Teachers on top in Goldenleaf Half Marathon | AspenTimes.com

Teachers on top in Goldenleaf Half Marathon

Twenty-four hours after pedaling to a second-place finish in the first Ute Mountain Goldenleaf mountain bike race, Aspen’s Thaddeus Reichley ran to first place in the 25th annual Goldenleaf Classic Half Marathon on Sunday.

On the same 13.1-mile course from Snowmass Village to Aspen, largely on Government Trail, Reichley, a fourth-grade teacher at Aspen Elementary and a triathlete, finished with a combined time of 2 hours, 52 minutes and 57 seconds. (That’s 1:19:30 on the bike, and 1:33:27 on foot.)

Reichley, 29, runner-up to Silt’s Bernie Boettcher in his Goldenleaf debut last year, said he had been thinking about improving that result ever since.

“I didn’t run a very smart race last year and I was ready for him this year,” Reichley said after the race. “But Bernie wasn’t there [at the start], and I was a little disappointed about that.”

The back-to-back format of the races wasn’t even Reichley’s biggest concern, he said.

“I’ve been sick all week and I was just glad to be done with it,” he said, “because I was pretty tired after the run.

“But it’s a really cool race to win and now the pressure’s on for next year, too.”

Reichley held off Colorado Springs’ Derick Williamson, who finished second in 1:33:34. Boulder’s Richard Dissley was third (1:38:41).

In the women’s race, Aspen newcomer Julia Benson was right at home on the course, winning in 1:48:25, exactly six minutes faster than Manitou Springs’ Cindy O’Neill.

Like Reichley, Benson is also a teacher, working with first- and second-graders at Aspen Country Day School. The 23-year-old Maine native was an All-American at Williams College in Massachusetts, running both cross country and track, and moved to Aspen this summer after graduating in May.

“It’s definitely a tough course, very challenging,” Benson said. “I was running with some very nice guys I met along the way, and I was really enjoying it out there. It was beautiful on the course.”

Aspen’s Lisa Gonzales-Gile was third (1:57:51) followed by Robin Severy, also of Aspen (2:02:32).

The 25th Goldenleaf also saw Aspen’s Barry Mink and Basalt’s Ron Lund continue their “silver streak” as the only two finishers of all 25 Goldenleaf’s since 1979.

Lund, who loaned out his impressive, quarter-century-old Goldenleaf T-shirt collection for a display at the finish area at Aspen’s Koch Park, finished 13th.

And while the weather, trail conditions and leaf-peeping opportunities were all prime Sunday, Lund said the race is hardly a time to enjoy it.

“There’s too many roots and obstacles not to pay attention,” Lund, 46, said.

“That’s why I always run the course a week or two beforehand,” he continued, perhaps revealing one of his secrets to longevity. “That’s the time when you look around.”

Mink, however, called the 25th edition “magnificent.”

“There were even some golden leaves on the trail, which makes it nice,” Mink said. “The weather’s beautiful, the trail’s in great shape, and the colors are just about perfect, maybe not as red as it could be, but we’ll take it.”

In Saturday’s mountain bike race, Aspen resident Ted MacBlane won the men’s race in 1:15:58, about three and a half minutes ahead of Reichley. MacBlane said he passed Reichley midway through the course when technical riding came into play on singletrack sections.

“I used to run it and I can’t do it anymore because it hurts too much,” said MacBlane. “And because it was the first one [bike race], that’s why I did it. I think I was lucky to win because it wasn’t a super-strong field.”

Aspen’s Peter Mousten was third.

Aspen’s Valerie Alexander won the women’s bike race in 1:39:14, and then turned around on Saturday and ran the half marathon as well. Ericka Richards of Aspen was second behind Alexander, followed by Aspen’s Bonnie Underwood.

Reichley said he wasn’t surprised that the cycling and running times were so similar.

“Doing a lot of trail running around mountain bikers, most times I usually pass mountain bikers on climbs,” Reichley said, “and especially on steep climbs. And for me, still being new to the mountain bike scene, I was off my bike in several spots and I lost in the technical sections.”

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