While the history books show Marti Shea has won Newton’s Revenge a record seven times and the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb three times, the former Manchester Memorial High School standout is telling everyone to do the math.
“I’m a 10-time champion. It’s the same course,” said Shea of the 7.6-mile course. “My goal is win an 11th title Saturday and win many more before my career is over.”
The 51-year-old Shea, now a resident of Marblehead, Mass., will be among 600 riders when the 42nd Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb begins at 8:35 a.m. in Gorham. No cyclist has won more total titles on the grueling course than Shea, who on Saturday can become the first four-time winner of the Hillclimb.
John Stifler, publicist for the Mount Washington foot and bicycle races since 2003, called Shea an “ambassador for cycling. She is on a different level, all by herself, with 10 victories in this wonderful event.”
Shea is also the only cyclist to win both the Newton’s Revenge and Hillclimb in the same year three consecutive times from 2010-12. “What is amazing to me and others who follow this event closely (is) Marti won both races in 2011 in the same exact time of 1:04.12,” said Stifler. “She came back in 2012 and posted her personal best time of 1:03.14 in the Hillclimb. As she is getting older, her times keep getting faster. She’s really amazing.”
Shea is currently tied with Aimee Vasse, formerly of Grafton, Mass., with three wins in the Hillclimb. Like Shea, Vasse won her Hillclimb titles consecutively, in 2004 (1:10.44), 2005 (1:12.38) and 2006 (1:08.31). But Shea’s winning times were all faster than Vasse’s. Shea recorded a 1:05.42 in 2010, 1:04.12 in 2011 and then her personal best time of 1:03.14 in 2012. Shea didn’t participate in either the Newton’s Revenge or Hillclimb races last year.
This year, she won her seventh Newton’s Revenge title in seven tries, posting a winning 1:05.53, six minutes faster than runner-up Silke Wunderwald of Hopkinton, R.I. Wunderwald won the Hillclimb last year in 1:09.56.
“My goal Saturday is to win the race and break the 65-minute mark,” said Shea. “I was happy with my Newton time in July coming off an illness in April. I didn’t get back to racing after that until June and really didn’t know what to expect in July. My times in August have been better than my times in July. I’m usually in better shape when August rolls around.”
Shea plans to drive the course this week. “I usually do it,” she said. “It’s my way of studying the course, looking for that stretch where I think I can better my time. I pay attention to detail and I’m always watching the weather. As I said last month, wind is my biggest obstacle, especially when it hits you head on.”
On the men’s side, Cameron Cogburn of Arlington, Mass., said he’s planning to return to try to win his third straight Hillclimb.
On Tuesday, Cogburn sent Stifler an e-mail, explaining he wasn’t feeling well. As for appearing Saturday, Cogburn wrote “I plan on it. However, I literally just flew back from Colorado and I’m not feeling so great. But I plan on coming unless I am truly sick.”
Like Shea, Cogburn just won Newton’s Revenge in July in 53:12, defeating runner-up Eric Follen of Sanford, Maine, who posted a 54:08. Last year, Cogburn won the Hillclimb in 50:48, topping his winning time in 2012 in 52:28.