Basalt runner wins trail marathon title | AspenTimes.com

Basalt runner wins trail marathon title

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Megan Lund

Megan Lund-Lizotte had hit a bit of a rough patch.

She had confidently and quickly established the lead in Saturday’s U.S. trail marathon championships in snowy Ashland, Ore. But at Mile 18, with little more than eight miles of the Lithia Loop standing between her and the finish – and no idea whether those in hot pursuit were gaining ground – the 27-year-old Basalt native admitted she was struggling with fatigue.

It was time for a pep talk.

“Things got a little tough, but I reminded myself how bad I wanted to win and that I was poised to make that happen,” Lund-Lizotte recalled Wednesday.

“Nobody was going to pass me.”

She summoned the energy to push forward – all the way to the finish line. Her time of 3 hours, 3 minutes, 46 seconds was more than enough to secure a victory and her first national championship.

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Crested Butte’s Stevie Kremer, this year’s Golden Leaf Half Marathon winner, could not close the gap and wound up second in 3:05:34.

“It was a good feeling,” Lund-Lizotte said. “It’s satisfying when you have a race plan that actually unfolds the way you think.”

Lund-Lizotte’s plan was ambitious: vault to the front of the field at the start, then generate as big an advantage as possible during the first 10 miles – a steady uphill section that gains about 4,500 vertical feet.

“Going into the race, the goal was to win,” she said. “I was focused on doing that and confident given that the course set up well for my strength – uphill running.”

Lund-Lizotte opened in the lead before being joined by Kremer after about 200 yards. The U.S. Mountain Running Team cohorts jockeyed for position until about a half mile in, when Lund-Lizotte settled into first.

Kremer followed close behind.

“I was hoping to establish a big enough lead so nobody could come back and challenge me,” Lund-Lizotte said. “It worked that way, but it just took a bit longer to get rid of [Kremer] than I thought. … I kind of pulled away after five miles, but I could still kind of hear her breathing behind me. I knew I was getting further and further away.

“In this race, you’re constantly going in and out of these ravines – it’s kind of nice because nobody can really see you if you’re far enough ahead. On the flip side, I wasn’t sure how far behind second place was, and that’s a little bit stressful. … I knew I was in control of that race, and at that point it’s up to you. You have to decide whether to go for it. Somebody always seems to come back, but I decided I wasn’t going to let that happen.”

She did just that, maintaining her position as she negotiated a snowy tract that wreaked havoc for other runners. A sure-footed Lund-Lizotte tripped just once – on an iced-over puddle covered with a few inches of fresh snow.

Nothing could slow her down the stretch, however.

She hopes the impressive performance is a preview of things to come.

“This definitely looks good on the resume, and it also gives me a lot of confidence going into Houston [for Jan. 14’s U.S. Olympic marathon trials],” Lund-Lizotte said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be there and to get a shot at representing my country in London.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com