Payne and Gray take top honors

PINKHAM NOTCH NH – Veteran mountain runner Joseph Gray had tried and come so close each of the last three years.

Shannon Payne, a newcomer to running the hills, was giving the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race her first shot.

The two runners from Colorado Springs, Colorado, broke through in a major way on Saturday and won the men’s and women’s titles at the 54th running of this grueling all-uphill race in impressive fashion on a decent, but windy and chilly, day for racing.

Temperatures were in the high 40s at the base at the 9 a.m. starting time, and at the summit it was in the mid-30s, with winds gusting from 20 to 35 miles per hour.

Gray, 30, looked strong from the start and pulled away from defending champion and three-time winner Eric Blake of West Hartford, Connecticut, just past the halfway mark of the 7.6-mile trek up the Mt. Washington Auto Road to the highest peak in the Northeast. 

Gray finished in a time of 59 minutes and nine seconds. Blake, 35, the cross country and track and field coach at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, finished in 1:00:01, four seconds slower than his winning time last year.  

Payne, 28, had run her first mountain race at the Black Canyon Ascent in Colorado only last month. She was a little wary of the Mt. Washington course when she got her first look at it on Friday by car on a tour conducted by 2012 winner Sage Canaday.

“Driving up, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this looks brutal,’” Payne said. “People run up this? All the way?”

She did. And fast.

She turned in a time of one hour, ten minutes and 12 seconds to edge Valentina Belotti, 34, of Italy by more than a minute and a half.

Both Payne and Gray turned in the fifth fastest times ever in their respective races, and each collected $1,000 for the win. Gray got an extra $500 for breaking an hour. 

It was the first time since 2010 and only the second time since 1997 – when Craig Fram of Plaistow, N.H., and Cathy O’Brien of Durham, N.H. were victorious – that both the male and female races crowned a first-time winner.

Gray lined up his fist pump even before he got to the finish line and then let it go, wearing a huge smile, as he broke the tape.

He was fourth in his Northeast Delta Dental debut in 2008, third in 2009 and 2010 and runnerup in each of the last two years.

This year’s race was all his.

“It was tough,” said Blake, who won this race in 2006 and 2008 as well as last year. “I had been running real well and was in good shape. Joe’s strong. He took off pretty hard and I couldn’t stay with him after the first half. He put on a little surge and broke me.”

Last year, Gray, who has been splitting his time between Washington State and Colorado Springs, led Blake for much of the race but could not hold him off and had to settle for second.

“Today I felt pretty good and pretty comfortable,” Gray said. “Eric’s a very experienced runner,  and I knew if I was running with him that late in the race, we must be on a pace to run a solid race. . . . Eric never drops off. He’s always testing you. He pushes you. It makes you nervous to have him behind you.”

Gray kept him there this time.

Canaday, 28 of Boulder, Colorado, was third in 1:01:30. Two newcomers to the race, Zach Miller, 25, of Manitou Springs, Colorado, and Ryan Bak, 32, of Bend, Oregon, were fourth and fifth.

Belotti, 34, and her husband, Emanuele Manzi, 36, are both world class runners and were at the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race for the first time.

Manzi finished eighth in 1:06:27.

“We don’t have any races like this in the Alps,” Manzi said. “It’s different from our mountains, very steep. It’s a fantastic race.”

Brandy Erholtz, who won the race in 2008 and 2009, was third on the women’s side in 1:15:38.
Kasie Enman, 34, of Huntington, Vt., and the World Mountain Trophy winner in 2011, was fourth in 1:17:12.

Denise Sandahl, 33, of Bow, N.H., was fifth overall in 1:17:21 in her first Mt. Washington and won the Crossan Award as the first female from the state.

Larissa Dannis, 26, of Strafford, last year’s top New Hampshire runner, was a spot behind Sandahl in sixth. Dannis finished in 1:22:00, beating her time from last year by almost five minutes. Diana Davis was the third place female from New Hampshire in 1:24:39 and was eighth overall. 

Justin Freeman, 37, of New Hampton was the top New Hampshire male for the third time and second year in a row. His time was 1:06:29 and he turned back a New Hampshire challenge from Brandon Newbould, 32, of Nottingham, N.H., near the finish. Newbould was 11th in 1:07:07.

Kris Freeman, 33, of Thornton, Justin’s brother and a 2014 Sochi Olympian in cross country skiing, was 15th overall and the third New Hampshire male in 1:09:28 .

The day’s events also included the induction of Fram and three-time Mt. Washington winner Dave Dunham into the race’s Hall of Fame. Dunham, running out of Lowell and then Londonderry, won the race in 1988, 1989 and 1994.

He beat Hall of Famer Bob Hodge of Lowell by one second in 1989 in a time of 1:02:59. In 1988, he was the first to finish the race in a time of less than 61 minutes with a 1:00:50.

