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June 14, 2006

New England Hosts First Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team Selection Race and US Championship

The nation's top mountain runners will gather in Gorham, NH on Saturday, June 17 to race the 46th annual Mount Washington Hill Climb in the hopes of making the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. The top three U.S. male finishers and the top two U.S. female finishers will be named to the team (must be current USATF members). The 10-member open squad of six men and four women (junior squad includes three junior men and two junior women) is slated to compete in the 22nd World Mountain Running Trophy race on September 10 in Bursa, Turkey.

This year's Trophy races are uphill events (as opposed to odd-numbered years when the events are held on up/down courses) with the senior men running 12km, and the senior women running 8.5km. The women's team includes four athletes with the top three finishers scoring for the team. Six athletes will represent the men's team with the top four finishers scoring. Team leader Richard Bolt, Portland, Oregon, junior team manager Dave Dunham, Bradford, MA, and women's team manager Ellen Miller, Vail, CO will accompany the team to Turkey.

Mount Washington will also host the 2006 USA Mountain Running Championships for the second time in three years. In 2004 Paul Low and Erica Larson won the championship titles. Low has hopes of repeating his title this year and also earning a spot on his seventh mountain team. One entrant who knows what it's like to beat Low on a difficult course is Greg Hexum, 35, of Duluth, Minnesota. Hexum is making his first appearance at Mt. Washington, but in March he and Low finished 1-2 in the U.S. National Snowshoe Championship race in Bolton Valley, Vermont.

Competition will also come from four-time winner at Mount Washington and uphill specialist Simon Gutierrez, 40, Alamosa, CO. Gutierrez was named USATF Mountain Runner of the Year in 2005 and finished tenth at last year's World Trophy in Wellington, New Zealand.
Two-time mountain team member Eric Blake, 27, of New Britain, Connecticut who battled Gutierrez until the final half mile last year before finishing second, is returning for another attempt at a title.

An outstanding young competitor who hopes to improve on last year's place is Kevin Tilton, 24, from nearby Conway, N.H. Tilton last year placed fifth and had plenty of opportunity to consider what it may take to get in front of Low, Blake and Gutierrez. He'll be joined by Josh Ferenc, also 24, of South Ackworth, N.H., who finished seventh at Mt. Washington in 2004, when Tilton was tenth, and then a disappointing eleventh last year. Bill Raitter, 36, of Estes Park, Colorado, returns for his second Mt. Washington race, having placed ninth here two years ago.

First-time entrants who could shake up the race include two-time mountain team members Tim Parr of Flagstaff, Arizona and Ryan Pauling, 29, Rochester, NY; Michael Friedberg, 28, also of Flagstaff; Michael Selig, 28, of Golden, Colorado; and William (Ricky) Gates, 25, of Boulder, Colorado.

The women's field is stacked with talent although Larson will not be among the field. Pre-race favorites include four-time mountain team member Anita Ortiz, 42, Eagle, Colorado, who was second in her only previous appearance at Mount Washington in 2002. Ortiz will also be racing to break the women's masters course record, 1:16:03, set in 1997 by 1984 Olympic gold medalist Joan Samuelson.

Other top masters in the women's field include the 2004 and 2005 masters winner Cathy Pearce, 44, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts; the 2003 masters winner Suzy West, 43, of Putney, Vermont; Lisa Goldsmith, 41, of Nederland, Colorado; Cindy O'Neill, 44, of Manitou Springs, Colorado; and Chari Walsh, 42, who trains in the not particularly hilly environment of Dayton, Ohio.

Contacts:
Nancy Hobbs (USATF MUT Chair, Executive Director of AATRA): (719) 573-4133 trlrunner@aol.com 
Richard Bolt (Men's USATF LDR Mountain Rep): (603) 494-6947 r_boltski@yahoo.com