When Chessa Adsit-Morris broke the tape at the USATF Marathon Trail Championship in Moab, Utah on November 2, it was no accident. The Canadian and USA dual citizen moved back to the states in 2016 to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of California Santa Cruz, and has had her sights on winning a US National Title ever since. After months of specific training, the talented athlete won the 42K race with 1,220 metres of elevation gain in 3:40. She beat her competitors by over 14 minutes–taking a $700USD bonus home.
Leader of the pack
Race day started out freezing around -4C. She felt good in the lead right off the start until the second half of the race included technical obstacles such as ropes and ladders. Even though Adsit-Morris was in the lead for the entire race, she never knew how much time she had on the others until the finish line. “You never really know how much of a lead you have so I was ‘running scared’ the whole time.”
Adsit-Morris and her coach John Lofranco cranked the training up a few months ago, and began focusing solely on the trail marathon in Moab. She spent the month of July in Idaho training at 2,133 metres (7,000 feet), and the month of October at the Mammoth Lakes Crib training camp at 2,438 metres (8,000 feet). Eight days before the race, she came back down to sea level, maintaining her fitness with quality workouts at marathon and half marathon pace.
Confident and in control
Adsit-Morris explains, “This last training cycle has got me thinking a lot about confidence. It is as difficult to build and as precarious as fitness. It is also very personal. Altitude has a severe humbling effect, so holding onto the belief in yourself and your training is so important. My mantra in this race, which I repeated over and over, was ‘confident and in control.'”
It might be about the bike
Almost more so than the win, Adsit-Morris is proud of how she handled the sand on course. She credits gravel biking and cyclocross training and racing to getting her through the unconventional terrain at the race. “I have been doing a lot more gravel and cyclocross training and racing, which requires grinding through sand and mud, so I think I am getting a bit better.”
Riding her current high, Adsit-Morris is currently scheming about a few upcoming races. “While at the Crib Mammoth I had the pleasure of having dinner with Deena Kastor and her family. I remember being introduced to Deena in 1999 as a tiny high schooler at the Carlsbad Half Marathon. (She won obviously.) It was my first half marathon, I ran 1:25 and PR’d for the 5K on route. So I am thinking about running that race again during a build towards a 50K in March.”