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Andy Schachat's On the Run: Mount Washington Road Race is unique

June 14. 2014 3:44AM

Simply put, the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, which takes place next Saturday, is the most unique race in the Granite State. Not just for its "degree of difficulty," the steep incline from the bottom to the top, but for many other aspects of the event. That is why I present, in countdown style, 10 ways the Mount Washington Road Race is unique on the New Hampshire road race scene.

10. Media Coverage: The media attention given to this race extends beyond the borders of the state. Television stations from Maine join New Hampshire stations in showing race video the night of the event. Newspapers from other states also join in the coverage. Only the Boston Marathon gets more attention.

9. The "Degree of Difficulty": For 7.6 miles runners go up ... and up ... and up ... There is one stretch of road, about 100 yards, where the road appears to flatten out. The rest is an average of 11-12 percent incline. Never mind the physical demands of running up hill for that long. The psychological challenge that comes with never seeing the end of the hill (until the finish line) can be more difficult.

8. Changes in Weather: Mark Twain could have had this race in mind when he said, "if you don't like the weather in New England now, wait a minute." Everyone knows the historic weather conditions at the summit of Mount Washington. What many don't realize is the change in conditions that runners experience throughout the race. Pretty hard to find another New Hampshire race that can see a 30 degree temperature drop from the start line to the finish line or starting a race on a clear, sunny day and finishing in a fog that is so thick visibility is down to a few feet.

7. Oldest race in the state: In 1902 a medical student, George Foster, became the first person to be timed while running the Mount Washington Auto Road. If that isn't when the race started then fast forward to 1936 when a handful of men honored Dr. Foster by running the road. Take your pick: the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race started more than 75 or 100 years ago. In comparison the second oldest race in New Hampshire is the Bill Luti Five Miler in Concord which started in 1968.It should be noted that the race has not been held every year since 1936 and 2014 will be the 54th running of the race. However, its origin clearly outdates all other race in New Hampshire.

6. Largest "Destination" Race in New Hampshire: A destination race is the term used when runners travel overnight to an event. Because of its location hundreds of participants annually travel stay at hotels, motels, and inns near Mount Washington. There are other race in the Granite State that are destination events but none has a higher percentage than this one.

5. Chronicled in a book: In 2006, the book, "Only One Hill, A History of the Mount Washington Road Race," was published. The author, Dave Dunham, is a three-time winner who also turned into the race's historian. His book details the history of the race, giving accounts of each year and numerous records and stats. In 2010, Dunham updated the book to help celebrate the 50th Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race. That makes this race the only New Hampshire race to be the subject of a book.

4. Chronicled in an award winning video: In 2010, a young filmmaker from the Boston area, Kate Avery, came up to the race, interviewed participants, and shot some video. She also spent time traveling around New England to talk to some people who were an important part of the race's history. In 2011, Avery debuted her work, "Running The Rockpile" at the race. In the past three years the video has won awards at film festivals and premiered on New Hampshire Public TV in 2013. There are videos out there about other New Hampshire races but nothing as professional as Running The Rockpile.

3. George Etzweiller: When this runner from State College, Pa., crossed the finish line in 2011, he created a moment for the ages. That's because Etweiller was 91 years old. Then he came back in 2012 and 2013 and finished at the ages of 92 and 93. In other words this race has had three occasions when a finisher was over 90 years old. In case you are wondering, Etzweiller is registered for this year's edition.

2. Hall of Fame: When the race celebrated its 50th edition in 2010, a Hall of Fame was created. Similar to other shrines, each year a committee votes on nominees and inducts new members. This year will mark the fifth year of the Hall and two individuals will be inducted, Dunham and Plaistow's Craig Fram. A New Hampshire road race hall of fame is in the works but the NEDD Mount Washington Road Race is the only New Hampshire race with a hall of fame. Not even the Boston Marathon has one.

1. You Can See Forever: On the clearest of days visibility stretches for miles. That means a runner or spectator can possibly see land in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York and Canada. Think about that for a second: at the finish line of a road race one can see five states AND another country.See you at the mountain.

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Running shorts: Two weeks ago I chronicled the exploits the Millennium Running women's team, currently leading their division in the New England Grand Prix Series. Need to add two names to the roster, Lisa Jacobus, Deerfield and Megan Call, New London. ... Give it up for Enfield's Rich Smith. On June 1, Enfield went to Woodstock, Vt., and won the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, the third year is row he won the race. ... Speaking of combining the New Hampshire and Vermont running communities, the first NH-VT Covered Bridge Half Marathon takes place in Colebrook on June 21. Part of the course crosses the border into Vermont. The race is still accepting entries. ... Also on Saturday, June 21, is the Bobcat Bolt 5K in Durham. This used to be a 5K/10K event but the 10K has been dropped. ... Next Sunday, June 22, Nashua will be the site for the Rosanne's Rush for Research 5K Run/Walk to raise funds for triple negative breast cancer research

Andy Schachat's column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at

Andy Schachat On the Run