Running masses in Aspen celebrate 4th with Boogie |

Running masses in Aspen celebrate 4th with Boogie

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The boys from Dallas were more than happy just to finish.

Hot, sweaty, smiling and still trying to catch their collective breath, the young dudes huddled in the shade near the finish of the Boogie Buddy Race on Thursday morning in downtown Aspen.

Their times?

Largely irrelevant in their world of an early morning five-mile footrace to kick off the Fourth of July in Aspen — more than a pleasant respite from the oppressive summer heat of North Texas.

“We’re up here for a boys weekend for the Fourth of July, staying at our friend Spomer’s house,” said Nick Kraus, one of the band of brothers from the Greenhill School in Addison, Texas — the heart of the Metroplex.

“We decided to start our day right and get up and run this five-mile race,” Kraus said.

“We all went to Greenhill School together,” he said. “It’s much hotter there and much closer to sea level.”

The sea-level remark drew a group groan.

“Compared to running in Dallas, the altitude just knocks you off your feet,” said Griffin Olesky, himself a running regular.

“Nick and I, we both run a lot,” he said, retracing Thursday’s course that took the runners from Boogie’s Diner down to the Rio Grande Trail, then all the way down to Cemetery Lane.

Then up.

“Halfway up the hill, our eyes were rolling back in our heads,” Olesky said of the agonizing climb back into Aspen.

That was the cue for Spomer.

“There’s a reason it’s called Cemetery Lane,” deadpanned Andrew Spomer, who’s led the Fourth of July outing to Colorado ever since his family purchased a home here three years ago.

The pals visit Aspen for the Fourth and run in the Boogie’s Buddy Race.

Olesky, for the record, finished in 36:50, good for 42nd. Kraus was 51st (37:00).

Spomer fineshed 57th (37:16)

“Now, we have an excuse to eat lots of yummy food,” he said.

Just like hundreds of others who participated in the 38th annual five-mile holiday race in Aspen.

The race is a benefit for the Aspen Buddy Program, a youth-mentoring organization marking its 40th year.

Last year, the Buddy Program involved 945 youngsters ages 6-18 and their families.

That number was close to the number of runners and walkers in Thursday’s race that was renamed in honor of Boogie Weinglass and his years of contributions to the Aspen Buddy Program and the Aspen community.

No. 1 across the finish line this year was John Healy, a 42-year-old from the West Coast.

“I’m from Encinitas, Calif. I was at sea level 36 hours ago,” he said after he boogied across the finish line in 30 minutes and 3 seconds.

“I figured I’d use the (early) downhill section to get a bit of a gap,” said Healy, who surged ahead as the runners padded through the John Denver Santuary along the Roaring Fork River. “But I was suffering up that hill, for sure.”

Healy, an attorney, said he and his family came to Glenwood Springs to visit relatives for the holiday weekend.

“We came here with our 3-year-old twin boys, and I decided to do a local race. It was beautiful,” said Healy, who’s previous experience in running at altitude came in the Basalt Half-Marathon two years ago.

“The altitude does make a big difference,” he said.

For those interested, this year’s Basalt Half-Marathon will be staged Saturday, Aug. 3. It’s a benefit for the Basalt High School cross country program.

A familiar valley runner, Michael Barlow, of Aspen, finished second to Healy on Thursday morning in 30:32.

He’s coming off the Aspen Backcountry Marathon just last weekend where he again finished second.

“I’ve been training hard this week. I didn’t have much in my legs,” said Barlow, who is building mileage in advance of the Silver Rush 50, a 50-mile trail race around Leadville on July 14.

“The … leader got away from me on the flats,” said Barlow, who also is targeting a Boston Marathon qualifying time in the fall.

More accustomed to longer training runs, Thursday’s five-miler provided instant speed work for Barlow.

“I forgot how much it hurts to run fast,” he said.

Complete results from the Boogie’s Buddy Race are available online at

Another runner who made a fast recovery from Saturday’s Aspen Backcountry Marathon won the women’s race Thursday.

In fact, she’s been fast in every local race this summer.

Megan Lund Lizotte, of Basalt, won the Boogie’s Buddy Race in 31:40, finishing eighth overall.

The member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, Lizotte won the Aspen Backcountry Marathon on Saturday, finishing third overall.

Two weeks earlier, she blazed to a win in the Aspen Food & Wine 5K.

“I didn’t know how I was going to feel (Thursday),” Lizotte said. “I thought I recovered pretty well after (Saturday’s marathon).”

But, she said, her morning didn’t get off to a great start.

“I felt terrible when I warmed up. I thought maybe I shouldn’t do this,” Lizotte said. “But I felt good once we started.”

Lizotte is preparing for the U.S. Mountain Running Championships and a series of international trail races.

“This was a good excuse to get a speed workout in,” Lizotte said after visiting in the finish area with longtime friend Robin Severy-Pfautz, who now lives in Carbondale.

Severy-Pfautz was a top high school and college runner and someone Lizotte always admired.

“I used to look up to her. She’s such a good runner,” Lizotte said. “It’s cool she still lives here. We’ve taken a couple of runs together.”

She said it’s always fun to be around the Severys, Aspen’s No. 1 running family.

“It’s great. The Severys are always excelling at something,” said Lizotte, no stranger to that phenomenon.

Lizotte’s intensive training continued after Thursday’s race with a “long” cool-down run.

Today, she’s planning a 19-mile backcountry trail run with another Aspen running legend, Zeke Tiernan, who is working with Independence Run and Hike on a special training program this summer.

“Then, maybe I’ll take Saturday off,” Lizotte said.

Or not.