Fram, 55 now, was 19th last year in a time of 1:09:52 and Dunham, 50, was 22nd in 1:10:44.

Neither runner ran this year. Both runners hold several age group records.

The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race begins at the Auto Road base on Route 16 north of Pinkham Notch and climbs to the 6288-foot summit at an average grade of 12 percent and a net altitude gain of 4650 feet.  The runners battle not only each other but the sheer force of gravity and Mt. Washington’s famously severe winds. 

Former six-time World Mountain Champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand holds the men’s course record at Mt. Washington: 56 minutes 41 seconds, set in 2004.  The women’s record was set in 2010 by the 23-year-old Ethiopian runner Shewarge Amare, who made the ascent in one hour eight minutes 21 seconds.

Based in Concord, NH, Northeast Delta Dental has sponsored the race up the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road since 2001. The health company’s CEO, Tom Raffio, has run the race in a personal best of one hour 50 minutes and 51 seconds. In 2012, Northeast Delta Dental increased its already strong support for the event, making it officially the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race.

Fifty percent of all proceeds from the race will be donated to the Coos County Family
Health Services for their oral health programs. Based in nearby Berlin, NH, this community-based organization provides innovative, personalized, comprehensive health care and social services to everyone, regardless of economic status.

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Past two years’ male winners Blake and Canaday take on Joe Gray

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race has seen a couple of race-to-the-wire finishes in recent years, but more often the eventual winner has broken away from the field somewhere on the windswept upper slopes of the highest peak in the northeastern United States and finished all alone in front. Next Saturday’s 54th edition of this all-uphill footrace could well be the scene for close finishes, as three well-matched men battle each other for the third time in as many years and a two-time women’s Mt. Washington champion faces a challenge from a former world mountain running champion.

In the men’s race, defending champion Eric Blake of West Hartford, Connecticut, and 2012 winner Sage Canaday of Boulder, Colorado, will have to match their best-ever Mt. Washington performances if they expect to hold off Joe Gray of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Gray, who finished second here in both 2012 and 2013, was the top American male last fall at the World Mountain Championships in Poland and placed fourth in the USATF cross-country national championships in February.

Having won the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race in 2006 and again in 2008, in one of the closest finishes ever, Blake won again last year by running his personal best time for the course last year, 59 minutes 57 seconds. Canaday’s winning time of 58:27 in 2012 was the third-fastest ever recorded in this race, and his third place finish here last year came one week after he won a major 50-kilometer trail race. Canaday and Blake are two of only seven people ever to run up the up the 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road in under one hour; Gray could become the eighth this year.

Brandy Erholtz of Evergreen, Colorado, winner of the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race in 2008 and 2009, was a particularly impressive runnerup in 2013; four months pregnant at the time, she beat all other women in the field except fellow Coloradan Laura Haefeli. Haefeli recently withdrew from this year’s race and so will not be on hand to defend her title.

Another recent withdrawal is that of Morgan Arritola of Idaho. Arritola, who placed third in the 2012 World Mountain Running Championships and won the U.S. National Mountain Championship a year later, was a possible co-favorite in what would have been her Mt. Washington debut.

Erholtz must still contend with Valentina Belotti, who won the women’s World Mountain Running Association championship in Italy in 2009 and was runnerup in that race in 2010 and 2012. Belotti will be running up Mt. Washington for the first time.

While the men’s field looks like a three-way race, two newcomers may break up the favored trio. Belotti’s countryman Emanuele Manzi will bring considerable mountain-running experience to his Mt. Washington debut. A protégé of Italian mountain running legend Marco de Gasperi, Manzi run on the Italian national team in six World Championships.

The other strongest threats from first-time competitors here come from Ryan Bak of Bend, Oregon, and Zach Miller of Manitou Springs. Colorado. Bak, who expected to compete at Mt. Washington in both of the last two years but had to withdraw each time, has run a 2:14:17 marathon – a time resembling the marathon bests of several previous Mt. Washington winners. Miller, a member of the Nike Trail Elite Team, won the 2013 JFK 50 Miler and has set course records in several other ultramarathons this year.

As usual, nobody can ignore Simon Gutierrez, of Colorado Springs. Winner of this race in 2002, 2003 and 2005, Gutierrez holds the course record for masters (over 40) runners, a time of 1:01:34, which he ran in 2008. Gutierrez placed fifth in 2005 and last year was fourth after Blake, Gray and Canaday.

For that fourth place finish in 2013, Gutierrez had to outduel Matt Byrne, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the final 50 yards. Byrne, who claims several top-five finishes, returns to Mt. Washington for another attempt.

Two or three other women are possible dark horses in this year’s race. One is Kasie Enman, of Huntington, Vermont, who in 2011 became the first American woman to win the World Mountain Running Championship, and who placed third at Mt. Washington in 2011 and 2012.   Enman woud be a co-favorite with Erholtz and Belotti, except that her mountain running strength is greater on uneven terrain than on an all-uphill grade.

