2012 Mount Washington Preview - Page 2
Runners competing in the 7.6-mile race up the Mount Washington Auto Road ascend New England’s highest peak—6288 feet—without any reprieve from the incline. It’s an average grade of 12 percent.
“It never gets any easier,” says Paul Kirsch, who works with the USMRT and helps coordinate the Mount Washington race—which he has completed 12 times. “The biggest danger for quick guys is that they go out too fast.”
Kirsch also noted that an uphill climb was selected as the qualifying race because the World Championships will also be all uphill. The World Championship course—and, accordingly, the USMRT qualifying course—alternates between a all-uphill and an up-and-down course every other year.
“Mount Washington is a great race with a great history, and a perfect fit for the qualifying race,” says Kirsch. “It’s served as the qualifier five times.”
Among the men expected to be in the mix are previous Mount Washington winners and USMRT members. Rickey Gates (pictured below) of Woody Creek, Colorado, who won Mount Washington last year in 1:01:32, will look to defend his title. Alamosa, Colorado’s Simon Gutierrez, who has twice won Mount Washington and holds the 40-to-44-age-group course record of 1:04:33, will look to qualify for his fourth USMRT. Gutierrez set that record last year, finishing fifth.
But the allure of wearing a USA jersey at a World Championships has drawn talented runners with primarily road and track backgrounds as well. Defending U.S. and World Mountain Running champion Max King of Bend, Oregon, has shown the transition can be made—the 2:14 marathoner and Olympic Trials steeplechaser, who finished fifth in 1:03:18 at his Mount Washington debut in 2010, will look to qualify again.
Photo by Joe Viger