95-Year-Old Completes Grueling Mount Washington Road Race

George Etzweiler finishes the uphill race in 3:28:41
Alison Wade Runners World.com

At Saturday’s Mount Washington Road Race, 95-year-old George Etzweiler became the oldest person to complete the 7.6-mile course when he crossed the finish line in 3:28:41.

mt washington auto road, northeast delta dental mount washington road race, running race

George Etzweiler, left, makes his trek uphill during Saturday’s Mount Washington Road Race. Photo by Dan Houde/Mt. Washington Auto Road

The race’s organizers bill the event as having only a single hill, but it’s a tough one. The course has an elevation gain of 4,727 feet and has an average grade of 12 percent.

Etzweiler, of State College, Pennsylvania, broke his own record, which he established two years ago when he completed the course at the age of 93 in 3:15. He missed last year’s event because of a case of bronchitis.

“It seems to me that that hill gets steeper each year,” Etzweiler told Runner’s World Newswire on the phone while vacationing in New Hampshire after the race. “I had a tough time, and my time was slower than I had hoped for.”

Despite the slower time, Etzweiler is already talking about improving.

“If I’m this healthy next year, I’ll give it another try and hope I can get more training in and get the time down to 3:15,” he said.

The Mount Washington Road Race’s website lists an official time limit on the course of 3:02, but organizers have relaxed that requirement for older runners in recent years and have kept the clock running.

Etzweiler expects that he’ll run three additional races this year, though none as challenging as Mount Washington. Etzweiler trains for Mount Washington and his other races by running up Tussey Mountain, near his home, three times a week.

This year’s race marked Etzweiler’s 10th time completing the Mount Washington Road Race. He first ran it at his son’s urging in 1989 when he was 69 years old. He’s won his age group six out of the 10 years he’s run, though in recent years he’s been the only runner in the “90 and over” category.

Etzweiler, who worked as an electrical engineering professor at Penn State University for 37 years, said he never ran a mile without stopping until he was 49 years old. He was overweight prior to taking up running and found that he was having trouble staying awake in the afternoons.

At the urging of friends who had read Kenneth Cooper’s book, Aerobics, Etzweiler began running.

The new fitness regimen helped him drop his weight by 15 to 20 pounds, and he has been able to maintain his weight loss ever since. (He even lost a few additional pounds four years ago when he became a vegan.)

Etzweiler hopes to break his age record several more times before he hangs up his running shoes.

“My plan is to run it until I’m 100, and when I cross the finish line I’m going to drop dead,” Etzweiler said. “That would make a splash.”

 

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Joe Gray doubles up with 2nd fastest time at Mt. Washington

55th Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race 

·        Joe Gray doubles up with 2nd fastest time at Mt. Washington

·        Kim Dobson returns to the mountain with a bang

·        Colorado runners shine again

·        Freeman, Sandahl repeat as first New Hampshire finishers 

 

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – June 20, 2015

Joe Gray did it again – and he did it in dominating fashion.

The mountain-running standout from Colorado Springs crushed it in the 55th Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race on Saturday, setting an American record for the race on the way to a repeat title. His time of 58 minutes and 15 seconds was the second fastest in the history of the race.

 

Gray and Kim Dobson, who made a triumphant return to the mountain, led another Colorado assault on New Hampshire and the grueling 7.6-mile, all-uphill Mt. Washington Auto Road course.

 

Both runners are 31 and both cruised to triumphs on a glorious, sun-splashed day on the highest peak in the Northeast. Temperatures were in the low 40s and climbing and there was not a lot of wind when the first runners reached the peak and finish line at about 10 a.m.

Gray, of Colorado Springs, Colo., finished nearly three minutes ahead of his nearest competitor, fellow Coloradan Andy Wacker, and had no one to push him for most of the race.

Dobson was almost four minutes in front of Brandy Erholtz, a two-time winner of the race.

“Joe left me at about the two-mile mark and after that it was almost like a time trial for both of us,” said Wacker, who was running his first Mount Washington Road Race. “It was incredible he was able to do that time running by himself.”

Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand owns the course record of 56:41, set in 2004.

Gray was excited about his win and his time, but was hoping to take a shot at Wyatt’s mark, too.

“I wasn’t focused on my pace well enough to get the overall mark,” he said. “But I’m definitely very, very happy with the day. I’ve had an up and down season so far. I came back and wanted to defend my title and run a better time than last year.”

