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Newcomers claim Mount Washington titles

First-time racers take top spots in 50th annual Mount Washington Road Race

CHRIS SIEMERS (left) and Eric Blake climb the five-mile grade on their way to the top of Mount Washington Saturday morning. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 22, 2010
PINKHAM NOTCH — It was a day for the newcomers.

Chris Siemers and Shewarge Amara, both running the grueling Mount Washington Road Race for the first time, outdistanced a large field and pulled away to capture the victories in the 50th annual running of the race to the summit of the Northeast's highest peak.

Siemers, who was born in Chicago but resides in Arvada, Colo., ran alongside Mount Washington veteran Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn. for much of the race before finally pulling away within sight of the summit to finish in a time of 1:00:22, just 18 seconds ahead of Blake, who finished in 1:00:40.

"I came here prepared to win this," Siemers said. "I'd had some recent disappointments with my running and I wanted to take out my frustrations on this mountain."

Amara, an Ethiopian from New York City who found herself without a singlet or running shoes just a short time before the race thanks to a locked car, was able to borrow a pair of shoes and a singlet and then promptly made sure everyone knew her name, setting a new course record with a time of 1:08:21.

"I was expecting a little up, up," said Amara. "And I got it. This race is really hard."

The Mount Washington event was the sole qualifying race for the his year's US National Mountain Running Team, which will compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia in September, which meant that the race drew a very talented field of runners, many vying for a chance to represent the United States. The top six men and the top five women all earned the chance to compete for the national team.

Behind Seimers and Blake came Joe Gray of Lakewood, Wash., defending champion Rickey Gates of Woody Creek, Colo., Max King of Bend, Ore., another newcomer to the race, and Tommy Manning of Colorado Springs, Colo.

For the women, Amare's closest competition came from Kristin Price of Raleigh, N.C., and two-time Mount Washington winner Brandy Erholtz of Bailey, Colo., the race's defending champion. The two women were locked in a close battle, with Price pulling away for second among women in a time of 1:11:13, with Erholtz finishing in 1:12:53. Nicole Hunt of Deer Lodge, Mont., closed the gap on Erholtz to finish fourth among women in 1:12:59, setting a new women's masters record by more than 30 seconds.

Newcomer Megan Lund of Basalt, Colo. rounded out the top five women, as she crossed the line in 1:13:30 to earn the final berth on the national team.

While many of the elite runners ran together near the start of the race, the pack thinned out quickly, as Siemers and Blake pulled away and Gray and Gates ran much of the latter portion of the race in solitude.

While the top runners may have journeyed from long distances to tackle the Mount Washington Auto Road, many local runners took up the challenge as well.

The top runner with local connections was former Kingswood cross country coach Fergus Cullen, who cracked the top 50 men, finishing in 1:15:52.

Paul Kirsch of Madison was the top local runner, as he reached the summit in a time of 1:26:42. Peter Howe of Gilmanton raced to the top in 1:33:25 and was third in the under 19 age division.

Nathan Hill of Glen finished in 1:36:15, with Shauna Ross of North Conway finishing in 1:37:12, which was good enough for eighth in the 35-39 age bracket among women.

Phil Erwin of New Durham crossed the finish line in 1:37:50, while Barnstead's Rich Miller finished in a time of 1:41:31. Marc Ohlson of Conway was the next local finisher, crossing the line in 1:42:57, while West Ossipee's David Drach finished in 1:45:28.

Roger Marcoux of Bartlett raced to the finish line in 1:48:03, while Frank Holmes of Eaton finished in 1:51:55, placing him 10th in the 60-64 age group among men.

Wolfeboro's Dawn Heinrich, running for the first time since major knee surgery, crossed the line in 1:52:08, while her daughter Haley was the next local finisher in a time of 1:53:22, placing her first in the female under 19 age category. Hanne Heinrich was second in the category in a time of 1:59:14.

Doug Eastman of Ossipee raced to the top in 1:53:51, while Linda Parrish of North Conway recorded a time of 1:57:25 and was fourth in the 55 to 59 age group for women. James Love of North Conway finished in 1:59:27, the last local runner to finish in less than two hours.

Amanda Wirling of Center Conway hit the nail right on the head at the two-hour mark, while Nancy Drach of West Ossipee finished in 2:00:41. Charles Tenander of Alton finished in 2:03:47, with Rich Laracy of Conway crossing the line in 2:04:11.

Diane Yamartino of Intervale raced to the summit in 2:04:18, while Bob Heiges of Glen crossed the finish line in 2:07:46. Diana McTeague of Intervale was the next local finisher, crossing the line in 2:08:50, with Darren Celso, also of Intervale, finishing in 2:10:22. Linda Bittner of Freedom finished in a time of 2:11:48.

Pat Estes of Ossipee ran to a time of 2:14:10, which placed her 10th in the 55 to 59 age bracket. Chris Perreca of Silver Lake finished in 2:14:30, with Allan Aldrich of Jackson close behind in 2:14:44. Arthur Viens of Sandwich was next in 2:15:36, with Kevin Callahan of Eaton reaching the summit in 2:16:18.

Sally Swenson of North Conway won the 65 to 69 age group for women, crossing the line in 2:18:09, while Carol Viens of Sandwich was the next local finisher in 2:29:42. Richard Fedion of North Conway was sixth in the 75 to 79 age group for men, finishing in a time of 2:31:39. Harry Smith of Center Ossipee crossed the line in 2:36:05 t round out the local finishers.

Complete results are available at www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com.

John Stifler contributed to this report.

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