Gray, 32, of Colorado Springs, hit the finish line and held three fingers in the air to celebrate. He finished in 58 minutes, 17 seconds, the third-fastest time in race history and just a couple of ticks off his American record of 58:15.
"The race went great," Gray said. "I just got out into a groove and focused on being consistent with my effort. I came in a little tired from training, so missing my American record by a bit put a little sting in my butt. But oh well, I made a rookie mistake and I'll learn."
(Photo, Kim Dobson at the 2016 Black Canyon Road Ascent)
Colorado runners swept the wins in New Hampshire. Kim Dobson, the four-time Pikes Peak Ascent champion, dashed to the women's title and placed ninth overall in 1:09:34, only nine seconds off her personal best time. The victory is her second-consecutive and fourth overall on Mount Washington's steep slopes.
The course is relentless, climbing more than 4,650 vertical feet in about 7.6 miles, with a finish line at 6,288 feet elevation at the mountain's summit.
The race marked the beginning of Colorado Springs runner Shannon Payne's return to mountain running. Payne finished third in 1:16:14. The longtime track and road racer ventured into mountain running in 2014 when she won the Black Canyon Ascent, then captured the women's win at Mount Washington. She finished the year with a gutsy third-place performance in the Pikes Peak Ascent before injuries forced her to take a long break from competition.
"I've been out of action for a while, and the only thing I wanted when I decided to come out here was just to give it my best shot, see what's there, and let the cards fall where they may," Payne said. "I'm so thankful just to be back out here again, healthy, and feeling good, so third place was really just icing."
Kim Nedeau of Leverett, Mass., placed second in the women's race.
Eric Blake, a former winner at Mountain Washington, finished second in 59:49, followed by Italy's Tommaso Vaccina in 1:01:41.
Hoka's Simon Gutierrez, 50, of Colorado Springs, placed sixth with a time of 1:07:50, about a minute off the 50-54 age-group record. C.J. Hitz, 43, of Colorado Springs, finished 11th at 1:10:38.
The Team Colorado group of Dobson, Payne, Mary Baldwin (25, Colorado Springs, 1:29:35) and Brandy Erholtz (38, Evergreen, 25 weeks pregnant, 1:33:17), won the women's team title.
One of the country's most successful mountain runners, Gray twice finished second on Mountain Washington before capturing his first win in 2014. He won in 2015 with a time of 58:15, the second-best time ever recorded there. The race record is held by Jonathan Wyatt who ascended in 56:41 in 2004.
Dobson, 31, of Eagle, is running well this spring and recording times similar to 2012, when she crushed the Pikes Peak Ascent record. She has set course records at the Black Canyon Ascent (44:53, six miles) and the Mt. Evans Ascent, clocking 1:55:38 in a 14.5-mile race that finishes at 14,225-feet elevation.
Official race results have not been posted and internet connectivity from Mount Washington is sketchy at best. Stick with PikesPeakSports.us for more race info from Mount Washington.