Another contender may be Carolyn Stocker, of Westfield, Mass. In 2011, at the age of 18, Stocker placed seventh here, breaking the course record for juniors (19 and under).  She lowered that record while placing fifth in 2012. Having missed the race last year because of an injury, she returns with deeper experience in mountain running, two more seasons of competing in cross-country and track at the University of Maine, and superior winter conditioning from snowshoe racing.

An intriguing unknown in this year’s race is how well Shannon Payne, of Boulder, Colorado, will fare against the rest of the field on Mt. Washington’s 12 percent grade. A late entry into the race, Payne beat Erholtz by four minutes recently at the Black Canyon Ascent in Colorado and came close to the course record set there by two-time Mt. Washington champion Lisa Dobson (who will not be in next Saturday’s race).

Each year’s race includes prizes for the first male and female New Hampshire finishers.  This year’s men’s race is a copy of the past several, as brothers Justin Freeman, of New Hampton NH, and Kris Freeman of Thornton will bring their Olympic Nordic skiing strength to the race again. Last year brother Justin won the prize while placing eighth overall.

The women’s race for first Granite Stater will be exciting, as it pits last year’s winner Larisa Dannis, of Strafford, against Diana Davisof Exeter and Abbey Woods of Laconia.

The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race begins at the Auto Road base on Route 16 north of Pinkham Notch and climbs to the 6288-foot summit at an average grade of 12 percent and a net altitude gain of 4650 feet.  The runners battle not only each other but the sheer force of gravity and Mt. Washington’s famously severe winds.

Former six-time World Mountain Champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand holds the men’s course record at Mt. Washington: 56 minutes 41 seconds, set in 2004.  The women’s record was set in 2010 by the 23-year-old Ethiopian runner Shewarge Amare, who made the ascent in one hour eight minutes 21 seconds.

Based in Concord, NH, Northeast Delta Dental has sponsored the race up the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road since 2001. The health company’s CEO, Tom Raffio, has run the race in a personal best of one hour 50 minutes and 51 seconds. In 2012, Northeast Delta Dental increased its already strong support for the event, making it officially the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race.

Fifty percent of all proceeds from the race will be donated to the Coos County Family Health Services for their oral health programs. Based in nearby Berlin, NH, this community-based organization provides innovative, personalized, comprehensive health care and social services to everyone, regardless of economic status.

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Dunham and Fram inducted into Hall of Fame

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — Billerica native Dave Dunham and Plaistow, N.H.’s Craig Fram will be inducted into the Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame on June 21.

The fifth annual induction ceremony, at the base of the Mt. Washington auto road, recognizes outstanding performers in the footrace to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States.

The ceremony will take place after the race, which starts at 9 a.m. and will attract some 1,300 runners.

Dunham first ran Mt. Washington in 1988, winning the race and becoming the first person to run under 1:01 with a course record of 1:00:50. He won again the following year in what is still the closest finish in the history of the race, beating Hall of Famer Bob Hodge of Lowell by one second.

He won for a third time in 1994 passing the early leaders in the second half as they succumbed to the scorching heat. He still holds several age group records and in 2006 published “Only One Hill”, a history of the Mt. Washington road race.

Fram, the 1997 champion, is the leading money winner in race history and also holds several age group records. He’s finished in the top 10 seven times.

 

-Valley Dispatch Sports Lowell, MA

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Blake and Haefeli Return to Defend Titles

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – April 28, 2014

Defending champions Eric Blake of Connecticut and Laura Haefeli of Colorado will lead some 1,300 runners to the starting line of the 54th Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race on Saturday, June 21.

The annual lottery to fill the majority of the spots in the race this year attracted more than 1,900 entrants. Elite runners and last year’s age-group winners are among the runners who help fill out the field for the grueling 7.6-mile test up the Mount Washington Auto Road to the 6,288-foot summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States. 

New this year, 20 spots will be awarded to top fundraisers through a charity fundraising component. More information on the fundraising program is available at the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race web site at www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com/charity.

Blake beat Joe Gray of Renton, Wash., and 2012 winner Sage Canaday of Boulder, Colo., to the finish line last year and became a three-time champion of the race. The cross country and track and field coach at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain won in a time of 59 minutes, 57 seconds and added the title to ones he collected in 2006 and 2008.

Haefeli, who lives in Del Norte, Colo., turned in a time of 1:18:05 to finish more than five minutes in front of runnerup Brandy Erholtz of Evergreen, Colo., and win her first women’s title. Regina Loiacano of Gloucester, Mass., finished third.

There promises to be plenty action at the front of the pack in this year’s race. Gray and Canaday both return for another shot at the title on the men’s side and Erholtz and Loiacano are in the women’s field.

