May 18, 2013 Updated: May 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Run to the Shrine attracted nearly 1,200 people this year, and the race offered a few surprises for everyone, from a slight change in the course, to a young child who more than held her own.
The run to the Will Rogers Shrine spans nearly 1,400 feet in elevation, and Saturday morning participants were enthusiastic.
The biggest surprise of the race was 11-year-old Jalynn Tabares who claimed first in the women's category with an absolutely scorching time of 27 minutes, 49 seconds, nearly 3 minutes ahead of the next female. As Tabares crossed the finish line race officials and timekeepers exchanged glances that ranged from utter bewilderment to shocked disbelief.
Tabares, a seventh-grader next school year at Russell Middle School, credited repetition as the key to her success.
"We do lots of training every day, and we've been doing half-mile hill repeats, so I think that helped me," Tabares said. "I've been running for four years and I plan on running many more races after this."
At 7:15 a.m. racers participating in the 10K began as wave after wave of competitor dug in for 6.2-mile haul.
After 39:59, Fountain Valley physics teacher Tommy Manning crossed the finish line and said that to win "you just have to go hard from the start and don't let up." To keep in shape for races. Manning prefers to keep it local. "I love running in Cheyenne Canon, it's my favorite place to train."
Manning and others competed for bragging rights, a full day at the zoo, and a medal made of rhinoceros poop. The medal itself is encased in resin and cured with epoxy, leaving a unique, albeit strange prize that doesn't smell bad.
In the women's 10K, Kelly Calway took first place in 46:48.
"I want to do it because I have a little girl who loves the zoo, so I have to get her a rhino poop medal," said a smiling Calway.
Her tip was that "you had to have a good rhythm with your breathing, especially in Colorado."
Although the 10K is the longer and more competitive race, the 5K is where much of the fun was. Carl Arnold was the first finisher for the men in 21:59, while Cody Hill kept pace and was second in 22:06. Arnold said "Hill pushed me pretty good and actually passed me." In order to claim first place, Arnold had to dig deep: "I used my speed going downhill (to pass Hill)."
The runners comprise a close-knit community who are congratulatory and courteous, and cheer each other along. The race consisted of people from every age group and Tabares said "I plan on running until I'm 95."