Rob Vermillion hits the home stretch during Saturday’s Hayden Cog Run. Vermillion was the first finisher in the 8.4 mile run.

Photo by Luke Graham

Rob Vermillion hits the home stretch during Saturday’s Hayden Cog Run. Vermillion was the first finisher in the 8.4 mile run.

Don Platt finishes Hayden Cog Run despite leg injury

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Don Platt crosses the finish line at Saturday’s Hayden Cog Run. Despite hamstring surgery seven weeks ago, Platt finished the course for the 25th consecutive time.

— Don Platt was surprised by the question, and rightfully so.

Would he be back next year for his 26th consecutive Hayden Cog Run?

“If I walked it for three hours,” Platt said matter-of-factly, “I’ll certainly run it again.”

The Hayden Cog Run has been held the past 34 years, and when it was held again Saturday as part of the Steamboat Springs Running Series, Platt laced up his shoes and finished it for the 25th consecutive time.

The school bus driver and front desk worker at Old Town Hot Springs moved to Steamboat 25 years ago. He hasn’t yet missed a chance to tackle the diabolical 8.4-mile run up and back down Hayden’s cog.

“I’ve always done this race,” he said. “I like the running community. I love the cog. It’s a great downhill and a great uphill. It’s just great people.”

But the streak was in jeopardy this year. A short seven weeks ago, Platt tore the hamstring off his pelvic bone in the Glide the Divide cross-country ski race, formerly known as the North Routt Coureur des Bois.

“When you get a hamstring tear that’s actually worse than this,” he said. “They put in two screws and screwed the tendon to the bone.”

Platt was on crutches until last week. But he got the go-ahead from doctors to start walking. And what better way to start walking than by tackling his old friend.

He called Hayden Cog Run race directors earlier in the week and asked if he could get a head start. So at 9 a.m. Saturday, an hour before all the other racers left the start area, Platt began his 8.4-mile journey.

Three hours and 6 minutes later, he crossed the finish line.

“It was fine,” he said. “Really there were no problems at all. I was real careful. If I felt anything funny I was going to stop. I figured if I do it for 25 more years I’ll be 83. I’ll probably still be able to walk it that fast at 83.”

Other runners didn’t have to battle what Platt did on an overcast and chilly Saturday in Hayden. The race drew 50 competitors total for the Cog Run and the sister 5-kilometer race. Times were much slower than in past years, especially for those who tackled the cog, on which runners battled a headwind on the uphill.

Rob Vermillion was the class of the men’s field, winning the Cog Run in 57 minutes, 53 seconds.

“It’s really hard,” said Vermillion, who moved to Steamboat in March from Eugene, Ore. “I’ve never considered myself a good climber and today showed me again I’m not. I just managed to run downhill really fast.”

Wyatt Villa, who was the first to the top, finished second in 1:00:04. Dale Beckerman was third in 1:03:54.

Joanne Warzoha won the women’s race in 1:12:17, ahead of second-place Cara Marrs in 1:13:00 and Kristen Stemp in 1:16:11.

The 5-kilometer race again was dominated by the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club cross-country team.

On the men’s side, Max Scrimgeour crossed first in 19:05. Charlie Von Thaden was second in 19:38, and Tanner Heil was third in 20:14.

Mary O’Connell paced the women in the 5K, finishing in 21:10, followed by Haley Piske at 21:52 and Cara Piske at 22:00.

The next Running Series event is the June 3 Steamboat Marathon, half-marathon and 10-kilometer race.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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