Sixth Golden Leaf victory for Stevie Kremer
The Aspen Times
No imposters this year.
Just authentic — and fast — half-marathon trail runners.
And Stevie Kremer — once again — is the fastest of all.
Kremer, the queen of mountain trail running from Crested Butte, won the annual Golden Leaf Half-Marathon on Saturday morning for the record sixth time.
She pulled away from the rest of the women’s field right at the start of the race at the base of Snowmass Ski Area.
When she crossed the finish line at Koch Lumber Park in Aspen, exactly 13.1 miles later, she won the Golden Leaf women’s race in 1 hour, 38 minutes, 38 seconds.
She finished eighth overall.
Casey Weaver of Carbondale, a former winner of the Aspen Backcountry Marathon, won the men’s division of Saturday morning’s 37th annual Golden Leaf Half-Marathon.
Weaver held a tenuous lead over Aspen’s Michael Barlow for the last third of the course, eventually winning in 1:30:25, 35 seconds ahead of runner-up Barlow.
“This is my kind of race,” said Kremer, a crowd favorite whenever she competes in Aspen, whether in a trail race or a ski mountaineering race. “It’s got uphill, not too technical. This is my ideal race.”
The effervescent Kremer said that as an uphiller, her strategy was to start very strong in the climb at Snowmass right out of the start.
“I know I have to get ahead on the up, because that’s my strength,” said Kremer, 31. “Once we got to the rolling (sections), I tried to keep a comfortable pace because I know these last two miles are tortuous, just tortuous. It never seems to end. In the back of my mind, I remember to keep a little bit (in reserve) for those last two miles.”
The final two miles of the course involve paved sections of a pedestrian path and then the flat Midland Trail across to the finish at Koch Lumber Park.
Kremer, who will head to Hong Kong for a race next weekend, said she does well at the Golden Leaf because she likes it.
“When you love something, you can do OK at it, and I love this race. Hands down, this is my favorite race … my favorite race that I’ve ever run,” said Kremer, sporting her trademark pearl earrings. “It’s my favorite from registration to the time I get back in my car and go home to Crested Butte.”
Bret Scofield of Boulder finished second to Kremer in Saturday’s women’s half-marathon in Aspen.
Tenille Folk of Aspen was third among the women.
“Stevie’s the best,” men’s runner-up Barlow said. “She’s a professional in every sense of the word. She’s calm collected; she has fun.”
He said it’s fun for other runners to watch Kremer attack a race course.
“And this is her race through and through,” Barlow said. “But winning a race six times is just nuts.”
Barlow said he set the early pace from Snowmass as the leaders tucked in behind him.
He stopped for water just over halfway through the course, he said.
“Casey got a little distance on us there; he’s such an efficient runner,” Barlow said of Weaver.
“We kept in contact a little bit; but then he just took off and I lost him,” said Barlow, who raced in a mountain marathon at Crystal Mountain, Washington, last weekend.
“Casey’s got a really fast cadence; it’s very upright,” Barlow said. “It’s cool to watch. He just floats away.”
Barlow said he now will rest up for the Moab Marathon in November, his next event.
Full results of the 37th annual Golden Leaf Half-Marathon in Aspen will be available at utemountaineer.com.
The event is cosponsored by Aspen Parks and Rec and the Ute Mountaineer.
Earlier Saturday, veteran valley runner Ron Lund competed the Golden Leaf Half-Marathon for the record 37th time.
Because he had to leave town on business later Saturday, Lund was given special dispensation to start the race two-and-a-half hours early.
He finished with an official time just over 2 hours.
Lund is the only runner to have completed all 37 Golden Leaf races — including the historic 1984 edition won by the “Princeton Imposter” — James Arthur Hogue.