Steamboat Springs Three weeks after having heart surgery, Golden resident Bill Fanselow took second place in what is arguably Steamboat’s most grueling athletic event.
A heart rate of 180 beats per minute during intense physical activity is normal, but if it stays that way after an hour of rest, there is a problem. That’s what Fanselow experienced just two months ago after crossing the finish line of his second ultramarathon. Paramedics examined Fanselow and determined he had an atrial flutter; the top chambers of his heart were beating twice as much as they should be. His doctors told him he possibly had the condition since birth. Excessive exercise, ironically, also may have contributed.
The surgery was relatively noninvasive and involved having catheters threaded through the femoral artery. Doctors cleared him to run in Steamboat where it took him 7 hours, 22 minutes and 57 seconds to run the 50-mile fourth annual Run, Rabbit Run course Saturday. It was the second fastest time ever recorded in the race. Part-time Boulder resident Geoff Roes took the course record with a time of 7:11:36. Joelle Vaught, of Boise, Idaho, won the woman’s title and set a women’s record with a time of 08:08:50.
The sold-out race with a field of 150 runners started at 6 a.m. at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Runners climbed 6.5 miles up Mount Werner and traversed the Continental Divide with a turnaround at Dumont Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass.
This year’s race was in memory of Steamboat runner Jenna Gruben Morrill, who won her third consecutive women’s title in September 2009 before she was killed in a car accident early this year.
“When I started feeling sorry for myself and hurting, I just thought of that,” Fanselow said. “It was good to put that pain into perspective. Physical pain is a different pain than emotional pain.”
Wearing rabbit ears on his head, race director and co-founder Fred Abramowitz congratulated every winner as they came across the finish line.
“It has been an emotional day because of Jenna,” Abramowitz said. “Jenna’s spirit was shining over the race.”
Second place women’s finisher Helen Cospolich, of Breckenridge, knew Gruben though racing and shed a few tears today while remembering her during the run.
“It’s still hard thinking about her,” Cospolich said. “This is a great way to honor her spirit. I felt like she was there.”
About 20 people wearing shirts memorializing Gruben joined in celebrating the many runners who were inspired by her.
“We brought a whole contingent from Denver and people from out of state,” said Gruben’s father, Ed Gruben. “They were all here to support the race and Jenna’s cause.”