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Mt. Washington Road Race celebrates its 50th running, June 19

2010 event includes inauguration of Mt. Washington Road Race Hall Of Fame

Brandy Erholtz, of Bailey, Colo., won the Mt. Washington Road Race in 2008 and 2009 and she will be returning this year. (Ed Smith/Sportstop Photo). (click for larger version)
June 17, 2010
Beyond the cash prizes — $2,000 apiece for the male and female overall winners, and substantial awards to the rest of the top 10 of each gender — this year's race offers a particular attraction for the country's top mountain runners: it is both the 2010 U.S.A. Mountain Running Championship and the sole selection race this year for the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

The first American male and female finishers will become the 2010 U.S. national mountain champions, and the top six American male and top four American female finishers will be named to the national team, which will compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia in September.

The Mt. Washington Road Race has served as the U.S. national championship in three previous years, but this year is the first time it has been the only race in which an American mountain runner can qualify for the team that will compete internationally. Hence the exceptional number of elite athletes who have requested entry.

Entry demand higher than usual

In addition, demand has been higher than usual for the regular entry spots allocated through the race's annual lottery. In recognition of the momentousness of this year's race, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has officially proclaimed this June 19 as Mt. Washington Road Race Day, urging all Granite State citizens to support the race. Similarly, Senator Jean Shaheen has sent an official letter from Washington, D.C., citing the race as "a longtime New Hampshire tradition and one that puts New Hampshire on an international stage."

One other reason for the increased interest in the already popular event is that this year is the 50th running of the race, an occasion for extra celebration that will include the inauguration of the Mt. Washington Road Race Hall Of Fame.

On Friday, June 18, the evening before the race itself, the organizers will officially induct the Hall of Fame's first four members, chosen for their outstanding and historic contributions to this one-of-a-kind event: Bob Hodge, who won this race an unmatched seven times (1976-1980, 1985, and 1987) and continues to run it; Anna Pichrtova of the Czech Republic, six-time Mt. Washington winner and former World Mountain Champion; the late Gary Crossan of New Hampshire, who won Mt. Washington four times and in whose name the race each year awards a trophy to the first New Hampshire finisher; and Fred Norris, the legendary English coal miner who came to the United States at the age of 40, established himself as one of the strongest runners in America, and, in 1962, set the Mt. Washington masters record that stood for 39 years.

The inauguration of the Hall of Fame and the induction of the first four members will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 18, at the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson. Of the two living inductees, Hodge will be present; Pichrtova remains in Europe recovering from an injury.

What a field it is!

The race starts the next morning at 10 a.m. Among the top competitors at the starting line will be the men's and women's defending champions, Rickey Gates of Boulder, Colo., and Brandy Erholtz, of Bailey, Colo. Gates is only the fifth man ever to break the one-hour barrier on Mt. Washington, having won last year in 59 minutes 58 seconds. Erholtz has her eyes not only on winning for the third year in a row but on perhaps breaking the women's course record, one hour 10 minutes 8 seconds, set in 1998 by Magdalena Thorsell of Sweden.

Gates is closely matched with at least two familiar rivals: former two-time Mt. Washington winner Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn., and Joe Gray of Lakewood, Wash., who finished 4th here in 2008 and then 3rd in 2009, just behind Gates and Blake. They'll be joined by 40-year-old British mountain runner Martin Cox, a veteran of major races in the Alps; Matt Byrne, of Scranton, Penn., who was 6th in 2008 and 4th last year at Mt. Washington; Zac Freudenburg of St. Louis, 7th in 2008; Max King, of Bend, Oregon, who has beaten Gray in trail races in the West; Jeffrey Eggleston, of Flagstaff, Ariz.,, who ran a 2:14:32 for his debut marathon this year in Phoenix; Canadian mountain running champion Joel Bourgeois, of Grande-Digue, New Brunswick; Malcolm Campbell, of Marietta, Ga., who won the 2008 Hogpen Hillclimb in Georgia; Timothy Parr, from Gunniston, Colo., who has won both the Pike's Peak Ascent and the Leadville, Colo., 100-mile ultramarathon; Luke Watson, of State College, Penn., a 2:15 marathoner; local favorite Kevin Tilton of North Conway; Ryan Hafer of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and the list goes on.

One of the newcomers attracting special attention is 19-year-old Zach Rivers, of Victor, N.Y., who will attempt to break the oldest record on the Mt. Washington books — the course record for runners 19 and under, 1:09:18, set by Sean Livingston in 1987.

Also for the first time, Tom Raffio, the CEO of the sponsor Northeast Delta Dental, will be running the race. He'll wear No. 50, in honor of the race's 50th year.

Among the top women are Laura Haefeli, from Del Norte, Colo., who finished third at Mt. Washington in 2008 while setting the women's masters course record; reigning U.S. Mountain Champion Megan Kimmel, of Silverton, Colo.; Alison Bryant of Elkin, N.C., who finished 3rd in 2007, 5th in 2008 and 4th last year; Nicole Hunt of Deer Lodge, Mont., who placed second in her last Mt. Washington appearance (2007) behind Pichrtova; Kristin Price of Raleigh, N.C., who won the 2009 U.S. Women's Trail 10k National Championship; Megan Lund of Basalt, Colo., the women's course record-holder in the Aspen (Colo.) Mountain Uphill and a 2008 U.S. Olympic marathon trials qualifier; Amber Moran, a 1:17 half-marathoner from Arden, N.C.; Rachel Cieslewicz, of Salt Lake City, Utah; Shewarge Amare, an Ethiopian runner living in New York; 45-year-old Lisa Goldsmith, of Nederland, Colo.; veteran three-time Mt. Washington winner Jacqueline Gareau of Montreal, the only woman ever to win both the Mt. Washington Road Race (1989, 1994 and 1996) and the Boston Marathon (1980); and more.

With the help of its additional sponsors, La Sportiva, makers of high-performance trail and mountain running shoes, and New England Runner magazine, the race offers a bonus of $5,000 to anyone setting a new men's or women's course record and a $2,000 bonus to any man or woman who breaks the existing masters record (age 40 or older).

For a complete list of all entrants, sorted alphabetically by name, by state, or by hometown, see the Mt. Washington Road Race website, www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com, and click on Lottery Results. The website also includes a photo gallery, a history of the race, results from previous years, and other information.

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