High society: The Mt. Washington Road Race

I have a guest blogger this week while I am in Australia! My hubby and partner-in-running-adventures did the Mt. Washington Road Race last weekend. That’s UPHILL for 7.6 miles. Gives me asthma just thinking about it. Here’s his take … 

Heading into this past weekend, in the tradition of Stride and Joy, I had The Fear. Actually, a double dose of The Fear.

The first dose came from having to be the guest blogger. How could I live up to the exacting standards of Stride and Joy? I wanted to take flight. The second dose came from having to run “Only One Hill.” That’s the catchphrase of the Mt. Washington Road Race. I wanted to take flight again. Preferably aboard a small helicopter. That’s a saner way to the top.

Well, in the true character of this blog, there was to be no running away … but there would be cursing.

Mt. Washington Road Race

This sign should say you may also not appreciate this “running experience.”

This was the 52nd running of the Mt. Washington Road Race. I “won” the right to run via a lottery that opened in March. It seemed so easy: enter your details, input the credit card info (no charge unless you won) and click submit. No sweat. Then I received a “congratulations” email. Oh crap. What did I do?!!

Inclined to train

So, how to train? I live at sea level and my nearest hill takes a mere 30 seconds to get to the top. Move to Colorado! Tempting indeed, for that’s where the top finishers of this race hail from. They’ve got the altitude and attitude on their side. They don’t hold the course record though; that honor belongs to a Kiwi. There are lots of hills in New Zealand, but I like to think that some of his training involved running away from the Orcs from the Lord of the Rings movies. Or the walking trees. They are scary. An argument for clear felling forests if ever there was one.

Well, without a quick way to move to Colorado and in the absence of a build-your-own Orc kit, it was off to the treadmill to train.

The incline of the auto road is between 12 and 20 degrees. That fierce sounding 20 is only at the last part … you know, to the finish line, because the rest of the “hill” just wasn’t enough.

So on the treadmill, I cranked the incline up to 12 and pressed start … crikey … this was going to involve some change of pace. But at least now I knew: slow and steady would finish the race.

Rise and shine

Mt. Washington Road Race

On the up and up.

Race day arrived, and what a morning it was. One of the volunteers said he had never seen weather so good. All week, I had been watching the conditions. A few weeks before, it had snowed. A few days earlier, there were 60mph winds. Today, though, it was clear from top to bottom. I hoped it would last.

In order to “run” up the mountain, you had to have organized a ride down in advance. This was facilitated via a forum on the Mt. Washington Road Race website. After picking up my bib, I met Roy, the guy whose car I would ride my weary bones down in. Roy is a veteran of this peak. He’s also 73 years old and has done the run twice. There was also a bloke who was 92. Now if they could do it, I had no excuse but to head to the start line.

Mt. Washington Road Race

That’s not a hill … THAT’s a hill!

The canon fired and we were off. In taunting fashion, the race started downhill, across a flat bit and then began to climb and climb and f**kin’ climb. I told you there would be cursing.

A woman I had spoken to prior to the race, also a veteran of the mountain, told me to just keep running, and I tried my best to do that. I made it over half way, in fact I even ran in place at a water stop just to keep the rhythm, but then looking at my pace I realized on certain steep areas, I could do just as well power walking and so over the last half, it was a run/walk. More of the former, I am proud to say.

As for the running part, it was easier to run on my toes, and here’s where my new Newton Running shoes worked their miracle. They have series of “energy return” ribs that create a block just to the front of the arch of the foot. This block made it so much easier to run the peak as I never had to land flat on my feet and it helped me spring off every time. Newtons, of course, come from Colorado. I am seeing a pattern here.

Mt. Washington Road Race

The clouds roll in at the finish.

The best part of finishing the race, apart from not having to run up hill any more, was the blankets. Fleece blankets. Made in New Hampshire! None of that space blanket malarkey for us “mountain folk.” They came in handy too, as shortly after the finish, the clouds rolled in and it cooled.

As for the time to complete the 7.6-mile course, someone had posted on the forum that it would be around your half-marathon time and that’s exactly what it was.

Would I do it again? Hell yes! Next time though, I will be running all the way to the top … powered by anything that Colorado will offer. Coors beer maybe.

Mt. Washington Road RaceThe event: Mt. Washington Road Race
The location:
Mt. Washington, NH
The date: June 16, 2012
Hubby’s time: 1.41.16 (pace: 13.20)
The T-shirt: Blue tech shirt
The aftermath: Turkey dinner with all the fixins


11 responses to “High society: The Mt. Washington Road Race

  1. Oh my. I’d rather be sent to Hell in a handbasket which I’m pretty sure would the equivalent of this race for me. I’m surprised they didn’t just give you a street luge and tell you “good luck” on the way down!

  2. Saving My Belly Button Ring

    You. Are. Crazy. In that you’d do it again! Hahaha I was having a hard time breathing just reading about your run up the mountain. Good for you and nice job filling in! 🙂

  3. I was there at Mile Marker 2, which is as far as I could make my Hill Baby self hike up the road. We were cheering on my mother-in-law (won her age group!) and my crazy brother-in-law, who also tackled the mountain that day. My hat is off to you – I was so impressed with all of the runners! And a great guest post too!

  4. @Cutedogsandhugs – There was a bloke on a skateboard messing around before the start just on the base of the hill. He almost lost a lot of skin, so I think you’d want wings on your street luge, or a parachute.

    @SavingMyBellyButtonRing – Thanks. She does such a good job it was a little intimidating putting this all down.

    @Slowrunnings – Congrats to your mother-in-law and also brother-in-law. That’s first class. Thanks for coming out and cheering folks on their way up. It’s not an easy course for anyone involved.

  5. Confirming once and for all that you are, in fact, out of your mind…
    I kid, I kid… 😉
    Seriously, though, that’s darn impressive. I barely made it just climbing that mountain — forget about running! Good work!

  6. brilliant…very impressive! pat yourself on the back….i’m laughing at myself–i’m ditching hills and trying to run flats….the hills i tacked aren’t the insanity you just did (much more gradual) but my average run is about 400m ascent over the course of an hour and now i am racing where the maximum ascent is 50m –mainly all flat. i have to gear up for that—i think my task is WAY EASIER!!!! congratulations again wicked accomplishment.

  7. I was at the 2.7 water stop! I was running up and down either dumping water on your heads or filling your water bottles. My hats are off to all of you, I have this on my bucket list and it scares the crap outta me. However Lou Peters is on my running team and he is 87- so I feel him motivating me to do this!

    • @ twocentsplus. Thank you. The downside to having run this is that I feel I can now never complain about a hill ever again. Just have to think “At least this ‘hill’ doesn’t have ‘mountain’ in its name.

      @ Lin. Being dowsed with water by the folks at the water stops was excellent. Thank you so much. You definitely have to do Mt Washington. I mean it’s just one hill…

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