MOUNT WASHINGTON — It was a day of repeat victories for local athletes in Friends of Tuckerman Ravine’s 19th annual Mount Washington Inferno Pentathlon Saturday, with Andrew Drummond snagging his fifth solo TuckerMan title, Jessica Marion repeating as TuckerWoman, the Tuckerettes of Jackson taking the all-women’s team title a fourth year and All Stoved Up and Tucked Out repeating for the men's team title.
The race consisted of an 8.3-mile run from Story Land up over Glen Ledge and out on Route 302 west to Thorne Pond at Attitash, followed by a 5.5-mile paddle kayak/canoe race down the Saco to Glen Ellis Campground, after which competitors raced back up over Glen Ledge Road to Route 16 for the 18.2-mile ride north through Pinkham Notch, followed by a 3-mile hike to Tuckerman Ravine.
It ended in a ski/snowboard leg just to the left of Left Gully in Tuckerman Ravine, followed by a descent over the Little Headwall and down the 1933-CCC built classic Sherburne Trail to Pinkham Notch.
The locally based Tuckerettes won their fourth all-women’s team title in 4 hours, 12 minutes, 36.5 seconds.
Team members included runner Catherine Graciano (1:07:05, ninth in the class), kayaker Rachel Freierman (49:24, first), cyclist Leah Hart (1:14:22, seventh), hiker Margaret Graciano (47:46, first) and skier Carrie McLane Burkett, wife of All Stoved Up’s Matty Burkett, (6:54, second in the hike/ski and 7:04, first, in the ski).
Placing second in the six-team all-women’s class were the Tampons on Crampons in 4:27:32.5, and Lynn Lyman’s Valley Girls of North Conway were third in 4:46:18.4. Other members of the Valley Girls included runner Cathleen Livingston (1:10:39, 15th); kayaker Amanda Wirling (51:39, third); Lyman (cyclist, 1:14:54, eighth); hiker Emily Wirling (1:11:41, 10th) and skier Maggie Flynn (7:37, third).
Repeating as all-male team champions was the locally based All Stoved Up and Tucked Out squad with a time of 3:24:05.8. It was believed to be their fourth straight team title and fifth or sixth overall.
Team members included runner Alex Luechanka (47:11, first); kayaker Mike Malkin (49:12, ninth; cyclist Eric Nelson (57:25, first); hiker Zach Switaj (57:25, first) and snowboarder Matty Burkett (6:30, third, in the snowboard hike to the top of the course and 8:30, 13th in the descent).
Placing second in the all-male team class was Fresh Off the Couch in 3:30:14.1, followed in third by Team Vermont in 3:39:27.0.
Defending champion Drummond, 37, of Madison took his fifth straight solo TuckerMan title with a time of 3:55:59.6 over past champion Josh Flanagan, who was second in 4:01:39.23. Adam Freierman was third in 4:19:36.3.
Only one other man has won as many times as Drummond, and that is David Lamb, who also won five TuckerMan titles.
Drummond — a member of the board of directors for Granite Backcountry Alliance and operator of Ski the Whites at Black Mountain — was sixth in the solo run in 54:29; second in the kayak portion in 46:50; second in the cycling portion in 1:00:57; ninth in the hike in 59:02; sixth in the hike/ski in 7:19 and fifth in the ski in 7:20.
“It was about as good as you can get for conditions,” said Drummond, saying he'd debated whether to run the race this year.
“I was on the fence, just working too much and not training as much as I’d like to, but honestly, it was the prestige of being able to ski top-to-bottom in the Inferno that meant I had to do it,” said Drummond, noting it was the first time in his five victories he had been able to ski on a route in the ravine and not just from the top of the Sherburne Trail the past four years.
“There were no winds (either on the run or bike race and little in the ravine) and lots of snow in Tuck’s and on the hike and ski legs," he said.
"Last year, we had snow, sleet and rain for the bike ride,” said Drummond, “but this year, with the excellent conditions, I pushed myself a little harder on the bike so by the time I got to the hike section, the wheels (figuratively speaking) started to fall off at that point, so I just really tried to survive on that portion and get to the ravine.
"I had a bit of a cushion of a lead after the good run and kayak, so I felt I could step off the gas a little bit at that point, but it really just became a fight for me to get up there this year. I had used up my gels and my water before reaching HoJo’s (at the Forest Service shelter at Hermit Lake just below the Little Headwall).”
Repeating as solo TuckerWoman was reigning champion Jessica Marion, 32, a teacher based in Brunswick, Maine, who had a total time of 4:15:54.7 (she was first in the run in 1:00:39; second in kayak in 50:23; third in bike in 1:08:14; fifth in hike in 59:54 and first in the hike/ski 6:40 and 10th in the ski portion in 10:01). It was her “third or fourth time” as champion, she said.
Placing second in the TuckerWoman class was Drummond’s girlfriend, former U.S. Ski Team member Hillary McCloy, who finished in 4:27:05.5 with times of 1:02:50 in the run (fourth); 53:58 in kayak (seventh); 1:10:21 in cycling fourth); 1:03:16 in the hike (sixth), 9:11 in the hike/ski start (fifth) and 7:19 (second) in the ski descent. Placing third was Kristina Folcir in 5:02:59.1.
The women’s field of solo competitors featured seven racers this year, double that of past years. The slate of seven all-women’s teams also was twice as many as last year's entries.
Following an avalanche casualty last Thursday (see story page 3), course officials tested conditions and set the ski/snowboard course Friday. They stuck with their decision at a race meeting Saturday morning, said Jake Risch, president of Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, an organization dedicated to preserving the Mount Washington and Tuckerman backcountry experience.
Proceeds benefit projects to assist the U.S. Forest Service’s Mount Washington Avalanche Center.
“It was a great race all around, with more entrants and strong sponsorship,” said Peter Nelson of Newmarket, executive director of the FOTR.
For full results, go to fotr.link/2019_Inferno_Race_Results.