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USATF NE Mountain running circuit

Northfield , MA, June 28, 2005

Northfield Mountain

by Dave Dunham

Chad Newton hurdles the gate
Chad Newton hurdles the gate

Northfield Mountain was again the host site for the USATF New England Mountain running championships. This was sixth time a USATF NE mountain championship was contested and the third time it was held at Northfield. The race is also part of the USATF NE mountain running circuit, an assortment of "up only" and "up/down" races. USATF members accumulate points based on there finishing time in each of the six races, with the circuit champions determined by the best five finishes. Team scoring is also tracked and closely contested. The depth of the field was greatly increased with the race being designated as a selection race for the Teva US Mountain running team. The top US man and woman to finish would be granted a spot on the US team, which will compete in September in New Zealand. Race day dawned with the promise of a hot day, the hottest in New England since August of 2002 when the mercury topped at 101 degrees. The field of 103 athletes from eleven states was treated to a very clearly marked course with flags, arrows, and streamers marking the entire 5.1-kilometer loop. The men would traverse the loop three times and the women twice for a total climb and descent of 2100 and 1400 feet respectively The women's race was a runaway for Anna Pichrtova of the Czech Republic. Anna ran the third fastest time ever at Mt Washington the previous week and stayed in New England to test herself on the Northfield course. She finished more than three minutes clear of second place, dominating the race from start to finish. Her winning time was 42:17.

The top US women sorted out during the initial 2 Kilometer of mostly climbing. Chris Lundy of Sausalito, CA forged a lead by the high point in the course at 3.5 Kilometers. The descent to the start/finish line had Julie Bryan of Jackson Hole, WY moving up and eventually passing Lundy as they headed back out on the second loop. Lundy ate into Bryan's and re-took the US women's lead at about 1 Kilometer into the final lap. She continued to expand her lead in the last 4 Kilometers. Lundy finished in 45:58, with Bryan two minutes back in 47:55. Lisa Goldsmith of Nederland, CO was fourth and 2004 Northfield champion Kelli Lusk rounded out the top five. Lusk, who was recovering from injury, was named USATF New England Mountain running champion for the third year in a row. Suzy West of Putney, VT was the top 40+ woman, finishing sixth overall in 52:25.

The men's race featured many of the top 15 finishers from Mt Washington along with some of the top trail runners in New England. Simon Gutierrez from Alamosa, CO, who was the top US finisher in the World Championships last year, broke away during the first lap and was challenged throughout by Eric Blake. Blake from Plattsburgh NY had finished second to Gutierrez at Mt Washington and was on the US Mountain team in 2004 where he was third US finisher. Gutierrez held Blake at bay and finished the three loops in 58:30. Blake was named USATF New England Mountain running champion, finishing second in 58:39. Paul Low, the 2004 USATF Mountain runner of the year, finished third in 60:50. Blake, Low and fifth place finisher Peter Maksimow (61:34) led the Central Mass. Striders to the team title.

The age group competition for the men was also closely fought, with Dan Verrington of Bradford MA taking the 40+ title in 69:59, seven seconds ahead teammate (and race director) Dave Dunham. The 50+ age group was won by Buzz Burrell of Boulder CO in 1:14:35. Robert Chasen of Weymouth MA was the New England champion in 1:19:20. The 60+ age group was won by Peter Orni of Ashburnham, MA in 1:31:41 and Donald Dayton of Dartmouth MA topped the 70+ field with his 1:42:55.

Northfield was also the fifth race in the USATF NE Mountain circuit. Richard Stockdale continued his streak, with 26 consecutive circuit race finishes. Other streakers include Emer O'Donoghue who completed her 23rd consecutive race and Laurel Shortell whose streak now totals 20 in a row. Twenty-four runners have completed all five of the circuit races this year. In order to be granted the title of "Mountain Goat", they must complete the entire circuit.

Kathy Hurst continues to lead the women with 351.07 points. Suzy West leads the 40+ women with 394.53 points, which also is the most points for any women. The top four women in the 40+ are only separated by 50 points and six women have completed the five races. Jacqueline Keith leads the 50+ with 199.84 points, and Barbara Robinson leads the 70+ with 54.66 points.

The men's open category is lead by Paul Low with 391.99 points; he is closely followed by teammates Kevin Tilton and Peter Maksimow with 385.04 and 380.23 points respectively. The title will be settled at Mt Cranmore on August 7. Dave Dunham leads the 40+ with 439.81 points, with Dave Audet close behind with 410.67 points. Dunham and Audet have the highest point total for any category. Richard Stockdale leads the 50+ with 353.16 points. Eldon Burkinshaw leads the 60+ over teammate Skip Cleaver, 299.30 to 266.28 points. Paul McDermott leads the 70+ age group with 186.25 points.

Eldon Burkinshaw continues to lead the all-time ranking with the most finishes. There have been 40 USATF mountain circuit races since 1996 and he has run 34. Dave Dunham and Fred Ross are tied for second with 33 finishes. Donna Smyth leads the ladies with 27 finishes, followed by Suzy West with 24. Dunham leads the all=time ranking for points with 3166.92 out of a possible 4000. Points are given as a percentage of the winner's time with the maximum being 100 for the race winner.

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