Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Arritola leads U.S. women to mountain gold

Runners in the Italian Alps

Express Staff Writer

     Competing in only her second mountain running race, Ketchum’s Morgan Arritola led the U.S. women to the team gold medal Sept. 2 at the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) world championships in Ponte di Legno, Italy.

     It was the only gold medal won by the Americans during the 28th annual competition that attracted 343 runners from 40 countries to the Vallecamonica area of the Italian Alps. Eleven countries won gold—Turkey 2, the African nation of Eritrea 2, Uganda 2, U.S. 1 and Austria 1.

     Arritola, 26, captured the bronze medal in the Senior Women’s individual event for 88 finishers on an 8.8-kilometer (5.5-mile) course that contained over 2,500 vertical feet of elevation gain before the runners reached the finish at Tonale Pass.

     Her finish of 47:26 was only 51 seconds off the gold medal time of Austria’s Andrea Mayer (46.35). Silver medalist Valentina Bellotti of Italy (47:04) nipped Arritola for the second-place position by 22 seconds.

     Next-best Yank was Stevie Kremer, 28, of Crested Butte, Colo. seventh in 48:54 ahead of Melody Fairchild, 38, of Denver in eighth in 48:57. The other U.S. Senior Women’s runner at worlds, also earning a team gold medal, was Brandy Erholtz, 34, of Evergreen, Colo., in 40th place at 53:13.

     Team medals were calculated by adding the finishing places of a nation’s top three runners. So the American women won the gold medal with 18 points over silver medalist Italy 29 and bronze winner Switzerland 58.

     Arritola said the course was hard and women’s winner Mayer was fast on the uphills, but the weather conditions were ideal featuring temperatures of 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The former U.S. Olympic Nordic skier from Ketchum said she did all she could and was proud of the bronze.

     Last year’s world women’s winner at the event in Albania was Kasie Enman, a New England runner and former Middlebury College All-American runner. But Enman, 32, of Huntington, Vt. finished fifth during the U.S. Mountain Running qualifying trials for four world running berths this past July at Lincoln, N.H. Arritola won that Loon Mountain U.S. qualifier by 50 seconds over runner-up Fairchild.

     Joseph Gray, 28, of Newcastle, Wash., sponsored by Ketchum-based Scott Sports, finished 14th of 138 men in the Senior Men’s 14.1k (8.7-mile) race with a 1.056:20 time at worlds. Gray was the winner of this year’s Sun Valley Half Marathon race June 2.

     Senior men’s winner in Italy Sept. 2 was Petro Mamo of men’s team gold medalist Eritrea in 1.01:34. Junior men’s and women’s individual winners were Michael Cherop of Uganda and Sevilay Eytemis of Turkey.

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