Friday, September 30, 2011

Arritola climbs to XTERRA trail run title

Mitchell also places high at Snowbasin

Express Staff Writer

XTERRA Trail Run womenís winner Morgan Arritola (third from right) atop the podium with menís winner Max King of Bend, Ore. Sunday at Snowbasin, Utah. Courtesy photo

Ketchum's Morgan Arritola, 25, three-time women's winner of the Baldy Hill Climb and the course record holder, took a pass on competing in last Saturday's race because she tackled a longer and tougher test.

On Sunday at Snowbasin, Utah, Arritola won the 2011 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship on a 21-kilometer (13.1-mile) half marathon course with a finishing time of 1.29:09. She placed ninth overall of 211 finishers including 75 women and 136 men.

Not only did Arritola win the $1,000 first-place women's prize, she received a free trip to Hawaii for the $10,000 XTERRA Trail Run World Championships Dec. 4 at Kualoa Ranch on the northeast coast of Oahu.

Arritola said, "It was a hard race but fun when you finish."

The $5,000 event near Ogden started at 6,133 feet elevation and reached a high point of 7,300 feet, with 2,200 feet of climbing. In contrast, the December world championships at lower elevations (27 feet low point, 741 feet high point) offers 2,900 feet of Hawaii climbing.

Climbing is something 2010 Olympic Nordic ski team member Arritola has always done well. On Sunday, she started fast and left the others behind en route to a one minute-and-45-second victory over 2010 Olympic teammate Liz Stephen, 24, of Vermont (1.30:54).

"I figured climbing is my strength, so I thought that I'd kind of make some people hurt right off the bat on the (first) uphill and see what happened," she told

Arritola was making her second attempt this year at a national caliber trail run. On June 10, Arritola won the USA Track and Field Half Marathon Trail Championship in her hometown of Bend, Ore. She ran in SCOTT shoes (the MK3) and apparel, and made sure to thank the Ketchum-based SCOTT for its support in sending her to Utah Sunday.

Hailey's Brad Mitchell also had a great race Sunday, placing fourth overall and first in the Men's 40-44 age class with a time of 1.26:37, a pace of 6:39 per mile. He won $300. The men's national winner for a fourth straight year was Max King, 31, of Bend in 1.17:59. Remarkably, King also won the USA 50k Trail Championship in Bend on Saturday, just 24 hours before.

Arritola won the Baldy Hill Climb in 2010, 2007 and 2006, and captured four consecutive Elephant's Perch Backcountry Run 10-milers from 2008-11 along with the setting the course record of 1.00:31 July 16.

Michelle Jensen, 41, of Boise, another familiar Backcountry Run star with six women's 16.5-mile titles in her pocket, placed 26th overall in Sunday's XTERRA race and was the sixth woman in 1.35:30. Ketchum's Will Northrop was 29th in 1.37:15 and finished second in the Men's 40-44 class.

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