Morgan Arritola (pre-race and post-race interviews) and Patrick Smyth (pre-race and post-race interviews) became the 2015 US Mountain Running Champions today at the 2015 US Mountain Running Championships. In addition to being crowned national champs, Morgan and Pat join the top-four female and top-six male finishers and become the U.S. national team for September’s 2015 World Mountain Running Championships.
As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to US Mountain Running Champs-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports. Check back!
Many thanks to Nike for their generous support of our 2015 US Mountain Running Championships coverage!
2015 US Mountain Running Championships Women’s Race
The women’s race shot off the starting line at the Mount Bachelor Ski Resort base, located at 6,300 feet altitude and about 20 miles west of Bend, Oregon, at 9 a.m. The air was frigid and the wind whipping, but the sun was out and it was, overall, great racing conditions. The women’s race consisted of two laps on a four-kilometer loop, which sharply climbed 850 feet from the ski area’s base, had a quarter-mile-ish-long flat transition area at the top, and a screaming descent back to the start/finish. Since the US Mountain Running Championships is where the U.S. team is selected for the World Mountain Running Championships, the course was built to mimic this fall’s world-champs race.
Morgan Arritola, an Olympian in Nordic skiing, was the 2013 US Mountain Running Champion and the 2014 runner-up. This year, she took the pace out hard, and led aggressively from line to line. At the top of the first climb, Morgan had already opened a small gap on every other woman. By the top of the second climb, she’d continued to extend her lead. At the race finish, she was more than 80 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Each time we saw her on the uphill, she was giving it with incredible intensity, breathing heavier and pushing harder than anyone else. And, on the descents, she was flying, but in a fluid and controlled manner. Today was the Morgan show.
Kasie Enman (pre-race and post-race interviews) ran the first loop in third place, clocking a 30-second deficit to the lead at the 4k mark. However, she looked cool and ready to go. On the second climb, she powered passed Kimber Mattox who had been running ahead of her in second, hammered the second downhill, and finished solidly in second place. In the previous three US Mountain Running Championships, Kasie’s finished third, 15th, and third, making today a super-strong day on the mountain for her.
I can’t exactly call Kimber Mattox (post-race interview) a dark horse. After all, she was last year’s XTERRA Trail World Champion, a race run on a short, steep and technical route. I guess a better descriptor is that this DI All American steeplechaser is a relative newbie on the trails, but the one we gave the best chance for success today. Kimber shadowed leader Morgan for the entire first lap, finishing the first 4k only 10 seconds back. She couldn’t hang with Morgan or Kasie’s paces on the second climb, however. However, her third-place finish was approaching a minute faster than fourth, so she held her own just fine against the balance of the women’s field. Kimber has a great future on the trails.
The final spot on the women’s four-person US Mountain Running Team went to Allison Morgan.
Former US Mountain Running Team member Brandy Erholtz just missed qualifying this year with her fifth-place finish and Ladia Albertson-Junkans took sixth. Twelve-year-old(!!) Alayna Szuch ran to seventh, amazingly just 3 minutes, 22 seconds back of the lead, and immediately following her was first master, 47-year-old Laura Haefeli, who was the 2009 US Mountain Running Champ. Megan Lund-Lizotte and Autumn Ray rounded out the top 10.
2015 US Mountain Running Championships Women’s Results
- Morgan Arritola (Salomon) — 36:20.1 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Kasie Enman (Salomon) — 37:37.1 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Kimber Mattox (Nike) — 38:17.4 (post-race interview)
- Allison Morgan (Brooks) — 39:11.1
- Brandy Erholtz (New Balance) — 39:18.3
- Ladia Albertson-Junkans — 39:35.9
- Alayna Szuch — 39:42.7
- Laura Haefeli — 40:16.6
- Megan Lund-Lizotte (Montrail) — 40:35.4
- Autumn Ray — 40:57.6
2015 US Mountain Running Championships Men’s Race
At 10 a.m., an hour after the start of the women’s race, the men were cut lose from Mt. Bachelor Ski Area base. They would run the same 4-kilometer loop as the women, but three times instead of two, again, in mimicry of the upcoming World Mountain Running Championships course. In the intervening time since the women’s race, a bit of cloud cover built over Mt. Bachelor and began dropping a tiny amount of precipitation, but not enough to even wet the course. It was still very good conditions for a fast mountain race.
It became apparent on the first loop that the race for the win was going to be a three-man show between eventual winner Patrick Smyth, eventual second place Andy Wacker (post-race interview) and eventual third place Joe Gray (pre-race and post-race interviews). On the first climb, the trio was tucked in together, with a tiny gap on the rest of the field. At the finish of the first 4k loop, the bottom of the first 850-foot descent, Pat had a five-second lead on Andy and a 30-ish second lead on Joe.
On the second climb, the trio regrouped, and this time the pace was set by Pat. At the bottom of the second descent, it was again Pat, Andy, and Joe in that order, with Pat sporting a respective 13-second and 16-second lead. And on the third and final climb, the threesome again packed back up, with Pat setting the pace. Somewhere between our observation point on the climb and the finish line, Pat broke, opened things back up for a third time, and won.
Andy Wacker has been cleaning up in mountain running of late, and today was no different. He finished seventh the US Mountain Running Champs last year, so his second place this year demonstrates a marked improvement. He’ll surely be a force while representing the US at the World Mountain Running Championships this fall.
Joe Gray was the defending US Mountain Running Champion, and though he held his own among a loaded men’s field this year, he looked a little strained when we saw him during the race. His third place and 40 seconds off the lead puts him squarely back on the men’s 2015 US Mountain Running Team.
Fourth place Andrew Benford has made the US Mountain Running Team several times, with his best placing at worlds as 13th in 2009. Fifth place JP Donovan makes the team, as does sixth place Josh Eberly. Josh was fifth at last year’s US Mountain Running Champs and 41st at last year’s World Mountain Running Championships.
2015 US Mountain Running Championships Men’s Results
- Patrick Smyth (Nike) — 46:10.3 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Andy Wacker (Adidas) — 46:20.7 (post-race interview)
- Joe Gray (SCOTT) — 46:51.8 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Andrew Benford (Team Run Flagstaff Pro) — 48:22.0
- JP Donovan — 48:53.5
- Josh Eberly (Brooks) — 49:20.3
- Ryan Bak (Nike) — 49:29.5
- Zach Miller (Nike) — 49:30.2
- David Laney (Nike) — 50:07.8
- Kenyon Neuman (Nike) — 50:57.7
2015 US Mountain Running Championships Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles, Photo Galleries, and Videos
- David Laney (9th man)
Thanks to Mauri Pagliacci who helped deliver coverage from the field today!