18-year-olds win Buddy 5 race | AspenTimes.com

18-year-olds win Buddy 5 race

Tim MutrieAspen Times Staff Writer

A runner nears the finish line during the Boogie's Diner Buddy 5 mile race Thursday morning July 4, 2002. Paul Conrad photo.

One just arrived from the Florida coast, hesitant but unhampered by the altitude; the other came from just down the valley, but both made statements in their first Buddy 5 appearances.A pair of 18-year-olds owned Independence Day in Aspen as Florida’s Matt Cianciulli and Carbondale’s Caroline Cretti ran to victory in the annual Boogie’s Diner Buddy 5 mile race.Clicking off under-6-minute miles on the course that looped from Boogie’s to Slaughterhouse Bridge and back, the Florida native who just moved to Colorado a week ago handily won the men’s division in 27 minutes, 59 seconds, exactly two minutes ahead of Ben Adams, 19, of Golden.Meanwhile, Cretti, the two-time defending Colorado high school state champion in the mile and two mile, and a 2002 Roaring Fork High graduate, cruised over the line in 31:37 to win the women’s division. Aspen’s Lisa Gonzales-Gile was less than a minute back, 32:29, and finished second. (Complete results start on page A36.)More than 1,100 runners participated in the annual Fourth of July benefit run for The Buddy Program, a nonprofit that pairs mentors with youths throughout the valley. A brief downpour Wednesday night made for cool racing conditions Thursday morning; a welcome relief from the dry spell that has gripped Aspen for more than a month, and all of the West for that matter.Cianciulli, who will be a freshmen at Colorado State University in the fall, enjoyed a comfortable lead in his first-ever race at altitude. He moved a week ago from his home in Flagler Beach, Fla., near Daytona – “Where there’s not too much to do except run and surf,” Cianciulli said – in order to adjust to the altitude for CSU’s cross-country season.”The altitude, that’s the main reason I came up early, to get used to it,” Cianciulli said. “It was different, but I felt pretty good, and strong.”Cianciulli has been training with a Wheatridge-based group of runners, including runner-up Adams, who runs for Kansas University, and said he tagged along for the race in Aspen.”It’s amazing up here. Quite different,” the first-time Aspen visitor said. “Colorado in general is just a healthier environment. When I run in Florida, people look at me like I stole something.”In fact, Cianciulli’s uncontested victory and impressive time left several local competitors wondering who just stole the show.Cretti, meanwhile, a known quantity in the area who won Glenwood Springs’ Strawberry Days 10K on Sunday, decided to enter the Buddy 5 race for the first time yesterday. This fall, Cretti plans to run for Williams College in Massachusetts, where she’ll be a freshman.”I’m trying to do a whole bunch of road races this summer, just for fun,” Cretti said. “Before, I was always just like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get burned out.’ But now, I’ve come to enjoy racing and I’ll do it ’til I don’t anymore.”The women’s runner-up, Lisa Gonzales-Gile of Aspen, said she was happy with her finish, especially considering her winning 2-hour-14-minute effort in the Aspen Grove Trail half-marathon just last Saturday. “I was happy I still had something left,” Gonzales-Gile said. “I could see [Cretti], but I couldn’t make any moves on her.””I’m proud to be 44 years old and competing with high school girls,” Gonzales-Gile added while chatting with Cretti and other competitors after the race.