Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Arritola captures Vail Pass half marathon

Next up: France’s Mont Ventoux

Express Staff Writer

Morgan Arritola, holding an FIS World Nordic Championship bib in her cross-country ski racing days three years ago in Ketchum, is headed to Europe for a little biking and a run up Mont Ventoux. Photo by Willy Cook

Ketchum's Morgan Arritola, 26, likes the hills and altitude, so Saturday's Vail Pass Half Marathon was right up her alley of uphill challenges.

Arritola won the women's division and the first-place $1,200 prize in a feature event of the 2012 Summer Teva Mountain Games staged at Vail, Colo. May 31-June 3.

The course, actually closer to 14 miles than the standard 13.2-mile half marathon layout, had an elevation gain of 2,900 feet from Vail Village to the top of Vail Pass. It then returned to the finish at 10,000 feet.

Arritola (11th overall of 105 finishers) led 40 female runners in 1.37:44, a winner by 31 seconds over defending Vail Pass Half Marathon queen Kim Dobson, 28, a second-grade teacher from Denver, Colo. Dobson, who won in 1.31:18 last year, finished in 1.38:15 Saturday.

Last year's Women's XTerra Trail Run national and world champ over similar 13-mile courses, recently retired Olympic Nordic skier Arritola showed she is fully focused on running, particularly at the half marathon distance.

Runner-up Dobson was a worthy competitor. She won the 2011 Pike's Peak Ascent two months after taking the title of the 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Hill Climb in New Hampshire.

But Arritola, a 5-4, 116-pound engine of endurance, showed she was up to the challenge. So was Saturday's Vail Pass men's winner. He was Glenn Randall, 25, of Mesa, Colo. in 1.23:23.

Like Arritola, Randall grew up in a small town at altitude, about 8,000 feet in Collbran, Colo. on the western slope of the Rockies.

Like Arritola, he was a cross-country skier—becoming the first Dartmouth College skier in 41 years to win a national Nordic title, in 2008 in the 10-kilometer freestyle race at Bozeman, Mt.

A 2009 Dartmouth graduate, Randall won the 13.3-mile Pike's Peak Ascent in 2010 on a course that gained nearly 8,000 feet to the finish at 14,050 feet. His time was 2.09:28.

But his 15 minutes of fame arrived in April when Randall, not a Kenyan runner, led the Boston Marathon for the first six miles of the 26.2-mile test before fading to 60th in 2.37:13.

The Vail Pass Half Marathon was one of many events in the Summer Teva Mountain Games including climbing, fishing, slack line, mountain and road biking and kayaking.

Arritola returned to Ketchum on Sunday and then left Tuesday for France—where she'll have a week of biking and another running race.

The Baldy Hill Climb course record holder, Arritola will tackle a running course up 6,273-foot Mont Ventoux—the so-called Bald Mountain of the Provence region of southern France, about 60 miles north of Marseilles. Mont Ventoux is legendary for being one of the most grueling climbs of past Tour de France bicycle races.

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