He did both – convincingly.

He’s the first repeat winner of the race since Simon Gutierrez, who was sixth Saturday at age 49 in 1:04:02, won in 2002 and 2003.

After a series of runnerup and third-place finishes, Gray won his first Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race last year in a time of 59:09. Gray is one of eight runners who has completed the race in under an hour, and the only one to do it twice.

Wacker, 26 of Boulder, finished second in 1:00:59 and was well in front of Zach Miller, 26, of Manitou Springs, Colo., in 1:03:15. Luca Cagnati, 25, of Italy was fourth in 1:03:40.

Dobson won this race in 2011 and 2012. She was entered for the first time since then. Dobson broke away early as well and finished in 1:11:39. Erholtz, who won the race in 2008 and 2009, finished in 1:15:34.

Dobson’s time fit between her winning times of 1:09:25 in 2009 and 1:12:11 in 2011.

“Some days you hit it right,” she said. “I remember in 2009 getting to the first mile and thinking it didn’t feel like a hill. Some days you feel spunky and some days you feel average. Today it felt like a hill. I guess it should.”

Laura Haefeli, 47 of Del Norte, Colo., who won the 2013 race, was third in 1:17. Katie Misuraca, 34, of Gloucester, Mass., was fourth in 1:17:37.

For the second year in a row and fourth time in the last five years, Colorado runners won both the men’s and women’s races. In addition, runners from Colorado swept the top three positions for both men and women Saturday. Colorado men grabbed six of the seven top spots in the race.

George Etzweiler of State College, Pa., was the final of 1,052 finishers in the race in 3:28:41. He’s 95 years old and was making a comeback. Etzweiler was unable to compete last year because of illness.

Justin Freeman, 38, of New Hampton was eighth overall in 1:05:55 and was the first finisher from New Hampshire for the third straight year and fourth time in the last five.

Freeman took nearly 30 seconds off his personal best mark in the race.

“It was a perfect day,” Freeman said. “I decided to run with no shirt. It was fairly warm at the bottom. There was a bit of a headwind near the top, but it was certainly not as windy as some years.”

Denise Sandahl, 34, of Bow was fifth overall in 1:18:42 in the women’s race for the second consecutive year and also repeated as the top New Hampshire woman. Sandahl was hoping to better her 1:17:21 of a year ago.

“My time was a little disappointing,” she said. “But I’ll take the fifth place and being the first from New Hampshire. I had fun. But it was painful fun.”

              —————

As part of the day’s festivities, four runners – Eric Blake, Eleonora Mendonca of Massachusetts, Eric Morse of Vermont and the late Peter Watson of Massachusetts – were inducted into the Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame during the post-race celebration.

Blake of West Hartford, Conn., is the head men’s and women’s track & field/cross country coach at Central Connecticut State University and won the race in 2006, 2008 and 2013. He was excited about a chance to challenge Gray and the field again Saturday, but was a late scratch because of injury.

Mendonca, who is retired and living on Cape Cod, won the race three straight times from 1976-78; Morse has been among the Top 10 finishers in the race 14 times and three times has been the runnerup; and Watson, who died in 2012, ran Mount Washington 23 times from 1988-2011. He was the organizer of Team Gloucester, which regularly sends an impressive number of runners to the race.

                     —————-

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 Mount 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.

Northeast Delta Dental has sponsored the race up the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road since 2001.  The dental insurance company, headquartered in Concord, N.H., with sales offices in Saco, Maine, and Burlington, Vt., provides dental benefits to more than 800,000 people in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, including individuals and families, and organizations of all sizes.  Northeast Delta Dental’s President & CEO, Tom Raffio, has run the race in a personal best of 1:50:51. 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 Coos County Family Health Services for their oral health programs. Based in nearby Berlin, N.H., 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

Mt. Washington Auto Road
Saturday, June 20, 2015 – 9:00 a.m.

·        2014 winner Joe Gray of Colorado Springs shoots for a rare repeat

·        Hall of Famer Eric Blake, defending champ Shannon Payne sidelined

·        Former champs Gutierrez, Gates back to try again

·        Dobson, Erholtz, Haefeli aim to continue Colorado streak of success

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – June 17, 2015

Joe Gray of Colorado Springs, Colo., looks to do something no overall winner of the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race has done in more than a decade in this Saturday’s  55th running of the grueling 7.6-mile foot race up the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

Gray, 31, grabbed his first Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race title last year after several near misses and will attempt to become the first repeat winner of the race since Simon Gutierrez doubled up in 2002 and 2003.

