Gates, Dobson win run to top of Mount Washington
GORHAM - Former U.S. Mountain Running champion Rickey Gates used a late-race burst of speed and a friendly pat on the back to take command and win the 51st Mount Washington Road Race on Saturday morning.
Gates, 30, of Woody Creek, Colo., led the race after the first mile but fell to second at the top of Quarter-Mile Straight, 3.5 miles into the 7.6 mile Auto Road climb. Undaunted, Gates caught leader Tommy Manning, 35, of Colorado Spring, Colo., as the pair dueled through Cow Pasture, one mile from the summit. The race winner pulled even with Manning, gave him a tap on the back side and pulled ahead to win the race in 1:01:32.
In the women's division, Kim Dobson, 27, of Denver, overtook Brandy Erholtz, 33, of Evergreen, Colo., at 5,500 feet and maintained her advantage to the mountain's 6,288-foot summit, finishing in 1:12:11 (24th overall). Erholtz finished at 1:12:44.
Among the leading the New Hampshire male finishers were U.S. Olympic Nordic skiers Justin Freeman, 34, of New Hampton, and brother Kris Freeman, 30, of Thornton. Justin Freeman was the top Granite State finisher in the race, ending eighth atop the Northeast's highest peak in 1:06:28. Kris Freeman was 14th in 1:07:46.
Pacing the New Hampshire women was Hopkinton's Christin Doneski, 40, with an eighth-place 1:21:49.
After missing last year's race because of injury, three-time race-winner Simon Gutierrez, 45, of Alamosa, Colo., was the top finishing master and set a race record in the 45-49 age group with a 1:04.33, topping the 2008 mark of 1:05:44.1 set by Plaistow's Craig Fram. Fram, 52, who ended 15th Saturday in 1:08:50, holds the 50-54 standard of 1:06:58 (2009).
Gates last won here in 2009, becoming only the fifth person to run Mt. Washington in under one hour (59:58).
'I knew I'd either win it or drop out,' said the 2011 champion who has been battling a recent calf injury. 'Sometimes an injury can help by forcing some rest in the training schedule.'
Gates said he was not concerned when he fell behind Manning in the early but steepest stages of the race.
'The entire time I was just staring at him, waiting for him to get bigger in my sight as I closed in on him,' said Gates. 'During that last mile and a half (just before treacherously steep Hairpin Turn) he was slowing and I had to make it happen.'
The pass for the victory came with the good-natured tap 200 meters later.
'This race is an hour of suffering, so you suffer for an hour and make it happen,' said Gates. 'It's so disheartening to be second with 50 meters to run and that final hill (22 percent service road grade to the summit).'
Manning, who trailed Gates by 10 seconds (1:01:42) was far from disheartened, though, as he had been earlier this year.
'I ran two half marathons, and one was slow, the other slower,' he said. 'I was starting to worry. It's hard to say to yourself to shake it off, but this was my best time and place ever here.'
Manning said he initially thought he had gapped Gates' at five miles.
'I don't look back, but you can gauge the distance between yourself and a rival by the time between spectator cheers,' said Manning. 'The cheers were coming quicker, and then he gave me a love tap. He hammered that last mile. I put my head down to catch him or fail miserably. When I looked up, I had come no closer.'
Matthew Byrne, 36, of Scranton, Pa., finished third and Glenn Randall, 24, of Mesa, Colo., was fourth with respective times of 1:03:31 and 1:03:36.
Dobson, who holds the Mt. Evans 14er Ascent course record, said her first glimpse of Erholtz was two miles into the race and all she wanted to do was stay near her.
'This is her race, I thought to myself,' said Dobson. 'She's a stud on the steep stuff. It's my first race here, and I was intimidated by the mountain. We don't have hills like this in Colorado.'
'By mile five, I looked down and she (Dobson) was right next to me,' said Erholtz who won this event in 2008 and 2009. 'I beat her at Pikes Peak by 15 seconds, but today I was a little too comfortable in my pace. This course doesn't give you a break.'
The Mt. Washington Road Race is the steepest all-uphill road race in America.
Local favorite Kevin Tilton of North Conway finished 10th at 1:06:59. Tilton was a cross country runner for several years at Kennett High and at UNH.
'I went out conservatively, hoping to pick off people as the race progressed,' said Tilton. 'I kind of swapped places with Justin Freeman, back and forth. I would have liked to have run faster, but it was a good race.'
Concord's Amber Ferreira, 29, the U.S. National Snowshoe champion, placed 10th in the women's field in 1:22:37.
Salem's Jim Johnson was 12th (1:07:22).
Other New Hampshire runners in the top 25 were Patrick Ard of Raymond (19th), Brandon Newbould of Nottingham (20th) and Andy McCarron of Keene (22nd). Abbey Gosling of Meredith and Bonnie Ritchotte of Littleton were 21st and 22nd respectively in the women's field.
The mountain was drenched with heavy rain prior to the cannon, keeping the summit in the clouds and the temperature in the upper 40's. But the rain ceased as the race began, leaving the runners bathed in cool, crisp mountain air. The light wind had virtually no affect on the runners.
51st Mt. Washington Road Race Results
Mt. Washington Auto Road, Gorham
Men's top 10
1. Rickey Gates, Woody Creek, Colo., 1:01:32; 2. Tommy Manning, Colorado, Spring, Colo., 1:01:42; 3. Matthew Byrne, Scranton, Pa., 1:03:31; 4. Glenn Randall, Mesa, Colo., 1:03:36; 5. Simon Gutierrez, Alamosa, Colo., 1:04:33; 6. Peter Maksimow, Maintou Springs, Colo., 1:04:45; 7. Ryan Woods, Boone, N.C., 1:06:18; 8. Justin Freeman, New Hampton, 1:06:28; 9. Eric Blake, New Britain, Conn., 1:06:53; 10. Kevin Tilton, North Conway, 1:06:59.
Other New Hampshire runners in top 50
12. Jim Johnson, Salem, 1:07:22; 14. Kris Freeman, Thornton, 1:07:46; 15. Craig Fram, Plaistow, 1:08:50; 19. Patrick Ard, Raymoud, 1:09:58; 20. Brandon Newbould, Nottingham, 1:10:44; 22. Andy McCarron, Keene, 1:11:14; 28. Ryan Aschbrenner, Nashua, 1:13:30; 30. Matthew Schomburg, Milan, 1:14:34; 37. Ernest Blake, North Sutton, 1:16:01; 38. Fabian Stocek, Hopkinton, 1:16:19; 47. David Quintal, Salem, 1:17:52.
Women's top 10
1. Kim Dobson, Denver, Colo., 1:12:11; 2. Brandy Erholtz, Evergreen, Colo., 1:12:44; 3. Kasie Enman, Huntington, Vt., 1:15:19; 4. Rachael Cuellar, Albuquerque, N.M., 1:16:37; 5. Camille Herron, West Lafayette, Ind., 1:19:36; 6. Jessica Snyder, Rochester, N.Y., 1:20:00; 7. Carolyn Stocker, Westfield, Mass., 1:20:40; 8. Christin Doneski, Hopkinton, 1:21:49; 9. Liz Gottlieb, San Rafael, Cal., 1:22:18; 10. Amber Ferreira, Concord, 1:22:37.
Other New Hampshire runners in top 25
21. Abbey Gosling, Meredith, 1:28:44; 22. Bonnie Ritchotte, Littleton, 1:28:51.
For full race results, click here..