Central Connecticut's Eric Blake will be competing in his seventh Mt. Washington Road Race on Saturday June 18. The head coach of Central's men's and women's cross country and track programs, Blake is a two-time champion of the event which takes place on the famous Mt. Washington Auto Road, in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire. Blake was the runner-up at the event last year and is a two-time champion of the race.
Blake has been extremely successful in his first six trips up Mt. Washington. In 2004, he turned in a fourth place finish in his first start at the event. Since then Blake has run the race every year, except 2007, and never finished lower than second place. Blake's victories came in 2006 and 2008. He has been the runner-up the last two years and has a third silver medal from the 2005 race. He finished last year's race in 1:00.40 that was just one second off his personal best of 1:00.39 that he ran in his 2008 victory.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road covers 7.6 miles of pavement and packed gravel, the road is completely uphill with the finish line at an elevation of 6,288 feet. In elevation the road ascends 4,727 feet between the starting gate and the finish line. The average grade of the course is 12% with the final 100 yards covering a grueling 22% incline.
Of course, Blake is no stranger to the Mt. Washington course, and he enters the race with an experienced and tested plan. "The goal is always to win, but I just focus on running a good race," Blake said. "You can't control the weather or if another athlete turns in a great performance, but if I run a good race that should put me in contention to win."
A veteran of the United States Mountain Running team, Blake has run some of the most difficult courses around the world. Although Mt. Washington is not the Team USA qualifying event this year, Blake still has not ruled out the possibility of attempting to make the 2011 U.S. team. The 2011 Team USA qualifying race is the Cranmore Hill Climb in North Conway, NH. It will be held on June 26, one week after Mt. Washington.
The 2010-11 year marked Blake's first campaign as the women's coach at CCSU and his second in charge of the men's team. The women improved their team performance during each season this year while the men captured their second consecutive Northeast Conference Cross Country Championship. During the indoor season, Blake led the CCSU men to their first NEC Track Championship, only three years prior the team had finished last in the conference.
Check back this weekend for the results from Mt. Washington.