Pinkham Notch, NH—Runners from Colorado met the biggest mountain in New England today on more than equal terms, as Rocky Mountain runners Rickey Gates and Kim Dobson won the 51st Mount Washington Road Race, each by overtaking a home-state running rival. Gates, 30, of Woody Creek, Colo., was passed near the midpoint of the 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road by 35-year-old Tommy Manning of Colorado Springs but took the lead back in the final two miles and went on to finish in one hour one minute 32 seconds, with Manning just ten seconds behind.
Meanwhile Dobson, 27, of Denver, followed two-time Mt. Washington women’s champion Brandy Erholtz for the first five miles, steadily closing Erholtz’s early gap, passing her at the five-mile mark and reaching the 6288-foot summit in 1:12:11. Erholtz, 33, of Evergreen, Colo., was a happy runnerup in 1:12:44.
Dobson, who was seeing Mt. Washington for the first time, fairly vibrated with enthusiasm. “This race is as amazing as its history tells it is. It’s so different from Colorado races. Those tend to be longer, but for a while you can enjoy the scenery, and then maybe in the last four miles it starts to hurt. This one starts to hurts about 30 seconds into the race. Brandy and I can really make each other suffer! ”
“I knew (Dobson) was going to be the toughest competition,” said Erholtz, who won this race in 2008 and 2009, then finished second last year to Shewarge Amare of Ethiopia, who did not return to defend her title. “Kim has had a phenomenal year, and she’s a natural climber.”
“There’s nothing in Colorado that compares with this,” said Gates, who won here in 2009 in 59:58. One of only five people ever to have broken an hour at Mt. Washington, he placed fourth here last year — “That can be bad for your ego!” he said — but he felt better prepared this time. “It sort of sounds cocky, but today I was sure I’d either win or drop out. I had a problem in my calf a week ago, and I had to take four days off to rest. Sometimes that can be good for you.”
The always unpredictable Mt. Washington weather provided rain just before the race, then cool and clearing conditions with moderate winds and shifting clouds. After a quick start by 24-year-old Glenn Randall, a former NCAA champion cross-country skier at Dartmouth College, Gates took the lead in the second mile and seemed to be in charge of the race.
A mile later, however, he said, “I looked back expecting to see anybody but Tommy.” Manning had overtaken Randall and Matt Byrne, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and was coming steadily forward. By the time he passed the halfway mark in just under half an hour, he had opened a five-second gap on Gates.
Gates responded to the challenge, looked back once more to make sure no one was chasing him, and pressed ahead, giving Manning a friendly pat on the backside as he re-took the lead.
“This was a good race!” Manning said as the two congratulated each other at the finish. “Man, you killed me!”
Two minutes back, Byrne, 36, overtook Randall to finish third in 1:03:31 and break an otherwise all-Colorado set of prize-winners. Randall, 24, of Mesa, Colo., finished in 1:03:36, followed by 45-year-old Simon Gutierrez of Alamosa (1:04:33) and Peter Maksimow, 32, of Manitou Springs (1:04:45). Gutierrez, a three-time winner of this race, defended his title as the masters (over 40) champion and also set a new record for men ages 45-49.
Dobson and Erholtz left a gap behind them and the third female finisher, Kasie Enman, 31, of Huntington, Vermont, who arrived in 1:15:19. Fourth was Rachel Cuellar, 29, of Albuquerque N.M. (1:16:37), followed by Camille Herron, 29, of West Lafayette, Indiana (1:19:36) and Jessica Snyder, 27, of Rochester NY (1:20:00).
Just behind Snyder was 18-year-old Carolyn Stocker of Westfield, Mass., whose time of 1:20:40 took more than six minutes off the Mt. Washington junior (19 and under) record previously set by Evelyn Dong in 2003. Following Stocker was the first female master, Christin Doneski, 40, in 1:21:49. Doneski, of Hopkinton, N.H., also won the Crossan Cup, awarded to the first Granite State finisher.
The men’s Crossan Cup winner was Olympic cross-country skier Justin Freeman of New Hampton, N.H., in 1:06:28. Freeman, 34, finished in 8th place behind Ryan Woods of Boone, N.C. (7th in 1:06:16), and just ahead of two-time Mt. Washington winner Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn. (1:06:53) and Kevin Tilton of North Conway, N.H. (1:06:59).
Jacqueline Gareau, 58, of St.-Adele, Quebec, and the only woman ever to win both the Boston Marathon and the Mount Washington Road Race, won the age-graded prize for all female runners over 40, as her finishing time of 1:27:58 combined with her age to lead the field of older runners. Gutierrez won the men’s age-graded prize.
The 51st running of this race was part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. One of the most popular finishers was 54-year-old Tom Raffio of Bow, N.H., who is also the CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, the race’s primary sponsor. Raffio finished in 1:50:51, good for 443rd place.
The oldest finisher was 91-year-old George Etzweiler of State College, Pa., a retired Penn State professor who completed the race this year in 2:48:25. Another 15 people, ranging in age from 17 to 85, finished behind him.
The youngest finisher was Hannah Heinrich, 15, of Wolfeboro, N.H., in 1:54:58. In all, 893 runners – some of them doing quite a bit of walking – finished.
1 Rickey Gates 30 Woody Creek CO 1:01:32
2 Tommy Manning 35 Colorado Springs CO 1:01:42
3 Matthew Byrne 36 Scranton PA 1:03:31
4 Glenn Randall 24 Mesa CO 1:03:36
5 Simon Gutierrez 45 Alamosa CO 1:04:33
6 Peter Maksimow 32 Maintou Springs CO 1:04:45
7 Ryan Woods 32 Boone NC 1:06:18
8 Justin Freeman 34 New Hampton NH 1:06:28
9 Eric Blake 32 New Britain CT 1:06:53
10 Kevin Tilton 29 North Conway NH 1:06:59
1 Kim Dobson 27 Denver CO 1:12:11
2 Brandy Erholtz 33 Evergreen CO 1:12:44
3 Kasie Enman 31 Huntington VT 1:15:19
4 Rachael Cuellar 29 Albuquerque NM 1:16:37
5 Camille Herron 29 West Lafayette IN 1:19:36
6 Jessica Snyder 27 Rochester NY 1:20:00
7 Carolyn Stocker 18 Westfield MA 1:20:40
8 Christin Doneski 40 Hopkinton NH 1:21:49
9 Liz Gottlieb 35 San Rafael CA 1:22:18
10 Amber Ferreira 29 F Concord NH 1:22:37