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The Big One Looms – Mt. Washington’s 50th!


 50th Mt.
Washington Road Race


Mt. Washington Auto Road


June 19, 2010 – 10 a.m.


                                  


·         Intense national contest looms in the Race to the
Clouds


·         Northeast Delta Dental boosts prizes


·         Governor proclaims official “Mt. Washington Road Race
Day”


·         50th running, Hall of Fame inauguration,
highlight race weekend


 


June 13, 2010 — Pinkham Notch, N.H.


 


One of the largest and most
closely-matched groups of elite American mountain runners ever assembled
in one place will line up at the base of the Mt. Washington
Auto Road
on June 19 for the 50th running of the Mt. Washington Road Race.  As a
reward for their efforts in grinding their way 7.6 miles the Auto Road’s
unrelenting 12 percent grade, the top ten men and top ten women will
divide the largest purse in the race’s history, thanks to increased
support by the race’s primary sponsor, Northeast Delta
Dental
.


 


 Beyond the cash
prizes — $2000 apiece for the male and female overall winners, and
substantial awards to the rest of the top ten of each gender — this
year’s race offers a particular attraction for the country’s top
mountain runners: it is both the 2010 U.S.A.
Mountain Running Championship
and the sole selection race this year
for the U.S. Mountain Running Team.  The
first American male and female finishers will become the 2010 U.S.
national mountain champions, and the top six American male and top four
American female finishers will be named to the national team, which will
compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in
Slovenia in September.  The Mt. Washington Road
Race has served as the U.S. national championship in three previous
years, but this year is the first time it has been the only race in
which an American mountain runner can qualify for the team that will
compete internationally. 


Hence the exceptional number of elite
athletes who have requested entry.


 


In addition, demand has been higher than
usual for the regular entry spots allocated through the race’s annual
lottery. In recognition of the momentousness of this year’s race, New
Hampshire Governor John Lynch has officially proclaimed
this June 19 as Mt. Washington Road Race Day, urging all
Granite State citizens to support the race.  Similarly,
Senator Jean Shaheen has sent an official letter from
Washington, D.C., citing the race as “a longtime New Hampshire tradition
and one that puts New Hampshire on an international stage.”


 


One other reason for the increased
interest in the already popular event is that this year is the 50th
running of the race, an occasion for extra celebration that will
include the inauguration of the Mt. Washington Road Race
Hall Of Fame
. On Friday, June 18, the evening before the race
itself, the organizers will officially induct the Hall of Fame’s first
four members, chosen for their outstanding and historic contributions to
this one-of-a-kind event: Bob Hodge, who won this race
an unmatched seven times (1976-1980, 1985, and 1987) and continues to
run it; Anna Pichrtova of the Czech Republic, six-time
Mt. Washington winner and former World Mountain Champion; the late Gary Crossan of New Hampshire, who won Mt. Washington four
times and in whose name the race each year awards a trophy to the first
New Hampshire finisher; and Fred Norris, the legendary
English coal miner who came to the United States at the age of 40,
established himself as one of the strongest runners in America, and, in
1962, set the Mt. Washington masters record that stood for 39 years.


 


The inauguration of the Hall of Fame and
the induction of the first four members will be held at 5 p.m. on
Friday, June 18, at the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson, New Hampshire.  Of the two living inductees, Hodge will be present;
Pichrtova remains in Europe recovering from an injury.


 


The race starts the next morning at 10
a.m. Among the top competitors at the starting line will be  the men’s and women’s defending champions, Rickey
Gates
of Boulder, Colorado, and Brandy Erholtz, of
Bailey, Colorado. Gates is only the fifth man ever to break the one-hour
barrier on Mt. Washington, having won last year in 59 minutes 58
seconds. Erholtz has her eyes not only on winning for the third year in a
row but on perhaps breaking the women’s course record, one hour 10
minutes 8 seconds, set in 1998 by Magdalena Thorsell of Sweden.


 


Gates is closely matched with at least
two familiar rivals, former two-time Mt. Washington winner Eric
Blake
of New Britain, Conn., and Joe Gray of
Lakewood, Washington, who finished 4th here in 2008 and then 3rd
in 2009, just behind Gates and Blake. They’ll be joined by 40-year-old
British mountain runner Martin Cox, a veteran of major
races in the Alps; Matt Byrne, of Scranton,
Pennsylvania, who was 6th in 2008 and 4th last
year at Mt. Washington; Zac Freudenburg of St. Louis, 7th
in 2008; Max King, of Bend, Oregon, who has beaten Gray
in trail races in the West; Jeffrey Eggleston,  of Flagstaff, Arizona, who ran a 2:14:32 for his debut
marathon this year in Phoenix; Canadian mountain running champion Joel Bourgeois, of Grande-Digue, New Brunswick; Malcolm
Campbell
, of Marietta, Georgia, who won the 2008 Hogpen Hillclimb
in Georgia;
Timothy Parr, from
Gunniston, Colorado, who has won both the Pike’s
Peak
Ascent and the Leadville, Colo., 100-mile ultramarathon; Luke
Watson
, of State College, Pennsylvania, a 2:15 marathoner; local
favorite Kevin Tilton of North Conway, N.H.; Ryan
Hafer
of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and the list goes on.


 


One of the newcomers attracting special
attention is 19-year-old Zach Rivers, of Victor, N.Y.
who will attempt to break the oldest record on the Mt. Washington books
— the course record for runners 19 and under, 1:09:18, set by Sean
Livingston in 1987.


 


Also for the first time, Tom
Raffio,
the CEO of the sponsor Northeast Delta Dental, will be
running the race. He’ll wear # 50, in honor of the race’s fiftieth year.


 


Among the top women are Laura
Haefeli
, from Del Norte, Colorado, who finished 3rd at
Mt. Washington in 2008 while setting the women’s masters course record;
reigning U.S. Mountain Champion Megan Kimmel, of
Silverton, Colorado; Alison Bryant of Elkin, N.C., who
finished 3rd in 2007, 5th in 2008 and 4th last
year;
Nicole Hunt of Deer Lodge, Montana,
who placed second in her last Mt. Washington appearance (2007) behind
Pichrtova; Kristin Price of Raleigh, N.C., who won the
2009 US Women’s Trail 10k National Championship; Megan Lund
of Basalt, Colorado, the women’s course record-holder in the Aspen
(Colo.) Mountain Uphill and a 2008 U.S. Olympic marathon trials
qualifier; Amber Moran, a 1:17 half-marathoner from
Arden, N.C.; Rachel Cieslewicz, of Salt Lake City, Utah;
Shewarge Amare, an Ethiopian runner living in New York;
45-year-old Lisa Goldsmith, of Nederland, Colorado;
veteran three-time Mt. Washington winner Jacqueline Gareau
of Montreal, the only woman ever to win both the Mt. Washington Road
Race (1989, 1994 and 1996) and the Boston Marathon (1980); and more.


 


With the help of its additional sponsors, La Sportiva, makers of high-performance trail and
mountain running shoes, and New England Runner magazine,
the race offers a bonus of $5000 to anyone setting a new men’s or
women’s course record and a $2000 bonus to any man or woman who breaks
the existing masters record (age 40 or older). 


 


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