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.
Joe Gray at the 2012 MWRR
Blake beat +Joseph 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.
Sage Canaday on his way to winning the 2012 MWRR
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.