On the women’s side, a trio of runners and former winners from Colorado – Kim Dobson, Brandy Erholtz and Laura Haefeli – aim to continue that state’s dominance at the front of the pack. Shannon Payne of Colorado Springs won last year’s race, but is out with an injury. A runner from Colorado has led the women to the top of the highest peak in the Northeast each of the last four years and six of the last seven.

Storylines are plentiful for the race that features some 1,300 runners of all abilities – including many of the best mountain runners in the country as well as an international flavor – ready to tackle the changing and challenging terrain and weather conditions of Mount Washington. The race kicks off at 9 a.m. at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

Can Gray, 31, who pulled away from defending champion and three-time winner Eric Blake in the second half of last year’s race, capture another win?

With Blake on the sidelines – he had to withdraw late because of an injury and will be inducted into the Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame after the race – who will step up to challenge Gray?

Perhaps Rickey Gates, 34, another Coloradoan and a late entry? Gates will race in his first Mount Washington since 2012. He won the race in 2009 and 2011.

Eight different runners have finished the race in under one hour, including Gates and Gray.

Gray won last year in a time of 59:09, 52 seconds in front of Blake. Gates clocked in at 59:58 in his 2009 victory.

In addition, the last three winners have broken the one-hour mark. It is the first time in history that three consecutive winners have been under an hour and only once before had two races in a row been won in under that mark.

As for other contenders, how about Zach Miller, 26, of Manitou Springs, Colo.? He was fourth in a time of 1:02:56 last year in his Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race debut.

Gutierrez, 49, and out of Colorado Springs, is a three-time Mount Washington winner and finished sixth last year and is entered. Peter Maksimow, 36, of Manitou Springs, was seventh last year and is back and he and Gutierrez will try to help maintain their state’s mountain running supremacy in New Hampshire. Five of the top seven male finishers in last year’s race were from Colorado.

Gray had finished runner-up in the two races prior to his win and was third a couple of times and fourth once before that.

“You knew there was going to be a year he eventually was going to win it,” Blake said. “Joe’s tough to beat. He has a good combination of both strength and speed. He has solid track times and has run some good half marathons and marathons on the road and he’s a good climber, too.”

Newcomers on the men’s side include Luca Cagnati of Italy, a member of the 2014 Italian Mountain Running Team, and Andy Wacker of Boulder, Colo. Wacker was third behind the second-place Gray in the Vail Pass Half marathon earlier this month and second to Gray the next day in a 10K, also at Vail.

On the local side, can Justin Freeman, 38, of New Hampton, N.H., three-peat? He’s won the Crossan Cup as the top men’s finisher from New Hampshire on the men’s side the last two years and three of the last four. He’s been in the top 10 overall each of the three times he has won it. One of his rivals for Crossan honors is his brother, Kris, 34. Kris was tops from NH in 2010 and was third last year.

The winners of five of the last seven Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race women’s races are in the field, setting up what should be an interesting race.

Erholtz (2008 and 2009) and Dobson (2011 and 2012) each won consecutive races and Haefeli won in 2013. Erholtz owns the fastest times of the threesome with a 1:10:53 in 2009 and 1:11:08 in 2008. They are the fifth and sixth fastest times in race history.

Dobson’s best is a 1:12:11 from 2011, the 10th fastest time ever in the race. Haefeli won in 2013 in 1:18:05.

Erholtz was third last year behind Payne and Italy’s Valentina Bellotti in 1:15:38.

Denise Sandahl, 34, of Bow, N.H. and Larisa Dannis, 27, of Mill Valley, Calif. aim to move up after finishing fifth and sixth last year. They are also the last two winners of the women’s Crossan Cup.

Sandahl was nine seconds out of fourth place with a time of 1:17:21 last year in her first Mount Washington race. Dannis was running out of Manchester, N.H., two years ago when she was the first New Hampshire finisher and seventh overall in 1:26:59.

Dannis has become a force in long distance running. She won the 50-Mile Road Championship last year and was second in the Western States 100-Mile Race.

