Ketchum’s Morgan Arritola made a splash at the Vail Pass Half Marathon during June in Colorado and she jumped right back into the big-time mountain running pool Sunday, July 6 in New Hampshire.
Arritola, 28, finished second among 78 women on a demanding 4.8-mile uphill course at Loon Mountain near the city of Lincoln and earned one of four American female berths to the 30th annual Mountain Running World Championships Sept. 14 at Casette di Massa, Italy.
“It was the most competitive field in history,” said Arritola, who won the Loon Mountain race two years ago before taking last year off from competition while attending college.
Last Sunday, Arritola (48:15) finished five seconds ahead of third-place Kasie Enman, 34, of Huntington, Vt. and 24 seconds faster than fourth-place Megan Deakins, 24, of Mountain View, Ca. The winner was Allison McLaughlin, 23, of Colorado Springs, Co. in 47:12, about a minute faster than Arritola.
Memorably, Arritola had rallied from behind and nipped two-time University of Colorado cross-country All-American McLaughlin in a photo finish at the Vail Pass Half Marathon June 7. But McLaughlin was ready for Arritola this time and earned the top prize.
All four—McLaughlin, Arritola, 2011 World Mountain
Running Champion Enman and Deakins—made the U.S. team headed to Italy and will provide a healthy mix of experience and youth when they arrive at the foot of the Apuan Alps in Tuscany.
Arritola won $1,000 for her finish in New Hampshire.
Two years ago, in Sept. 2012, Arritola led the U.S. mountain runners to the team gold medal during the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) world championships at Ponte di Legno, Italy.
Arritola was third in the individual women’s event on the 5.5-mile Ponte di Legno course, just 51 seconds behind the gold medalist from Austria and 22 seconds behind the silver medalist from Italy.
The 10th annual Loon Mountain race, the only qualifier for the U.S. women’s and men’s mountain running teams headed to worlds, was staged on separate courses finishing on the infamous Upper Walking Boss—a grass- and rock-covered slope with 40% grade.
Both the men’s seven-mile route with 3,200 feet of elevation gain and the women’s 4.8-mile ascent with 2,800 feet of gain were altered this year to closely resemble the world course at Casette di Massa.
Leading the 175 men at Loon Mountain was former Sun Valley Half Marathon winner Joseph Gray, 30, of Colorado Springs, Co. in 45:52, 47 seconds ahead of runner-up Patrick Smyth, 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah (46:39). The top six men qualified for worlds.
Former U.S. Olympic Nordic skier Arritola was the 2011 Women’s XTERRA Trail Run national and world champion over 13-mile courses.
Before turning to ascent-only mountain running in 2012, Arritola was more accustomed to longer trail runs. She got her start locally in uphill running and 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.