Canada’s Alexandre Ricard flies to win at US Mountain Running Championships

Canada's Alexandre Ricard flies to win at US Mountain Running Championships

Canadian athletes spoiled the show at the USATF Mountain Running Championships on Saturday and Sunday in New Hampshire, with multiple Canucks stealing top-10 results on back-to-back days. Alexandre Ricard of Squamish, BC, led the way on Saturday, winning the men’s vertical race. He followed that performance up with a second-place finish on Sunday in the classic up and down race. Québec’s Remi Leroux finished ninth in the vertical race and fifth in the up and down, and Karley Rempel secured a pair of top-10 finishes on both days in the women’s races.

The vertical race

This year’s championships were hosted by New Hampshire’s Sunapee Scramble trail race, and the vertical 6.4 km run was the first of the weekend. Ricard won in 32:12, beating the second-place finisher (and first-place American runner) by 11 seconds.

The vertical race features 579m of elevation gain. This is a brutal, lung-busting and leg-burning event that isn’t for the weak-willed, and Ricard tackled it like the seasoned trail and mountain running vet that he is. Ricard has multiple wins and impressive results on his resume, including the 23K at the 2022 Squamish 50 trail race. In 2022, he represented Canada at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he ran to a 10th-place finish in the men’s uphill race and 30th in the classic up-and-down race.

Ahead of that race in Thailand, Team Canada’s head coach Adrian Lambert told canadian running that Ricard “is an unstoppable force on uphill races at the moment.” With his win in New Hampshire on Saturday, it looks like not much has changed over the past six months, and Ricard is in great form as he works toward the 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships, which are set to be run in Innsbruck, Austria, in June.

Ricard averaged an impressive 4:57 per kilometre over the tough course, beating top American joseph gray to the line by a healthy margin. Gray crossed the line in second place in 32:23, five seconds ahead of third-place Daniel Curts. Not too far back in ninth was Leroux, who stopped the clock at 34:09.

Arizona’s Grayson Murphy won the women’s race in 35:47, well ahead of second-place Rachel Tomajczyk (40:28) and Alexandra Lawson (41:03). Rempel finished in fourth in 42:13.

The classic up and down

As the name suggests Sunday’s classic up and down tested runners on climbs and descents. The race was two loops, totaling “just under nine miles,” (around 14 km) as noted on the event website. The course features close to 1,000m of elevation change over the two laps. Despite all performing well on Saturday, Ricard, Leroux and Rempel all looked fresh on Sunday, each posting more positive results.

Ricard sat in second after the first lap, behind only Curts, who was looking to improve on his third-place finish from Saturday. Ricard was unable to draw Curts back in before the finish, and he had to settle for second. Curts took the win in 1:01:04, more than a minute ahead of Ricard’s 1:02:43 finish. Leroux ran close to even splits over the two laps, posting 31:28 and 31:57 halves to climb to fifth overall.

Rempel put up a good fight, but she didn’t have the legs to fight for a podium. Murphy won her second race of the weekend in 1:11:53, followed by Allie McLaughlin and Tomajczyk. Rempel crossed the line in seventh, posting a final time of 1:20:47.

For full results from the Sunapee Scramble, click here.

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