Saturday, May 28, 2016

A complete history of the Wachusett Mountain race

1978 – A field of 41 intrepid runners started and finished what might very well be the most difficult 4-mile race in New England.  The starting point in Westminster measures 911 feet above sea level, while the finish at the summit of Mt. Wachusett in Princeton is 2006 feet in elevation.  The runners conquered not only the course itself which is approximately 95 percent uphill, but warm and moderately humid weather conditions as well.  Dave Duval surged into a lead at the very beginning on “Mile hill road” and maintained that advantage throughout.  The no entry fee race, which promises to become an annual event, was sponsored by the Fitchburg YMCA and was organized by Stephen Holt, Physical Education Director of that association. – Don Drewniak Unknown source           
1978 – Craig McColl of the FFCM breezed to victories in tow races held in Princeton, Mass on consecutive days.  On September 23rd, he won the first annual Thom McAn Jox Mountain Race.  The course features an elevation increase from the starting point in Westminster to the summit of Mt. Wachusett of 1095 feet, and it is probably the most difficult 4-miler in New England.  McColl’s time of 26:35 bettered the previous course record of 28:30 set last June by Dave Duval in the Fitchburg YMCA race.  The lone female entrant, Lauren Meymaris, finished 17th.  All finishers received prizes as well as ribbons and proceeds were donated to the Heart Fund. – Don Drewniak Unknown source
1979 – 75 finishers.  The Mt. Wachusett four miler began at the base of aptly named “Mile Hill Road” in Westminster, MA and culminated at the summit of the mountain in Princeton.  Featuring an elevation increase from beginning to end of 1095 feet, it is unquestionable the most difficult four mile run in New England.  With moderate temperatures and low humidity, conditions seemed favorable for challenging the existing course record.  However, John Lehto’s wining time of 28:46 fell short of Craig McColl’s 26:35 set in Sept. 1978.  This year’s second place finisher, Dave Duval, of the North Medford Club, had established the original course record of 28:30 when he won the initial running in June 1978.  First master was Stu Thurston of the Central Mass Strider, while Genevive Stevens established a new women’s mark of 39:21.  The race was sponsored by the Montachusett Regional YMCA and coordinated by Steve Holt. – Don Drewniak Unknown source           
1980 – 10:00 AM, entry fee $3 includes t-shirt. 4.3 miles.  This race has gained in popularity and promises to become one of the more popular running events in the central Mass area.  The race began in a light rain and ended in thick fog which engulfed the upper half of the mountain.  Stan Choinski missed Craig McColl’s 1978 Mt. Wachusett record of 26:35 by just 8 seconds as he won the 4th running of the 1095 foot elevation increase race. – Don Drewniak (CMS newsletter)      133 finishers 06-07-1980
The Mount Wachusett 4.3 miler was first run in June of 1978 and was won by Dave Duval, of the North Medford Club, in a time of 28:30.  Four months later, Craig McColl, of the Central Mass Striders, established the course record of 26:35.  The 3rd running, in June of 1979, was won by John Lehto, of CMS, in 28:46.  The seemingly slow winning times for a 4.3 mile race are a result of a course that winds its way from the base of aptly named “Mile Hill Road” in Westminster to the summit of Mt. Wachusett in Princeton – an elevation increase of 1095 feet.  This year’s race featured a two runner duel between Stan Choinski and Harry Loso.  Choinski pulled away at the 2.5 mile mark and missed the course record by eight seconds.  Laureen Meymaris, of Holden, MA established a new women’s mark of 32:45.  Halfway up the mountain, a thick fog engulfed the runners.  In order to stay on the course from that point onward, most runners had to concentrate on following the white, center traffic line.  The race is sponsored each June by the Montachusett Regional YMCA and gives promise of becoming a major running event in central Massachusetts.  This year’s field of 133 more than doubled that of any of the three previous runnings.  – Don Drewniak (Frontrunner).
