Despite wildfire, Aspen marathon given the green light for Saturday | AspenTimes.com

Despite wildfire, Aspen marathon given the green light for Saturday

A runner approaches the finish of the 2017 Aspen Valley Marathon at Lions Park in Basalt.

With roughly 600 athletes wanting to know if they were going to race on Saturday, Aspen Valley Marathon co-organizer Kylee Schuler didn't have a lot of concrete answers for them until Monday. That was the day the AVM was given the green light to go ahead with their event, despite the shadow of the Lake Christine Fire continuing to hang over the valley.

"It was an agonizing day. Everyone analyzed everything to make sure that we were safe to be doing this," Schuler said. "We actually had no idea. We were just waiting for the decision from a bunch of different people. We wanted them to make the call, because we didn't want to add any more stress to the situation. We want everyone to be able to handle it and we want to have a safe race."

Working closely with multiple entities, from city and county environmental health officials to the sheriff and police departments, not to mention the fire department, the race was given an affirmative thumbs up to go on as planned. The full marathon begins at 6 a.m. Saturday at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen, and finishes 26.2 miles later at Lions Park in downtown Basalt.

The finish is located near the Basalt gun range, which is where the Lake Christine Fire started last week when two people were allegedly shooting illegal tracer rounds. In the week since it started, the fire has spread to more than 6,000 acres and had more than 500 firefighters working to put it out.

As of Tuesday evening, the fire's containment was only at 43 percent, but most of the evacuated residents had been allowed back in their homes.

"There are a lot of firefighters on the job, and we are really grateful they were able to work really hard and get things going with containment," Schuler said. "We kind of had to receive approval from everyone before we could say we were going to go through with the race. Because obviously our No. 1 priority is going to be athlete, volunteer and personnel safety. The town of Basalt really wanted to do it, just to show we can move forward as a community."

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In support of their efforts, the marathon organizers will be holding a donation-based fundraiser at both athlete registration and the finish line, with the proceeds going to the local Salvation Army and the local firefighting organizations.

"We are going to rally behind the town of Basalt and have a great finish-line party," Schuler said.

On top of the full marathon, which is a Boston Marathon qualifier, there will be a half-marathon that begins at 7:30 a.m. at W/J Ranch in Woody Creek before also finishing at Lions Park. There also is a 5k race at 10:30 a.m. that begins and ends at Lions Park.

Kory Cool of Kansas won last year's full marathon with a time of 2 hours, 38 minutes, 27 seconds, which was a new course record.

For more information, visit http://www.aspenvalleymarathon.com.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Aspen valley marathon

When: 6 a.m. Saturday, July 14

Where: Starts at Wagner Park in Aspen, finishes at Lions Park in Basalt

ASPEN VALLEY HALF-MARATHON

When: 7:30 a.m. Saturday, July 14

Where: Starts at W/J Ranch in Woody Creek and finishes at Lions Park in Basalt

ASPEN VALLEY 5K

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 14

Where: Begins and ends at Lions Park in Basalt

Visit http://www.aspenvalleymarathon.com for more.