Amber Ferreira, 33, of Concord, N.H., is a world class triathlete, and another contender for a top spot. She was seventh in the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race in 2010.

Other New England runners looking for top 10 spots include Abbey Gosling Wood of Laconia, N.H.; Abby Mahoney of Holyoke, Mass.; Ashley Krause of Easthampton, Mass.; and Regina Loicano of Gloucester, Mass.

On another note, George Etzweiler of State College, Pa., is entered again. Etzweiler, 95, was a late scratch from last year’s event because of illness. His son Larry, 69, is also signed up.

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 Mount 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.

Northeast Delta Dental has sponsored the race up the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road since 2001.  The dental insurance company, headquartered in Concord, N.H., with sales offices in Saco, Maine, and Burlington, Vt., provides dental benefits to more than 800,000 people in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, including individuals and families, and organizations of all sizes.  Northeast Delta Dental’s President & CEO, Tom Raffio, has run the race in a personal best of 1:50:51. 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 Coos County Family Health Services for their oral health programs. Based in nearby Berlin, N.H., this community-based organization provides innovative, personalized, comprehensive health care and social services to everyone, regardless of economic status.

 

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6th Annual Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame Inauguration

March 25, 2015 Pinkham Notch, NH Formed in 2010 to recognize outstanding performers in and contributors to this footrace to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, the Hall of Fame this year will pay tribute to the achievements in a ceremony at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road on Saturday, June 20.  The ceremony will take place after the 2015 Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race which starts at 9 a.m.  The race attracts 1300 runners who will make their way up the 154-year-old Auto Road.

The 2015 Mount Washington Hall of Fame inductees: 

Eric Blake is a 3-time winner of the race, taking the top spot in 2006, 2008, and 2013.  He owns the state record for CT (59:57) and NY (61:07) and is one of only eight people to have ever run under sixty minutes.  No one has run more times under 1:02 than Eric who has done so eight times.  Eric currently works as the head men’s and women’s Track & Field/Cross-Country coach at Central Connecticut State University.  He resides in West Hartford CT.  Eric notes that his most memorable moment at Mt Washington was his win and sub-60 minute effort in 2013.  “I had my wife and a lot of friends and family there watching so it was a pretty special day”.  Eric is still at the top of his game and “feel(s) I can run faster and still want a few more wins!”  Tops among Eric’s many accomplishments beyond the Mt Washington road race are his world record for a marathon on a treadmill (2:21) and being a scoring member of the 2010 USA Mountain running team which took home a silver medal at the World championships.

Eleonora Mendonca had three consecutive wins from 1976-1978.  She set the course record in 1977 and again in 1978.  She and Hall of Famer Chris Maisto are the only women to have set course records multiple times.  She recalls “I could not pass the opportunity to do a different type of race – only one hill.  I could not forget the incredible view as I approached the summit…The beauty carried me on”.  She was inducted into the Cambridge Sports Union Hall of Fame in 2000.  The CSU website notes “Ellie joined Cambridge Sports Union in 1974 and had an immediate impact on the women’s running scene in greater Boston by being a top finisher in road, track and cross-country races”.  Her biggest accomplishment was to qualify (for Brazil) at the Los Angles Olympic Games where she ran in the first women’s marathon.  Eleonora is retired and currently living on Cape Cod. 

Eric Morse is possibly the most prolific runner to not have an overall win at Mt Washington He has the Vermont state record for this race with his 1:01:09 from 1999.   He is tied for the third most top 10 finishes with fourteen and is also tied for fourth with ten top five finishes.  He ranks 14th in all-time earnings at Mt Washington taking home $4,200.  He scored on course record setting teams (Central Mass Striders) an amazing nine times, setting course records five times on the open squad and four times on the masters.  He has finished the race sixteen times, including three times as runner-up.  Eric was inducted into athletic Hall of Fame at Harwood High School (Moretown, VT) in 2010 as “one of the most successful athletes in Harwood cross-country and track-and-field history. As a junior, he won four Vermont state championships…as a senior, Eric won two state championships… (and) was a member of the first hockey team at Harwood”.  His most memorable moment at Mt Washington was the “halfway race” of 2002 where he finished in second place, 10 seconds out of the win.  His many accomplishments outside of Mt Washington include being a 7-time member of the USA Mountain running team.  He has quite a range of ability from a sub-4 minute mile to a 1:03 half-marathon.  Eric is a graphic designer residing in Berlin, VT.  In recent years he has excelled at racing with his West Highland Terrier “Murdoch”.  They have won nearly every race they’ve entered and can boast personal bests of 4:59 for the mile and 16:44 for 5km. 

