Gray and Dobson win again with short course records. Weather conditions force shortened course for second time in 61 years. Dobson makes history. Gray on the verge of history.
There was no shortage of excitement at the 61st running of the Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race. First, the weather conditions forced the shortening of the course to 3.8 miles from the typical 7.6 miles. Second, Kim Dobson, 38 of Eagle, Colo., and Joseph Gray, 38 of Colorado Springs, Colo., ran away from the field to win their races in relatively convincing fashions. Third, both runners set short course records. And, finally, Kim Dobson set the all time win record for women runners, as she moved into a tie with Bob Hodge for the most wins at Mt. Washington all-time.
[Editor’s note: the last time the Mount Washington Road Race was abbreviated to half-way due to inclement weather was in 2002. Results on the Mount Washington website.]
As is often the case, Mt. Washington did not disappoint in the weather department. Known as the “home of the world’s worst weather,” Mt. Washington showed it with temperatures at the base in the low 50’s with windy and drizzly conditions.
Temperatures at the summit were in the 20’s with sustained winds of 75 to 80 miles per hour with the threat of ice and snow, making it too dangerous to race to the top. Even with the shortened course, runners were still greeted by high winds, rain and temperatures in the 30’s at the finish line. Living up to its reputation for extreme weather, Mt. Washington provided a day to remember.
The weird weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the racers, however. Six-time and returning champ, Kim Dobson, went out calmly with a number of her competitors leading her out of the gates. When asked before the race if her strategy would change based on the shortened race, Kim said, “I’m going to go out conservatively, it is easy to blow up in the first half mile.” By the one mile mark Dobson had the lead, and by the 2 mile mark she was well on her way to making history. Dobson did not blow up and won easily in a time of 31:59. Her time was the 10th fastest of the day overall and also beat the old “halfway” course record set by Anna Pichrtová in 2002. Dobson was awarded a five thousand dollar bonus for breaking the course record by race sponsor, Delta Dental. Ironically, with her seventh win today, Dobson passed Anna Pichrtová, and her six wins, on the all-time wins list and cemented her legacy as the greatest female runner at Mt. Washington.
Taking the second spot today was Amber Ferreira, 40 of Concord, N.H., in a time of 34:32. Ferreira also wins the Crossan Cup as the first finisher from the state of New Hampshire. Taking third was Kim Nedeau, 42 of Leverett, Mass., in a time of 35:26. Nedeau caught and passed fourth place finisher Caitlin Patterson, 32 of Portland, Maine during the final 200 meters. Patterson finished with a time of 35:30. Finishing off the top five was Jess Elliot, 25 of Lyme, N.H., in a time of 36:41.
At the starting gun, five-time and returning champ, Joe Gray, raced out to an early lead and never let off, winning in a record-setting time of 27:44, beating the old “halfway” record of 28:02 set by Simon Gutierrez in 2002 (Gutierrez is credited with introducing Gray to mountain running.) With the record, Gray was also awarded a five thousand dollar bonus. It was suspected that the contestants would go out hard since the race was shortened, and that proved to be true. Gray went out quickly in a tightly grouped pack of about ten men and by the end of the first mile had distanced himself from his competition. The gap would never close. When asked after the race about his strategy change due to the shortened course, he did not hesitate, “my goal was to win and break the record from 2002.” Gray accomplished that mission. Gray’s six wins draws him one win away from tying Bob Hodge as the winningest male at Mt. Washington.
Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, Everett Hackett, 32 of Hartford, Conn., finished second in his first Mt. Washington Road Race in a time of 28:50. The ever consistent Eric Blake, 43 of West Hartford, Conn., came in third with a time of 29:12. This is Blake’s 15th top 3 finish. Rounding out the top five men was Lee Berube, 31 of Syracuse, N.Y. in fourth place with a time of 29:28. This was Berube’s third straight top 5 finish. Samuel Fazioli, 30 of Derry N.H., finished in fifth for the second straight year with a time of 30:31. Fazioli did win the Crossan Cup for the second straight year as New Hampshire’s top finisher.
Sponsored by Delta Dental, the race usually ascends the Mt. Washington Auto Road from Pinkham Notch, N.H., to the 6,288-foot summit of Mt. Washington. Due to weather related safety concerns, the race was shortened to 3.8 miles finishing at the “halfway” point of the Auto Road this year. In addition to the unrelenting grade, runners face the added challenge of Mt. Washington’s famously high winds, precipitation, and unpredictable temperatures which makes this race one of a kind. Prizes include $1000 apiece for the first male and female finishers, smaller cash prizes for the next five men and women and the top three male and female masters (over 40), prizes for the first male and female finishers from New Hampshire, and a $5000 bonus for setting a new course record.
Image of all competitors are now available on the Joe Viger Photography website.
Complete results can be found on the Granite State Racing Services (GSRS) website.