1981 - Second consecutive mountain win for Stan Choinski. Stan’s 26:40 was three seconds better than his previous winning time and just 5 seconds off Craig McColl’s 1978 record of 26:35.  Ken Wilson and Barbara Amburgey were respective masters’ and women’s winners.  4.3 miles with 1095’ elevation increase from the site of the old Sitzmark to the summit. – Don Drewniak (CMS newsletter)
Since its inception in 1978 the Mt. Wachusett 4.3 miler had doubled in numbers each year reaching 133 in 1980.  The uphill climb with an elevation increase of 1095 feet from its beginning at the base of “Mile Hill Road” to the summit of the mountain seemed on the verge of becoming a major attraction.  However, this year’s field dwindled to a disappointing 72 starters.  Stan Choinski of Worcester repeated as winner finishing thee seconds better than his 1980 winning time of 26:43 and just five seconds off Craig McColl’s 1978 record of 26:35.  Bill Gaudere of Millbury, MA trimmed 45 seconds off his previous year’s 4th place time of 28:25 to take 2nd, while Mark Kerrigan of Clinton, MA improved his 1980 time by a minute to place 3rd.  Ken Wilson, Leominster established a new master’ record of 28:19.  Another Leominster runner Barbara Amburgey was first woman, Lauren Meymaris’ 1980 time of 32:45 remains as the women’s record.  – Don Drewniak Frontrunner  June 6, 68 finishers
1982 – 100 finishers - New course record and 3rd consecutive first place for Stan Choinski (26:25).  Louise Williams (Lunenburg) was the first woman (35:16). – Don Drewniak CMS newsletter
1983 – 87 finishers – mid 60’s 1095 foot elevation increase from the base of Mile hill road in Westminster to the summit of Mount Wachusett in Princeton.  Race organized by Chuck Brooks, Montachusett regional YMCA race director.  1-2-3 CMS finish for Paul Baltutis (Fort Devens), Mark Kerrigan (Clinton) and Stan Choinski (Worcester).  For Stan – the course record holder with a 26:25 in 1982 following first place finishes in 1981 and 1980 – it marked his first race since sustaining a stress fracture and torn muscles last fall.  Louise Williams (Lunenburg) was the first female master and placed 2nd overall. – Don Drewniak CMS newsletter
1984 – 71 finishers – 60’s rain; organized by the Montachusett Regional YMCA: results courtesy of Owen Listovitch of east Princeton.  Top club finishers in the annual 1095 foot elevation increase trek from the base of Mile hill road to the summit of Mt. Wachusett were Mark Kerrigan (Clinton) and Stan Choinski (Worcester).  New club member Gail Rosa (Lunenburg) was the winner of the women’s division. – Don Drewniak CMS newsletter
1985 – Mark Kimball (Holden) added his name to the list of past and present CMS members who have won the 1095 foot elevation increase run from the bottom of aptly named Mile Hill road in Westminster to the summit of Mt. Wachusett in Princeton.  Previous CMS winners include Craig McColl (1978), John Lehto (1979), Stan Choinski (1980-81-82), and Paul Baltutis (1983).  Lori Riley (Worcester), running one day prior to finishing as the first Worcester female in the T&G 10-miler was the winner of the women’s division.  85 finishers – hot and humid.  – Don Drewniak CMS newsletter
1986 – Mark Kimball (Holden) and Lori Riley (Worcester) were respective overall and women’s division winners for the second consecutive year.  Earl Nydam (Whitinsville), Frank Scherer (Leominster) and Peter Orni (Fitchburg) finished 1-2-3 and just two seconds apart in the masters’ division.  60 finisher – sunny; low 60’s; 1095 ‘ elevation increase from the start at the base of mile hill road in Westminster to the summit of Mt. Wachusett in Princeton; 7th consecutive year that Stan Choinski (Worcester) has competed in the race. – Don Drewniak CMS newsletter
1987 – Among the “casualties” are ….the Wachusett Mountain 4.3 mile race with 1095’ elevation increase from the start to the finish.  The race had been organized by the Montachusett Regional YMCA each year since 1978.  However, the “Y” has cut back its schedule to jut one road race…should there be a sponsor interested in supporting the Wachusett mountain race; CMS would consider undertaking the organization of the race either this fall or next spring.  – Don Drewniak CMS newsletter
The race was brought back in 1993 and has been held continuously since then.
