Alex Nichols sets blistering 50K mark on Greenland Trail

May 3, 2014 Updated: May 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm

LARKSPUR - Manitou Springs resident Peter Maksimow made a late surge, hoping to top his Greenland 50K course record of 3 hours, 21 minutes, 11 seconds. His final push saw him finish after an elapsed time of 3:20, topping the record he set a year ago.

It was good for second place.

His friend Alex Nichols (3:13:37) won the 50K at the 10th annual Greenland Trail Races on Saturday, setting a course record along the way.

"From the very first lap that was kind of my goal," Nichols said. "It's roughly a 6:30 (per mile) pace, so I tried to stay at that pace and as the race went on I felt better and better and each lap I did was faster than the last one so I sped up each time."

Maksimow set a quick pace early as he hoped that he could take down his record and finish below 3:20. He led for much of the race and was on track to accomplish both goals and seemingly walk away with his fourth straight win in the event.

"I was running hot at the beginning," he said. "I felt good and I just kept pushing and was trying to go for a fast time."

Boulder's Sam Long topped the field for the men's 25K, coming in at 1:37:04, nearly five minutes behind the course record set by last year's champion, Neil McDonagh of Manitou Springs.

On the women's side, Elizabeth Gold - who won the 50K a year ago - finished in the top spot with a 4:15:53 to become a back-to-back champion. The women's 25K course record holder, Heather Utrata, again won that event, coming in with a time of 1:48:57, three minutes and 14 seconds behind her 2013 record-setting pace.

The Larkspur-based event is one of many Colorado races that attracts runners from across the state. The open-trail setting provides a different feel for runners who are used to competing in races that direct them through neighborhoods, or even the more grueling events such as the Pikes Peak Marathon.

"It's beautiful, the trail is amazing and it's not too crowded," Sonja Elmore of Denver said after finishing the 25K. "It was my first time running, my friend ran it last year and said it was fast and fun, so I had to try it."

The 50K race is a Road Runners Club of America championship event and is a state championship for Colorado. The state's next RRCA race is the American Trail Discovery Half Marathon and Marathon on Sept. 1.

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