Stratton Vermont
June 26, 1999
by Simon Ritchie

Stratton Vermont, for the second time, hosted the USATF NE Mountain running championship race. The race also served as the final event in the 1999 mountain running circuit and a selection race for the USA Mountain running team. Temperatures in the low 90's and a bright sun indicated cautious running for the 56 entrants. Although numbers were lower than last year, the quality of the field was quite high. Past circuit champions Lisa Doucett (1998,1997), Eric Morse (1997), and Dave Dunham (1996,1998) were present. Morse and Dunham were separated by less than a point in the overall standings going into the race. Fred Ross had the male 50 - 59 in hand, however 2nd through 4th were all within 2 points going into the finale. The female open was Sue Lachance's to win with only Brenda Baxter having competed in all of the races. The masters looked to be a close battle between Lisa Doucett and Deborah Sheedy

Morse and Dunham have been racing back and forth throughout the spring. In the previous 3 mountain circuit races, 2 New England championships, and Mount Washington RR the two have been closely matched. Morse was the New England Champion at 10k and 12k, with Dunham as the runner up. In addition Morse won the 2nd and 3rd events in the mountain circuit, setting course records in both. Dunham won the 1st circuit race in course record time, and finished 3rd at Mount Washington. Over 6 races their total time differential was only 5 seconds. The battle commenced immediately with Dunham crashing into Morse in the first 10m of the race. "I thought we were going to the left so that's where I headed" stated a directionally challenged Dunham. "I wasn't sure if he was kidding, or just trying to shake me up" noted Morse. Eric quickly regrouped and pulled ahead. The pack strung out over the initial 6k loop, which climbed and dropped over 700 feet.

"I knew if I broke away early Dave would be hard pressed to catch me," said Morse. At the 6k mark Eric had over a minute on Dunham. "I was just trying to catch Rich Bolt before the 6k mark, I couldn't even see Eric" said Dunham. Bolt and Dunham passed 6k in 24:44 with Wayne Jacob close behind. Morse held on to his shrinking lead to win his second USATF NE Mountain title in 46:33. Dunham pulled away from Bolt to take 2nd in 47:05, with Rich taking 3rd in 48:36.

On the women's side Julie Peterson took it out cautiously in the first loop. She showed her climbing prowess on the 3.3k 1700' climb pulling away to a convincing victory in 58:28. Peterson a five time Olympic trials qualifier won her first USATF NE mountain championship while placing 10th overall. Sue Lachance's 3rd place finish gave her the victory in the overall circuit competition.

Wayne Jacob destroyed the master's field in placing 4th overall (49:34). His percentage of the winners time was 93.9 which was the highest achieved by a master during the circuit. Cliff Evans took the circuit champion honors for 40 - 49. On the female side, Lisa Doucett (69:24) won the New England championship and took the circuit with her win at Stratton. Lisa placed 4th overall among the ladies. No women competed in the 50 - 59 or 60+ age groups. The circuit winners were Jane Levesque and Ilga Moore. Zeke Zucker (67:56) won the male-50 - 59, Fred Ross took 2nd and won the circuit. John Pelton (62:55) won the 60+ category, Eldon Burkinshaw took 2nd and also won the circuit.

Awards were handed out to the New England Champions, and to the overall circuit winners. In addition Saucony provided T-shirts to the 28 runners who completed the four-race circuit. A drawing was also held for 5 free entries too next years Mount Washington road race. 37 of the 56 finishers (66%) were USATF NE members, a record high percent for any of the circuit races.

Stratton was once again the only selection race for the USA team for the world championships. The top 2 men (Eric Morse and Dave Dunham), and the top woman (Julie Peterson) earned a spot on the team. The world championships will be contested on September 19th in Malaysia. The remainder of the team (4 men and 3 women) will be named soon. Selection to the world team is based on mountain/trail running ability, past world performances, and current form. This will be Julie's first time on the USA Mountain running team. Eric was selected in 1997 and 1998, and Dave has been on the team 1992-1996 and 1998.

USA Track & Field New England


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