Third a year ago in 1:01:12, the 49th ‘Run to the Clouds’ turned out to be Ricky Gates’ finest hourÛÓthough he was two ticks to the good of that in 59:58 for the 7.6-mile ascent up Mt. Washington.
As early as two miles, the Boulder, Colorado runner heard defending champion Eric Blake’s breath becoming fainter. The air was so eeriely still, with dense fog prevalent at 3900 feet, that photogs and reporters in the lead Stage Vans could hear the breathing of runners before actually seeing them. At 5500 feet of the 6,288 foot summit, bright sun illuminated the under cover.
Blake was less than a minute off his 2008 time in 1:01:19 with 2008 fourth-placer Joe Gray of Lakewood, WA, moving up a berth in 1:02:35. Former champion and Masters record holder Simon Gutierrez placed 5th behind Scranton, PA’s Matt Byrne. Former champion Craig Fram, now the Big 5-O, moved from 10th last year to 11th this year while breaking the 50-54 record by almost six minutes in 1:06:58.
Defending women’s champion Brandy Erholtz of Bailey, CO ran 15 seconds faster this year. Her time of 1:10:53 gave her an almost 9-minute cushion over second place. Erholtz admitted that if the Cranmore Mtn. national qualifier wasn’t coming up, and if six-time champion Anna Pichrtova was in attendance, Magdalena Thorsell’s 1998 record of 1:10:08 would have been a prime consideration.
Surprise second placer Tara Cardi, 40, of E. Greenwich, RI ran 1:19:52. So how do you go from 3rd in the 35-39 division in 2008 to second overall in 2009? Well, we’ll save it for the mag – or you could ask Glen Guillemette who, at age 49, was just one spot behind three-time Mt. Washington winner Dave Dunham in 1:10:11. Quiz: What record did Dunham displace with his ??th sub-1:10:00 showing and what mountain legend was he previously in a tie with? Once again, we’ll save it for the mag…or you could ask Double D.
Also, Ron Johnston of NH ran like a piker (his appraisal) in 1:40:00 after pulling a muscle behind his knee 10 days out but still managed to continue a streak of 29 finishes started in 1981. This puts him 2nd behind ?
We will tell you this: Gates is now only the fifth runner to ever have broken an hour on the mountain. New Zealand Olympian Derek Froude was first; Daniel Kihara did it three times and Matt Carpenter once (in a close loss to Kihara); then you had the stupendous 56:41 course record in 2004 by perennial World Mountain Running champion Jonathon Wyatt of New Zealand; and now the second American in Gates. Full Results Men
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