Cool Runnings: Kansan sets course record in Aspen Valley Marathon win | AspenTimes.com

Cool Runnings: Kansan sets course record in Aspen Valley Marathon win

2017 marathon results

MEN

1. Kory Cool, 2:38.17

2. Gary Krugger, 2:44:38

3. Rory Schulte, 2:48:54

4. Seth Knighton, 2:57;50

5. Jacob Banta, 2:59:13

WOMEN

1. Karen Sobrino, 3:16:11

2. Kelsey Coon, 3:27:33

3. Ashley Connolly, 3:27:55

4. Jayme Bergeron, 3:33:40

5. Whitney Demel, 3:37:06

HALF MARATHON RESULTS

MEN

1. Ashish Patel, 1:17:33

2. Justin Baum, 1:22:54

3. Brandon Barcomb, 1:25:46

4. Kevin O’Brien, 1:28:01

5. Josh Meyer, 1:29:27

WOMEN

1. Abbey Ehlers, 1:25:56

2. Skyler Redford, 1:26:49

3. Jessica Chimerakis, 1:34:08

4. Mary Cote, 1:34:21

5. Holly Hoskins, 1:36:40

5K RESULTS

MEN

1. Darren Brungardt, 21:49

2. Lucius Juma, 25:17

3. Ashton Galyean, 25:56

4. Matt Sesto, 27:48

5. Seager Apadaca, 27:52

WOMEN

1. Katie Stookesberry, 26:04

2. Jessie Hecht, 26:49

3. Amanda Taylor, 32:06

4. Heather Hicks, 32:22

5. Melissa Treece, 33:17

WHEELCHAIR RACE

1. Grant Berthiaume, 2:32:08

2. Megan O’Neill 2:32:09

Kory Cool wasn't going to let the shadows defeat him. Had it been a real adversary pushing him at the end, however, he's not sure he would have been the first across the finish line Saturday during the seventh annual Aspen Valley Marathon.

"I look back a couple of times. I can convince myself that the shadow I see of the tree is actually a person and someone is pretty close," Cool said. "I don't ease up. That's as fast as I could have run today. If somebody would have run two seconds faster, they would have beat me."

As it happened, nobody was even close to matching his course-record time of 2 hours, 38 minutes, 17 seconds, including Cool's friend Gary Krugger. The Arizona resident is a three-time Aspen Valley Marathon champion — winning in 2012, 2013 and 2016 — and held the previous course record of 2:42:21, set in 2012, but settled for runner-up Saturday. Krugger finished in 2:44:38 this year, more than six minutes behind Cool.

Rory Schulte (2:48:54) and Seth Knighton (2:57:50), both of Fort Collins, took third and fourth, respectively.

"He asked if I was going to go for that. I didn't really have plans to," Cool said of being asked about the course record by Krugger prior to the start of Saturday's race. "Even though this is at altitude, it's actually a lot easier than at home. I went out really, really hard today and suffered the last hour but was able to hang on."

Cool is from Manhattan, Kansas, where he said the often triple-digit heat and high humidity is much worse to deal with than the Roaring Fork Valley's high elevation.

The 30-year-old high school gym teacher and track coach is a former runner at Kansas State University and made his first pilgrimage to Aspen last summer, when he won the Aspen Valley Half Marathon in 1:17:01. Injuries kept him from the full marathon — which begins in downtown Aspen and ends at Basalt Lions Park — a year ago, making Saturday's win that much sweeter.

Cool, who said he has 12 wins in 36 marathons raced, hopes to make Aspen an annual stop for his family — especially if his friend Krugger has any plans of regaining the course record in the future.

"It was a good time. Hopefully we can both come back next year and run together," Cool said. "You hear about how great this place is and I wanted to go to Maroon Bells and see downtown. It's a vacation for all of us. We'll probably keep coming back over and over."

Speaking of vacations…

…Karen Sobrino is having a good one. The 44-year-old native of South Africa and current resident of Switzerland is currently touring through Colorado with her husband, and couldn't help but get a few miles in on foot as well.

"We don't go on a holiday without doing a marathon," Sobrino said, her short, pink hair complimenting her endearing personality. "I've run a lot of marathons all over the world, but it's a really, really nice course. It's nice to not be running in the middle of roads, and it's small, so it makes it nice."

And part of what made it nice was being the first female across the line. Sobrino had the best time among women in the full marathon, finishing in 3:16:11, good for 15th overall and more than 11 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Kelsey Coon of Carbondale. Aspen's Ashley Connolly was third in 3:27:55, 22 seconds behind Coon.

Sobrino wasn't overly impressed with her time. She claims a personal best marathon time of 3:01, set in Tokyo, and once completed the famed Boston Marathon in 3:03. Still, she was shocked to have won at altitude Saturday, saying she was surprised the high elevation didn't get to her more than it did.

"I thought it was going to be much harder," Sobrino said. "I've never won at this altitude. I felt great all the way until the last six miles, then I really, really struggled."

Aspen is a training ground…

…for teachers, apparently. Like Cool, Abbey Ehlers earns her paycheck in a classroom, where she is a seventh-grade teacher at Glenwood Springs Middle School. The 30-year-old was the first woman across the line in Saturday's Aspen Valley Half Marathon — which starts at the W/J Ranch in Woody Creek before also finishing 13 miles later in downtown Basalt — with a time of 1:25:56.

She was only a few seconds off her personal best time while also being a second slower than what she ran in the same half marathon a year ago, where she took second to Kelsey Persyn of Texas. Still, it's all just training for bigger races down the line.

"Just trying to see where I'm at with my training. I've been doing way more miles than I've ever done," Ehlers said. "I was hoping for a PR, but it doesn't happen every time. But I feel good. I was able to come out and run hard."

Ehlers, a Glenwood native who attended DePaul University in Chicago, is currently prepping for the Oct. 8 Chicago Marathon, a race she has competed in a few times and is hoping to set a new personal record at.

Taking the overall half marathon title Saturday was Ashish Patel of Austin, Texas. He won the race in 1:17:33, followed in second by Glenwood's Justin Baum in 1:22:54. Brandon Barcomb was third in 1:25:46.

Darren Brungardt of Leadville was the overall winner of the 5K race, which started and finished at Basalt Lions Park, in 21:49. In second was Lucius Juma in 25:17. Aspen's Katie Stookesberry was the top 5K finisher among women in 26:04, good for fourth overall.

For complete results, visit http://www.aspenvalleymarathon.com.

acolbert@aspentimes.com