Steamboat Springs They came from all corners of the country, from the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge in California to the hills of Texas wine country, from the shores of the Florida Keys to the banks of the Mississippi River in Missouri.
Their motivations were as varied as their hometowns, some running to win, like Gabe Small, again the champion in the full marathon, and so many others just to finish.
But one thing was clear Sunday as the 31st annual Steamboat Marathon swept into Steamboat Springs. For those seeking top times, familiarity paid off big.
The marathon is always a tourism bonanza for the town, and it was again this year as more than 1,400 competed in the day’s three events — a marathon, a half-marathon and a 10-kilometer race. Still, Routt County locals and marathon weekend regulars enjoyed as much success as they’ve had in recent years, using their knowledge of the lay of the land to knock away precious minutes and rack up impressive finishes.
Small finds success
Small learned the hard way two years ago what can happen to an unprepared runner on Steamboat’s seemingly simple course. The marathon route, which runs 26.2 miles from Hahn’s Peak Village to downtown Steamboat Springs, loses 1,400 feet of elevation. To some, it’s simply as easy as running downhill.
For others, the few hills mixed in the route can take a heavy toll. Small crumbled and lost a huge lead there two years ago after he mismanaged the course. He avenged that mistake last year, winning the race, and didn’t forget the lessons learned when he prepared for Sunday’s contest. He drove the route over and over to soak in the details, and he had no trouble running it on a sunny and warm June day. He broke from the pack about four miles in and cruised to a victory, finishing in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 50 seconds.
“There was a kid who was with me and he kept me in sight until about Mile 18, but then he had hamstring cramps, had to drop off and walked that hill,” Small said. “He didn’t know the course.
“It hurt more than last year. I wasn’t in as good of shape, but it felt good to win again. It really did.”
Kirkwood, Mo., runner David Pokorny, second in 2:56:47, runs with an elite group based in the St. Louis suburbs that has made Steamboat a regular stop. He said the course didn’t give him a problem, but it may have his competition. He was able to surge into second when one of the people he was chasing stopped to walk near the end of the race.
“I just went out and settled into something and felt like, ‘I can do this for 26,’” Pokorny said. “At Mile 23, second place started walking and I went right by him. He had been out of sight.”
Steamboat Springs runner Travis Mattern finished third, in 2:59:38, and Asher Rohde, a graduate 24 hours earlier from Steamboat Springs High School, flew in for fourth place in 3:00:48.
“I wasn’t prepared for it at all,” said Rohde, who managed a smooth transition from the 3,200-meter training he worked on all spring to the marathon, a race 13 times longer. “I did it because it’s good for you, right? It’s character building.”
Women’s winner Callie Bradley wasn’t among those who entered the race with local experience, but as a recent transplant to Oak Creek, she certainly was a part of the strong showing by Routt County runners.
She finished in 3:13:15 and with the kind of flourish that makes the un-athletic wince. Although she was safely ahead of second-place Sandra Currie, in at 3:17:43, Bradley sprinted the final blocks of Lincoln Avenue, screaming across the finish line.
“I was an 800-meter specialist back in the old days,” she said. “That’s always fun, there at the end. I just like to do that.”
Steamboat’s Kelly Heaney was third in 3:25:15.
Race a thrill
Campbell Ilfrey, of Louisville, won the men’s half-marathon, finishing in 1:18:59, just ahead of Craig’s Todd Trapp, second at 1:19:37. Jonathan Wells, of Castle Rock, was third in 1:20:22.
Henderson’s Lori Walker was tops in the women’s half-marathon, finishing in 1:25:26. Bean Wrenn, of Boulder, was second at 1:25:42, and Steamboat’s Deirdre Pepin was third in 1:27:59.
“The course is more enjoyable when you train properly,” Pepin said. “This year I had a training plan I followed, and it worked. ... My goal was to get under 1:30, and I did, so I’m happy.”
Boulder runner Matt Davies, running in Steamboat for the second time, dominated the 10K race, winning in 38:28, ahead of an eye-popping performance from 13-year-old Simon Zink, of Fraser, who was second in 39:58. Colorado Springs runner Patrick Barrett was third in 40:36.
“I’ve been doing lots of long runs and that worked out well,” Davies said. “I didn’t expect anything when I came to the line, so this was a nice surprise.”
Danielle Korb, from Fort Collins, torched the field in the women’s 10K, finishing in 41:40. Mary Shore, also of Fort Collins, was second in 46:27, and Breckenridge’s Kristin Dean was third in 47:20.
“It was fun,” Korb said. “I was just out to see the scenery. It was just really beautiful.”
Many others weren’t as worried about their places and were focused on their times, or simply finishing.
As much was evident as the time ticked away through the morning and into the afternoon. The runners finishing were slower and slower, but their looks of accomplishment were just the same as those who had finished hours earlier.
Take Page Fischer, who traveled from Denver with a trio of friends to celebrate her birthday, and she donned a tiara in recognition of the celebration. Her big weekend began the worst way, with a car crash that left her looking positively beat up, black eye and all.
She finished in the middle of the half-marathon pack, but she finished. And for that she was excited.
“I got a concussion,” she said, “but that wasn’t going to stop my birthday run.”
With her, as with so many others, it was proven yet again that for the fast and the slow, the Steamboat Marathon, Half-Marathon and 10K isn’t something you explain.
It’s something you do.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com
2012 Steamboat Marathon 10k results
2012 Steamboat Marathon half marathon results
2012 Steamboat Marathon results