Saturday, July 11, 2009

Colby and Shea repeat winners at Newton’s Revenge

Repeating the top of the leader sheet from the previous year, 30-year-old Anthony Colby and 46-year-old Marti Shea won Newton’s Revenge, a 7.6-mile bike race to the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in the northeastern United States.

Colby, a native of Dedham, Mass., who lives and trains in the Durango, CO, bested his winning time from last year by nearly two minutes, finishing in 53 minutes and 50 seconds. He rode through the finish almost four minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, 20-year-old Christopher Hong, from Lutherville, MD. Three-time women’s winner, Marti Shea, from Marblehead, MA, also bested her time from last year, coming in at 1:08:42, ahead of second-place finisher and former Ironman Triathlon World Champion, Karen Smyers, who finished at 1:15:43.

The conditions, which can be a daunting challenge on Mt. Washington, proved to be nearly perfect for the 142 cyclists, with sunny skies and a light breeze at the start. Even as riders scaled the 6,288 Mt. Washington, into the teeth of potentially savage conditions, the weather remained favorable, with only a slight headwind giving riders a minor, but undeniable, nudge.

Whereas in the 2008 Newton’s Revenge Colby had a challenge from rider Philip Gaimon, who went on to win the 2008 Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, this year Colby rode the race on his own, out of sight from the rest of the riders. Splitting from the pack at the opening cannon blast, Colby mounted a lead that was 47 seconds within the first 1 ½ miles of the race, and only got larger as he climbed. Even though he was competing largely against himself, Colby was determined to not run out of gas: “I just wanted to keep my own pace, but kept saying, ‘oh baby, this is so steep.’ Last year with Phil I think we went too hard at the bottom, and this year I was able to keep it consistent.”

Hong, in his first appearance at Mt. Washington, had a similar race, pushing forward alone, well behind Colby, yet far ahead of the rest of the pack. Keeping his face calm and his posture steady, Hong kept a consistent pace and rode his own race to the finish, where he was greeted by his mother and a great perspective on the challenge of the race. “This is the most tired I’ve ever been,” Hong said, “I was planning on trying to stand up (at the last push) but I felt like I was going backwards, so I just tired to get my weight down and push on.”

At the 2008 Newton’s Revenge, women’s winner Marti Shea was forced to cross the finish line on foot due to a broken chain suffered yards from the finish, but this year she decided that it worked so well last time she’d run the last, brutal 22% grade again. “I just felt like running at the end,” Shea said. “I figured that I could just get off the bike and felt that I could run even faster.”
Shea battled pneumonia before the 2008 Newton’s Revenge, and after a full training schedule this year, was able to knock nearly six minutes off of her winning time from last year. In fact, Shea is the only women’s winner in the history of Newton’s Revenge.

Second place finisher Karen Smyers of Lincoln, MA, watched Shea sprint out at the start, and according to Smyers, “She was gone.” “I’ve never trained for something like this,” the 48-year-old Smyers went on to say of her inaugural trip to Newton’s Revenge, “I think I was using too easy gears, and could use some more practice.” When asked if she will be competing in the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in August, which is held on the same course, Smyers laughed and said she was signed up, but “Don’t make me think about it now!”

Before the start, a healthy mix of seasoned veterans and nervous newcomers milled around the base of Mt. Washington, trading secrets about gearing, and pedaling their bikes on trainers to fire up their climbing muscles. Riders from as far away as Texas journeyed to the White Mountains for the chance to ride up the tallest mountain in the Northeast, and the sense of excitement and nervous tension created a healthy buzz around the start.

Two age group course records were set today, including Shea’s performance of 1:08:42. Shea bested her own course record for females ages 45-49 of 1:14:22, which she set in 2008. One age bracket higher, in the 50 to 54 age division, Dominique Codere of Montreal, Quebec set a new record of 1:23:42, outpacing the old mark of 1:26:03 set by Carol Lanza in 2000.

Newton’s Revenge is also a race that is part of the Bike Up the Mountain Point Series (BUMPS), and current BUMPS leader Douglas Jansen of Pelham, NH made a strong showing, finishing fifth overall in a time of 1:06:23 and increasing his lead in the series. BUMPS, which includes Newton’s Revenge, the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and five other mountain races throughout the Northeast, began at Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks and concludes in October. For further information, see www.hillclimbseries.com.

This year there was an unofficial competitor in the Newton’s Revenge field, as a large moose wandered onto the course at the three mile mark, but retreated to the woods before Colby rode through. Luckily for the competitors, the moose did not make a return to the course.

Newton’s Revenge, first held in 2006, and canceled in 2007 due to bad weather, is held on the same course as the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, an event that dates back to 1973, and attracts a field of 600 riders. This year’s race scheduled for August 15 is already filled to capacity.

Complete results are available at www.NewtonsRevenge.com.

1 comment:

  1. nice post and thanks for sharing....

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