New contenders taking their first shot at the mountain include Morgan Arritola of Ketchum, Idaho, who was third at the World Mountain Running Championships in 2012 and has beaten  Haefeli and Erholtz; and Cynthia Arnold of Polson, Mont., third in the USATF 10k trail championship in 2013.  

For the men, Ryan Bak of Bend, Ore., who has run a 2:14:17 marathon, and Andrew Benford of Austin, Tex., who has a 1:05:35 half marathon personal best, are in the field.

The premier mountain-running event in the eastern U.S., the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race attracts top American and international mountain runners along with seasoned marathoners, track and cross-country runners, Nordic skiers, snowshoe racers, triathletes and others. Since the number of serious athletes wanting to run this race is much greater than the 153-year-old Mt. Washington Auto Road can accommodate, the “Run to the Clouds” is filled each year partly by invitations issued to elite mountain runners but primarily by a computer-generated random selection process open to all comers. This year the registration window for this lottery opened on February 17 and closed on Saturday, March 15.

Runners whose recent performances indicate that they may be contenders for top places, or whose past participation in the race has contributed particularly to the event’s charisma, can bypass the lottery and enter the race as invited runners. Entry is also guaranteed for runners who have completed the six other races in the New England “Mountain Goat” race series. All previous winners of the race overall may enter automatically, and the previous year’s age-group winners (individual and teams) are entitled to bypass the lottery.

The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race begins at the Auto Road base on Route 16 north of Pinkham Notch and climbs to the 6288-foot summit at an average grade of 12 percent and a net altitude gain of 4650 feet.  The runners battle not only each other but the sheer force of gravity and Mt. Washington’s famously severe winds. 

Former six-time World Mountain Champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand holds the men’s course record at Mt. Washington: 56 minutes 41 seconds, set in 2004.  The women’s record was set in 2010 by the 23-year-old Ethiopian runner Shewarge Amare, who made the ascent in one hour eight minutes 21 seconds.

Based in Concord, NH, Northeast Delta Dental has sponsored the race up the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road since 2001. The health company’s CEO, Tom Raffio, has run the race in a personal best of one hour 50 minutes and 51 seconds. In 2012, Northeast Delta Dental increased its already strong support for the event, making it officially the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race.

Fifty percent of all proceeds from the race will be donated to the Coos County Family
Health Services for their oral health programs. Based in nearby Berlin, NH, this community-based organization provides innovative, personalized, comprehensive health care and social services to everyone, regardless of economic status.

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Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race raises more than $15k for Coos County Family Health Services

PINKHAM NOTCH, NH— More than $15,000 was raised and recently donated to Coos County Family Health Services (CCFHS) as a result of  the 2013 Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, which took place in June on the Mt Washington Auto Road.  More than 1,300 dedicated runners came together to face the immense challenge of running up the northeast’s highest peak on one of the toughest eight mile courses in the racing world. While it was a day marked by genuine athletic achievement, thanks to Northeast Delta Dental and the Auto Road, the benefits will be felt long into the future in the local community.

“These funds mean the world to our organization and will really help expand the scope of dental services to our patients and community.  It is rare to receive funds to cover dental care for adults, so this will make a huge difference,” noted Adele Woods, CEO of CCFHS.

Coos County Family Health Services serves approximately 15,000 area residents annually. By addressing dental care needs in the clinic rather than in a hospital emergency room it helps defray enormous expenses for patients. This community-based organization provides personalized, comprehensive general and oral healthcare and social services to everyone, regardless of economic status.

Northeast Delta Dental has been the primary sponsor of the Mount Washington Road Race since 2001. Since 1995, the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation has donated nearly $50,000 to support the CCFHS school-based oral health education program, fluoride rinse, and preventive dental services. The center’s status as the new beneficiary of the race is a reminder of the Auto Road’s and Northeast Delta Dental’s extensive ties to the region, and to the race’s commitment to the well-being of the larger community.

“This is a wonderful event for the participants and the organization it supports. Our sponsorship of this race and support of Coos County Family Health Services is all a part of Northeast Delta Dental’s commitment to oral health and well being of North Country residents. Like the Mt Washington Auto Road, we pride ourselves in being a part of this community and look forward to our collaborative and beneficial efforts in the future,” said Kathleen B. Walker, director of marketing & communications at Northeast Delta Dental.

For more information and complete results of the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race visit www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com. For more information about the Coos County Family Health Services organization visit www.coosfamilyhealth.org.

Northeast Delta Dental Foot Race Donation, Coos Couty Health Service, Mt washignton Auto Road

Pictured in photo: Events Director of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, Kimberly Hoyt, Manager of Community Relations at Northeast Delta Dental, Crystal Carroll and General Manager of the Mt Washington Auto Road Howie Wemyss present a check for $15,000 to Chief Executive Officer, Adele Woods; President of the Board of Directors, Robert Pelchat; and Loretta Morrissette, RDH, all of Coos County Family Health Services. These funds were raised during the 53rd running of the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race.

