Pinkham Notch, N.H. – The historic Mt. Washington Auto Road is ready and open for business, cleared of the massive amounts of snow that buried it during the winter.
The question now: Are the runners and the bicycle riders who attack it each summer – the folks with an “elevation addiction” as one race official likes to call it – ready for their next challenge?
Three athletic contests up the Mt. Washington Auto Road each summer stand as perhaps the Northeast’s most pure and supreme tests of fitness, determination and stamina.
The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, Newton’s Revenge bicycle race and Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb offer a one-a-month smorgasbord of challenges for ever-eager outdoors enthusiasts.
- The 55th Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race is set for Saturday, June 20 at 9 a.m.
- The 10th Newton’s Revenge is Saturday, July 11 at 8:40 a.m.
- The 43rd Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is scheduled for Aug. 15 at 8:40 a.m.
The races each travel the all-uphill and grueling 7.6 miles of the Mt. Washington Auto Road – which celebrates its 154th birthday this year and is America’s oldest manmade attraction – from the base of the Auto Road north of Pinkham Notch on Route 16 to the 6,288-foot summit of the mountain. The road rises at an average grade of 12 percent and has a net gain of 4,650 feet.
Each race also challenges the famously unpredictable weather at Mt. Washington. The bike races have a weather postponement date on the day following the scheduled event. Only once in its history, in 2002, has the foot race been shortened because of unsafe weather on the summit.
The bulk of the field for the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race is filled rapidly by a lottery each March and is capped at just over 1,300 runners for safety and logistical reasons. The race features some of the best mountain runners in the country and world as well as invited and elite runners who participate in endurance and other types of events.
Jonathan Wyatt of Wellington, New Zealand, and Ethiopian Shewarge Amare own the open records for the Road Race. Wyatt set the men’s record of 56 minutes and 41 seconds in 2004. Amare established the women’s standard of 1:08:20.4 in 2010.
The men’s and women’s winner each earn $1,500 and there are various other cash awards in the race. Setting the male or female record for the race pays $5,000.
More information on the race is available at http://mountwashingtonroadrace.com/.
The runners and bikers who challenge the mountain are proud owners of an “elevation addiction,” says Jotham Oliver, spokesperson for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center. Many of them come back year after year in an attempt to cure, or more accurately satisfy, their ailment.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is the major fundraiser for Tin Mountain, located in Albany, N.H, and an educational non-profit organization that offers classes, workshops, excursions and other lessons in the working of the natural world. Most of the $350 entry fee for the Hillclimb goes to support environmental programs through Tin Mountain. The cost of registration is tax deductible and some costs may be offset by fundraising.
Newton’s Revenge was added to the list of athletic events on the Auto Road in 2006 to accommodate the bicyclists who were not able to get into the Bicycle Hillclimb. The fee for Newton’s Revenge is $300. Riders who are entered in the Hillclimb may register for Newton’s Revenge for the discounted rate of $150.
There are still spots remaining in the field for each of this summer’s bike races.
The course records for both males and females are more than a decade old. The record may be set in either the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb or Newton’s Revenge. Tom Danielson set the men’s record of 49:24 in 2002 and French cyclist Jeannie Longo owns the women’s mark of 58:14, established in 2000.
The female and male winners of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and Newton’s Revenge also are awarded $1,500. The bike races, too, pay $5,000 to a male or female who breaks the course record.
New this year for the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is the Cadence Wealth Management $750 Prime. Cadence Wealth Management will award $750 to the first male and female rider who reaches the one-mile mark of the race as long as the rider finishes the race in less than an hour and 30 minutes.