US Women Win Gold at the World Mountain Running Championships
Newcomer Morgan Arritola leads US women to third team gold; men place fourth
Morgan Arritola (above) finished third in her first World Mountain Running Championship and the U.S. women’s Mountain Running Team (USMRT) placed three runners in the top eight to win their third-ever team gold medal Sunday, September 2 in Ponte di Liego, Italy.
“I knew it would be fast and aggressive from the start so I got out and made sure I was in front and stayed safe. I’m not afraid to throw some elbows, which definitely happened,” says Arritola, 26, of Ketchum, Idaho, who covered the mostly uphill 8.8-kilometer course in 47 minutes 26 seconds.
Austria’s Andrea Mayr won the individual title in 46 minutes 35 seconds, finishing solidly ahead of runner-up Valentina Belloti of Italy, who crossed the line in 47 minutes, four seconds. Stevie Kremer, of Crested Butte, Colorado, finished second for the U.S. team and seventh overall in 48 minutes 54 seconds, and Boulder, Colorado’s Melody Fairchild finished third for the team and eighth overall in 48 minutes 57 seconds. Brandy Erholtz, of Evergreen, Colorado, finished 40th overall in 53 minutes 13 seconds. Their 18 team points bested second-place Italy by 11 points.
“It wasn't a surprise that the women were gold medal winners as a team,” says USATF Mountain/Ultra/Trail Chair Nancy Hobbs, who helped lead the U.S. delegation to Italy. “I knew they had the ability to come out on top, but you never know until race day how things will unfold. The competition is more fierce every year and athletes need to be on top of their game to medal.”
For Arritola, a former Olympian in Nordic skiing, this race capped off a remarkable debut season as a mountain runner that included winning the US title in July. “I felt like I have a good third gear but I don't have that fourth and fifth gear at the moment so I wasn't able to hang on during the really steep climbs, which was where I lost contact with first and second,” she says. “All in all though it was a really great atmosphere and gave me goals for next time.”
The U.S. women won the team gold in 2006 and 2007. Last year, former team member, Vermont's Kasie Enman earned the first individual gold for the U.S., and the team finished fourth overall.