Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Arritola conquers Loon climb, makes world team

Qualifies for Labor Day trip to Italy


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

Morgan Arritola of Ketchum attacks New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain trails during Sunday’s uphill five-mile ascent.

Ketchum's Morgan Arritola woke up Sunday morning and ran about five miles straight uphill from the starting area along New Hampshire's Pemigewasset River to the 3,050-foot North Peak of Loon Mountain near the city of Lincoln.

When she reached the top in 46 minutes and 16 seconds, having conquered a grade that averaged 10% in steepness and sometimes exceeded 40%, Arritola couldn't quite see as far as the country of Italy. But she had earned a trip there.

Arritola, 26, of Ketchum, finished fourth of 289 finishers in Sunday's eighth running of The Loon Mountain Race. As the winning woman, she earned one of four berths on the 2012 USA Track and Field (USATF) Women's U.S. Mountain Running Team.

Clocking a pace of 8:16 per mile, Arritola was only three minutes off the men's winning pace of Jim Johnson, 35, of Madison, N.H. (43:16) and just two minutes behind men's runner-up Kris Freeman, 31, of Thornton, N.H. (44:15).

She finished ahead of women's runner-up Melody Fairchild, 38, of Denver, Colo. (8th overall in 47:06).

Besides Arritola and Fairchild, other women making the U.S. World Team were third-place Brandy Erholtz, 34, of Evergreen, Colo. (48:06) and fourth-place Stevie Kremer, 28, of Crested Butte, Colo. (48:21).

Part of the USATF mountain, ultra and trail run series, the Loon Mountain race in the White Mountains National Forest was the sole qualifying event for the 2012 Women's Mountain Running Team.

It was Arritola's first attempt at mountain running, which features ascent-only courses in the five-mile range.

As last year's Women's XTERRA Trail Run national and world champion over 13-mile courses, former U.S. Olympic Nordic skier Arritola has been more accustomed to longer trail runs.

Yet she enjoys running in general and likes new challenges, so Arritola put Loon Mountain on her schedule—especially after setting a new women's course record in winning the 11-mile, 5,400-foot Ascent of Mont Ventoux in southern France June 10.

Now she's headed back to Europe over Labor Day.

The U.S. team competes Sunday, Sept. 2 in the 28th annual World Mountain Running championships at Ponte di Legno, a northern Italian ski and summer resort in the Rhaetian Alps between Lombardy and Trentino.

At Ponte di Legno, women run a 7.9 kilometer (4.9-mile) uphill course ending at Tonale Pass, elevation 6,181 feet.

Arritola got her start locally in uphill running and has become one of the world's best. She is the three-time women's champion of the 1.86-mile, 3,140-foot Baldy Hill Climb. Arritola set the course record of 39:53 finishing atop the 9,020-foot summit back in 2010.




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