1993 – Bob Hodge & Margo Webber win.  Webber sets CR of 30:20.
HODGE, WEBBER FINISH IN RECORD-BREAKING TIMES -Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA) - May 30, 1993
PRINCETON - Bob Hodge of Clinton and Margo Webber of Boxborough tuned up for the Mount Washington Road Race by winning the resurrected Wachusett Mountain Road Race in record times yesterday.  Hodge pulled away on the first of many of the mountain's steep hills and finished the 4.3-mile race in 25:18, 36 seconds ahead of runner-up Mike Casner of Keene, N.H. Geary Daniels of Dudley was third in 26:21.  Hodge recently returned to the area after finishing seventh in a marathon two weeks ago in Czechoslovakia in 2:23:02.  "With Mount Washington being three weeks away," said Hodge, a seven-time Mount Washington winner, "I decided that this race would give me an indication of how much I've recovered from the marathon. Other than a little leg fatigue, the trip to Czechoslovakia and the marathon seem to have had little effect."  Webber, one of New England's premier female triathletes, finished in 30:20, nearly four minutes better than the old women's record. Runner-up Catherine Lifschultz of Brookline ran in 31:30. Jackie Shakar of Worcester was third in 32:21.  The race, run for the first time since 1986, attracted competitors from all six New England states. All 134 starters finished, including Robert Shelton of Bradford, Vt., who won the 60-and-over division, and Grant Maloney, who placed 48th overall despite arriving just prior to the start after bicycling from his home in Lunenburg.  "I misjudged how much time the wind would cost me," said Maloney in explaining why he was nearly late.
1994 – Sean Livingston set a new course record running 25:04, beating Mike Casner by 24 seconds.  Catherine Lifschultz topped the women’s field running 30:34 .
1995 – Dave Dunham (CMS) lowers the course record to 24:37.  Sue LaChance (CSU) tops the women’s field in 30:19 (CR). 163 finishers – near perfect weather conditions – clear; low humidity; mid-60’s; minimal wind.  After Bob Hodge (Clinton) winner of the 1993 Wachusett Mountain race, pushed the pace for the first mile, up aptly named mile hill road, Dave Dunham (Londonderry, NH) pulled away en-route to a course record 24:37.  For Dave, the 1994 Mt Washington Road Race winner, it was a first time effort at Wachusett Mountain.  Peter Blomquist (Worcester) topped two non-CMs runners – Brad Hurst of the BAA and Peter Dane of CSU in winning the men’s masters’ competition.  Over one third of the field – 57 runners in all – were in the men’s masters’ division.  Peter Orni (Fitchburg) was second to Jonathan Stableford of the Merrimack Valley Striders in the seniors’ division.  Eric Wysk (Oakham) was the second junior.  Harriott Meyer (Sterling) and 1993 winner Margo Webber (Boxborough) placed 2-3 behind Sue Lachance of CSU in the women’s division.  Lachance broke Margo’s 1993 CR of 30:20 by one second.  Laura Beckwith (Holden) was the first female senior and second overall among age 40+ women.  MariLou Crohan (Leominster) was the first and only femail veteran to make the 1095’ climb from the bottom of Mile Hill Road in Westminster to the summit of Wachusett Mountain. – CMS newsletter
