Mt Washington 2002 Road Race - as seen by Dave Dunham
"Do you ever feel you' ve been cheated?" - - Johnny Rotten (Lydon) The words of the Sex Pistols singer at the final concert ran thru my mind as it sunk in that the Mt Washington Road Race would not go to the summit.
Posted Monday, 17 June, 2002
"Do you ever feel you' ve been cheated?" - - Johnny Rotten (Lydon)
The words of the Sex Pistols singer at the final concert ran through my mind as it sunk in that the Mt Washington Road Race would not go to the summit. The race in its 42nd year, has never been shortened due to weather. The 2002 version would break the streak. Conditions on the summit of 33 degrees, rain, fog, and high winds combined to convince the powers that be, that it would be unsafe to race above the tree line.
I cannot fault the Race director as he has 1000 runners and 250 volunteers that he is ultimately responsible for. Saying that, I can't believe that the conditions were so bad that it couldn't have been done (perhaps at each runners discretion isn't that really the case anyway?). Oh well, what can you do! The new version of the race would only climb 2300 in 3.75 miles. A sprint. Not my type of race to be sure!
The real pity of it all was that this would have been one of the deepest fields ever assembled for the race. There were 8 former US mountain team members, five sub 1:02 runners, the masters' CR holder, and some of the best US mountain runners vying for a spot on the US team. Oh yeah, there were also 4 Kenyan men. Daniel Kihara was back again; he is a 3 time winner and a 2 time sub 1 hour runner. Kihara was joined by Simon Wangai who ran an incredible 45:12 for 10 miles and Zablon Mokaya who recently won the James Joyce 10k. A huge pack took off at the 10:00 AM firing of the cannon. The first quarter mile is flat and has always been a nice run up to the base of the mountain. This year it was more of a mad dash. I was somewhere in the top 30 as the climb commenced. Mokaya made a move to the front then thought the better of it, he faded to 29th place. Wangai was also in the mix with the leaders early on, but he dropped back to 17th. Once again some great road runners learned that mountain running is a very different animal.
Craig Fram moved to the front of a big pack at the mile. He was joined by two time 2nd place finisher Eric Morse and Simon Guitierez (2 of the 10 runners to ever run under 1:02). I had moved up to 20th by the mile in 6:15, ten seconds behind the leaders. Morse began to push the pace and Guitierez, along with Fram slowly pulled away. Two time US team member Paul Low, found himself alone in 4th place. A large chase pack followed. I found myself in 10th place by the 2m mark and closing on some of the guys in front. Splits for me were just about the same as what I would run in the full race. At 3m Guitierez and Morse pulled away from Fram, who began to take some quick peeks back to see if anyone was moving up. Low remained alone in 4th and I caught Kihara and Nephat Kinyanjui as we passed 3 miles in 22:28. I had been counting places throughout the race (as is my wont) and felt from 2.5 on that I had a chance at finishing in the money (top 5). Kihara did not look happy when I went by him (he didn t sound very good either). Guitierez pulled away from Morse in the last ½ mile to win by 10 seconds. Morse took his third 2nd place finish. When approached at the finish by a member of the press who asked What happened? A somewhat miffed Morse replied I got (#%&!@* second place, what do you mean what happened!
Fram took 3rd and the 40+ victory. He probably lost the most by the course being shortened as he had a very good shot at breaking his course record (and getting a $2,000 bonus). Low held on to 4th place and I completed the US sweep of the top five. Kihara followed closely behind.
CMS again dominated the team competition with 5 finishers in the top 14.
Last years champion, the very lovely Anna Pichrtova of the Czech Republic, took the women s race. Anna finished 2nd at the world trophy last year. New team USA member Anita Ortiz of CO followed her. Ortiz took the victory last week in the Wolverine race in Alaska. Julie Anne White was third and first 40+ finisher.
Hopefully next year we can return to the entire course. A quick glance at the top 25 shows that the front runners ran only slightly faster than they would have for a normal race, whereas others ran significantly faster than normal for the ½ split. What does this mean? I m not sure, but perhaps most of the top runners don t slow much (or have only ONE gear) or maybe some of the guys are holding back too much in the first have (you hear me Rich Bolt?).
Last word: 623 men and 185 women broke the hour mark, so Bob T owes $40,000 in prize money (if you follow the race app by the letter). You listening Bob?
Below Paul Low s training log from Mt Washington:
Race: Mount Washington Road Race
Date: June 15
Location: Pinkham Notch, NH
Distance: ~4 Miles (with some climbing)
"Mile" 1 6:06 6:06
"Mile" 2 7:51 13:58
"Mile" 3 8:16 22:15
"Mile" 4 6:34 28:46
Link to results: Coolrunning
Link to article: Coolrunning
Comments: After six months of preparing for this race, I arrived in the parking lot on the day to discover that the race had been shortened due to harsh weather conditions at the top. Instead of summiting Mount Washington, we would be racing to the 4 mile mark on the course and then running back down. At the time, I did not know whether or not this would help me or not as I can beat most of the top mountain runners in a road 10k and a shorter course should be beneficial to the faster runner. Speed, however, is not really a factor when running 7 minute pace up 11% grade. At the gun, eventual winner, Simon Gutierrez and Zablon Mokaya took off in the initial flat portion of the race. At the foot of the hill, a pack of Kenyans moved to the front and pulling Craig Fram, Eric Morse, and Gutierrez with them. After a few minute, however, the Kenyans dropped back and it was just Fram, Morse, Gutierrez, and I with more than 3 miles to go. Soon thereafter, Fram made a move and pulled the others along leaving me to run the rest of the race alone. For the rest of the race, I could see Morse and Gutierrez battling it out for the win while Fram was coming back to me. I ran out of road before catching him but also before Dave Dunham or Daniel Kihara could catch me. After running all out for 26 minutes, I was not even very tired at the finish. In retrospect, I would have welcomed the challenge of running the full course and I think that I could have improved my place in doing so.