4X Mount Washington Winner Gray Out, Who’s In!?

59th Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race
Mt. Washington Auto Road
June 15, 2019 – 9 a.m.

  • Gray out, men’s field is wide open
  • Hutton and Patterson intensify women’s competition
Photo: Four-time Mt. W. winner Joe Gray, photo by Joe Viger
May 24, 2019 — Pinkham Notch, NH

Joe Gray, a four-time winner of the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, has just announced that his schedule obliges him to withdraw from this year’s contest on the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road. While Gray’s withdrawal throws the men’s competition wide open, the women’s favorite, Kim Dobson, is facing a growing number of challengers in the 7.6-mile all-uphill race in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

As the American record-holder at Mt. Washington and the 2016 individual gold medalist in the World Mountain Championships, Gray was the prohibitive favorite for a fifth Mt. Washington win next month. In his absence, several other men are likely to compete to be the first to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast. They include Italian mountain-runner Nadir Cavagna, who will be seeing the Mt. Washington Auto Road for the first time; Americans Lee Berubeand Matt Lipsey, who placed well here last year; and two former champions,Eric Blake and Simon Gutierrez, who will concede nothing to their younger rivals.

Photo: 3x Winner Eric Blake of CT, photo by Kevin Morris
Dobson, 35, of Eagle, Colorado, has won the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race each of the five times she has entered – 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Her 2012 winning time, one hour nine minutes 25 seconds, is the American women’s record for the course and the second-fastest time by any woman on the Auto Road. While she may be on track for a sixth win this year, the women’s field is strong, especially with the recent addition of Caitlin Patterson and Brittni Hutton. These two women join last year’s runner-up, Heidi Caldwell, Italian newcomer Gaia Colli, and others who will either challenge Dobson or make the race for second place exciting.

Men’s field:

Nadir Cavagna, 25, was a member of the Italian team that won the silver medal in the 2018 World Mountain Championships. Cavagna could duplicate last year’s top result, when his countryman Cesare Maestri won in his Mt. Washington debut while Gray was racing elsewhere. Maestri is not competing in this year’s race.

Lee Berube, 28, of Syracuse, N.Y., a seven-time collegiate all-American, finished fourth at Mt. Washington last year and fifth at the U.S. national mountain championships. Matt Lipsey, 29, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was seventh at Mt. Washington last year. Another top prospect, Mike Popejoy, of Flagstaff, Arizona, has withdrawn.

These younger runners in the 2019 Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race will have to contend with two veterans whose exceptional ability to handle the Auto Road’s 12 percent grade makes them formidable opponents. Eric Blake 40, of West Hartford, Conn., won Mt. Washington in 2006, 2008 and 2013, and last year he ran with Maestri for most of the race before finishing second. If he wins again this year, few observers will be surprised.

The other three-time winner to watch at the front is 53-year-old Simon Gutierrez, of Alamosa, Colorado. Older runners have a long history of success in Mt. Washington’s demanding environment, and Gutierrez’s experience is a match for anyone’s. Having won this race in cold rain in 2002 and under a blazing sun in 2003 and 2005, he finished sixth in 2018 and is likely to do at least as well this year.

Photo: Oh the humanity! photo by FitzFoto/NERunner
Women’s field:

As a further indication of her dominance at Mt. Washington, Dobson last year was not only the first female finisher but seventh finisher overall, just a few steps behind Gutierrez. Her Rocky Mountain training and Mt. Washington experience may be too much for any other woman to match. However, this race has long been well suited to runners who are also Nordic skiers, and two outstanding skiers are in the 2019 women’s field.

One is Heidi Caldwell, 27, of Craftsbury Common, Vermont. Part of the legendary Caldwell family of cross-country skiers, she excelled in track at Brown University, clocking a personal best time of 16:05 for 5000 meters. She was runner runner-up to Dobson at Mt. Washington last year.

The other is Caitlin Patterson, 29, a 2018 Nordic Olympian and prominent mountain runner who was part of the U.S. women’s gold medal-winning mountain running team in 2017 in Premana, Italy. She won the 2017 Whiteface Mountain Skyrace in New York and the 2018 Smugglers Mountain Challenge in Vermont, and she placed fourth in last year’s U.S. Mountain Running Championships at Cranmore in New Hampshire. Originally from Alaska, she now also lives in Craftsbury, Vt.

Brittni Hutton, 29, comes from Lubbock, Texas, but lives in her van while traveling around the country to train and race. A former all-American at Oakland University in Michigan and a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, she has run times on level ground that may translate into a top-level finish at Mt. Washington, including a 2:41:31 marathon and a 34:01 for 10 km.

Gaia Colli, 20, has competed on the Italian national junior mountain running team for the past two years. Her excellent performances in major European mountain races include a seventh-place finish in the 2018 European championships.

Other top women in this year’s field are Shelley Doucett, 35, from Quispamsis, New Brunswick, who placed third last year; Kassandra Marin, 29, of Merrimack, N.H., who placed fifth; Kim Nedeau, 39, of Leverett, Mass., who placed second in 2016; and Amber Ferreira, 37, a top triathlete and snowshoe racer from Concord, N.H. Brandy Erholz, who won this race in 2008 and 2009 and has several runner-up finishes, has withdrawn.
Sponsored by Northeast Delta Dental, the race ascends the Mt. Washington Auto Road from Pinkham Notch, N.H., to the 6288-foot summit of Mt. Washington. In addition to the unrelenting grade, runners face the added challenge of Mt. Washington’s famously high winds, precipitation, and unpredictable temperatures. Prizes include $1000 apiece for the first male and female finishers, smaller cash prizes for the next five men and women and the top three male and female masters (over 40), prizes for the first male and female finishers from New Hampshire, and a $5000 bonus for setting a new course record.

Shewarge Amare of Ethiopia set the women’s record, 1:08:21, in 2010. The men’s course record, 56:41, belongs to six-time world mountain champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand, who ran that time in 2004 and won the race a second time in 2007.

The race will take place on June 15th, starting at 9 a.m. For other information visit www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com.

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