5/25/1996 – Course records set by both male and female winners.  Dave Dunham 24:35(CR) & Margo Webber 30:06 (CR) –  A record 210 runners, more than half of whom traveled from outside of Worcester County, completed the 4th annual Wachusett Mountain 4.3 mile road race with its 1095-foot net elevation increase.  The course starts at the bottom of Mile Hill Road in Westminster and meanders to the summit of Wachusett Mountain in Princeton.  In winning for the second consecutive year, Dave Dunham (Bradford) broke his existing course record of 24:37 by two seconds.  Mike Casner (Keene, NH) and Richard Bolt (Lunenburg) places second and thrird.  Bob Hodge (Clinton), who was fifth overall, was the first master, while Steven Bayley (Sterling), at age 15, topped all juniors.  Margo Webber (Boxborough), who finished first in 1993 with a time of 30:20 regained her course record which had been broken last year by one second by Sue Lachance of CSU.  Harriott Meyer (Sterling) finished second overall among all female competitors and was the second master. (210f – clear; upper 50’s/low 60’s; low humidity; breezy; special thanks to the Wachusett Mountain Ski Area for providing race registration facilities; to Polar Beverages for sponsorship support; to Richard Bolt for use of his truck to carry supplies to the summit; and to John Matheson and Ed Simpson for supplying a truck and for all their efforts in bringing supplies to the summit) – CMS newsletter
5/24/1997 - Eric Morse 24:39 & Margo Webber 30:19 – 233 finishers.  I've been to a lot of races in my life, over 600, but only a handful as a spectator. The Wachusett Mountain race is part of the USATF New England Mountain running circuit and, as I'm the Mountain committee chair, attending was a necessity. Before the race I handed out Powerbites and information on the Mountain circuit. Don Drewniak volunteered me to drive the lead vehicle. This afforded me a great view of the race as it unfolded.   The race starts with a brutal one mile stretch that is all up, followed by a downhill break, and a few more good climbs in the last 3 miles. Generally speaking you should be able to run the race around your five mile (flat) time. While the weather was excellent, the bugs were merciless as the race began. I watched as duathalon specialist Richard Bolt did just that (Bolt, get it). He was closely followed by Tesfaye Bekele and Eric Morse. Morse, a member of the USA Mountain Running team at last year's World Mountain Running Championships, moved into the lead around 3/4 of a mile and hit the mile mark in six flat. It should be noted that Eric has run a sub four minute mile - this gives a pretty good indication of how hard the aptly name Mile Hill Road stretch of the race is. By the park entrance at 1.2-miles, Morse had a 20 second lead which he held throughout. Morse missed the course record by a scant couple of seconds. Bekele of Ethiopia, living in Cambridge, finished 9th at the Boston Marathon this year, and won the Ocean State Marathon last year. Mike Casner, who was also a member of the USA Mountain Running Team, ran a strong second half to capture third. Other random notes: Jim Garcia felt that once was not enough, the Ultraman ran down after the race. He then proceeded to run up and down the "hill" again.  Fully 1/4 of the field was in the male masters category, led by the "road warrrior" Bob Hodge with a 7th place overall finish. Women made up 1/6 of the field. Margo Webber, the women's course record holder and last year's winner, finished a strong 23rd overall, just missing her course record.  The Mountain Series concludes on June 1st at Temple Mountain. - - Dave Dunham Coolrunning
