On the run: A marathon dress rehearsal
ASPEN – Ever since the Roaring Fork Sunday Marathon bailed in 2001, there has been no valley race that covers 26 miles, 385 yards.
The organizers of the Aspen Valley Half Marathon hope to change that next year. On Saturday, they tried their hand at a half marathon, and did a commendable job for a first-year event.
Sure, there were the typical glitches of a first-time event. Snafus with the public address system before the race come to mind.
But that’s nitpicking. Overall, the organizers were, well, about as organized as one could expect for a first-time event. Course marshals were at every intersection along the well-marked course, which started at Wilton Jaffee Sr. Park with a steep, 180-foot climb to the Rio Grande Trail, before a 10- to 11-mile downhill cruiser into the Holland Hills area, and the finish at Lion’s Park in Basalt.
There were three aid stations as well, but the heat wasn’t a factor because of the 7 a.m. start.
Near the finish area, the rumor was that the race actually was 13.5 miles – at least two participants with a GPS said as much. Most runners didn’t seem to mind, but I doubt they would be as understanding after a full marathon.
In any case, with a drop of around 1,300 feet, the half marathon course was a fast one. But there were enough steeps – the one at the beginning, and a few over the last few miles – to labor the neglected muscles.
The winning time was also a cooker. Martin Cox of Bath, England, blazed the course in 1 hour, 15 minutes and 40 seconds. The top female, Rachel Foss-Viele of Vail, was also second overall, coming in at 1:25:45. All told, there were 113 finishers. Not bad for a first-time race, especially one that’s sandwiched between the July 4 Boogie’s Buddy 5-mile and this weekend’s Race for the Cure in Aspen.
For those looking for longer races, mark your calendars for the Sopris Runoff (14 miles this year, shorter than the traditional 16.5-mile course) on July 24, the Basalt Half Marathon on Aug. 14, the Glenwood Springs Half Marathon on Aug. 22, the Golden Leaf Half Marathon on Sept. 25, and the Glenwood Canyon Shuffle (half marathon) on Oct. 2.
Missing from the calendar is a full marathon. I’m rooting for the organizers of Saturday’s race to pull off the feat next year. They have what it takes, as the Rio Grande Trail would be perfect for such an event, and there’s a big enough local support system to make it happen.
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