Blair falls a mere minute shy of making U.S. team
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
That’s all that separated Myriah Blair from her dream of landing a spot on the U.S. Mountain Running Team.
Finishing Sunday’s grueling Cranmore Hill Climb in 36 minutes, 13 seconds, Blair nabbed sixth at the New Hampshire race. She was two spots and one minute shy of the top-four finish needed to qualify for the U.S. team.
Blair, a former Glenwood Springs resident who now lives in Eagle, doesn’t view the near-miss as a total disappointment. Being that close brings hope for the future.
“I was a little bit disappointed, but, at the same time, I felt like I ran a great race,” the 34-year-old said. “It was tough. I’m excited to try again next year.”
Blair, who not long ago was on crutches after breaking her leg in a late-December skiing accident, certainly set the foundation for future qualifying attempts on a brutal course at Cranmore Mountain Resort.
Three 3.87-kilometer laps up and down the mountain awaited a women’s field featuring more than 50 runners.
“The hills were a little steeper than I expected,” Blair admitted. “It was steep. … There were parts where it was over a 12 percent incline. It’s on a ski area, so it’s to be expected.”
And the incline is what cost Blair, whose injury limited her ability to do hill training in advance of the race.
“My coach told me after the race that he knew I needed to do a little more hill work,” said Blair, who’s coached by former Western State College track and cross country frontman Duane Vandenbusche. “He was concerned about my broken leg. That was his main concern, keeping me healthy.”
Blair didn’t hold back on the Cranmore HIll Climb’s downhill stretches.
“I ran the downhill like a crazy maniac,” she joked. “There was a long stretch of downhill. It was muddy and rocky. The gnarlier, the better for me. It was a fun course.”
Finishing ahead of Blair in fifth place was Amber Moran of Skyland, N.C. Moran’s time of 35:14 placed her just behind a couple of Coloradans – Basalt’s Megan Lund (35:13) and Evergreen’s Brandy Ehroltz (35:12).
“They were duking it out at the finish,” Blair said. “I wish I could have seen it.”
Kasie Enman of Huntington, Vt., finished first (32:59) and Longmont’s Michele Suszek nabbed second (34:45).
“There are 362 days until the next race,” Blair said by phone on Tuesday. “It was exciting to be out there running with all those great women. I feel like I can run with them.”
The site of next year’s U.S. Mountain Running Team qualifier isn’t yet set. Wherever it’s held, Blair will be ready.
“Even though I didn’t get the goal I wanted, I just raced tough,” the busy mother of four said. “I feel really strong. Getting another year under my belt will just make things even better. … The carrot’s still dangling out there.”
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