CU stars Severy, Florence win Buddy 5 | AspenTimes.com

CU stars Severy, Florence win Buddy 5

Tim Mutrie

Runners in the second wave of the Boogie's Diner Buddy 5 take off from the start Monday morning. Race organizers said 1,312 people participated in either the five-mile race or the one-mile family walk. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

Aspen native Jon Severy and his girlfriend, Natalie Florence of Boulder, hadn’t planned on racing in Aspen’s Independence Day classic, the 27th annual Boogie’s Diner Buddy 5 mile race, Monday morning.

Rather, the couple ” also a couple of All-American runners at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and recent graduates ” thought they’d just be spending a leisurely Fourth of July weekend here.

As it turned out, Severy’s mom, Betty, signed them both up for the race unwittingly.

So race they did ” All-American style.

Severy, 23, easily repeated as the men’s champion with a blistering time of 26 minutes, 7 seconds (9 seconds faster than his pace last year). The decorated Silt endurance specialist Bernie Boettcher, 42, finished a distant second in 29 minutes flat. Cheyne Heiny, a 17-year-old from Lakewood, was third in 29:17.

Minutes after the men’s race played out at the finish in front of Boogie’s Diner on Cooper Avenue, the 23-year-old Florence kicked across the line in 31:15 to eke out a four-second victory over Carbondale’s Caroline Cretti, 21, a standout runner at Williams College who entered the race as the three-time defending women’s champ. Fort Collins’ Kari Cornwell, 37, was third in 33:10.

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“We just came up for the weekend to spend the Fourth with the family,” Jon Severy, who lives in Boulder now, explained. “And my mom, of course, always signs me up, whether I like it or not. So here I am. It’s always fun, though. I’m glad to do it.”

More than 1,300 people participated in the Buddy 5 race (including six Severys) and its more moderate companion piece, the one mile family walk. The event benefits the Buddy Program.

Florence, who finished sixth in the 3,000 meter steeplechase earlier this month at the U.S. Track and Field Championships, said she ran the first two miles with Robin Severy, Jon’s sister. “But she was hurting with a foot problem,” said Florence, “so I went on ahead.”

Cretti, for one, was surprised when she encountered the fleet-footed Florence on course.

“I thought I was in no man’s land until she passed me,” said Cretti, a rising senior who recently captured a second team national title at Williams.

“I have no idea who she is.”

When a reporter filled Cretti in on Florence’s background, she sighed: “Oh, well, now that makes sense.”

Boettcher, who isn’t accustomed to playing catch-up during races either, tipped his cap to Severy.

“My goal is not to trail anybody at the end of a race,” he said, “but Jon Severy’s a great runner. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Boettcher paused for a moment, then added: “I did do the Leadville Trail Marathon Saturday ” I was second there ” and then the Vail Hill Climb [Sunday] ” I was 11th.”

“That’s not an excuse, but the Leadville Marathon was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done.”

And Boettcher ” local observers of the endurance racing scene will attest ” knows. The Buddy 5 marked his 31st race in 2005, and his 137th race since January 1, 2003. “That’s pretty much every weekend,” he said.

Jon Severy plans to race his first marathon in Chicago in October. In the meantime, he’s studying for the MCAT exam and thinking about medical school. “I have no idea what the future has in store for me, but I’m fit and I don’t know whether I’ll ever be this fit again, so I thought I’d try it now,” he said of the marathon distance.

Severy hung around the finish area for a while as the rest of his family ran in ” Christy (87th overall), Robin (88th), Betty (115th), Elizabeth (223rd) and Pat (224th). But he was keen to get going with another family tradition, one that his late brother Chris, a former Buddy 5 champ and CU All-American, started years ago. Severy’s pal Casey Ward, a national-level nordic skier and the ninth-place overall finisher Monday, was at his side reminding him.

They were headed for more suffering with a jaunt up the ever-steep Ute Trail on Aspen Mountain.

But Florence, it seemed, hadn’t been briefed on the extra-credit activity.

“Yeah,” Jon Severy said, “Chris did kind of make it part of the whole tradition. So we’ve got to do it.”

And so they were off running, again.

Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com