Peter Watson – Peter, who passed away in 2012, ran the race 23 times from 1988-2011. He was the supreme organizer of Team Gloucester (TG), which annually accounts for an impressive number of runners in the field.  He created the Mt. Washington Practice Run in Rockport, where he lived, and he organized it year after year. He publicized the race every way possible, from the newspapers he published to the word-of-mouth network that extended from him to thousands of people in many directions, but especially around Cape Ann, Mass.  He dedicated large amounts of time and energy to promoting the race to all.  He inspired, encouraged and led Team Gloucester to form as an official club.  Each year he would email every runner he knew when the lottery would open.  To get more runners past the lottery he offered to provide volunteers.  Peter always organized and planned who would volunteer and supervised to make sure it was done well.  He kept detailed records of each TG member’s races up the Mountain and compared times to previous year.  He cajoled runners into competing on behalf of TG and generally orchestrated everything they did relative to the Mountain race.  He is the reason for the strong TG women’s presence at the mountain to this day.

The Mt. Washington Road Race Hall of Fame recognizes athletic performance at the MWRR or efforts to assist the Race or promote it.  Consideration is given to athletes, advocates, race staff members or volunteers.   Inductees are chosen by a vote of the Hall of Fame committee from a longer list of nominees compiled by December 31 of the preceding year.

The Saturday afternoon Hall of Fame induction will precede the race’s award ceremony.  The induction ceremony will start at 1 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 the new website at: http://mwrrhalloffame.com/

Other HOF sites include:  Facebook (facebook.com/mwrrhof), Twitter  (twitter.com/mwrrrecords) and the Records/Hall of Fame blog (mtwashingtonrecords.blogspot.com ).  For other information about the race, visit www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com.

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Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race lottery open through March 17

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – March 16, 2015 Time is running short for runners planning to sign up for the lottery for this summer’s 55th Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race. Registration for the lottery is open until midnight on March 17. The on-line lottery selects the bulk of the field for the grueling and historic all-uphill footrace.  Runners may enter the lottery by visiting the race web site, www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com.

The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race stands as the premier mountain-running event in the eastern U.S. and attracts top American and international mountain runners along with a variety of world-class athletes from seasoned marathoners to track and cross-country runners, Nordic skiers, snowshoe racers, triathletes and others.

Joseph Gray and Shannon Payne, both of Colorado Springs, Colo., were first-time winners of the race in 2014. Gray had challenged for the top spot several times before and won his first in a time of 59 minutes, nine seconds. Payne won in 1:10:12 in her first attempt at the race.

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.

Registration for the lottery closes on Tuesday, March 17, at11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

The race will take place on Saturday, June 20, with a starting time of 9 a.m.

Through the race web site, a runner may register individually or as part of a team. In the latter case the team’s captain registers the team as a unit, and the lottery then either accepts or rejects the entire team. The entry fee is $80 per person, plus a $5 fee to register for the lottery itself.   Registrants enter their credit card numbers on line; the $80 fee is charged to the cards of all accepted applicants. Those not accepted are charged only the $5 lottery fee.

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 young Ethiopian runner Shewarge Amare, who made the ascent in one hour eight minutes 21seconds.

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. 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 $16,000 for Coos County Family Health Services

PINKHAM NOTCH, NH More than $16,000 was raised and recently donated to Coos County Family Health Services (CCFHS) as a result of  the 2014 Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, which took place in June on the Mount 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.

northeast delta dental road race, mt washington

(L to R) Loretta Morrissette, RDH; President of the Board of Directors, Robert Pelchat; Chief Executive Officer, Adele Woods, all of Coos County Family Health Services; receive a check for $16,096 from General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, Howie Wemyss and Events Director of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, Kimberly Hoyt.

“We very much appreciate the annual support from the Mt. Washington Auto Road and the proceeds of the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race.” noted Adele Woods, CEO of CCFHS. “We use the proceeds to support 4-5 dental clinics per year, for which we contract with the Molar Express, a mobile dental clinic sponsored by the North Country Health Consortium.”

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, the region’s most trusted name in dental insurance benefits, 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.

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 with 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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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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