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Ashley Arnold December 28, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Running for Red, White and Blue - Page 5

With the top two spots on this year's team secured, third and fourth are a different story. A finish chute—made of caution tape—is strung up to the left of the course. With the two-lap setup it is difficult to tell where the actual finish line is since you have to veer slighlty left at the end of the final straight away. Nearing the end of the downhill, Erholtz loses momentum and Lund-Lizotte catches her. Exhausted, Lund-Lizotte misjudges the orange cones lining the course for the finish and stops. Bent over, with her hands on her knees, Lund-Lizotte is convinced she has finished and taken third place.

"Nancy was waving her arms at me, yelling. I looked up and saw Brandy whip by. Apparently lots of people were yelling at me but I didn't hear any of it," she later says. She looks back in time to see Moran closing in, and stands up and dives across the finish. "I almost didn't make it. It would have been a very bad day."

Erholtz crosses the line in 35:12 and Lund-Lizotte in 35:13. Moran misses making the USMRT by one second, finishing in 35:14.

Minutes later, I finish. With hardly time to catch my breath, I see Lauren sprinting down the final stretch, just 37 seconds behind me. We hug. She waves off the idea of a cool down, and I leave alone for a slow jog with mixed feelings of relief and disappointment.

"I know you didn't have the race you wanted," says Kirsch while driving me back to the Portland, Maine, airport the day after the race. "But the cool thing about mountain running is that every once in a while it all comes together in the perfect storm and you have the day of your life."

Indeed, I had no clue what to expect when I arrived in New Hampshire, but I left with intense respect for mountain running and this year's USMRT. While mountain running is still a relatively unknown sport in the United States, "To race with "USA" on your chest, is special," says Hobbs. "When you are representing the United States, standing on the podium and hear the National Anthem playing, that trumps most other feelings."

Ashley Arnold is the Associate Editor of Trail Runner.



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