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CT’s Blake Sub-Hour in 3rd Mt. Washington Win

Northeast
Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race

7.6
miles, all uphill on the Mt. Washington Auto Road

–      
Blake returns to the top

–      
At 45, Haefeli finally wins the Run to the Clouds

Pinkham
Notch, N.H.
‰ÛÒ
June 15, 2013

New
England‰Ûªs strongest mountain runner, Eric Blake of New
Britain, Conn., faced his best counterparts from the Rocky
Mountains and the West Coast today and beat them to reclaim
the champion‰Ûªs title in the Northeast Delta Dental Mt.
Washington Road Race.  Blake, who won this 7.6-mile
all-uphill race in 2006 and 2008, came back this year from
four years of near misses to run up the Mt. Washington Auto
Road in his fastest time ever, 59 minutes 57 seconds.

Meanwhile
on the women‰Ûªs side of the race, veteran mountain runner
Laura Haefeli of Del Norte, Colo., finally won the
internationally renowned event where she had repeatedly been
a popular bridesmaid. Having finished third three times and
among the top six women two other times in this climb to the
6288-foot summit of the highest peak in the northeastern
United States, Haefeli, now 45 years old, took an early lead
and held it, taking advantage of an occasional tailwind and
finishing in 1:18:05, more than five minutes ahead of her
nearest competition..   

Blake‰Ûªs
win was emphatic and gratifying. The 34-year-old coach at
Central Connecticut State lined up at the start with the two
men who had beaten him last year and seemed in comparably
good shape this time, Joseph Gray, 29, of Renton,
Washington, and Sage Canaday, 27, from Boulder, Colorado. A
year ago Canaday had run away from the field to become just
the sixth man ever to break one hour on Mt. Washington,
while Gray was a solid second, but this time the field was
reversed.

Gray,
a former all-American steeplechaser with track speed to go
with his mountain endurance, seized the lead at the start,
opened a gap on everyone else and held it for three miles
while Blake and Canaday chased him. Then Blake surged while
Canaday faded.

‰ÛÏMaybe
Joe was going to run away with it, or maybe he was going to
come back to us,‰Û said Blake afterward. ‰ÛÏWhen I caught up
with Joe, I just concentrated on maintaining momentum. I had
seen enough second-place frustration, and I didn‰Ûªt want to
be second again.‰Û

After
his two previous victories, Blake had been runner-up twice
here, then eighth in 2011, when he was suffering from a
not-yet-diagnosed torn hamstring muscle that required
surgery. Having regained enough form to place third last
year, he looked even stronger today.

Half
a mile from the finish he was pumping his fist with the
confidence of someone who knows he will win. Better yet, he
realized he had a shot at the one-hour mark that had always
eluded him before.

‰ÛÏI
had thought I‰Ûªd finish in 61 minutes,‰Û he said, ‰ÛÏbut I was
going as quickly as I could.‰Û Quickly enough so that, on top
of the winner‰Ûªs purse of $1000, his finishing time earned
him the $500 bonus the race awards to anyone who breaks one
hour without breaking the course record. The men‰Ûªs course
record for the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road
Race is 56:42, set in 2004 by six-time world mountain
champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand.

Haefeli,
who five years ago broke the Mt. Washington masters (over
40) record previously held by Olympian Joan Samuelson, again
collected the $300 award for the first female finisher over
40, to go along with her overall winner‰Ûªs $1000. The men‰Ûªs
masters prize went once again to Simon Gutierrez, 47, of
Colorado Springs. Gutierrez, who won this race three times
between 2002 and 2005 and holds the master‰Ûªs course record,
placed fourth overall in 1:04:44, outkicking 38-year-old
Matt Byrne of Scranton, Pennsylvania by one second.

The
next woman behind Haefeli was a smiling Brandy Erholtz, of
Evergreen, Colo. Erholtz, 35, had won her Mt. Washington
debut here in 2008, repeated as champion in 2009, and then
been third in 2010 and runner-up for the past two years. For
her, however, this year‰Ûªs runner-up performance was
especially delightful. She is four months‰Ûª pregnant ‰ÛÒ a fact
about which she has happily posted a narrative on her
training blog.

Undeniably
slower this year, Erholtz was still tough. Starting
conservatively, she passed Regina Loicano of Gloucester,
Mass., and Tin-Marie Poulin of New York City in the first
mile, then withstood a determined challenge by Loicano for
several miles before finishing in 1:23:48, with Loicano
third in 1:24:45 and Poulin another half minute back. Abby
Mahoney, 35, of Holyoke, Mass., was fifth in 1:25:49.

Justin
Freeman, 36, of New Hampton, N.H., an Olympic Nordic skier
and local favorite, placed eighth overall in 1:06:52 to win
the Crossan Cup, which is awarded annually to the top
finisher from New Hampshire. The women‰Ûªs Crossan Cup winner
was Larisa Dannis of Manchester, who placed seventh among
all women in 1:26:59.

Top
finishers:

Men:

1. 
Eric Blake, 34, New Britain, Conn., 59:57

2. 
Joseph Gray, 29, Renton, Wash., 1:02:46

3. 
Sage Canaday, 27, Boulder, Colo., 1:03:39

4. 
Simon Gutierrez, 47, Colorado Springs, Colo., 1:04:44


5. 
Matthew Byrne, 38, Scranton, Pa., 1:04:45

6. 
Josh Ferenc, 31, Saxtons River, Vt., 1
J5:36

7. 
Gabriel Rodriguez, 35, Baltimore, Md., 1:06:37

8. 
Justin Freeman, 36, New Hampton, N.H., 1:06:52

9. 
P:eter Maksimow, 34, Manitou Springs, Colo., 1:07:26


10. 
Eric MacKnight, 24, Clifton Park, N.J., 1:07:37

Women:

1. 
Laura Haefeli, 45, Del Norte, Colo., 1:18:05

2. 
Brandy Erholtz, 35, Evergreen, Colo., 1:23:48

3. 
Regina Loicano, 40, Gloucester, Mass., 1:24:45

4. 
Tina-Marie Poulin, 40, New York, N.Y., 1:25:17

5. 
Abby Mahoney, 35, Holyoke, Mass., 1:25:49

6. 
Layce Alves, 33, Rockport, Mass., 1:26:33

7. 
Larisa Dannis, 25, Manchester, N.H., 1:26:59

8. 
Dawn Roberts, 41, West Springfield, Mass., 1:27:28

9. 
Suzy West, 50, Putney, Vt., 1:28:22

10.
Jennifer Brooks, 34, Gloucester, Mass., 1:28:27

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