Runners Prepare to Ascend Mt. Washington for 57th Annual Auto Road Race

Jun 16, 2017

About 1,300 runners will gather in Gorham Saturday morning for what sounds like a relatively easy task: A race with only one hill. The catch? That hill just happens to be the tallest peak on the east coast.

The crop of runners lining up for the 57th Annual Mount Washington Auto Road Race will include everyone from an Olympic Cross Country Skiier, to an elite mountain runner from Kenya, to a 97-year-old from Pennsylvania who hopes to break his own record as the oldest contender to make the climb.

Paul Kirsch, the race’s elite athlete coordinator and a former participant himself, says it’s this collection of characters that really sets the Mount Washington run apart.

“Local people get to run in the same race as some of the top runners in the country and in the world as well,” Kirsch said.

But it’s not just the people who make it unique – it’s also the terrain.

“You start out, you go downhill for about a tenth of a mile, and you start climbing, and the climb just never stops until you get to the finish line,” Kirsch added. “It’s just such a relentless climb and it’s so different than any other race in that way.”

While the course itself might not change much year-to-year, there is one wildcard: What the notoriously fickle Mount Washington weather forecast will look like on race day. As of the time this is being published, the Mount Washington Observatory is calling for clouds with a chance of rain.