every year the Mt Washington Auto Road shuts down the typical vehicle traffic flow one saturday morning in june and allows a bunch of crazy runners to run up to the summit as fast as they can.
even though most people would see this event as a form of torture, the race sells out every year and relies on a lottery system to allocate the limited bin numbers. fortunately/unfortunate i have been selected the last three years i have entered the lottery.
first, let’s talk about the race statistics: it’s a 7.6 mile grind that climbs more than 4650 ft of elevation en route to the summit of the highest peak in the northeast. this equates to a 12% average grade with extended sections of 18% grade. if the route itself isn’t enough for you, keep in mind that mt washington is home to some of the world’s worst weather and winds often blow around 60mph. but relax, there is only one hill!
this year’s race had wind gusts of 56mph and temperatures in the 40s, which made for a very chilly summit. however, the strong winds didn’t stop the men’s winner from breaking 1 hour (the gold standard of mt washington running). that’s a great feat that might have been upstaged by the women’s runner-up — who won 2nd place while being 20 weeks pregnant!
i can’t say i turned out nearly as fine of a performance. i wanted to use the ‘just had a baby’ excuse, but knowing the 2nd place woman was preggo my excuse didn’t seem so valid.
i didn’t train much for this race and i didn’t really have the heart or motivation to race it. for me, this race is about the uniqueness of the event and the fun of the sport. of course, at around mile 4 of the race when the wind was blowing and i neared hypothermia, i doubted how much fun i was having. at mile 5, i gave up… started walking… and asked myself why i do this. only one answer came to mind:
for the tshirt, of course.