Like the less vigorous but equally absurd pursuit known as golf,
the sport of mountain running began in Scotland. In the 11th
century, to train runners to relay messages across the Highlands,
clan chieftains organized a race up and down 1,764-foot Creag
Choinnich. A young man named Macgregor received a sword and a
purse filled with gold for winning the first recorded race.
A millennium later more than 250 competitors from 27 nations
descended (and ascended) upon 2,231-foot Mount Alyeska, in
Girdwood, Alaska, last month for the World Mountain Running
Trophy, the sport's world championship.
An early storm dumped five inches of snow at the peak before the
start of the women's race. Melissa Moon, 34, of New Zealand
plowed through the 7.7-km course in 39 minutes and two seconds
for the victory.
The snow melted into mud before the following day's men's
11.48-km race. Five-foot-seven-inch, 115-pound Marco De Gasperi,
26, of Italy ran 50:29 to win his fourth world title. Said race
director Brad Precosky, "Marco's got bird bones. He must be
hollow on the inside. Gravity, apparently, does not affect him."
COLOR PHOTO: AL GRILLO/AP WET RUN Racers struggle up Alyeska