend my easy days either in the WVU arboretum or on the trails of White Park. I use the trails at Cooper’s Rock for tempo runs, Laurel Point soccer fields for grass/speed-work and the Laurel Highlands hiking trail for long runs.”
With its members spread throughout the country, the team relies heavily on trust and honesty from one another through individual training.
“The team aspect of the competition is more a sum of individual performances as opposed to working together as a team,” Dalzot said. “We won't get together to run until the day before the race.”
To secure her spot on the team, she competes in a number of races throughout the year to remain competitive and stay among the top mountain runners in the country.
“Before heading to Whistler for NACAC this year, I will be lining up on Loon Mountain with the best mountain runners in the U.S.,” she said. “The top four women in this race make the team to compete at the world championship in Italy. This has been a dream of mine ever since competing for the junior team that went to Switzerland in 2007.”
On top of training, Dalzot has kept busy with school, recently graduating with a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science and completing a dietetics internship. She plans to spend the summer studying for the examination to become a registered dietitian outside of her racing schedule.
Dalzot competed at WVU from 2007-11 and helped the Mountaineers to several top 10 finishes in cross country and multiple top 20 finishes for the track and field team. She recently finished second at the 2011 USA 10-kilometer Trail Running Championships in Laurel Springs, N.C., and helped the 2007 Junior U.S. Mountain Running Team to a silver medal at worlds in Switzerland. She runs professionally for Team Inov-8, a trail running shoe company.
More information on USA Mountain Running can be found at www.usmrt.com
and on the USATF website at www.usatf.org
. Results and a recap of the NACAC Mountain Championships can be found at www.usmrt.com
Further details of the race can be found at mountainrunning.ca