Peter Watson had always planned and talked about getting a team of women together to compete in the Mount Washington Road Race.
Watson, a former Gloucester Daily Times editor who passed away last November after a bout with brain cancer, was a veteran of the grueling uphill road race of more than 20 years and founder of Team Gloucester, a group of Cape Ann runners who have been making the trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the last two decades plus.
The avid runner had his team all picked out years ago featuring three of the top female runners on Cape Ann in Layce Alves, Regina Loiacano and Jenn Brooks.
“We didn’t even know each other at the time,” Alves said. “But 10 years later we all got together through Peter and started training together.”
With Watson’s health worsening, the three, along with Tina Dowling, who they picked up from the Addidas run team, competed in last year’s race and as a team finished second in the women’s division. This year, however, the quartet is planning on taking first place in Watson’s honor.
For the last several months Alves, Loiacano, Brooks and Dowling have been training together in preparation for the 7.6 mile uphill jaunt that has an elevation gain of more than 4,500 feet from start to finish.
With the women having young children at home, finding time to train has been difficult, but they have made time. The Team Gloucester women have been up and training at 5:00 a.m. every weekend to get ready for the race, and according to Alves all four are in peak physical shape.
“We’re looking strong,” Alves said. “It’s pretty uplifting to be training with a group of talented women. We can match each others speed, which is tough to come by sometimes. This is a tough race both physically and mentally and I think we’re ready.”