Mt. Washington Road Race

With his motor, Gates becomes man of the hour

From Staff And Wire Reports / June 21, 2009
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It is pretty easy to calculate how fast Rickey Gates was running yesterday: 7.6 miles an hour.

Oh yeah, and it was straight uphill.

Gates accomplished the feat in winning the 49th Mt. Washington (N.H.) Road Race. The 28-year-old from Alamosa, Colo., sped up the auto road in 59 minutes 58 seconds, the eighth-fastest time over the 4,650-foot vertical rise.

Gates was paid a nice hourly wage as he won the men’s open race ($1,000) and beat the hour mark ($500). The course record of New Zealand’s Jonathan Wyatt (56:41 in 2004) was never in jeopardy.

“This was a wonderful race,’’ said Gates. “After placing third last year, I never wanted anything but first place this year.’’

Last year’s men’s winner, Eric Blake of New Britain, Conn., finished second in 1:01:19, followed by Joseph Gray (Lakewood, Wash.) in 1:02:35 and Matthew Byrne (Scranton, Pa.) in 1:02:45.

Brandy Erholtz, of Bailey, Colo., cruised in the women’s open division, winning in 1:10:53, the fourth-best time in history and 15 seconds faster than her first time up last year.

“It went well. I wanted to get in front early and be close to the record [1:10:08.2],’’ said Erholtz, who also took home $1,500. “At the halfway point in the course, I was on pace to get it.

“I was trying to run faster than last year. But it was hard as you get more tired in the second half of the race.’’

Amy Palmiero-Winters, the event’s first female amputee entrant, finished in 1:57:13.

The weather conditions were pleasant at the bottom of the mountain, 65 degrees and overcast, but fog enveloped the pack 3,900 feet up. At 5,000 feet, visibility was down to about 75 feet and Gates could not see or hear the competition behind him.

At 5,500 feet, the fog broke with Gates passing in 52:25, more than a minute ahead of Blake. A few minutes later - after conquering the last 50 yards with the 22 percent grade - Gates broke the tape in glorious sunshine.