Tiernan hangs on for Run-off triumph | AspenTimes.com

Tiernan hangs on for Run-off triumph

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jeff Caspersen Post Independent

CARBONDALE – Basalt’s Megan (Lund) Lizotte treated Saturday’s Mount Sopris Run-off more or less as a training run for the Aug. 14 Sierre-Zinal mountain running race in Switzerland.

But that didn’t curb her competitive streak.

Frequently swapping the lead with Carbondale’s Zeke Tiernan, Lizotte cruised to the women’s title and a second-place overall finish at the 14-mile Carbondale race, which is a staple of Mountain Fair weekend.

“There’s always that competitive aspect, no matter who’s racing,” the 27-year-old distance runner said. “I don’t like to get beat. It’s nice to have someone to key off of. I know Zeke pretty well. We’ve trained together, so I was trying to beat him.”

And it took a mighty effort for the 35-year-old Tiernan, an Aspen High School graduate and former cross country and track state champion, to stave off Lizotte’s charge.

“She’s a really strong runner,” he lauded. “She was really pushing me on the downhills. I was having a hard time keeping up.”

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Tiernan trotted across the Sopris Park finish line in 1 hour, 31 minutes, 7 seconds. Lizotte wasn’t far behind, clocking in at 1:31:24. Drew Henry took third in 1:37:41.

“I pulled away just at the very end, with like a mile to go,” Tiernan said. “I pulled a little bit ahead.”

The previous 13 miles were a battle, though.

“I would get ahead of him on all the downhills and then, if it got flat or would go up slightly, he’d pass me,” Lizotte relayed. “I’m used to passing people on the uphills and getting passed on the downhills, so that was a little different for me.”

Saturday’s race began at Emma School House, which sits just off Highway 82 near Basalt. Long stretches of West Sopris Creek and Prince Creek roads followed as the race wound its way into Carbondale.

The route, which featured roughly 1,500 feet of elevation gain in the first seven miles and a drop of about 1,700 feet in the final seven miles, served its purpose for Lizotte.

“I liked the distance,” she said. “It’s a good challenge and the timing between now and the Switzerland race is perfect.”

The 31-kilometer Sierre-Zinal, staged in the Swiss Alps, is one of the most prestigious mountain races in the world. There, Lizotte will look to defend the title she captured last summer when she became the first American woman to win the event.

And that’s not the only high-profile race in the offing for the accomplished distance runner. She’ll compete in the Sept. 11 World Mountain Running Championships in Albania and, in January, she’ll head to Houston to tackle the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

“I’ve got a lot of big stuff on the horizon,” said Lizotte, a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs alum. “I’m kind of finding my niche, and it’s working well.”

Bigger things await Tiernan, too.

The University of Colorado graduate has ventured into ultra marathons in recent years.

On his horizon is the Sept. 17 Steamboat 50 Ultra Marathon aka Run Rabbit Run, a race he’s won in the past.

“Mostly, I’ve been focusing on ultra marathons,” Tiernan said. “I ran the Leadville 100 twice. I ran some 50-milers. That’s kind of my new passion.”

14-mile results (top 20): 1. Zeke Tiernan, 1:31:07; 2. Megan Lund-Lizotte, 1:31:24; 3. Drew Henry, 1:37:41; 4. Steven Parziale, 1:41:34; 5. Val Laboda, 1:42:04; 6. Carrie Vickers, 1:42:23; 7. Lucas Franze, 1:42:44; 8. Hadley Hentschel, 1:43:41; 9. Lucius Juma, 1:44:19; 10. Eppie Aispuro, 1:44:28; 11. Mary Cote, 1:45:20; 12. Gilles Cote, 1:45:55; 13. Justin Anderson, 1:46.11; 14. Bentley Henderson, 1:48:30; 15. Jen Burn, 1:50:17; 16. Lisa Belmonte, 1:50:51; 17. Mike Uncapher, 1:51:01; 18. John Maxwell, 1:53:12; 19. John Stroud, 1:54:25; 20. Toby Morse, 1:54:27.

Four-mile fair run results (top 20): 1. Dustin Ross, 20:52; 2. Lincoln Larson, 22:02; 3. Adam Aldridge, 22:04; 4. Shane Huckeba, 22:22; 5t. Kristen Narum, 25:51; 5t. Soren Frykholm, 25:51; 7. Jim Harris, 26:07; 8. Mark Feinsinger, 26:28; 9. Kate Alpert, 26:52; 10. Keenan Skelly, 27:37; 11. Ken Skelly, 27:47; 12. Berry Roper, 28:25; 13. Melissa Rummel, 28:37; 14. Guy Larsen, 28:56; 15. Roger Baer, 29:10; 16. Scott Allen, 29:46; 17. Mike Gurule, 29:53; 18. Bob Willey, 30:01; 19. Heather Hopper, 30:56; 20. Olivia Foulkrod, 30:56.