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June 24, 2007

Ortiz and Gates Crowned USA Mountain Running Champions

Anita Ortiz became the first runner to win a second USA Mountain Championship title with her victory at today’s 20th annual Cranmore Hill Climb in North Conway, NH. The 43-year-old mother of four from Eagle, CO, won her first title at the Teva Vail HillClimb in Vail, CO in 2003 and bested a talented field this year which included last year’s mountain champion Nicole Hunt, 37, Deer Lodge, MT and several former Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team members.

Ortiz started the race in third place passing Chris Lundy, 36, Sausalito, CA, in the first 1.5 kilometers. She then chased Nicole Hunt up the first climb gaining some ground with every step. After cresting the hill, Ortiz passed Hunt on the steep downhill section of the course to take the lead which she maintained through the finish. Ortiz clocked a 49:05 on the 8.6 kilometer course followed by Lundy in 50:04, and Hunt in 52:49.

“I didn’t feel the pressure today like I have in the past,”said Ortiz in a phone interview following the race, “In fact, I didn’t feel like there was a target on my back, I think the other girls had the target this year. I just felt really good today,” beamed Ortiz. “When I ran the course on Friday I knew the downhill would be my strength. It reminded me of the 2003 Worlds course in Alaska which was a real heel burner (in fact many of the athletes racing in Alaska sported huge blisters from the friction of the downhill following the race).”  With her win, Ortiz makes her fifth Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team, the most by any woman.

Rickey Gates, 26, Boulder, CO, flew in for the race on Saturday night focused on making a spot on the mountain team. Gates not only made the team, he earned his first USA Mountain Running Championships title with his victory over 20004 USA Mountain Running Champion Paul Low, 33, Belchertown, MA.

“Rickey and Paul were stride for stride for much of the course,” said race director Paul Kirsch. “Some of the mid packers said they never saw runners go so fast downhill. Rickey told me after the race he wanted to gain as much ground as he could on Paul in the final climb because he knew how strong Paul was on the downhill.”

“It was an unbelievable sprint-to-the end finish,” added Richard Bolt, Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team leader and USATF liaison for the race, “Rickey crossed the line first and Paul stumbled to finish just 10 seconds behind.”

The senior men ran three loops of the 4.3 kilometer course. Gates was timed in 1:02:48, Low in 1:02:58, and in third, 2004 mountain team member Josh Ferenc, 25, South Acworth, NH, with a time of 1:06:44. With their one-two finish Gates and Low both earned automatic spots on the mountain team. This is the second consecutive team for Gates and Low’s eighth team.

One of the most impressive performances of the day was posted by 16-year-old Zach Rivers, Victor, NY, who won the junior men’s two-lap race in a time just under 47 minutes. Rivers was on the junior men’s mountain running team last year and hopes to make his second team this year.

There were a total of 16 former mountain team members competing today. Some of the early results include Ortiz, Hunt, Lundy, Gates, Low, and Rivers listed above along with Ryan Pauling, 30, Rochester, NY seventh place in 1:10:46, Eric Morse, 42, Berlin, VT, 10th place in 1:13:47. On the women’s side, Kelli Lusk, 37, Belchertown, MA in fourth timed in 53:05, Julie Bryan, 38, Jackson Hole, WY in sixth place with a time of 54:16.

Kirsch reported a record number of participants for this year’s race with 175 finishers, nearly 100 of whom were USATF members. The race was open to USATF and non-USATF competitors and although the first woman across the finish line was Anna Pirchtrova of the Czech Republic in 46:45, she was not eligible for USATF prizes. Pirchtrova is a top runner on the World Mountain Running Circuit having been on the podium at the World Trophy Race in the past.

Look for Pirchtrova at this year’s World Trophy which will be held on September 15 in Saillon, Switzerland. Ortiz, Gates, and Low will be representing the U.S. while additional team members will be selected at the USA Trail Championships on Saturday, June 30 in Steamboat Springs, CO, where the top two U.S. men, and top U.S. woman will receive automatic berths. Traveling to the West Coast on July 15, competitors will enjoy the third and final Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team selection race, the Mt. Tam Trophy Race in Sausalito, CA where the top U.S. male and top U.S. female finisher will receive an automatic team berth.

The remaining members of the squad, (one male, one female), will be selected by USATF’s Mountain Ultra Trail Council with input from the team staff based on results at the selection races, past World Trophy events, national and international racing experience including mountain, road, cross country, and track. Athletes MUST run a selection race in order to be considered for the team. To be considered for the team all team members MUST be current USATF members prior to running a selection race.
The junior mountain team will be selected based on resumes. Details available at



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