Ethiopia’s Amara Crushes Mt. Washington Women’s Record

50th Annual Mt. Washington Road Race

June 19, 2010


  • Mt.
    Washington newcomer Siemers beats the veterans
  • Amara
    breaks women’s course record


Pinkham Notch, N.H. ‰ÛÓ June 19, 2010


Chris Siemers, a Chicago-bred flatlander who says he was
born to run up mountains, and Shewarge Amara, an Ethiopian from New York City
who had to borrow a pair of racing shoes just before the start, delivered a
double load of excitement today at the 50th running of the Mt.
Washington Road Race. Siemers, who lives and trains in Arvada, Colorado,  outran two former Mt. Washington winners
and many of the other best mountain runners in the U.S. to win in one hour and
22 seconds. Amara meanwhile flew up the Auto Road’s 12 percent grade in a new
women’s course record time of one hour 8 minutes 21 seconds.


“I came here prepared to win this,” said Siemers, 29, as he
stood at the uphill end of the 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road and recovered
from the grind to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast. “I’d had
some recent disappointments with my running,” he continued, adding that his
victory at the Denver Marathon last fall was his only significant race in
months. “I wanted to take out my frustrations on this mountain. But my quads
were burning with a feeling I’ve never felt before.”


Like Siemers, the 23-year-old Amara had never seen the
ultra-steep Auto Road before running up it.


“I was expecting a little up, up,” she said later, “and I
got it. This race is really hard.”


Since this year’s contest was the sole qualifying race to
select the U.S. national team that will compete in the World Mountain Running
Championship this fall in Slovenia, the field was packed with runners
well-matched in strength and endurance. Many more than the usual half-dozen
elite runners ran together in the early going, the pace shared by two-time
winner (2006, 2008) Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn., defending champion Rickey
Gates of Woody Creek, Colorado, all-American steeplechaser Joe Gray of
Lakewood, Washington, Zac Freudenburg of St. Louis, Missouri ‰ÛÓ all past members
of the national team ‰ÛÓ and several more.


By the second mile, however, Siemers had begun his challenge,
keeping elbow to elbow with Blake as the two gradually pulled ahead of everyone


“I knew Eric had a lot of experience here,” said Siemers,
“so I stayed with him. I felt confident, and I didn’t care whether I won by one
second or one minute.”


Still, Blake looked in control. “I felt good the first mile
or two,” said the 31-year-old track coach, who had twice before been in tight
races here. “His breathing was heavy, and I thought I was going to take it, but
in the second half it got to me.”


Above the seven-mile mark, under bright sun and with the
summit in sight, Siemers took the lead for good, storming up the final 50 yards
to claim the title of 2010 U.S. National Mountain Running Champion and the
$2000 first prize for winning. Blake arrived 18 seconds later, followed by
Gray, Gates, the next newcomer, 30-year-old Max King of Bend, Oregon, and Tommy
Manning, 34, of Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Amara had a last-minute worry before the race: her shoes and
running singlet were locked in a car whose driver was away. Having quickly
borrowed another runner’s extra pair of racing flats and a singlet, she shot
away from the rest of the women’s field at the start and ran with no further
worries. “I always think I will win,” she said later. “Sometimes you get it,
sometimes you don’t get it.” Today she got it, breaking the previous women’s
course record of 1:10:08.2 and winning not only the first prize of $2000 but
the $5000 bonus awarded for breaking the course record.


Behind her, the strongest American women battled for second
place. Two-time winner (2008, 2009) Brandy Erholtz, of Bailey, Colorado, led
Kristin Price of Raleigh, N.C., in the first two miles, but Price, another
first-timer here, pulled ahead and eventually finished in 1:11:13, with Erholtz
third in 1:12:53.


Barely had Erholtz crossed the finish line than she was
followed by 40-year-old Nicole Hunt, of Deer Lodge, Montana, whose time of
1:12:59 broke the existing women’s masters record of 1:13:33 previously held by
Laura Haefeli of Del Norte, Colorado. She won the $2000 bonus awarded by New
England Runner magazine for new masters’ records here.


Haefeli herself finished sixth, just behind another
newcomer, Megan Lund of Basalt, Colorado. Price, Erholtz, Hunt and Lund thus
became members of the 2010 U.S. National team, joining the men’s team of
Siemers, Blake, Gray, Gates, King and Manning.


Martin Cox, a British mountain and ultramarathoner who
trains with Gates in Colorado, won the men’s masters prize while finishing 11th
overall in 1:06:03.


As the middle of the pack began to cross the finish line,
the eyes of all the spectators turned to watch for the man wearing number 50 on
his shirt, in honor of the race’s 50th running. He was Tom Raffio of
Bow, N.H., and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, the company that sponsors the
race. Running Mt. Washington for the first time, Raffio, 53, crossed the line in
1:52:12, placing 343rd among the 662 male finishers and 34th
out of 91 men in the 50-54-year-old age group.


In all, there were 916 finishers from 39 states and four
Canadian provinces, plus Spain, the U.K., Brazil and Ethiopia.


Top Finishers:


1.  Chris
Siemers, 29, Arvada CO, 1:00:22

2.  Eric Blake,
31, New Britain CT, 1:00:40

3.  Joseph Gray,
26, Lakewood WA, 1:01:31

4.  Rickey
Gates, 29, Woody Creek CO, 1:02:34

5.  Max King,
30, Bend OR, 1:02:34

6.  Tommy
Manning, 34, Colorado Springs CO, 1:03:27

7.  Matt
Russell, 27, Wells ME, 1:04:21

8.  Chris
Lundstrom, 34, Minneapolis MN, 1:04:25

9.  Zachary
Freudenburg, 31, St. Louis MO, 1:05:18

10. Joel Bourgeois, 39, Grand-Digue, New Brunswick, Canada,



1.  Shewarge
Amare, 23, New York NY/Ethiopia, 1:08:21

2.  Kristin
Price, 28, Raleigh NC, 1:11:13

3.  Brandy
Erholtz, 32, Bailey CO, 1:12:53

4.  Nicole Hunt,
40, Deer Lodge MT, 1:12:59

5.  Megan Lund,
26, Basalt CO, 1:13:30

6.  Laura
Haefeli, 42, Del Norte CO, 1:15:47

7.  Amber
Ferreira, 28, Concord NH, 1:19:47

8.  Amber Moran,
31, Arden NC, 1:20:55

9.  Jennifer
Campbell, 27, Newmarket NH, 1:21:06

10. Caitlin Smith, 29, Oakland CA, 1:21:43


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