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Running to new heights

Tuftonboro's Dearborn excited to compete in World Mountain Running Championships

KRISZTINA DEARBORN of Tuftonboro was named to the US Junior Mountain Running Team. CCSU - Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
August 15, 2011
TUFTONBORO — Krisztina Dearborn must have made quite an impression.

With only one mountain running event under her belt, the Tuftonboro resident was named to the US Junior Mountain Running Team and will be competing against the best mountain runners in the world in Albania in early September.

Dearborn's first foray into mountain running came at the Cranmore Hillclimb, an annual event at the North Conway ski area. This year, the Cranmore race served as the national championships for the mountain running circuit, which also helped to choose the US Mountain Running Team.

While the junior team is not chosen based solely on results from the championships, a runner's work on a mountain is taken into consideration when the choices are made.

Dearborn finished the 3.8k Cranmore race in 20:31, which placed her top amongst junior females in the race and opened the eyes of the junior team coaches.

"I had no idea what I was getting into," Dearborn said of her first mountain race. "But I train enough that I have the strength."

However, tackling the run to the top of the North Conway ski area and back down was still no easy task.

"You don't expect all those hills," Dearborn said. "It just keeps going up, but you put your head down and keep going."

Dearborn, who is entering her sophomore year at Central Connecticut State University, was also helped along by the fact that the school's track and cross country coach at the school is plenty familiar with the mountain running scene and thought that his young runner had what it takes to tackle the unique sport.

Eric Blake is a former member of the US Mountain Running Team and has also won the Mount Washington Auto Road race on a couple of occasions.

"He suggested at the end of the spring that I should try it," Dearborn said. "It worked out that I did well at Cranmore and my running resume was good enough that I got selected."

Blake also offered some advice prior to Dearborn's mountain running debut at Cranmore.

"He called me up before Cranmore and gave me some words of wisdom," Dearborn said. "He's very experienced, so I trust him."

Dearborn's young college career saw her post a 68th place finish at the Northeast Conference Cross Country Championships and record personal bests in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter distances.

During the cross country season, Dearborn notes that most of the races are the typical 5K races, but during track season, she ups that and does the longer distances, including the 10K.

Her goal was to always run for a Division I school and succeed in that level and having accomplished that, the mountain running was a whole new experience.

"This is beyond what I had imagined," she said.

Dearborn also admitted that it hasn't really sunk in yet that she will be competing with the best in the world, as she trains and gets herself ready in New England.

"It hasn't hit me, but when I get there and am next to the other athletes, it'll definitely be a feeling of self-confidence and anticipation," she said.

While Dearborn said she has been training in anticipation of the event, she has also not gone crazy, being sure to avoid injury in the weeks leading up to the champinonships.

"I want to stay injury-free, but I've started doing more hilly routes and hill workouts," she said of her daily running, noting that she also competed in a race the previous weekend.

She will be heading back to school in a couple of weeks and will have a race on Sept. 2 before heading off for a week in Europe, a trip her coach completely understands.

Dearborn, who was born in Hungary, is also hoping that she may get a chance to show off her Hungarian skills while on the trip.

"My mom would be so proud, she still has a lot of pride in our homeland," she said.

The Mountain Running World Championships will consist of four races (men, women, junior men, junior women) and will take place in Tirana, Albania on Sept. 11. The championships alternate between uphill-downhill courses and strictly uphill courses. This year's venue will be an uphill-downhill course. Dearborn admits that the downhill part is seemingly harder than the uphill run. The junior women's race will be 4.5K.

Dearborn's coach with the US Junior Mountain Running Team is a fellow Carroll County resident. Paul Kirsch of Madison is in his second year of coaching the junior team. He also serves as the race director for the Cranmore race, where Dearborn competed in mountain running for the first time. Kirsch noted he was excited to have a bit of a local feel on the team this year. During the early stages of organized mountain running, the majority of the competitors were from Colorado and other western states, but this year's team features runners from numerous states along the eastern seaboard as well.

For her part, Dearborn is proud to be representing the United States on such a large stage.

"It's an honor," Dearborn said of her selection to the team.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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