Queen of the Golden Leaf celebrates again | AspenTimes.com

Queen of the Golden Leaf celebrates again

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Stevie Kremer races all over the world. And she wins races all over the world.

The Crested Butte mountain runner/ski mountaineer races in Switzerland and in Italy.

She's raced in Germany; she's raced in France.

She's raced across mountains in North America.

But Stevie Kremer is the undisputed queen of the Salomon Golden Leaf Half-Marathon in Aspen.

Kremer, the 30-year-old elementary school teacher and international running sensation, won the women's division of the Golden Leaf on Saturday morning for the fifth time, completing the 13.1-mile trail run from Snowmass Village to Aspen in 1 hour, 38 minutes, 29 seconds.

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"This is my favorite race in the world, by far," Kremer said in the festive finish area at Koch Lumber Park in Aspen. "This really is my favorite race. So, if I'm going to win any race, I'm honored to win this one."

Kremer finished fourth overall in the field of 1,000 runners on a brilliant, cloudless Saturday morning.

Evan Macfarlane of Denver won the men's race in 1:35:30, just ahead of Sam Jackson of San Francisco 1:35:49. Bryan Cook of Carbondale finished third.

Kremer, who is coming off a huge international win at the Sierre-Zinal Mountain Race in Switzerland, said she felt strong from the start Saturday, even though her time was a bit off her own course record.

"I am such a nervous wreck before every race," the effervescent Kremer said after Saturday's win. "And I knew there were competitive ladies out there, so I knew this year would be difficult."

Evidently.

The 2014 Golden Leaf Half-Marathon featured perhaps the strongest women's field in its 36-year history.

Megan Lund Lizotte, the Basalt native now living in Southern California, finished second to Kremer in the women's race Saturday (1:45:54).

Lund Lizotte, a member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team and a former U.S. mountain running champion, was a decorated runner in high school before running at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Lund Lizotte, who has raced internationally as a pro, was joined in the elite women's field by third-place finisher Laura Tabor of Boulder, a former winner of the Golden Leaf.

Bret Scofield of Boulder was fourth among the women Saturday with Aspen's Julia Rowland next and then Lindsay Krause of Littleton, yet another former Golden Leaf winner.

The women's field also included Carrie Vickers of Carbondale, a former American record-holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She was an All-American runner at the University of Colorado.

"What can I say," Kremer said. "My summer in Europe was amazing."

She also won the Matterhorn 46K Skyrace in Switzerland last summer.

"Today was awesome," she said, describing the distractingly colorful leaves along the course this year.

"The colors were outstanding. It took everything inside me not to just stop and look around," Kremer said.

Likewise, men's overall winner Macfarlane said he enjoyed the colorful run along the famed Government Trail to the finish in Aspen.

Especially since the 2014 Gold Leaf provided his first running victory — ever.

"It was an amazing course," said Macfarlane, a 32-year-old who works at the U.S. Patent Office in Denver. "The leaves are spectacular. Running through the tunnels of aspens was incredible."

He said the scenery was as stunning and shocking as his finish.

"It's my first victory ever," said the Michigan native who's lived in Denver about five years. He only started trail running a couple years ago.

"I bit it pretty hard," he said of a fall he took at mile 10 on the steep descent of Tiehack. "I sat there for a few seconds … but it wasn't too bad."

The shredded shirt and the crimson road rash peeking through on his shoulder indicated otherwise.

"It took about a mile for my legs to feel good again," Mcfarlane said. "Yes, I'm pretty surprised … never to have won a race before. It's cool."

He only took the lead from Jackson with 2 miles to go.

Samuel Blackshear of Boulder raced to a fifth-place finish in the men's race this year.

Cale Mitchell was the first Aspen finisher in sixth place overall. Josh Meyer of Aspen was seventh.

Ron Lund of Basalt continues to write Golden Leaf history. He completed the Golden Leaf Half-Marathon for the record 36th time — the only runner to have participated in every Golden Leaf race.

The event was cosponsored by the Ute Mountaineer, the city of Aspen and Solomon.

Results are available online at sportsstats.ca.

dstrode@aspentimes.com