The Marathon Junkie can cross Colorado off his list, with time to spare.
Chuck Engle, the celebrated runner from Ohio known as the “Marathon Junkie,” won the fourth annual Aspen Valley Marathon on Saturday to complete his mission of 50 marathons in 50 states — each in under 2 hours, 50 minutes.
Engle worked his way along the final stretch adjacent to Basalt Town Hall, turned left and labored across the finish line at Basalt Lions Park in 2 hours, 44 minutes — well under his goal of 2:50.
“This was beautiful, but it hurt more than I wanted it to,” Engle said in the finish area, celebratory glass of champagne in hand. “I died out there. I was headed for a 2:37.”
Engle, 43, thought his marathon mission might be derailed 23 miles into the 26.2-mile trek from Aspen to Basalt via the Rio Grande Trail, including a couple of additional loops.
“From (mile) 23 to roughly 25, there were points where I just walked,” Engle said. “My legs were cramping; my calves were really cramping.”
Engle had recorded a 2:50:43 time on the Aspen Valley Marathon course three years ago.
“I know I’m in better shape now than I was then,” said Engle, who ran a 2:39 marathon last weekend in Seattle.
“But I had to stop. You get those little twinges, and you know,” Engle said. “So, I stopped, composed myself. I told myself the goal is a sub-2:50 — don’t get stupid.”
He gradually returned to a jog and then a trot.
“I couldn’t find a rhythm at all. I tried to shorten my stride a bit. And I hobbled,” said the runner, who has won more than 150 marathons — including at least one in every state. “I’ve run so many of these, I know how to work through it.”
“I’m really happy. I just needed a sub-2:50 in Colorado. It’s the first time anyone has run sub-2:50 in all 50 states,” said Engle, who pulled into the lead by himself just past mile 10 when he upped the pace.
“I threw in a 5:43 (mile) and a 5:45, and I’m feeling pretty good about this,” Engle said. “But at 23 miles, I was cooked.”
Still, he led the field of 300 runners in Saturday’s marathon field.
Another 350 runners entered the half-marathon. With the 5K, more than 700 runners participated in Saturday’s events.
Carolyn Warren, a 24-year-old congressional aide from Washington, D.C., won the women’s marathon Saturday in dynamic fashion — 3 hours, 10 minutes.
She finished ahead of runner-up Tracy Longhurst, a high school teacher from Knoxville, Tennessee.
“I had so much fun. I’d love to come back and run it again,” said Warren, who ran faster than she expected in the thin Colorado air.
“I’m actually from Boulder originally, but I’m living in Washington, D.C., now, so the altitude was a little rough,” said Warren, who is an aide to U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, of Colorado.
“I was not expecting (3:10),” Warren said as she awaited a post-race massage. “I was thinking I would be 3:30, but I felt good. I definitely got in a good rhythm early.”
She said she suffered through the final three miles with burned-out quads.
“But I was able to push through,” she said, adding that long training runs in Washington “made a big difference. Running is a great way to relax after a day at work.”
Already a Boston Marathon qualifier, Warren said she will compete next in the Chicago Marathon.
She said she ran with Longhurst for several miles early in the race.
“She was great. I have to thank her,” Warren said.
Longhurst and her husband were in Aspen on their honeymoon and opted to celebrate by running in the Aspen Valley Marathon. She ran the full marathon; husband Glen ran the half.
Local runner Robbie Laroque won the men’s half-marathon, which started at the W/J Ranch and finished in Basalt.
Rachel Viele, of Vail, who grew up in Basalt, won the women’s half and was third overall.
The 1998 Basalt High School graduate is training for the upcoming Chicago Marathon, where she is seeking an Olympic qualifying time.
Results of Saturday’s marathon, half-marathon and 5K will be available at AspenValley Marathon.com.