Basalt’s Lizotte 12th at world championships | AspenTimes.com

Basalt’s Lizotte 12th at world championships

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

Contributed photoBasalt's Megan Lizotte charges downhill during Sunday's World Mountain Running Championships in Tirana, Albania. She finished 12th.

TIRANA, Albania – Despite being slowed by a string of untimely injuries this summer, Megan Lizotte insisted she felt prepared heading into the World Mountain Running Championships in Tirana, Albania.The 27-year-old from Basalt went out and proved it Sunday. Lizotte passed nine competitors on a sustained climb during the final of two 4.29-kilometer laps and sprinted to the finish in 43 minutes, 56 seconds – good for 12th place, her best showing in three trips to worlds. Her performance was one of the many highlights on a landmark day for the Americans. Both Kasie Enman of Huntingdon, Vt., and Max King of Bend, Ore., finished first on the hills of Albania’s capital.Both U.S. teams wound up fourth.”It was such an incredible feeling,” Lizotte said Wednesday. “Knowing it was 9/11 … this was a great way to commemorate a day in our country’s history. It was a cool feeling but an emotional one, too.”She added: “In the back of my mind, there’s always a little bit of doubt. I didn’t know if I was fully prepared for this distance – an 8K is kind of short for me. But I think I ran mentally tough.”She’s had a lot of experience doing that in recent months. Lizotte gutted out a fourth-place finish in June 26’s USA Mountain Running Championships despite being hobbled by joint inflammation in her right foot. (The injury, sustained early in June 12’s USA Track & Field Half Marathon Championships in Oregon, forced her to curtail her training.)Lizotte was nearly healthy when she traveled to the Swiss Alps in August to defend her title in the famed Sierre-Zinal race‚ deemed by many as mountain running’s equivalent of the New York City Marathon. Her repeat bid was derailed, however, after Lizotte fell and twisted her ankle.”I ended up hobbling the last 6 miles, and ended up getting passed by a few girls,” recalled Lizotte, the lone American woman to win in Sierre-Zinal’s 38-year history.”It was bittersweet … but I also know I can’t win every race and can’t control if I get injured.” Despite all the minor setbacks, Lizotte said she was confident heading into Sunday’s race – particularly after previewing the course.”It was definitely steep in sections, which is what I like most, and the downhills were pretty wide and not super technical,” she said. “In a sense, it was the perfect course for me.”Lizotte went out hard at the start Sunday, then settled into the pack for much of the opening lap. She decided to attack the nearly mile-long climb early in Lap 2 and promptly vaulted from 20th to 11th position.”I ran smart,” she said. “A lot of people went out too hard and on the second climb were totally done.”Lizotte maintained her position on the downhill and wound up finishing 12th, topping her previous-best worlds finish by four spots. (She was 16th in September 2009 in Italy, and took 21st last year in Slovenia.)”I tried to let myself go on the downhill,” Lizotte said. “I didn’t fall, I didn’t twist anything. I was kind of surprised I stayed upright. … This was definitely the best race I’ve ever had at worlds.”Lizotte is hoping the positive momentum continues in the coming months. She is slated to compete in November’s U.S. Trail Marathon Championships in Oregon – one of her final tune-ups before January’s Marathon Olympic Trials in Houston.jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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