Boulderites sweep Ute marathon
A strong Boulder contingent paced the field Sunday during the 21st annual Ute Mountaineer Golden Leaf Mini-Marathon.
Zeke Tiernan broke his own course record on the way to a second straight victory in the event. He was followed by Shawn Found and Jason Stewart, both of Boulder.
Tiernan, a former all-state runner for Aspen High School and former All-American at the University of Colorado, is a seventh-grade teacher in Boulder. He crossed the finish line of the 13-mile, Snowmass-to-Aspen race in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 22 seconds to shave 1:05 off the mark he established last year.
This year’s Golden Leaf was dedicated to the memory of Chris Severy, a former all-state athlete for AHS and CU teammate of Tiernan and Found who died last October in a biking accident.
“It’s a great race,” said Tiernan. “There’s a lot of local people involved. I’m glad they dedicated it to Chris.”
Found echoed the sentiment. “It was great to come out today and honor our friend Chris,” he said.
Found, who finished second in 1:26:33, trains in the U.S. Army’s World-Class Athletes program, a program that also includes third-place finisher Stewart (1:30:12). Found actually had the lead over Tiernan for part of the race.
“We switched off,” said Tiernan. “He got the lead, but then he had to stop a couple of times to tie his shoes. … The last two years, I’ve gotten lucky at the end.”
Tiernan ran to victory last year after front-runner Pete Heck of Carbondale took a nasty fall near the end of the race. Women’s race Kari Distefano of Telluride, running in her first-ever Golden Leaf, took home the women’s crown with a time of 1:47:58. But, she said, that time could have been even faster.
“I’m trying to get ready for a marathon in St. George, Utah,” she said. “I felt a little tired.”
Disenchanted with her time as she may have been, Distefano still enjoyed the race, which follows the Government Trail for much of its length.
“It’s an awesomely beautiful course,” she said. “It was fun.”
Two local women rounded out the podium finishes at this year’s race; Karen Sahn of Snowmass Village took second (1:51:02) and Anne Nerbonne of Aspen finished third (1:51:21).
Sahn last ran the race five years ago and found the course a bit tougher this time around, particularly the uphill portion from the Snowmass Village Mall to the Government Trail.
“It was easier then,” she said. “The beginning was tough – that uphill at the ski area. … I’m glad it’s over.”
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