Everybody in Ketchum knows that Morgan Arritola is a relentless fighter on the uphills—and her challengers in Vail, Co. learned that fact about the former U.S. Nordic Ski Team racer last weekend.
Arritola, 28, won Saturday’s challenging 13.7-mile Vail Pass Half Marathon with a strong finish and added a 10-kilometer victory in Sunday’s Vasque Spring Runoff to collect the maximum $2,400 in money for a woman in the two-race series.
The running competition was a highlight of Vail’s Go Pro Mountain Games, a June 5-8 event that calls itself the larg-est celebration of adventure sports in the U.S. There were nine sports in 25 disciplines with participants shooting for over $110,000 in prize money.
Arritola closed a 30-second gap with a mile remaining and out-legged recent college graduate Allison McLaughlin, 23, of Colorado Springs by one second at the finish. Arritola’s time in repeating her 2012 Vail Pass Half Marathon victory was 1.39:16, seventh overall, while McLaughlin was timed in 1.39:17, eighth overall.
Third place among women went to Stevie Kremer, 30, of Crested Butte, Co., who ran with Arritola for most of the race and finished in 1.40:05.
Vail Pass Half Marathon was one of many events in the Go Pro Games including kayaking, biking, fishing and dock dog retrieving.
This year, the Vail Pass Half was a qualifying event for the American team that will com-pete Aug. 16 in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge during the Pikes Peak (Co.) Ascent competition.
The Vail Pass Half course, closer to 14 miles than the standard 13.1-mile half mara-thon, had an elevation gain of 2,900 feet from Vail Village to the top of Vail Pass. It returned to the finish at 10,000 feet.
“I’m excited about making the team,” said Arritola, spon-sored by Salomon, Oakley, Kind Bar and Lizzy’s Coffee.
She added, “This year’s Vail Pass Half was a qualifier for the U.S. team (headed to Pikes Peak) so it was very competi-tive. The Go Pro Games was a huge event, which was fun.”
Arritola turned around after Saturday’s grueling Vail race and paced 162 women in Sun-day’s 10k Spring Runoff staged at 9,000-foot elevation. Her time was 53:41, 34 seconds faster than runner-up Megan Kimmel of Silverton, Co.
“It was my first time doing the 10k trail run,” said Arri-tola, who returned to Ketchum after her big weekend and will now take time off in France.
The men’s winner for both the Vail Pass Half Marathon and 10k Spring Runoff was 2012 Sun Valley Half Marathon champion Joseph Gray, 30, of Colorado Springs. He won the 13.1-miler by 55 seconds in 1.26:36, and added the Runoff win by 92 seconds in 45:05.
Arritola’s summer racing schedule includes the Mount Washington Road Race in New Hampshire on Saturday, June 21; and the all-important Loon Mountain Race Sunday, July 6.
The 2014 U.S. Mountain Running Team will be selected at the USA Mountain Running Championships July 6 at Lin-coln, N.H. in conjunction with the Loon Mountain Race.
The top six men and four women from that race will rep-resent the U.S. at the 30th an-nual Mountain Running World Championships Sept. 14 at Casette di Massa, Italy. That’s located at the foot of the Apuan Alps in the Tuscany region.
Arritola led the U.S. women to the team gold medal in 2012 at the World Mountain Run-ning Association world cham-pionships in Italy. She did not compete for the U.S. at the 2013 mountain running worlds be-cause she is currently attend-ing college in Canada.