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Mt. Washington Race Features, Blake and Challengers

Pinkham Notch, N.H. ‰ÛÒ June 19, 2009

Eric Blake of Connecticut and Brandy Erholtz of Colorado remain the favorites for Saturday‰Ûªs Mt. Washington Road Race.  Six-time winner Anna Pichrtova from the Czech Republic has been obliged to stay at home and run a qualifying race for the European Mountain Running Championships.  Paul Low, who would have been one of Blake‰Ûªs most experienced challengers, is injured and will not run.  Neither will Kelli Lusk, former U.S. National Snowshoe champion and frequent top-ten finisher here.

Top contenders will include Rickey Gates of Boulder, Colorado, 3rd last year; Joe Gray of Lakewood, Washington, 4th in 2008; masters course-record holder Simon Gutierrez of Alamosa, Colo., Matt Byrne of Scranton, Pennsylvania, 6th last year, local favorite Kevin Tilton of North Conway, NH, Jason Bryant of Elkin, NC (9th here two years ago), fellow Carolinian Shiloh Mielke, Jon Severy from Burlington, Vt., and Juan Guillermo Jaramillo, a Colombian mountain runner living in Milford, N.H. who placed 6th at Mt. Washington in 2007.

The women‰Ûªs field includes Alison Bryant of Elkin, N.C, who finished 3rd at Mt. Washington in 2007 and 5th last year; Keri Nelson of Gunison, Colo., 7th last year; and Lisa Goldsmith of Nederland, Colo., who will contend for the women‰Ûªs masters prize, which she won here in 2007.

Last year Blake won the men‰Ûªs open race in one hour and 39 seconds, and Erholtz won the women‰Ûªs in 1:11:08.

Sponsored by Northeast Delta Dental, with additional support from New England Runner magazine, Bridgton Academy and La Sportiva, the Mt. Washington Road Race is a 7.6-mile ascent to the 6288-foot summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, at an average grade of 12 percent.  Each year the race attracts close to 1000 runners for the steepest all-uphill race on a paved road anywhere.  This year‰Ûªs entrants come from 35 states and 4 Canadian provinces.

The top runners will compete for the first prize of $1000 for first male and female finisher overall, with a $5000 bonus for breaking the men’s or women’s course record and a $2000 bonus awarded by New England Runner magazine to a man or woman breaking the master’s record. The men’s course record for the Mt. Washington Road Race is 56 minutes 41.0 seconds, set in 2004 by New Zealand’s Jonathan Wyatt, three-time World Mountain Running Champion.  The women’s record is one hour 10 minutes 8.2 seconds, set by Sweden’s Magdalena Thorsell in 1998.  The masters records are 1:01:33.7, set last year by Simon Gutierrez of Alamosa, Colorado, and 1:13:33.6, also set last year, by Laura Haefeli of DelNorte, Colorado.

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