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Blake returns to the top and at 45, Haefeli finally wins the Run to the Clouds!

Pinkham Notch, N.H. June 15, 2013

New England’s strongest mountain runner, Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn., faced his best counterparts from the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast today and beat them to reclaim the champion’s title in the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race.  Blake, who won this 7.6-mile all-uphill race in 2006 and 2008, came back this year from four years of near misses to run up the Mt. Washington Auto Road in his fastest time ever, 59 minutes 57 seconds.

Meanwhile on the women’s side of the race, veteran mountain runner Laura Haefeli of Del Norte, Colo., finally won the internationally renowned event where she had repeatedly been a popular bridesmaid. Having finished third three times and among the top six women two other times in this climb to the 6288-foot summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, Haefeli, now 45 years old, took an early lead and held it, taking advantage of an occasional tailwind and finishing in 1:18:05, more than five minutes ahead of her nearest competition.

Blake’s win was emphatic and gratifying. The 34-year-old coach at Central Connecticut State lined up at the start with the two men who had beaten him last year and seemed in comparably good shape this time, Joseph Gray, 29, of Renton, Washington, and Sage Canaday, 27, from Boulder, Colorado. A year ago Canaday had run away from the field to become just the sixth man ever to break one hour on Mt. Washington, while Gray was a solid second, but this time the field was reversed.

Gray, a former all-American steeplechaser with track speed to go with his mountain endurance, seized the lead at the start, opened a gap on everyone else and held it for three miles while Blake and Canaday chased him. Then Blake surged while Canaday faded.

“Maybe Joe was going to run away with it, or maybe he was going to come back to us,” said Blake afterward. “When I caught up with Joe, I just concentrated on maintaining momentum. I had seen enough second-place frustration, and I didn’t want to be second again.”

After his two previous victories, Blake had been runner-up twice here, then eighth in 2011, when he was suffering from a not-yet-diagnosed torn hamstring muscle that required surgery. Having regained enough form to place third last year, he looked even stronger today.

Half a mile from the finish he was pumping his fist with the confidence of someone who knows he will win. Better yet, he realized he had a shot at the one-hour mark that had always eluded him before.

“I had thought I’d finish in 61 minutes,” he said, “but I was going as quickly as I could.” Quickly enough so that, on top of the winner’s purse of $1000, his finishing time earned him the $500 bonus the race awards to anyone who breaks one hour without breaking the course record. The men’s course record for the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race is 56:42, set in 2004 by six-time world mountain champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand.

Haefeli, who five years ago broke the Mt. Washington masters (over 40) record previously held by Olympian Joan Samuelson, again collected the $300 award for the first female finisher over 40, to go along with her overall winner’s $1000. The men’s masters prize went once again to Simon Gutierrez, 47, of Colorado Springs. Gutierrez, who won this race three times between 2002 and 2005 and holds the master’s course record, placed fourth overall in 1:04:44, outkicking 38-year-old Matt Byrne of Scranton, Pennsylvania by one second.

The next woman behind Haefeli was a smiling Brandy Erholtz, of Evergreen, Colo. Erholtz, 35, had won her Mt. Washington debut here in 2008, repeated as champion in 2009, and then been third in 2010 and runner-up for the past two years. For her, however, this year’s runner-up performance was especially delightful. She is four months’ pregnant – a fact about which she has happily posted a narrative on her training blog.

Undeniably slower this year, Erholtz was still tough. Starting conservatively, she passed Regina Loicano of Gloucester, Mass., and Tin-Marie Poulin of New York City in the first mile, then withstood a determined challenge by Loicano for several miles before finishing in 1:23:48, with Loicano third in 1:24:45 and Poulin another half minute back. Abby Mahoney, 35, of Holyoke, Mass., was fifth in 1:25:49.

Justin Freeman, 36, of New Hampton, N.H., an Olympic Nordic skier and local favorite, placed eighth overall in 1:06:52 to win the Crossan Cup, which is awarded annually to the top finisher from New Hampshire. The women’s Crossan Cup winner was Larisa Dannis of Manchester, who placed seventh among all women in 1:26:59.

Top finishers:

Men:

1.  Eric Blake, 34, New Britain, Conn., 59:57
2.  Joseph Gray, 29, Renton, Wash., 1:02:46
3.  Sage Canaday, 27, Boulder, Colo., 1:03:39
4.  Simon Gutierrez, 47, Colorado Springs, Colo., 1:04:44
5.  Matthew Byrne, 38, Scranton, Pa., 1:04:45
6.  Josh Ferenc, 31, Saxtons River, Vt., 1J5:36
7.  Gabriel Rodriguez, 35, Baltimore, Md., 1:06:37
8.  Justin Freeman, 36, New Hampton, N.H., 1:06:52
9.  P:eter Maksimow, 34, Manitou Springs, Colo., 1:07:26
10.  Eric MacKnight, 24, Clifton Park, N.J., 1:07:37

