Running dilemma: Three valley races on same day |

Running dilemma: Three valley races on same day

Ron Lund and Chris Keleher are accustomed to competing against each other on Saturday mornings, although each would prefer not to do so on Aug. 16.

That’s the date when Lund and Keleher ” the respective cross-country coaches at the upper valley’s two high schools ” will each host a race to benefit their teams.

If that’s not enough of a scheduling dilemma for local endurance athletes, the annual Aspen High Country Triathlon is scheduled for the same day.

Keleher said he personally called Lund to apologize for scheduling the Aspen Mountain Hill Climb on the third Saturday in August that Lund has traditionally had for his Basalt Half Marathon. Keleher plans to move his race back a week next year to its traditional date coinciding with the Aspen Ducky Derby, but added that the upcoming date for the hill climb is set this year.

With three races on the same day, Keleher said he expects a smaller crowd of runners and hikers at the Aspen Mountain race.

Lund said the same thing.

“It’s kind of unfortunate, even though they’re two totally different races,” said Lund, whose race has coincided with Basalt River Days the past few years. “They tend to attract totally different people, and there’s some people who do my race who wouldn’t do his. There’s still some who would do both, though, which is unfortunate.”

The Aspen Mountain Hill Climb is a 4.5-mile uphill race on a dirt road that gains 3,400 feet of elevation. The Basalt Half Marathon, by contrast, is a 13-mile downhill race on pavement. The Aspen High Country Triathlon features a 4-mile run in the Maroon Creek Valley paired with a 17-mile bike and an 800-yard indoor pool swim.

“It’s Aspen,” Keleher said. “There will be some diehards who will say I’ve never missed a hill climb or a half-marathon. It’s not an easy decision for them.”

The Aspen High coach added, however, that the decision to schedule his hill climb on the same day as the other two races was anything but deliberate.

“I’ve tried to do the hill climb on the same day as the ducky derby, but I just mixed up the date this year,” Keleher said. “It was just an oversight on my part.”

Keleher went on to add that scheduling a race in Aspen during the summer has grown increasingly difficult in recent years.

“You just can’t make it work for everyone,” he said. “It’s hard to find the perfect day. Some of the races, like America’s Uphill, the Golden Leaf [Half Marathon] and the Buddy 5 [Mile Race] are so established that no one would ever think of doing a race in say, Basalt, on July 4. That’s not the case with other races. Ron knows that I’m not doing this to try to horn in on his business.”

This correction was published on July 30:

The Basalt Half-Marathon on Aug. 16 is not a fundraiser for the Basalt High cross-country team, as reported in Saturday’s edition of The Aspen Times. The team’s annual fundraiser is the Longhorn Stampede 5K, which takes place on Aug. 23.

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