Morgan Arritola, 2015 US Mountain Running Champion, Interview
Morgan Arritola added her third US Mountain Running Championships title with a win this past weekend in Bend, Oregon. In the following interview, Morgan talks about how she approached the race, why she avoids garbage miles, where she’ll be racing aside from worlds, and why she listens to her body post-race.
For more on how the race went down, read our 2015 US Mountain Running Championships results article.
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Morgan Arritola, 2015 US Mountain Running Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Morgan Arritola after her win at the 2015 US Mountain Running Championships. Congratulations, Morgan.
Morgan Arritola: Thank you. Thank you.
iRunFar: How does it feel? This is your second national championship in mountain running… third? Third now?
Arritola: Third. I won the first two years and then last year I got second.
iRunFar: That’s a pretty good streak there.
Arritola: Yeah, it’s always… it’s really nice, obviously, but it’s also hard because then people are like, “Oh, you didn’t win?” when you don’t win. Then you’re like, “Well, you don’t always win.”
iRunFar: You did win with a nice little gap there.
Arritola: Yeah, I didn’t really know how much. I always run like someone’s right behind me, so I had no idea.
iRunFar: How did the course work out for you? Describe the course.
Arritola: It was good. It was a surprise. My course preview was not the real course. I did something different. Kimber [Mattox] led for most of the first climb, and about three-quarters of the way up I passed her.
iRunFar: Is that when you switched over to the dirt-road climb?
Arritola: Yes, somewhere around there. Then I knew the downhill would be one of my strengths, but I also knew I didn’t want to blow up on the first lap of the downhill. I tried to run it well but relaxed. Then, repeat—I knew what was coming the next time, so that was a nice thing. Yeah, now I know the course.
iRunFar: Things when smoothly the last lap?
Arritola: Yeah, it hurt a lot on the uphill, then the downhill was just running like you stole something and you know someone is coming. There’s a target on your back, so you try not to let up.
iRunFar: Having won this a couple times, what keeps you motivated to push yourself?
Arritola: On the course?
iRunFar: Yeah, when you’re coming down the hill the last time.
Arritola: I just am someone that’s point A to point B as fast as you can go. I’m never someone who, whether I’m fighting for 101st place or first place or I have a 20-minute lead, I go as hard as I can to the finish. I’ve never given up. That’s how I’m wired.
iRunFar: Aside from being the national championship, this is also the mountain-running team qualifier for worlds. Will you be headed there?
Arritola: Yeah, I’m going to go to Wales. I’ve never been there, so that should be neat. I’ve spent a lot of time across the pond but never there, so I think I will enjoy that.
iRunFar: I know you said you kind of keep your training not light but pretty open and free. Will you focus a little more heading into worlds, or will you just go with what works for you?
Arritola: No, just go with what works for me. I race when I feel I need to race. With all my training that I do or don’t do, I do very focused… I feel if you’re going to go out and put on your running shoes, make it worth it and not just garbage miles. Probably some key workouts to breathe hard and go uphill and downhill, and then do some races. I like to race. I think that’s…
iRunFar: What do you have coming up between now and September?
Arritola: I’m going to do the Discrete Peak on August 9, in Alta, Utah. If something local pops up, I usually jump in those like last weekend. I’m going to go to The Rut, although now maybe I won’t do the whole 50k. Maybe I’ll do the Vertical K and…
iRunFar: Isn’t there like a week difference?
Arritola: Two. I just have no… I’ve never done that before, so I don’t know how I’ll feel. Maybe I’ll go do the Vertical and maybe the half-marathon distance. I’m not much of a planner. I kind of take it one race at a time. I don’t leapfrog to this race when I have other things on my plate.
iRunFar: You had a race this weekend. What do you do after a race? Will you go out and run tomorrow or mountain bike?
Arritola: Tomorrow we are driving home. If we get home early enough, maybe I’ll go swim just to stretch out. We are going to go watch the criterium in town tonight. I’m going to drink some wine. I might go ride my bike if we have time, but I think people get into this habit of things they have to do. I don’t always think that’s the best. I think if you actually listen to your body, it knows what it needs to do. You’re not going to get fit in an afternoon. You might get hurt, but you’re not going to get fit.
iRunFar: So maybe go spin a little bit but definitely have some wine?
Arritola: Yeah, for sure, and watch bike races and watch other people suffer.
iRunFar: This lap nature of a course, as a spectator, is fun because you get to see people over and over again and suffer and cheer some and heckle some.
Arritola: Yeah, it’s fun. I have a lot of local friends in Bend. Thanks to everyone, too, Max [King] and everyone, for putting this on. It’s nice to have people know your name out there and cheering. It’s a supportive community. It’s pretty neat.
iRunFar: Congratulations, Morgan.
Arritola: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: By any chance, is the top of a Winnebago the oddest place you’ve ever been interviewed?
Arritola: Perhaps. Now we just have to one-up it next time…
iRunFar: If the answer was no, next time we’re…
Arritola: Yeah, probably.
iRunFar: Next time we’ll have to find the world’s longest zip line.
Arritola: Oh, that or bungee jumping. Oh, if we tandem bungee jumped! We can do it.
iRunFar: If we started the interview…
iRunFar: It all goes downhill from here. Congrats, Morgan. Thanks.
Arritola: Good to see you. Now the trick is getting down. Bedee, Bedee, Bedee, That’s all folks.