The increased support by the race’s primary sponsor, Northeast Delta Dental, was a contributing factor in choosing a single selection race for the team this year.
“The USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Running Council, when considering a host for our selection races, looks at the venue, the race management, and the support the event will provide for our athletes. Mount Washington not only offers a well-managed event with an incredible history (celebrating its 50th running in 2010), this year organizers and sponsors stepped up to increase the prize money and in doing so have amassed a field of competitors unmatched in U.S. mountain running history,” said USATF’s Mountain Ultra Trail Running Council Chairperson Nancy Hobbs. “Having a single selection race is something new for our program (typically there are 2-3 selection races for the team), and means the athletes have just one opportunity to earn a spot on the team. This opportunity will become a reality for 10 of America’s best on Saturday.”
The course will test runners’ strength and endurance for the entire 7.6 miles from the base of the Auto Road with an unrelenting 12 percent grade to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
The course provides elevation gains which closely mirror those found in Slovenia’s uphill-only route. In Slovenia, the men will run 12 kilometers with more than 4,300 feet of elevation gain, while the women will run 8.5 kilometers with 3,370 feet of elevation gain.
Among the top U.S. competitors on Saturday will be men's and women's defending champions, Coloradoans Rickey Gates of Boulder, and Brandy Erholtz, of Bailey. Gates is only the fifth man ever to break the one-hour barrier on Mt. Washington, having won last year in 59 minutes 58 seconds. Erholtz is looking for her third straight victory and has her sights set on chasing down the women's course record, 1:10:08, set in 1998 by Magdalena Thorsell of Sweden.
Gates, a four-time mountain running team member, is closely matched with at least two familiar rivals, two-time Mt. Washington champion Eric Blake, New Britain, CT who has also been on the mountain team four times, as well as Joe Gray, Lakewood, WA, who finished fourth here in 2008 and then third in 2009, just behind Gates and Blake. Gray has represented the U.S. twice at Worlds and was last year’s USA Mountain Running Champion. They'll be joined by two-time mountain team members (’08, ’09) Matt Byrne, of Scranton, PA, who was sixth in 2008 and fourth last year at Mt. Washington and Zac Freudenburg, St. Louis, MO, seventh in 2008; Max King, Bend, OR, who won the USA Half Marathon Trail Championships on June 13; Jeffrey Eggleston, Flagstaff, AZ, who ran a 2:14:32 in his debut marathon this year in Phoenix; Malcolm Campbell, Marietta, GA, who won the 2008 Hogpen Hillclimb in Georgia; Timothy Parr, Gunnison, CO, a three-time mountain team member, and Ryan Hafer, Colorado Springs, CO, both past winners of the Pikes Peak Ascent; Luke Watson, State College, PA, a 2:15 marathoner; 2005 mountain team member Kevin Tilton, North Conway, NH; Kristopher Houghton, Albuquerque, NM, a sub-30 minute 10k runner and third at last year’s team selection race in Colorado. One of the newcomers attracting special attention is two-time U.S. Mountain Running junior team member, 19-year-old Zach Rivers, Victor, NY, who will attempt to break the oldest mark in the Mt. Washington books – the course record for runners 19 and under, 1:09:18, set by Sean Livingston in 1987.
Among the top women are four-time mountain team members Laura Haefeli, Del Norte, CO, who finished third at Mt. Washington in 2008 while setting the women's masters course record, and reigning U.S. Mountain Champion Christine Lundy, Sausalito, CA; two-time U.S. Mountain Running team member Megan Kimmel, Silverton, CO; Alison Bryant, Elkin, NC, who finished third in 2007, fifth in 2008 and fourth last year; Nicole Hunt, Deer Lodge, MT, who placed second in her last Mt. Washington appearance (2007 to win the U.S. Championships and earn a spot on the mountain running team) behind the Czech Republic’s Anna Pichrtova; three-time mountain team member Rachel Cuellar, Albuquerque, NM; Kristin Price, Raleigh, NC, who won the 2009 U.S. Women's Trail 10k National Championship; Megan Lund, Basalt, CO, the women's course record-holder in the Aspen (CO) Mountain Uphill, a 2008 U.S. Olympic marathon trials qualifier, and a member of last year’s mountain running team; Gina Lucrezi, Southborough, MA, leader in the USATF New England mountain running series; Amber Moran, a 1:17 half-marathoner from Arden, NC; and Rachel Cieslewicz, Salt Lake City, UT.
FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF ENTRANTS, sortable by name, by state, or by hometown, visit the Mt. Washington Road Race web site, www.mountwashingtonroadrace.com, and click on Lottery Results. The site also includes a photo gallery, a history of the race, results from previous years, and other information.