Boettcher is Golden

Steve Benson
Silt's Bernie Boettcher presses toward the finish line of the Ute Mountaineer Golden Leaf Marathon on Sunday in Aspen. Boettcher won the men's race by just three seconds. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox

Bernie Boettcher is a running machine.The Silt resident has run in basically every major trail race in Colorado this summer, including the Pikes Peak Ascent, the Aspen Mountain Uphill (which he won), the Breckenridge Crest Marathon and the Imogene Pass Run.On Sunday, a day after racing in a 10K, Boettcher won the 26th annual Golden Leaf Half Marathon in one hour, 32 minutes and 51 seconds.Boettcher also won in 2002, the only other year he has entered.”I’m done, stick a fork in me,” he said at the finish in Koch Lumber Park.Boettcher had a solid lead for most of the race – 13.1 miles from Snowmass Village to Aspen – but the last few miles he was pushed by Derick Williamson of Manitou Springs and Scott Elliott of Boulder.”I looked back a few times and didn’t see anybody. I thought I had them smoked, so I started to back off a bit,” he said. “Then I looked back and saw both of them – they were making huge ground on me on the pavement.”

Boettcher kicked it into high gear in the final stage of the race, edging Williamson by just three seconds. Less than a minute back, Elliott followed (1:33:24).”I just hammered it in the downhill,” Boettcher said.Denver’s Leah Marbach won the women’s field with a time of 1:52:53. The former track star from Baylor University was somewhat surprised with her performance, considering it was her first trail running race.”That first hill almost killed me,” she laughed.Susan Nuzum of Boulder was second (1:53:48) and Aspen’s Lisa Gonzales-Gile was third (1:54:29). Robin Severy of Aspen was fourth (1:55:38).From the start at the Snowmass Village mall, the course opens with an abrupt climb of approximately 900 vertical feet before leveling out on the Government Trail. From there, the course travels over several miles of variable terrain before bottoming out in Aspen and the finish.”That last mile felt like five miles,” Marbach said. “It was fun though, I’m going to come back [next year] – it was so pretty.”

Marbach wasn’t alone in the “firsts” category.On Saturday, in the second annual running of the Golden Leaf mountain bike race, Debbi Maez of Los Alamos, N.M., won the women’s mountain bike division in her first-ever cycling race with a time of 1:26:58.”I didn’t know what to expect,” a smiling Maez said at the finish. “This is great.”Aspenite Alena Gauba finished second (1:28:52). Maez also came in eighth in the trail run Sunday with a time of 2:00:43.A group of Aspen riders dominated the men’s mountain bike division with Ajax factory team member Jason LaPointe taking first in 1:07:29. Joel Mischke of Basalt finished second in 1:08:56. Seven racers from Aspen placed in the top 10. “The Government Trail is so sweet,” LaPointe said. “It’s a little different, it keeps you on your toes.”

LaPointe said the trail was tough in spots as downed leaves made it difficult to judge some of the terrain. At one point, he went “flying off the course.””The leaves make it a little interesting,” he said. “You don’t see the trail as much.”LaPointe and several other Aspen-based riders will be in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., this weekend to race in the U.S. Mountain Bike National Championships.Ron Lund and Barry Mink, who have run in every Golden Leaf Half Marathon dating back to the 1970s, finished in 1:51:31 and 2:41:04, respectively.The Golden Leaf races, sponsored by the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, attracted 425 runners and 51 mountain bikers. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is