Ortiz on top of the trail-running world again
A year ago in Alaska, Eagle’s Anita Ortiz was surrounded by unknown faces before the starting gun sounded in a National Trail Running qualifier.Fifty-three minutes and 16 seconds later everyone knew who she was she was the no-name runner who had come to Alaska on her own budget and beaten the best runners in the country by more than five minutes.Later in 2002, Ortiz placed 11th in the World Trail Running Trophy race in Innsbruck, Austria, the top finish for an American woman ever.She bested that performance at this year’s championships, placing eighth at this year’s World Trail Running Trophy race in Girdwood, Alaska.But this time around, she was no longer the stranger and no longer the rookie. After winning a Teva sponsorship and becoming the focus of multiple articles in Trail Runner Magazine, Cool Running, and various other publications, Ortiz has become one of the most well-known figures in trail running inside of a year.All the attention is a strange animal to grapple with for Ortiz, who teaches kindergarten at Eagle Valley Elementary School and balances her running with the duties of mothering four children.”It’s a pretty tight running community, and the runners are all great up there (in Alaska),” Ortiz says. “They were so supportive, and as I was running up the mountain, people I didn’t know were shouting my name. It still surprises me every time (something like that happens).”Ortiz was once a face in the crowd, but now she says people notice her and point her out before races.”That bugs me,” she confesses, “because I don’t feel any different than anyone else. I feel just like me. It’s a bit unsettling.”Ortiz says she feels more comfortable running with the Eagle Mountain Runners, a growing group of male and female athletes based in Eagle.After conquering the 3,000 feet of vertical and six inches of snow that fell on the Alaska course, Ortiz says she was happy to come home and celebrate her victory over margaritas at her favorite hometown establishment: Mi Pueblo in Eagle.And now Ortiz is preparing for another season of snowshoeing.”When I see my snowshoe bag I get all shaky and nervous, so I must be getting excited for the season,” she says.Ortiz credits her inauguration into snowshoeing for her recent rise to popularity in the trail-running world. But in the meantime, taking care of her children, teaching, and spending time with her husband Mike are all on the top of the priority list for one of the valley’s most successful athletes.
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