5/23/1998 - Dave Dunham picked up his third win with a 10 second victory over CMS teammate Richard Bolt 25:29 to 25:39.  Margo Webber also picked up her third title in 30:52 – 243 finishers.  CMS runners swept the first five places overall.  Returning to the roads after a one-year plus absence due to injury, Dave Dunham continued his impressive comeback by edging Richard Bolt.  This was Dave’s third Wachusett Mountain win in as many tries.  He had previously finished first in 1995 and 1996 (CR – 24:35).  Margo Webber, Karen McGahie and Jackie Shakar placed 1-2-3 in the women’s competition.  For Margo, who is the women’s course record holder (30:20 – 1996) it was a fifth win in five tries – 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998.  Bob Hodge, who was the overall winner in 1993, finished 7th overall and was the first master for the third consecutive year.  Matt Rossetti topped the junior division.  – CMS Newsletter
5/29/1999 - Eric Morse 24:14(CR) & Julie Peterson 29:24(CR) – 243 finishers.  On what was easily the hottest and most humid day of the year to date and the hottest in the long history of the Wachusett Mountain Road Race, two course records were set. Eric Morse, the 1997 winner, took control early in the race, built a 100+ yard lead by the two-mile mark and went on to an 18 second margin of victory over Dave Dunham, the 1998 winner and the previous course record holder. Morse's time of 24:14 bettered Dunham's existing 1996 mark by 21 seconds.   Running Wachusett Mountain for the first time, first-place women's finisher Julie Peterson covered the 4.3-mile course with its 1095-foot elevation gain in 29:24, obliterating Margo Webber's 1996 course record of 30:06. Madalena Boudreau and Webber placed 2-3 behind Peterson. Kiersten Lippman, Linda Urko, Jane Levesque and Ilga Moore placed first respectively in the female junior, master, senior and veteran divisions.   Len Hall, placing eighth overall, edged Bob Hodge to win the men's masters' competition. Hodge was the first master a year ago. Other divisional winners included David Marcinowski (junior), Sumner Brown (senior) and Gerald Barney (veteran). Brown was also the first-place senior in 1998. Over the years, the race has consistently had between 220 and 250 finishers. This year's total of 243 was exactly the same as that of last year.  Dunham and CMS teammate Richard Bolt became the first runners to crack 25 minutes and NOT win the race (24:32 & 24:34) – CMS newsletter
5/27/2000 – Eric Morse picked up his third win and Julie Peterson got her second.  Eric Morse (CMS) 24:32 & Julie Peterson (Saucony) 29:38 – 260 finishers
5/26/2001 - Eric Morse 24:30 & Suzy West 30:57 – 209 finishers. Morse becomes the first 4-time winner, Dave Dunham takes 2nd place for the third consecutive year.
5/25/2002 - Eric Morse 24:20 & Cathy Pearce 30:35 – 305 finishers.  Morse picks up his fifth win.  Craig Fram takes 2nd place overall, five seconds out of first place.  His 24:25 was not only the third fastest time ever run, but also a masters’ (40+) age group record.
5/24/2003 - Paul Low 24:50 & Suzy West 31:22 – 247 finishers.  Low takes the victory topping Eric Morse by 13 seconds.  Suzy West beats Kara Haas by 19 seconds taking the masters’ category along with her overall victory.
5/23/2004 - Paul Low 25:17 & Nikki Kimball 30:38 – 204 finishers. Low tops Morse again, this time by 11 seconds.  Nikki Kimball beat Julie Peterson (top master) by 8 seconds.
5/28/2005 - Paul Low 25:29 & Kara Haas 30:24 – 197 finishers.  Low wins by 30 seconds and Haas by over a minute.
5/27/2006 - Paul Low 25:07 & Carly Graytock 31:11 – 275 finishers.  Low pulled away early gapping the field, places 2nd – 6th, took a wrong turn inadvertently cutting the course short (they were too far behind Low to seeing him going the correct way and too far ahead of 7th place to get called back) and were disqualified.  Graytock topped Kelli Lusk by 11 seconds.
5/26/2007 - Paul Low 25:44 & Barbara McManus 31:02 – 328 finishers.  Low takes his fifth title tying Eric Morse for the most overall wins.
