Lizotte makes history at Sopris Runoff
Glenwood Springs Post-Independent
CARBONDALE – Megan Lizotte feels like she’s slowed down.
Don’t tell that to the rest of the field at the Mount Sopris Runoff, though. Nobody there was fast enough to catch her.
Lizotte, the former Megan Lund, new mother and a two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, became the first woman at the Mount Sopris Runoff to finish first overall Saturday.
She crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 35 minutes and 23 seconds to outdistance the field at the 35th running of the 14-mile race.
“I think it might not have been as competitive (Saturday),” said Lizotte, 29, the only person at the race who wasn’t overwhelmed by her performance Saturday. “My time was actually slower than it’s been in the past when I’ve won the women’s race. But, I’m also still coming back from having a baby.”
The former Basalt High School and University of Colorado-Colorado Springs runner made sure that there was no way for anyone to come back after leading from the starting line and throughout.
Brian Johnson, of Aspen, finished a distant second in 1:40:37 to place first as the top overall male, with Val Loboda, of Old Snowmass, finishing third in 1:42:43.
Johnson, 41, who was running the race for the just second time, did everything he could just to keep up with Lizotte to no avail.
“I knew I couldn’t catch Megan,” Johnson said. “It was just a matter of keeping her in sight for as long as I could. I know her. I ran the Boogies’ (5-mile race) and the Komen (Race for the Cure), and she beat me in both of them there, too. Obviously, I’m lucky if I can put in half the training miles that she does.
“I could see her right before we hit the divide,” said Johnson, referring to the running course on Prince Creek Road outside Carbondale which tops out at 1,500 feet above the start line before the elevation drops 1,700 feet heading into Carbondale. “As soon as I saw her go over the hill and start heading down, that was it. That’s the last time I saw her until I got to the finish line.”
Johnson, with most of his time in the summer dedicated to running his landscaping business, doesn’t get to run and train as much as he’d like on a regular basis.
Then there’s Lizotte, who last Sunday finished second in the U.S. Mountain Running Championships in Cranmore, N.H.
Not that she hasn’t done well in previous versions of the Sopris Runoff. She also won the overall women’s title in the 14-mile race 2010 and 2011.
She skipped the 14-miler last year to run the more favorable, mostly downhill 4-Mile Fun Run and won the women’s race in 26:03 – while she was eight months pregnant.
She took a two-month break after the baby was born but has been going full speed since.
“I’m starting to feel elite again,” Lizotte said. “I’m definitely not as fast as I’d like to be, but it’s definitely a process.”
Lucius Juma, of Basalt, was fourth in 1:42:46, with Craig Macek, of Marble, following in 1:44:35.
Breaking the course record for the second consecutive year in the 4-Mile Fun Run was Dustin Ross, 21, a Rifle High School graduate who crossed the finish line in 19:47.
“He came in this year saying that he was going to break 20 minutes, and he did it,” said race director Brion After of Ross, who won the event last year with a time of 20:20.
Taking second place in the 4-miler was John Stroud, of Carbondale, in 24:41.
Jordan Humphery, of Suwanee, Ga., 19, was the top woman in the race with a time of 25:14.
Aldo Varela, of Carbondale, was fourth overall in 25:36.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.