Busy summer begins for Basalt runner Lund | AspenTimes.com

Busy summer begins for Basalt runner Lund

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Courtesy Bernie BoettcherBasalt's Megan Lund speeds to a first-place finish in the Vail Half Marathon at the Teva Mountain Games earlier this month.

BASALT – Basalt runner Megan Lund raced sparingly this spring, but she now is preparing for what promises to be a hectic summer season.

The coming months will be replete with trips to Europe and Canada, plus a wedding; Lund’s sister Whitney will tie the knot June 26.

But first, there’s some business to take care of Saturday in New Hampshire. There, Lund will compete in her first Mount Washington Road Race. Much will be on the line; the event, which serves as the U.S. Mountain Running Championships, will be the lone opportunity for runners to vie for coveted spots on the U.S.’s mountain running squad.

“I’m pretty excited. I have moments of doubt and moments of confidence, but that’s how it goes with any race,” Lund said Monday afternoon.

“I think I have a really good shot of not only making the team, but winning the race, too. I’m not sure I want anyone to know that, though.”

The 26-year-old has reason to be self-assured. Lund overwhelmed the women’s field in June 5’s 13.7-mile Vail Pass Half Marathon, crossing the finish line in 1 hour, 39.37 minutes – nearly 24 seconds faster than 2009’s time, which established a course record. Her nearest competitor, Melody Fairchild of Boulder, was second in 1:45:25.

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In May, about three months after her win in America’s Uphill, Lund finished sixth among Americans at the USA 25K Championship in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lund hopes to rise to the occasion again Saturday, where a finish in the top four will secure her a spot on her second consecutive U.S. squad. Four women and six men will represent the country at September’s world championships in Kamnik, Slovenia.

In years past, competitors had multiple opportunities to qualify for the team.

“I kind of prefer having only qualifier. It makes it a more competitive race. Everyone has to show up on that day,” Lund said. “I think this levels the playing field.”

Nothing else will be level Saturday, however. The 7.6-mile course rises about 4,650 vertical feet from start to finish, with average grades of 11.5 percent and extended sections above 18 percent.

“I’ve heard it’s a true test,” Lund said. “It’s all uphill and there’s not a lot of breaks – that’s a little intimidating. … But this is the kind of running I like to do. It’s my cup of tea for sure.”

To prepare, Lund is running an average of 75 miles a week. She has been doing time trials up Basalt’s steep Arbaney-Kittle Trail and logging many miles on East and West Sopris Creek roads and in Missouri Heights.

She has also been leaning on Aspen High alum Ricky Gates for advice of late. Gates, a four-time member of the U.S. Mountain running team, won the Mount Washington race last year and is one of only five men to accomplish the feat is less than one hour.

“He was telling me that the girl that won last year [Brandi Erholtz of Bailey] will be the one to beat this year. … He told me to key off her and not go out too hard, or else I’ll pay for it after the first two miles,” Lund said. “I’m going to run conservative and try to be patient, but I’m also going to go for it, too. There has to be a way of balancing all those things together.”

At last July’s Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race in Colorado Springs, Lund summoned the energy for one last pass down the stretch to nab the second and final U.S. team-qualifying spot.

She finished 17th at the World Championships in Campodolcino, Italy.

“Going to Europe was awesome,” Lund said. “The chance to represent the U.S. and be able to be there and travel, that’s one of my favorite things about this sport. … I’m excited to have another opportunity.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com