Enman falls short in bid to make U.S. Mountain Running Team
Brandy Erholtz, of Evergreen, Colo., realizes she's made the U.S. Women's Mountain Running Team, with a 3rd place finish in The Loon Mountain race, which was held at Loon Mountain Resort Sunday. This year's women's division race was the Women's U.S. Mountain Running team qualifier for the World Mountain Running Championships, to be held this September in Ponte di Legno, Italy. Ms. Erholtz finished with a time of 48:06. (DENNIS COUGHLIN PHOTO)
LINCOLN — Former U.S. Olympic Nordic skier Morgan Arritola swapped her cross country skis for running shoes and paced the elite women's field from the banks of the Pemigewasset River to the North Peak summit and won the Loon Mountain Race here Sunday morning.
The triumph earned Arritola, 26, of Ketchum, Idaho, a position on the women's U.S. Mountain Running team which competes at the World Championships in Italy in September.
In a bit of a disappointment, reigning World Mountain Running champion Kasie (Wallace) Enman, who was a major cog on the Manchester Central state and New England cross country title teams in the mid 1990's, failed to qualify for the 2012 U.S. team.
Enman, 32, of Huntington, Vt., finished fifth, 28 seconds shy of a qualifying position. The top four women's finishers secured team berths.
Joining Arritola, who completed her run in 46:16, were Melody Fairchild, 38 of Denver (47:06), Brandy Erholtz, 34, of Evergreen, Colo., (48:06) and Stevie Kremer, 28, of Crested Butte, Colo. (48:21).
Enman's time was 48:49.
“I had hoped to come back to defend my title,” said Enman who ran in the top four until reaching the gondola station at the four mile mark, one mile away from the finish line. “The only thing that kept me in the race were the down hills. I just didn't have my climbing legs.”
Enman, a former cross country all-America at Middlebury College, won this race a year ago when the course was actually a half mile longer. Her 2011 time of 50:58 was a course record.
“I hope last year's success carries over to this year's team,” said Enman. “This is our strongest group ever. After three years of not making the team I finally got on it. For sure, I'll be extra motivated next year.”
Arritola was a member of the U.S. Nordic ski team for five years before attempting mountain running.
“I've never done mountain running before,” the race winner said. “I do a lot of half marathons and XTERRA trail races. I like to run just to run. I look at races and say, 'I've never done that,' and I'll try it. I don't know a lot about the mountain scene. I just run my own race and suffer.”
Runner-up Fairchild, the first high school girl in the United States to break 10 minutes in the 2-mile run, said, “I knew not to key off anyone, we can all have a bad day, but I watched Kasie (Enman).”
By the time the lead pack of runners left the cat track and started on the grass ski slope which features a grade much more demanding than the Mount Washington Auto Road, Arritola and Fairchild had broken from the field.
At the 4 Mile mark, right before the lower peak at the gondala, Arritola opened a gap and Fairchild could not maintain.
Erholtz, a four-time U.S. team member, Kremer, the course record-holder at the Mt. Evans Hillclimb in Colorado and Enman slipped further behind as well. The final half mile of the race, on Upper Walking Boss trail, a double black diamond slope, features a 40 percent grade and cemented the finishing order.
New Hampshire runners fared well in the open division as Jim Johnson of Madison and former Olympic Nordic skier Kris Freeman of Thornton swept the gold and silver medals. Johnson finished in 43:13 while Freeman completed the course in 44:15.
After the race, the two shared their nightmare of the race's final half mile.
“At the gondola I started to feel tired and I slowed,” admitted Johnson who won here in 2009. “Fortunately I had enough of a pad at the last steep incline. I started to side step and power walk.”
Freeman, who entered because of fellow Olympic teammate Arritola, said, “A lot of our ski training is up alpine hills with poles, so I switched over to ski strength at the end. It wasn't enough.”
Ross Krause, of Easthampton, Mass., Dave Dunham, of Haverhill, Mass., and one of the race founders, and Phillip Kreycik of Cambridge, Mass., rounded out the top five.
North Conway's Kevin Tilton grabbed a top 10 finish with a 46:49 sixth place.
“The last kilometer is as tough as it gets in any race,” said Tilton who will compete at the Pikes Peak Ascent in August. “Just get into the lowest gear and grind. It's a double black diamond ski trail. I don't even want to ski down it.”
The men's U.S. Mountain Running team was selected at the Mount Washington Road Race last June. The women's team was selected here because the terrain is more similar to the European trails the runners will compete over at the world championships in Ponte di Legno, Italy, on Sept. 2.
Loon Mountain Race
Elite Women's Division
Top 10: 1. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, Idaho, 46:16; 2. Melody Fairchild, Denver, 47:06; 3. Brandy Erholtz, Evergreen, Colo., 48:06; 4. Stevie Kremer, Crested Butte, Colo., 48:21; 5. Kasie Enman, Huntington, Vt., 48:49; 6. Kim Dobson, Aurora, Colo., 49:01; 7. Laura Haefeli, Del Norte, Colo., 50:49; 8. Ashley Arnold, Carbondale, Colo., 51:54; 9. Chris Lundy, Sausalito, Calif., 52:20; 10. Michele Suszek, Littleton, Colo., 52:26.
Top 10 Men: 1. Jim Johnson, Madison, 43:16; 2. Kris Freeman, Thornton, 44:15; 3. Ross Krause, Easthampton, Mass., 45:06; 4. Dave Dunham, Haverhill, Mass., 46:20; 5. Phillip Kreycik, Cambridge, Mass., 46:33; 6. KevinTilton, North Conway, 46:49; 7. Mark Mayall, Maynard, Mass., 47:13; 8. Peter Gurney, Greenville, Maine, 47:32; 9. Todd Callaghan, Beverley, Mass., 48:06; 10. Judson Cake, Bar Harbor, Maine, 48:28.
Top 10 Women: 1. (35) Reni King, Stowe, Vt., 55:44; 2. (44) Bridget Ferrin, St. Johnsbury, Vt., 58:06; 3. (53) Paige Brennan, Madison, Conn., 59:39; 4. (62) Caitlin Hurley, Bedford, Mass., 60:44; 5. (66) Sarah St. Martin, Manchester, 61:47; 6. (69) Kara Jacobs, Wolfeboro, 62:17; 7. (71) Leslie Beckwith, North Conway, 62:36; 8. (73) Karen Encarnacion, West Walpole, Mass., 63:18; 9. (77) Christina Carvey, Bedford, Mass., 63:52; 10. (80) Jaime Schmidt, Lancaster, 64:07.
New Hampshire finishers
Top 10 men: 1. Jim Johnson, Madison, 43:16; 2. Kris Freeman, Thornton, 44:15; 3. (6) Kevin Tilton, North Conway, 46:49; 4. (11) Isaac St. Martin, Manchester, 49:09; 5. (12) Tristan Williams, Jackson, 49:13; 6. (18) Sam Wood, Laconia, 51:09; 7. (19) Jim Boule, Campton, 51:12; 8. (20); Kevin McMahon, Derry, 51:22; 9. (23) Gabriel Ferlanders, Kearsarge, 52:30; 10. (25) Brandon O'Donnell, Sandown, 53:13.
Top 5 Women: 1. (66) Sarah St. Martin, Manchester, 61:47; 2. (69) Kara Jacobs, Wolfeboro, 62:17; 3. (71) Leslie Beckwith, North Conway, 62:36; 4. (80) Jaime Schmidt, Lancaster, 64:07; 5. (88) Sandra Laflamme, Monroe, 65:55.
Complete results available at coolrunning.com.