5/24/2008 - Ryan Carrara 25:21 & Amy Nedeau 29:13(CR) – 338 finishers.  Under perfect conditions, three records were set today up at the mountain.  We had our highest turnout of runners ever with 338 finishers.  This is an increase of 10 over last year.  Amy Nadeau set our second record by lowering the women's course record to 29:13.  The previous course record was 29:24, set in 1999 by Julie Peterson.  And the third record was an age category record for the Senior Women.  Lisa Doucett lowered the previous record of 37:39, set in 2002 by MaryLou Lowrie, to 36:48.   Thanks all for coming out for the 2008 edition of our race and please take note of the 40+ names listed at the bottom.  Without the volunteers, we could not put on this race each year.  – Race Directors report on Coolrunning
5/23/2009 - Ryan Carrara 30:44 & Adrienne Shields 38:20 – 335 finishers.  This year's Wachusett Mountain Race saw records being set in every category.  Of course, that was because of the redesigned route that both lengthened the distance to 5+ miles and brought the race onto dirt roads and trails. Some people had choice words to say to the RD about the 3rd mile...such as WHAT THE H-E-Double Hockey Sticks was that???  "The" Stu Thurston of Stu's 30k fame was heard to say, "I'm not going up there!!!"  The majority of comments though were very positive.  Anyway, thanks to all for coming out and almost matching last year's record turnout of 338 runners.  If you liked the course, let us know.  If you didn't, let us know too.  And last, but certainly not least, check out the names of the volunteers at the bottom.  The race would not have been possible without all their help!  – Race Directors report on Coolrunning
2010 – 323 finishers.  Once again the course did not go to the summit and was a mix of roads and trails.  USA mountain team members Eric Blake and Gina Lucrezi were the overall winners.
2011 – 308 finishers.  Jim Johnson & Abbey Gosling take the win over a slightly modified 4.7 mile course featuring both road and trail.
2012 - The 20th running of the Wachusett Road/Trail race was held on a hot and humid May 26th.  This year's race was the second year in a row that the distance was 4.7 with the race finishing down the MidState trail to the Lodge Parking Lot.  The race was won by Brandon Newbold of Nottingham, NH and Whirlaway Running Club in a time of 29:01, 7 seconds off last year's winning time and course record of 28:54 set by CMS's Jim Johnson. The women's race was won by Joanie Bohke of Waltham in a time of 36:20.  This year we had 226 finishers compared to last year's 308 so we were a bit off our usual numbers.    Maybe it was the hot day and maybe too many people are in training for the Worcester Half and Full marathons next week.  Future plans for this race are up in the air. There is always the looming question of "Will the race return to the top of the mountain?" or will the race stay like this, or even change again.  Hopefully the CMS board will look at this race closely to determine the best course of action.                              
This year's race went off smoothly and on-time with no problems encountered during the race.  CMS encountered a few snags pre-race day but were able to pull together and produce a great race.  The race director is extremely grateful to the outpouring of support from the CMS folks with over 40 volunteers helping out.  I have to single out a few people who always come thru: Rich Lemerise with race setup, organization and pottie-mover; Karen Lemerise with race-day and pre-registration duties; Joe Alfano       
with truck pick up, timing, scoring, truck loading, and everything else he does.  There are other key players but these three individuals make things happen!  Thanks - John Grenier 2012 Wachusett Mountain Race Director                 
2013 – 297 finishers.  The race returned to the renovated summit of Wachusett with a 2.9 mile climb on road followed by a 3.2 mile descent on a mix of road, dirt-road, and trail.  Erik Macknight finished 19 seconds ahead of Brandon Newbould for his first title (35:50) and Abby Mahoney dueled with Kristina Folcik taking a 6 second victory in 42:46.  Christin Doneski was top master 22 seconds out of first place.
2014 – 300 finishers.  For the second year the 10k up/down (mostly) road course was used.  Eric MacKnight picked up his second win running 34:52, nearly a minute up on Justin Freeman.  The top three women finished within 52 seconds with Kim Nedeau taking the win in 42:18, 18 seconds ahead of Stephanie Reilly and 52 seconds ahead of top masters runner Christin Doneski.
2015 – In deference to the USATF New England Mountain series request for more “uphill” Mountain races, the Wachusett race held a “race within a race”.  All runners were timed for the 2.9 mile road climb to the summit.  At that point they could chose to continue down the road and trails for the remaining 3.2 miles or they could just compete in the climb.  Some chose to just race the “up”, others raced up then took it easy on the downhill and others raced both up and down.  263 ran the climb led by Drew Best (19:07) and Kim Nedeau (21:34).  244 completed the entire 10k up/down course.  Josh Ferenc (36:54) and Sarah Bard (44:28) were top finishers.  It was notable that 5 of the top 9 finishers in the climb chose to not complete the downhill portion.

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