First Timers Make Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team

Nancy Hobbs, USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Running Chair and Executive Director of the American Trail Running Association (ATRA): (719) 573-4133 



Colorado Springs, CO —- Two first-time competitors at yesterday’s Mount Washington Road Race earned berths on the 2008 Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team.
Brandy Erholtz, a 30-year-old schoolteacher from Bailey, CO was crowned ‰Û_åÂÌ܁ÒQueen of the Mountain’ and became the USA Mountain Running Champion. Her victory gave her the sole women’s spot that was up for grabs at Mount Washington. “I am super excited about making the team,‰Û_åÂVbCrLf said a beaming Erholtz at the finish line. “There were so many good omens for me pre race, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. This course suited my strengths – the road, the elevation gain – I live at 8900 feet and trained on the hills around my house. I ran a 7.3 mile tempo run last week and I felt strong on that. I tapered a lot, cutting back from 80-100 mile weeks to 30 miles this week. Today I felt like the little engine that could.‰Û_åÂVbCrLf
Erholtz, the first U.S. woman to win since 2000, posted a time of 1:11:08 over the 7.6 mile unbroken ascent which runs from the base of Mount Washington to the 6,288 foot summit. The average grade is 11% though some sections boast grades between 18-22% including the final grind to just before the finish line. Since her time was under 1:12:00, Erholtz added $500 bonus to her $1000 first place winnings.
At mile two, the women’s race had Erholtz in the lead by a slight margin followed by last year’s fourth-place finisher Kasie Enman, 28, Huntington, VT, 2006 third-place finisher Laura Haefeli, 40, Del Norte, CO., and newcomer Camille Herron, 26, Lafayette, IN.
Enman and Haefeli maintained their positions throughout the race to the finish line while Herron posted an impressive sixth in her first mountain race. Enman ran 1:13:26, just eight seconds ahead of Haefeli. Herron’s time was 1:19:15.
Haefeli’s goal before the race was to run faster than she did in 2006 when she finished in 1:15:45. “I didn’t know what to expect that first year, this year I feel stronger and more prepared,‰Û_åÂVbCrLf said Haefeli during her warm up.
After finishing a satisfied Haefeli talked about her race, “I remembered to take it out conservatively, but my main goal was to break the master’s record. Early on, I was ahead of my pace from two years ago. I was hauling ass from mile six, especially from mile seven going after the master’s record.‰Û_åÂVbCrLf
Haefeli finished in 1:13:34 breaking the master’s record of 1:16:03 set by Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1997. She won a $2000 bonus for the record provided by New England Runner magazine. When asked about getting the record, “That stokes me so much. What an honor.‰Û_åÂVbCrLf
Another first-time team member who will join Erholtz on the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team at this year’s World Mountain Running Trophy in Sierre Crans-Montana, Switzerland on September 14 is former collegiate steeplechaser (8:44) Joe Gray, 24, Lakewood, WA.
Gray’s debut effort at Mount Washington resulted in a 1:01:31, good enough for fourth place and the final team slot for the men at the race. Three former team members bested Gray’s time including eventual winner and three-time team member (’04, ’05, ’06) Eric Blake, 29, New Britain, CT, who sprinted the final steep section of the course to edge out 2007 team member Clint Wells, 33, Superior, CO, for the win.
The pair rain side by side from about mile four, going through the halfway mark in 28:58. “At that point I though we were on target to go under an hour,‰Û_åÂVbCrLf said Wells. “I’d put a surge on him and he’d be right there. I’d put another surge on him and even opened a gap at one point – and he was still right there. My breathing felt good the whole way, but my legs were tired from the constant climbing.‰Û_åÂVbCrLf
Blake talked about his race after the finish, “I didn’t want to make a move too early – I wanted to make the team and I wasn’t going to make a move until I knew I’d be in the top four. I was working so hard, so were all the guys, we were pushing the pace. I knew Clint was a good finisher and I said (to myself), ‰Û_åÂÌ܁ÒI gotta go now, I gotta go now’ so the last 100 meters I pushed as hard as I could. I didn’t know where he (Clint) was – I didn’t want to look back.‰Û_åÂVbCrLf