Women:

1.  Laura Haefeli, 45, Del Norte, Colo., 1:18:05
2.  Brandy Erholtz, 35, Evergreen, Colo., 1:23:48
3.  Regina Loicano, 40, Gloucester, Mass., 1:24:45
4.  Tina-Marie Poulin, 40, New York, N.Y., 1:25:17
5.  Abby Mahoney, 35, Holyoke, Mass., 1:25:49
6.  Layce Alves, 33, Rockport, Mass., 1:26:33
7.  Larisa Dannis, 25, Manchester, N.H., 1:26:59
8.  Dawn Roberts, 41, West Springfield, Mass., 1:27:28
9.  Suzy West, 50, Putney, Vt., 1:28:22
10. Jennifer Brooks, 34, Gloucester, Mass., 1:28:27

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1,300 runners, 34 states, 7.6 miles all uphill

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. – This Saturday the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race will welcome 1300 runners from 34 states plus the District of Columbia and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec for the annual 7.6-mile footrace to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States. The race course, the Mt. Washington Auto Road, ascends from Route 16 to the 6288-foot summit of Mt. Washington at an average grade of 12 percent, with the additional challenge of the mountain’s notorious weather, which can include drastic temperature drops and high winds. Starting time is 9 a.m.

On Friday evening from 5-7 p.m. the race presents its annual pre-race program, which includes a pasta supper, a talk about the race, and the induction of new members into the Mt. Washington Road Race Hall of Fame. The dinner and talk take place at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

The Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race is one of the premier footraces in New England. It is also one of the most difficult mountain races anywhere in the world. The winners’ first prize is $1,000, with a bonus of $5,000 for anyone who breaks the course record. The men’s course record, set in 2004 by World Mountain Champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand, is 00:56:41. The women’s record, set by Ethiopian runner Shewarge Amare in 2010, is 1:08:21.

Northeast Delta Dental administers dental insurance programs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. To learn more about Northeast Delta Dental, visit www.nedelta.com and follow Northeast Delta Dental on Facebook and Twitter.

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Returing to the rockpile: Sage Canaday talks about defending his title at Mt. Washington

Follow link for the article on FarNorthEndurance.com

Sage Canaday, of Boulder, Colorado, races above treeline, during the 52nd running of The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, held in Pinkham Notch, NH, on June 16th, 2012. 1,200 runners raced up the 7.6 mile Mount Washington Auto Road, to t

Sage Canaday on his way to winning the 2012 Mount Washington Road Race.
Photo courtesy of Dennis Coughlin.

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Defending champion Sage Canaday leads men’s field; Erholtz may be top woman

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. – Top mountain runners from New England, the Rockies, and the West Coast lead the field this year in the 53rd Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race. On June 15 they’ll make their way 7.6 miles up the relentlessly steep Mt. Washington Auto Road to the summit of Mt. Washington, at 6288 feet above sea level the highest peak in the Northeast. Starting time is 9 a.m.

A year ago, observers at this historic and grueling race did a double-take when newcomer Sage Canaday of Boulder, Colo., took an early lead and never looked back, defeating an intensely competitive group of rivals, including two former World Mountain Champions and several members of the U.S. national mountain running team. This year those observers will expect to see the 27-year-old Canaday up front, and the main question will be whether his closest competition from last year can challenge him for first place this time.

The women’s field is led by Brandy Erholtz, 35, of Evergreen, Colo., who won the race in her first appearance here in 2008, won again in 2009, and has finished second twice (2010, 2012) and third once (2011) since then. As she has happily reported in her running blog, Erholtz is now four months pregnant. Although she may be slightly slower this year than last, her strength and her intelligent training keep her on top of the list of contenders.

Sponsored by Northeast Delta Dental, which provides comprehensive dental-care insurance in northern New England, the race this year welcomes its largest number of entrants ever — 1300 in all, from 34 states including Alaska and Hawaii, plus the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. It is directed by Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises, the same organization that directs the Boston Marathon.

Canaday, a former Cornell cross-country and track runner who subsequently trained with the highly respected Hanson-Brooks Distance Project, showed last year that Mt. Washington’s severe 12-percent grade suited him well. He covered the 7.6-mile distance from the base to the summit in 58 minutes 27.58 seconds, the third-fastest time in the race’s history. Behind him were Joseph Gray of Newcastle, Wash., a former all-American steeplechaser and U.S. Mountain Running Team veteran, who finished in 1:00:33; and two-time winner (2006 and 2008) Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn., in 1:00:54. Gray’s and Blake’s times in 2012 would have won this race in most years. Gray, 29, and Blake, 34, will return this year to test their conditioning and mental toughness against Canaday’s.

