Blair’s big dream | PostIndependent.com

Blair’s big dream

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post Independent
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Myriah Blair’s competitive spirit is boundless, and running has long been the outlet she’s chosen to showcase that spirit.

It’s always been that way for Blair, even early on in life.

As a youngster, Blair would actually train for the President’s Fitness Challenge, a staple of elementary school physical education programs throughout the United States. The challenge tests students’ fitness with a series of physical activities.

“I’d train by running in a circle,” said Blair, now 34. “I’d be running like a 400 loop trying to beat the times.”

All these years later, Blair’s competitiveness has only intensified.

And it will be on full display at this weekend’s Cranmore Hill Climb in New Hampshire, where Blair will vie for a spot on the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

A top-four finish among women would land Blair a spot on the team – and a trip to Tirana, Albania, for the Sept. 11 World Mountain Running Championships.

This won’t be Blair’s first attempt at qualifying for the U.S. team. She traveled to Gorham, N.H., for the USA Track and Field National Mountain Running Championships at Mount Washington in 2006 and finished 11th.

“It’s different now,” the busy mother of four said. “I’m done having kids. I haven’t been pregnant for three years. There are a lot of different factors since 2006, I guess.”

Compounding matters, Blair and her husband, Steve, were trying to get a restaurant – the since-shuttered Magoo’s Bar and Grill in Glenwood Springs – off the ground as she prepared for the 2006 race.

Five years later, Blair still operates at a frenetic pace, but it’s a pace she tackles as capably as the mountain terrain she so regularly runs.

Physically, Blair’s as strong as she’s ever been.

“I feel like I’m faster than I was even in college,” she said. “My coach has been amazing. He knows his stuff so well.”

That coach is former Western State College track and cross country coach Duane Vandenbusche, who spent more than 30 seasons in a coaching capacity at the Gunnison school. Blair communicates with him via phone and email, working with him to draft training plans.

And Blair brings quite the athletic foundation to the table.

She ran in high school in Waldport, Ore., before heading off to Lane Community College in Eugene and, eventually, to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. She ran competitively at each stop.

That Blair grew up with an affinity for running is no surprise, given her proximity to Eugene and the University of Oregon.

“Eugene is like the Mecca of running in the U.S.,” Blair said. “I always wanted to go to the University of Oregon. I was a big Steve Prefontaine fan.”

That love of running hasn’t waned any over the years. Aside from her own competition schedule, Blair shares her love of running with local youth.

After moving to Eagle from Glenwood Springs last summer, Blair founded the Eagle Valley Track Club. She had helped coach the Glenwood Springers Track Club before the move.

“My kids were like, ‘Mom, how are we going to do track now?'” Blair relayed. “I said, ‘Well, I guess we’ll start a track club.'”

Blair’s kids – 9-year-old Joslin, 7-year-old Samantha, and 3-year-old twin brothers Dylan and Tyler – now have a team to run with. So do the rest of the youth in the Eagle area.

The club, in just its first summer, already boasts roughly 60 athletes.

“It’s really taking off,” Blair said. “Everyone is excited about it.”

Somehow, with the myriad distractions and commitments seizing her time, Blair still finds time to train for her own athletic endeavors.

“It’s challenging,” she said, “but you make the best with the time you’ve got.”

Adding to the challenge, Blair broke her leg while skiing the day after Christmas. After a five-week stint on crutches, she eventually got back to running.

“I couldn’t run for a couple months,” she said. “I couldn’t walk on my leg. Having a family and not being able to walk is a challenge, let alone with everything else.”

Blair’s had a solid four months of training since getting back on her feet.

“I started real slow, a mile a day and then two miles a day and so on,” she said, noting how smoothly the healing process has progressed. “There was no pain at all. It healed well.”

With numerous obstacles already cleared, just one remains in Blair’s quest to make the U.S. Mountain Running Team – Sunday’s Cranmore Hill Climb, which features three 3.87-kilometer laps up and down Cranmore Mountain Resort.

“My coach said this is just the beginning of good things to come,” she said. “The competition is going to be fierce. It’s going to be a fast and furious race.”

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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