Gray to take on former winners Canaday and Blake along with Kenyan, Francis Wangari, and Olympic Skier Noah Hoffman
PINKHAM NOTCH, NH – New Hampshire has been a good place for Joe Gray to run in the mountains. Two weeks ago, he won the US Mountain Running Championships at the Cranmore Mountain Race and now this coming weekend he looks to win his fourth consecutive Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race. The Colorado Springs resident was the 2016 World Mountain Running Champion and he is showing no signs of letting up his winning ways. Looking to challenge Gray will be fellow Colorado resident, Sage Canaday, who won Mount Washington in 2012 and holds the second fastest American time on the rock pile, behind Gray. Competing for a podium spot will also be Eric Blake, of West Hartford, CT. Blake is the last person besides Gray to win the race.
This week saw the addition of a new competitor, 2014 US Olympic Cross Country Skier, Noah Hoffman. Hoffman, who moved his ski training base to New Hampshire this year after previously training out West, will be taking his first shot at the famed 7.6 mile auto road. While this will be Hoffman’s first attempt on the mountain, his conditioning as a Nordic skier makes him well suited to give Gray a run for his money.
Looking to be on the podium as well will be Francis Wangari of Kenya, who has competed in the European Mountain Running Grand Prix Circuit. Local favorite and new masters runner, Jim Johnson of East Madison, NH. Johnson is coming off a Masters National Championship win at the Cranmore Race two weeks ago where had a strong 11th place overall finish among a very competitive field. He looks to better his fifth place finish of 2016. Tristan Williams, of Jackson, NH who probably spends more time in the high peaks of the White Mountains than any other runner, also looks to be a contender. His top race results have been more in ultra and sky races but he also looks to challenge the top runners on the Auto Road this year. Former “multi-time” winner, the ageless Simon Gutierrez of Colorado Springs, CO, is back again as well, looking for another top five finish and a 50-plus age division record.
On the women’s side, Brandy Erholtz of Evergreen, CO is this year’s strong favorite, with nine top ten finishes at the race. Erholtz will see competition from Shannon Payne, also of Colorado. Payne, who will wear the #2 bib, will be looking to repeat her 2014 win. Canadian Shelley Doucet of Quispamsis, New Brunswick also looks to be in the mix, with her 29th place at this year’s Boston Marathon in a time of 2:46:29. New Hampshire triathlete Amber Ferreira, of Concord will be looking to better her fourth place finish of 2016. Other top contenders include Layce Alves of Gloucester, MA, Laura Brustolon of Littleton, MA, Kelsey Allen of Wendell, MA and Apryl Sabadosa of Westfield, MA.
Looking to set another age milestone will be 97-year-old George Etzweiler of State College, PA. Etzweiler was inducted into the Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame last year and looks to continue his phenomenal achievements with another finish in 2017. His son, Larry and grandson, Robert and great grandson, Malik, again will join George. Larry is 71, Robert is 43 and Malik is 19.
Complete information about the race is provided at the race website, http://mtwashingtonautoroad.com/mount-washington-road-race. The race will start at 9 AM at the base of the Auto Road.
Fifty percent of all proceeds from the race will be donated to the Coos County Family Health Services in Berlin.
Northeast Delta Dental has sponsored the race up the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road since 2001. The dental insurance company, headquartered in Concord, N.H., with sales offices in Saco, Maine, and Burlington, Vt., provides dental benefits to more than 850,000 people in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, including individuals and families, and organizations of all sizes. Northeast Delta Dental’s President & CEO, Tom Raffio, has run the race in a personal best of 1:50:51. In 2012, Northeast Delta Dental increased its already strong support for the event, making it officially the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race.
Since 2012, the race has donated more than $80,000 to the dental programs of Coos County Family Health Services. Based in nearby Berlin, N.H., this community-based organization provides innovative, personalized, comprehensive health care and social services to everyone, regardless of economic status.
To learn more about the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, visit http://mtwashingtonautoroad.com/mount-washington-road-race or on Facebook at facebook.com/mountwashingtonroadrace.
First opened in 1861 as the Mt. Washington Carriage Road, the Mt. Washington Auto Road is the country’s oldest manmade attraction. Located on Rt. 16 in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, just north of the Mt. Washington Valley and minutes south of Gorham, the Auto Road has a long and winding history, much like its 7.6-mile trip up to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast. For more information, visit www.MtWashingtonAutoRoad.com or call 603-466-3988.