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Anderson top Michigan Cup skier at Mount Washington Road Race

4,650 vertical feet

Mon, Jun  21, 2010 - By Mike Muha

Farmington Hill's Ed Anderson was the top Michigan Cup skier and Michigander to finish the 50th running of the Mount Washington Road Race this past Saturday, Jun 19, 2010.

The Mt. Washington course is 7.6 miles in length, has an average grade of 11.5% with extended sections of 18%, and the last 50 yards is a 22% "wall" to the finish. The course rises 4,650 vertical feet from start to finish. There's Only One Hill!

Another notable skiers, Kris Freeman from the US Ski Team, finished 15th overall in 1:07:56.

In all, there were 916 finishers from 39 states and four Canadian provinces, plus Spain, the U.K., Brazil and Ethiopia.

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft. It is famous for its dangerously erratic weather, and long held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, 231 mph on the afternoon of April 12, 1934. It was known as Agiocochook, or "Home of the Great Spirit", before European settlers arrived.

Chris Siemers, a Chicago-bred flatlander who says he was born to run up mountains, and Shewarge Amara, an Ethiopian from New York City who had to borrow a pair of racing shoes just before the start, delivered a double load of excitement today at the 50th running of the Mt. Washington Road Race. Siemers outran two former Mt. Washington winners and many of the other best mountain runners in the U.S. to win in one hour and 22 seconds. Amara meanwhile flew up the Auto Road’s 12 percent grade in a new women’s course record time of one hour 8 minutes 21 seconds.

Since this year’s contest was the sole qualifying race to select the U.S. national team that will compete in the World Mountain Running Championship this fall in Slovenia, the field was packed with runners well-matched in strength and endurance. Many more than the usual half-dozen elite runners ran together in the early going, the pace shared by two-time winner (2006, 2008) Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn., defending champion Rickey Gates of Woody Creek, Colorado, all-American steeplechaser Joe Gray of Lakewood, Washington, Zac Freudenburg of St. Louis, Missouri – all past members of the national team – and several more.

By the second mile, however, Siemers had begun his challenge, keeping elbow to elbow with Blake as the two gradually pulled ahead of everyone else.

Still, Blake looked in control. “I felt good the first mile or two,” said the 31-year-old track coach, who had twice before been in tight races here. “His breathing was heavy, and I thought I was going to take it, but in the second half it got to me.”

Above the seven-mile mark, under bright sun and with the summit in sight, Siemers took the lead for good, storming up the final 50 yards to claim the title of 2010 U.S. National Mountain Running Champion and the $2000 first prize for winning. Blake arrived 18 seconds later, followed by Gray, Gates, the next newcomer, 30-year-old Max King of Bend, Oregon, and Tommy Manning, 34, of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Amara had a last-minute worry before the race: her shoes and running singlet were locked in a car whose driver was away. Having quickly borrowed another runner’s extra pair of racing flats and a singlet, she shot away from the rest of the women’s field at the start and ran with no further worries. “I always think I will win,” she said later. “Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t get it.” Today she got it, breaking the previous women’s course record of 1:10:08.2 and winning not only the first prize of $2000 but the $5000 bonus awarded for breaking the course record.

Behind her, the strongest American women battled for second place. Two-time winner (2008, 2009) Brandy Erholtz, of Bailey, Colorado, led Kristin Price of Raleigh, N.C., in the first two miles, but Price, another first-timer here, pulled ahead and eventually finished in 1:11:13, with Erholtz third in 1:12:53.

As the middle of the pack began to cross the finish line, the eyes of all the spectators turned to watch for the man wearing number 50 on his shirt, in honor of the race’s 50th running. He was Tom Raffio of Bow, N.H., and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, the company that sponsors the race. Running Mt. Washington for the first time, Raffio, 53, crossed the line in 1:52:12, placing 343rd among the 662 male finishers and 34th out of 91 men in the 50-54-year-old age group.

Related:

Top Finishers:

Men:

  1. Chris Siemers, 29, Arvada CO, 1:00:22
  2. Eric Blake, 31, New Britain CT, 1:00:40
  3. Joseph Gray, 26, Lakewood WA, 1:01:31
  4. Rickey Gates, 29, Woody Creek CO, 1:02:34
  5. Max King, 30, Bend OR, 1:02:34
  6. Tommy Manning, 34, Colorado Springs CO, 1:03:27
  7. Matt Russell, 27, Wells ME, 1:04:21
  8. Chris Lundstrom, 34, Minneapolis MN, 1:04:25
  9. Zachary Freudenburg, 31, St. Louis MO, 1:05:18
 10. Joel Bourgeois, 39, Grand-Digue, New Brunswick, Canada, 1:05:31
   .
 15. Kris Freeman, 29, Thornton NH, 1:07:56
202. Ed Anderson, 54, Farmington Hills MI, 1:38:14

Women:

 1. Shewarge Amare, 23, New York NY/Ethiopia, 1:08:21
 2. Kristin Price, 28, Raleigh NC, 1:11:13
 3. Brandy Erholtz, 32, Bailey CO, 1:12:53
 4. Nicole Hunt, 40, Deer Lodge MT, 1:12:59
 5. Megan Lund, 26, Basalt CO, 1:13:30 
 6. Laura Haefeli, 42, Del Norte CO, 1:15:47
 7. Amber Ferreira, 28, Concord NH, 1:19:47
 8. Amber Moran, 31, Arden NC, 1:20:55
 9. Jennifer Campbell, 27, Newmarket NH, 1:21:06
10. Caitlin Smith, 29, Oakland CA, 1:21:43