The 2014 NACAC mountain running championships were held in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, a beautiful town with the Sierra Madre mountain range in the backdrop. Lake Chapula, the largest lake in Mexico, was at the edge of town. This year, the NACAC Championship was part of the Chupinaya Mountain race, a legendary race in Southern Mexico. This mountain begins at 5,046 ft elevation & the course ascends nearly 3,800 ft with equal amount decent in the 13.8k race.
I was one of 4 women representing Team USA for the race. I live & train in Asheville, NC so am blessed to have access to mountain trails that range from 2,300 ft-6,683 ft in elevation. These mountains are my playground so training (hill climbs, ups & downs) is fun!
The trail of Chupinaya is very technical with lots of Rocks, cliffs, cactus & rocky scrambles. The terrain made the race an adventure & competition against the elements. Spectators lined the trail & screamed “Animal” as we ran past. I later learned this meant, “Go, Go!” but it did give an adrenaline rush to think of yourself as a wild animal racing on the rugged, Chupinanya mountain. Water packets were handed to us on the course that resembled clear water balloons. We could simply bite into them & sip the cool water. Cannons fired as the first male & female reached the top of the mountain. The final cannons were fired as the first male & female headed back down the mountain. Sure, we all ran our hearts out & tried to beat our competitors but after a short while, it was evident that we would all race against the mountain. My legs were heavy from the start but with the help of the hammer huckleberry gels & pre-race hydration of melon Heed, I was able to fuel myself to 6th place for the NACAC Championship. Team USA women took gold!
Photo by: Chris Reece-Young (left to right for Team USA: Christine Lundy, Amber Reece-Young, Maria Dazlot & Brandy Erholtz)
Nutrition used: Pre-race hydration- Heed Melon flavor & bottled water along with a cashew coconut chocolate chip hammer bar. During the race-2 Hammer Huckleberry flavored gels & water offered on the course. Post race- Hammer chocolate flavored Recoverite followed by 2 tissue rejuvenators.
The NACAC mountain running championships was an amazing & incredible experience. The Mexican hosts were phenomenal & the memories & friendships developed will not be forgotten. I learned that often times, we train & prepare but our body doesn’t always cooperate. Even with heavy legs & a less than best performance, gutting through the race can sometimes get you a solid finish & will always provide memories that will not be forgotten.