Canadian Shelley Doucet reached the podium at one of North America’s toughest road races.
The Mount Washington Road Race, which begins between Jackson and Gorham, N.H., went off on Saturday morning and follows the auto road from the base of the mountain to the peak. Runners climbs 1,420m over 12.2K on a relentlessly-tough course known for having “only one hill,” the race’s motto.
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The average climbing grade is approximately 12 per cent. Doucet, who hails from Quispamsis, N.B., finished third overall among women in 1:16:36 behind Brandy Erholtz and champion Shannon Payne (1:11:22). Finishing times are approximately what one would run for a half-marathon, according to Doucet.
“Hardest. Race. Ever,” Doucet wrote on Facebook on Saturday. The Mount Washington Road Race was her first mountain race. (See below for an idea on just how tough the climbs really are.) The Auto Road, which is tolled, is “America’s oldest manmade attraction” and is paved except for one section, the “dirt mile,” which is, as the name suggests, a 1,609m stretch of non-paved surface. Mount Washington itself features the highest summit in the northeastern United States at 1,916m.
The third-place podium finish comes six days after Doucet, 33, outright won the Rompin Rockwood 25K trail race in Saint John, N.B. Earlier this year, Doucet set a new provincial record running 2:46:29 (2:45:46 chip time) at the Boston Marathon. In May, Doucet was named to the provincial team set to compete at the 2017 Francophone Games in Abidjan, Ivory Coast at the end of July.
Two Canadians, both in the women’s race, have won the Mount Washington Road Race since the race first began more than a half-decade ago. Jacqueline Gareau won the event three times, in 1989, 1994, and 1996, while Lise Demers triumphed in 1973. Gareau remains one of the few runners to have ever won both the Boston Marathon and Mount Washington Road Race in their running career.