Without Severy, Buddy 5 is wide open | AspenTimes.com

Without Severy, Buddy 5 is wide open

Nate Peterson
Mark Fox/The Aspen TImes Local Richard Mendoza passes a patch of grass Wednesday during a training run on a trail near the Ute Cemetary. Mendoza finished fifth overall in last year's Fourth of July Buddy 5 race.

There are two Richard Mendozas. One likes to go on nice, easy runs with his dog and play soccer in the afternoons after work. The other is a former Division I track athlete who can’t constrain his impulsive desire to win when he arrives at the starting line of a road race.The first Mendoza – the man who meditates daily to relieve stress – is still trying to come to terms with the second.”My training now isn’t really competitive,” said the 29-year-old Mendoza, a former 800-meter runner at the University of New Mexico. “I don’t train very seriously to compete anymore, but I still get the jitters before I race. The ones that come when you expect yourself to win and all that stuff. I still feel the pressure.”The jitters are sure to be there again Tuesday morning before the gun goes off for the start of the annual Buddy 5 Mile Race – an Aspen Fourth of July tradition since 1978.

Especially since local Jonathan Severy – a former All American runner at CU, and the winner of last year’s Buddy 5 – won’t be in town to defend his title.Mendoza – the first Aspenite to finish behind Severy in last year’s race with a fifth-place time of 30 minutes, 38 seconds – said his primary objective on Tuesday is to have fun.But that’s only the first Mendoza talking.The second will undoubtedly feel added pressure to push himself to victory without Severy among the group of contenders in this year’s race.Besides Mendoza, that group consists of Bernie Boettcher, Dan Pinter and “any of the elite runners from out of town who show up,” Mendoza said earlier this week.

Boettcher is arguably the favorite among the group. The 43-year-old painter from Silt finished second in last year’s Buddy 5 behind Severy with a time of 29 minutes. There’s also Boettcher’s unmatched running resume. For almost four years now, he has competed in some sort of race almost every weekend, winning nearly half of the races he has entered.Pinter, a distance runner at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who will be a junior next fall, beat Mendoza by two seconds – 5:02 to 5:04 – last weekend in the Downtown Mile.Mendoza said that if he did the kind of competitive training that he did as a college runner, his chances of winning the local races he enters would be much better.His love for soccer, however, comes before anything, Mendoza said.”I lift once a week, and I run six days a week, but that includes days when I’m playing soccer,” said Mendoza, who plays on two competitive soccer teams in the valley. “If I was training specifically to run competitively, I’d lift three times a week and do specific-sport training five to six days a week. Soccer is much more important to me. In the downtime before the Buddy 5, I have four games, and I could pull my hamstring or get hurt or something before then.”

Surprisingly, there will be no Severys – known around town as the “Running Severys” – competing in this year’s race.Mother Betty recently had foot surgery, and Patrick, the youngest of the six Severy children, is still recovering from a shattered heel he suffered in a skiing accident this winter at Buttermilk. Christy, a recent graduate of Aspen High School who will run cross-country next fall at UCCS, has to baby-sit on Tuesday.The two older Severy girls – Robin and Elizabeth – also won’t be running, according to Betty Severy. As for Jonathan, his mother said he is in New York City, where he is trying to get into medical school.”Everybody is injured or out of town,” Betty Severy said Friday. “It’s just kind of sad, but maybe next year we’ll regroup. We’ll be back.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com

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