Erholtz has been the steadiest female performer in the Mt. Washington Road Race women’s field for five years. She won in 2008 in 1:11:08, then lowered her time to 1:10:53 when she won in 2009. Her best time since then was last year, when she clocked 1:12:27, making her runner-up behind Kim Dobson, of Denver, Colo., who ran 1:09:25 – the second-fastest time ever recorded for the women’s field at Mt. Washington. Dobson will be absent from Mt. Washington this year, as will last year’s third-place finisher Kasie Enman of Vermont.

The uncertain variables are how fast Laura Haefeli, 44, Carolyn Stocker, 20, and Kristin Frey, 29, will finish. Haefeli, of Del Norte, Colo., the first American woman ever to win an individual medal in the World Mountain Championships, placed fourth last year at Mt. Washington, in 1:15:10, and she knows the mountain well.

Stocker set the Mt. Washington Road Race record for junior runners in 2011, lowered it to 1:18:58 with her fifth-place finish in 2012, and returns to Mt. Washington strengthened by two seasons of collegiate competition at the University of Maine. Stocker is also one of the country’s top snowshoe-racers, having won the gold medal in her age group at this year’s U.S. National Snowshoe Championship in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, placing third among all women and earning a place on the U.S. national snowshoe team that will compete next February in Sweden.

Frey will run the Auto Road for the first time, but she is familiar with steep climbs, being the premier staircase racer in the United States. A resident of Schaumburg, Ill., she has won every major stair climb race in the skyscrapers of Chicago, placed fourth in New York’s Empire State Building Run-up, and run a personal best marathon time of 3:14. In 2012 Chicago Athlete Magazine named her the Female Athlete of the Year.

Other likely top male finishers this year at Mt. Washington include Simon Gutierrez, 47, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Matt Byrne, 38, of Scranton, Penn.; Peter Maksimow, 34, of Manitou Springs, Colo.; Ryan Bak, 30, of Bend, Ore.; and Matt Flaherty, 27, of Chicago, Ill. Gutierrez won the Race in 2002, 2003 and 2005, holds the masters (over 40) record for the course in 1:01:34, and last year set a new 44-49-years age-group record of 1:02:24. On the evening before this year’s race he will be inducted into the Mt. Washington Road Race Hall of Fame, in a ceremony at the base of the Auto Road.

Byrne has run Mt. Washington four times, including a third-place finish in 2011, a personal best of 1:02:02 in 2008, and a 12th place finish last year, when the field was the most competitive in the Race’s history. Maksimow, a seasoned member of the U.S. Mountain Running team, is perennially strong.

Flaherty was expected to finish among the top contenders at Mt. Washington last year but was injured before the race. Having finished fourth in the Napa Valley Marathon in March and having won the American River 50-mile race in April, he comes to Mt. Washington with the strength and endurance to contend in this field. Bak won the inaugural Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon in Portland, Ore., last year and was the fourth U.S. finisher in the elite Fukuoka Marathon in Japan last winter. This year’s Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race kicks off his summer of international mountain racing.

Although she may not finish with the leaders this year, J’ne (pronounced “Janey”) Day-Lucore, 52, of Denver, Colo., will be in everyone’s sights when she returns to Mt. Washington. Day-Lucore has won Mt. Washington three times including a 1992 debut in which broke the existing women’s course record with a time of 1:11:46. Along with Simon Gutierrez, she will be inducted into the Mt. Washington Road Race Hall of Fame the evening before the race.

The Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race attracts hundreds of hardcore road and trail runners from across New England, other regions of the country, and abroad. In fact the number of would-be entrants has long been greater than the 152-year-old Mt. Washington Auto Road can accommodate. The “Run to the Clouds” is therefore filled each year partly by invitations issued to elite runners but primarily by a computer-generated lottery selection process that opens each year in February.

Runners pay an $80 participation fee. Fifty percent of all proceeds from the race will support Coos County Family Health Services in Berlin, N.H., a community-based organization that provides comprehensive health care and social services to everyone, regardless of economic status. The organization also provides a school-based oral health program.

The winners’ first prize in the race is $1,000, with a bonus of $5,000 for anyone who breaks the course record. The men’s course record, set in 2004 by six-time World Mountain Champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand, is 00:56:41. The women’s record, set by Ethiopian runner Shewarge Amare in 2010, is 1:08:21.

Delta Dental Plans of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, jointly do business as Northeast Delta Dental, headquartered in Concord, N.H., with sales offices in Saco, Maine, and Burlington, Vt. Northeast Delta Dental administers dental insurance programs for organizations of all sizes and for individuals and families who have no access to employer-sponsored dental benefits. To learn more about Northeast Delta Dental, visit www.nedelta.com and follow Northeast Delta Dental on Facebook and Twitter.

