NER started sponsoring the Masters Bonus purse at Mt. Washington in 2000 to celebrate the 40th running of the event and to highlight a rather extraordinary performance that was still on the record books after 38 yearsÛÓthe 1:04:57 run by 40 year-old English marathoner Fred Norris in 1962.
Current NER columnist John J. Kelley placed 2nd to Norris in 1962 and wrote about the event for NER in 2000. HereÛªs a snippet:
ÛÏHorizontally blown sleet hit us like buckshot. Fog swirls around us in ghostly whorls. Catching one last backward glance, I see the line of our pursuers like imperceptibly moving beads on a string that is the Carriage RoadÛ_Twenty yards ahead of me, Fred disappears in the mistÛ_WeÛªve made a tough, honest race today. Fred is sure to have the record.Û ÛÓJohn J. Kelley remains the only man to have won both Mt. Washington and the Boston Marathon.
The Open record that Norris set in 1962 would be broken but his Masters record remained the oldest, by far, on the books. Through an insurance bond, NER offered $4K to any 40+ runner to better NorrisÛªs record or any woman to better the womenÛªs Master record of 1:16:03 set by Olympic gold medalist Joan Samuelson in 1997.
The records survived the 2000 race so NER offered $4.1K in 2001 for Mt. WashingtonÛªs 41st running. Despite brutally hot and humid conditions, Plaistow, NHÛªs Craig Fram (the 1997 champion) ran 1:04:29 ÛÒ a new record by 28 seconds ÛÒ before collapsing to the tarmac. Joan Samuelson fell just 40 seconds short of her own record.
In 2002 the race was limited to halfway due to extreme conditions above tree line.
In 2003 Fram returned to break his own record with a run of 1:03:27. The insurance company had fled the scene so the Bonus was now an out-of-pocket $2K, which it has remained to this day.
In 2005 the record was again broken, this time by mountain legend Matt Carpenter of Colorado. Carpenter ran a tough 1:02:12 in a race won in 1:00:54 by 39-year-old Simon Gutierrez of Alamoso, CO.
Seemingly a lock to break the record in 2006, Simon was hampered by a hamstring. In 2007 it was his Achilles.
When it Rains it Pours: Perfect running conditions and a healthy Gutierrez spelled big-time trouble in 2008. Then there was 40 year-old Laura Haefeli, the only US woman to have won a medal in the Mountain World Cup. The new 40+ records at Mt. Washington: Simon Guitierrez, 1:01:34 (5th overall) and Laura Haefeli, 1:13:34 (3rd overall). Coincidentally, 49 year-old Craig Fram placed 10th overall in 1:05:45.
NER also lost a C-Note side bet with Mt. Washington RD Bob Teschek in 2008.
WE LOVE THIS MOUNTAIN!