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Canaday, Dobson win Mountain Running title

Canaday, Dobson Dominant at USA Mountain Running Championships

Sage Canaday

Sage Canaday

Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race hosts national championships; a record 952 runners complete the 7.6 mile all-uphill footrace

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. – (June 16, 2012) – Sage Canaday, a marathoner with little previous experience in uphill racing, blew away the field on Saturday at the 52nd Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, a 7.6-mile all-uphill grind to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States. Starting conservatively, then moving to the lead after the first two miles, the 26-year-old Canaday pulled away from the pack and reached the 6,288-foot summit in 58 minutes, 27 seconds, the third-fastest time ever recorded here.

For the women, Kim Dobson, who won this race in her first attempt last year, returned even stronger and faster this time, dropping her strongest challengers and running up the Mt. Washington Auto Road – 4,560 feet of vertical gain, at an average grade of 12 percent – to win the women’s race in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 25 seconds.

Dobson, 28, became only the second woman ever to break the 70-minute barrier on Mt. Washington. Her time is one minute and five seconds slower than the course record set in 2010 by Ethiopian runner Shewarge Amare (1:08:20).

The men’s record is 56:41, set in 2004 by world mountain running champion Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand. Neither Amare nor Wyatt entered the race this year. The only other man ever to run here faster than Canaday was Daniel Kihara of Kenya, who completed 1996 race up the Auto Road in 58:21.

Canaday, who moved from his native Oregon to Boulder, Colo., two weeks ago, and Dobson, of Denver, Colo., both faced formidable competition. The men’s field was particularly strong, since this year’s Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race served as the selection event for the U.S. men’s national mountain running team, which will compete at the World Championships in Italy on September 2. The women’s field included two-time Mt. Washington winner Brandy Erholtz of Evergreen, Colo. and Kasie Enman of Huntington, Vt., the reigning women’s world mountain running champion.

At the start, 25-year-old Glenn Randall, a former NCAA Nordic skiing champion, seized the lead, followed by a large pack of other American men hoping to finish in the top six and thereby be selected for the national team. With them was Marco deGasperi, 35, of Bormio, Italy, himself a six-time world mountain champion and in most eyes the pre-race favorite.

“I started conservatively,” said Canaday afterward. “I saw a couple of other guys hanging back who had won here before, and I figured they knew what they were doing. Then, around mile two, I went ahead.”

The only man who went with him was Joe Gray, 28, of Newcastle, Wash. A former All-American steeplechaser and U.S. mountain team veteran, Gray had finished 4th and 3rd in two previous Mt. Washington appearances and was determined to retain his place on the national team.

“Last time I was here, I sort of dogged it,” said Gray. “This time I tried to stick it.” Canaday’s gap over Gray extended steadily through the race, but no one else could come close to Gray, who finished in 1 hour, 33 seconds.

Looking comfortable and hardly out of breath at the summit, Canaday, who formerly trained as a marathoner with the Hanson-Brooks summed up the experience. “I love this race! I was hoping I’d be good at uphill running.”

Defending champ Dobson finished exhausted but pleased by her victory and her improvement on her 2011 time. “The hill wasn’t as steep today as last year!” she quipped. “I felt good. Brandy and Kasie are very strong, so I was nervous, but I kept my focus. I knew from recent training that I’d be faster than last year.”

Erholtz, 34, who had led Dobson for the first five miles in their 2011 meeting here, held no similar expectations this time. “Usually I feel good from the starting gun,” she said, “but this year was harder. I started feeling stronger around the treeline.”

Finishing in 1:12:27, Erholtz was second to Dobson for the second year in a row. She said she would have liked to stay closer, but she pointed out that Dobson also claims the second-fastest time among women ever in the Pike’s Peak Ascent in Colorado.

Enman placed third in 1:14:55, completing a duplication of last year, when she was also third after Dobson and Erholtz. “I was a little faster than last year,” she said, “but for me a paved course is tough!” Enman’s world championship victory last year in Albania came on trails and followed an up-and-down route.

Dobson, Erholtz and Enman expect to meet again in three weeks, when the U.S. women’s mountain running team selection race will take place at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, N.H. They may be joined there by 46-year-old Laura Haefeli of Del Norte, Colo. who placed fourth overall and won the women’s Masters title in 1:15:10.

Top finisher in the men’s Masters division was veteran mountain runner and three-time Mt. Washington winner Simon Gutierrez, 46, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who placed ninth overall in 1:02:24. The oldest finisher was George Etzweiler, 92, of State College, Pa. in 2:52:35.

Overall, a record 952 runners completed the race – 672 men, 280 women.

52nd Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race: USA Mountain Running Championships
Gorham, NH, Saturday, June 16, 2012

1) Sage Canaday, 26, Boulder, CO, 58:27, $1000
2) Joseph Gray, 28, Newcastle, WA, 1:00:33, $600
3) Eric Blake, 33, New Britain, CT, 1:00:54, $400
4) Glenn Randall, 25, Mesa, CO, 1:00:58, $200
5) Marco deGasperi, 35, Bormio, ITA, 1:01:38, $100

1) Kim Dobson, 28, Denver, CO, 1:09:25, $1000
2) Brandy Erholtz, 34, Evergreen, CO, 1:12:27, $600
3) Kasie Enman, 32, Huntington, VT, 1:14:55, $400
4) Laura Haefeli, 44, Del Norte, CO, 1:15:10, $500 (first female Master)
5) Carolyn Stocker, 19, Westfield, MA, 1:18:58, $100