Vail Valley ultradistance champ in it for fun of it all |

Vail Valley ultradistance champ in it for fun of it all

Scott Willoughby
The Denver Post
Vail Daily file photo

EAGLE – In the world of women’s running, the inspirations are wide and varied. Role models can range from track phenoms Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Wilma Rudolph to distance marvels Mary Decker Slaney and Ann Trason.

Leave it to ultramarathoner Anita Ortiz of Eagle, though, to find the motivation of a champion in a television character named Jan Brady.

“I always liked her long hair,” Ortiz, 45, said shortly after winning the Pikes Peak Marathon and setting the women’s record for her age group in her first attempt Sunday. “My mom still laughs at me, but it’s a totally true story. My goal in life was to sprint home from school in time to watch ‘The Brady Bunch’ in fourth grade. Eventually it evolved into ‘Happy Days.’ That’s when television was still good.”

Ortiz, now a mother of four, no longer keeps a television in her home. But the foundation laid in that pre-“Nick at Night” era when she had less than 15 minutes in a race to catch the opening credits has allowed her to evolve into one of the strongest and fastest women in the ultradistance world. In addition to a convincing victory by more than 23 minutes at Pikes Peak, Ortiz won the lauded Western States 100 in her first 100-mile race this summer, placed second in the Miwok 100 and will attempt to defend the women’s title in the six-day, 113-mile Gore-Tex Trans-Rockies Run beginning Sunday. A five-year member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team and three-time national champion, she earned a bronze medal in world championship competition in 2004 and gold in 2007.

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