Boulder’s John O’Neill takes first in 41st annual Golden Leaf Half Marathon

John O’Neill has had his eyes on the Golden Leaf Half Marathon for years now. It wasn’t until this go round, however, that he earnestly tried to register and managed to sneak into the field of around 1,000 for a race that always sells out.

“Just getting over to the Roaring Fork Valley is always special,” he said. “Everyone talks about it. Everyone on the Front Range knows about this race. Everybody in Vail knows about this race.

“It’s beautiful so people really are at their computers trying to get in and you can see why. You have the golden aspens above you, some of the leaves have fallen, all single track or mostly single track. Just beautiful.”

O’Neill, a Vail native who ran cross country for Colorado State University and now lives in Boulder, won the 41st running of the popular half marathon from Snowmass to Aspen on Saturday in his first go.

He finished with a time of 1 hour, 26 minutes, 35 seconds, beating runner-up Ryan Phebus by 83 seconds. Phebus, a former Roaring Fork Valley resident, won the Golden Leaf in 2017.

In third Saturday was Boulder’s Bridger Tomlin (1:29:19.3), in fourth was Littleton’s James Rebenack (1:30:46.9) and in fifth was Boulder’s David Glennon (1:31:28.5).

“It was perfect. It was actually nice because there weren’t too many leaves that have fallen, which when you are running on trail can disguise some of the obstacles,” O’Neill said of the race, which is mostly ran on the Government Trail connecting Buttermilk with Snowmass. “We were able to see what we were running on and still enjoy the view.”

Crested Butte’s Stevie Kremer, who has won the Golden Leaf multiple times, added to her collection by winning the women’s side of Saturday’s race in 1:40:26. Aspen’s Jessie Young was second in 1:49:38.7.

Aspen’s Julia Rowland was third (1:50:09.1), Denver’s Sara Woodward was fourth (1:51:29) and Carbondale’s Mariel Fulton was fifth (1:55:15.3).


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