Blake’s victory in 1:00:39 earned him the ‰Û_åÂÌ܁ÒKing of the Mountain’ honors and a second USA Mountain Running Championship title. Wells finished just eleven seconds back.
In third place, two-time team member (’06, ’07) Rickey Gates, 27, Boulder, CO, posted a 1:01:12. Gates will race in next weekend’s USA 12 km Trail Championships in Steamboat Springs, CO and on July 15 he will head to Europe to race. He plans to bicycle from race venue to race venue and arrive in Switzerland in September for the World Trophy.
Wells, Haefeli, and Erholtz will also race at Steamboat where the women will run an 8 km course. Up for grabs at Steamboat in addition to the trail championship titles will be $5000 in prize money.
Like Haefeli, two-time Mount Washington winner and six-time mountain team member Simon Gutierrez, 42, Alamosa, CO, was chasing a master’s record. Gutierrez took off from the cannon to lead the pack through a brisk first mile (about 6:20) before the pace settled into a more reasonable gear. (Blake’s average pace was 7:59 over the course.)
At the halfway mark, Gutierrez was on pace for the record which was 1:02:12 set in 2005 by fellow Coloradoan Matt Carpenter. Although the second half of the race is typically much slower, the veteran Gutierrez knew the course well and planned his finish accordingly.
En route to his fifth place finish, Gutierrez broke the master’s record by 38 seconds to earn the $2000 bonus from New England Runner magazine.
“Colorado has done very well today,‰Û_åÂVbCrLf said New England Runner publisher/editor Bob Fitzgerald at the finish line where he stands every year to see whether he’ll be writing a check or two at the awards ceremony.

Top finishers at 2008 Mount Washington Road Race:
1-Blake, 1:00:39, $1000
2 -Wells, 1:00:50, $600
3 – Gates, 1:01:12, $400
4 – Gray, 1:01:31, $200
5 – Gutierrez, 1:01:34, $2400 *includes master’s bonus and age graded masters bonus
10 – Craig Fram, 49, Plaistow, NH, 1:05:45 – $300 age graded masters 2nd and first NH finisher
14 – Andy Ames, 45, Boulder, CO, 1:06:29 – $100 age graded masters 3rd

1- Erholtz, 1:11:08, $1500 *includes time bonus
2 – Enman, 1:13:26, $600
3 – Haefeli, 1:13:34, $2700 * includes master’s bonus and age graded masters bonus
4 – Carly Graytock, 29, Cambridge, MA, 1:15:41, $200
5 – Alison Bryant, 35, Elkin, NC, 1:15:54, $100
8 – Cathy Pearce, 45, Chelmsford, MA, 1:21:48 – $200 age graded masters 2nd
14 – Dorcas Wonsavage, 43, Hanover, NH, 1:23:51 – $100 first NH finisher
21 – Donna Smyers, 50, Adamant, VT, 1:28:19 – $100 age graded masters 3rd

Several of the competitors at Mount Washington will represent the USA in Mexico on Saturday, July 5, at the North American Central American Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships. The team members include ninth-place finisher Shiloh Mielke, 28, Weaverville, NC, 18th-place finisher Aaron Saft, 30, Fletcher, NC, and 22nd place finisher Jason Bryant, 35, Elkin, NC. Fifth place women’s finisher Alison Bryant will also run at NACAC and hopes to be joined by Kasie Enman and Carly Graytock for a full team though plans hadn’t been finalized at press time.

Another mountain race next month should boast an exceptional field as the second and final Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team selection race will be the La Sportiva Berry Picker to be held on July 20 in Vail, CO. The Berry Picker is approximately 6.5 miles of climbing from 8,200 feet to 10,200 feet. There will be four team slots at stake. The first U.S. man, the top two U.S. women, and the first junior man will all earn a team berth. Mount Washington competitors expected to compete are Gutierrez, Ames, Bill Fanselow, 41, Golden, CO, Payton Batliner, 24, Boulder, CO, and for the women, Haefeli, Herron, and Keri Nelson, 27, Grand Junction, CO.

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