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NE Delta Dental Road Race Hall of Fame honors Day-Lucore, Gutierrez, Teschek and Wyatt

Pinkham Notch NH-Two great champions from the Rocky Mountains, the race director who brought Mt. Washington into the modern era, and the World Mountain Champion from New Zealand will be honored this summer as the newest members of the Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame. In a ceremony at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road on Friday evening, June 14, the Hall of Fame will induct J’ne Day-Lucore and Simon Gutierrez, each of whom won the race three times; Bob Teschek, who directed the event for 29 years; and Jonathan Wyatt, the Mt. Washington course record-holder whom many consider the best uphill runner in history.

Formed in 2010, the Mount Washington Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding performers in this annual footrace to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States. The Friday evening ceremony celebrates the folklore and history of the race while also serving as a welcome to some 1200 runners who will make the 7.6-mile ascent of the Auto Road the following morning in the 53rd running of the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race.

Votes by the Hall’s six committee members, plus the 11 honorees chosen in previous years, determined this year’s new members of the Hall of Fame:

J’ne (pronounced “Janey”) Day-Lucore, of Denver, Colorado, first ran Mt. Washington in 1992 and set a new course record for women in one hour 11 minutes 45 seconds. Already the record-holder for the Pike’s Peak Ascent in Colorado, she came back to the Granite State in 1993 to defend her title as Queen of the Mountain and reached Mt. Washington’s 6288-foot summit seven minutes faster than her nearest challenger. She won again in her third Mt. Washington appearance, 1995, before an injury restricted her running and she turned to triathlons. Even so, she returned to Mt. Washington in 1998 and finished second only to Sweden’s Magdalena Thorsell, who broke the course record that year. Returning in 1999 at the age of 38, Day-Lucore placed fourth, and in 2001 here she was ninth woman overall, second in the master’s division behind only Olympian Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Simon Gutierrez, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, first came to Mt. Washington in 1998 and impressed everyone with a third-place finish. The following year he finished fifth — two minutes faster than in his debut. Certain he could win Mt. Washington, Gutierrez returned in 2002 and placed first in that year’s weather-shortened race, defeating the hardcore New Englanders as well as then course-record holder and Hall of Famer Daniel Kihara of Kenya. To prove he could win the race at its full distance, Gutierrez ran away from the field in 2003, then won for a third time in 2005. He is also the race’s fastest over-40 runner of all time, having broken Hall of Famer Matt Carpenter’s master’s record in 2008 by finishing fifth overall in 1:01:34, and holding six of the nine fastest master’s times ever recorded at Mt. Washington.

Bob Teschek, of Newport, N.H., ran the Mt. Washington Road Race eight times, beginning in 1966. He became the race’s director in 1982 and turned the race into one of the best-organized events in the sport. His name is familiar to countless Mt. Washington runners, as well as to race directors across the region and farther afield who use his company, Granite State Race Services, to provide timing and finish-line management to several road races on most weekends of the year. He set his own excellent personal best time (1:15:52) for the Mt. Washington Road Race in 1977 and says he will run it again some year.

Jonathan Wyatt, of Wellington, New Zealand, first ran Mt. Washington in 2004, when he became the prohibitive favorite the moment he signed up. He had already won the World Mountain Trophy three times, was an Olympic marathoner, held course records in mountain races all across Europe, and was likely not merely to win at Mt. Washington but to break the course record. In fact he broke it by a minute and 40 seconds, running through damp fog and wind to reach the summit in 56:41, nearly seven minutes ahead of runner-up and U.S. national mountain champion Paul Low. Wyatt returned in 2007 and won again in 1:01:25, still well ahead of the field. He also won the World Mountain title three more times.

The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race pits runners against one of the most challenging obstacles in road-racing anywhere. The Mt. Washington Auto Road rises at an average grade of 11.6 percent, the second half of the course being above the tree line and exposed to Mt. Washington’s notoriously capricious weather. The race has attracted Olympic athletes, Boston marathon champions, and many of the world’s great mountain running specialists, who compete in the White Mountains of New Hampshire along with numerous other runners from across the United States and abroad.

The Mt. Washington Road Race Hall of Fame recognizes athletes whose exceptional accomplishments in the race have added greatly to the history and stature of the event. Inductees are chosen by a vote of the Hall of Fame committee and Hall of Fame members from a longer list of nominees compiled by December 31 of the preceding year. Anyone is welcome to nominate candidates for consideration.

The Friday evening Hall of Fame induction is part of the annual pre-race gathering for stories, brief speeches, information and advice about running up the mountain, and other tributes to the race. The ceremony will start at 6 p.m. in the large tent at the base of the Auto Road, on Route 16 just north of Pinkham Notch. The public is invited.

Regularly updated information about the Mt. Washington Road Race Hall of Fame is available any time on Facebook (facebook.com/mwrrhof), Twitter (twitter.com/mwrrrecords) and the Hall of Fame blog (mtwashingtonrecords.blogspot.com). For further information email committee members Dave Dunham (dave.dunham@comcast.net) or John Stifler (jstifler@econs.umass.edu). For information about the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race, visit www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com.

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