Colorado Springs attracts people who love the outdoors and are apt to take a 10-mile hike on a whim.
That’s why Jeanie Meyer fits right in. The 50-year-old Colorado Springs resident woke up Sunday morning, looked out at threatening skies and decided not only to go for a run, but to sign up for her first race: a 9K road race at 9,500 feet elevation — in falling snow.
“We were going to go for a run anyway,” her daughter, Alissa Van Hook, 27, said with a laugh.
“It was great! There was a lot more uphill than I thought there’d be, but I feel good,” said Meyer, who crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 17.51 seconds.
That was a popular refrain at the inaugural Mine to Mine 9K, which followed Highway 67 from the Pikes Peak Heritage Center and Mollie Kathleen Mine to the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mine.
Matt Levassiur, 31, of Colorado Springs, won the race in 29:17.76, the pink of his frozen cheeks clashing with his orange T-shirt. Fellow Colorado Springs resident Adam Rich, also 31, said Levassiur was almost always within sight, but held the lead. Rich finished in 29:54.43.
Brandy Erholtz, 35, of Evergreen, who won the women’s Pikes Peak Road Ascent 10K under similar conditions Oct. 7, was the first woman across the finish line, in 34:55.69. She was pushed from start to finish by Michele Suszek, of Littleton, who was a close second in 35:05.53. Suszek won the American Discovery Trail Marathon on Sept. 3.
Simon Gutierrez, 46, of Colorado Springs, who won the Pikes Peak Road Ascent, came in third overall (30:49.68), and Kim Baugh, 32, was the third woman across the finish line (38:38.39).
The views along the highway, which was closed to vehicles during the race, more than made up for the cold, runners said.
"It was fantastic. I've never run a race that was so beautiful," said Valerie Boughton, 20, of Colorado Springs (50:19.98), who planned to drive the route to take photos - after a long, hot shower to warm up.
"It was tough, but it was a good time. There was a great group of people," said Gene "Bubba" Chavez, 44, of Colorado Springs (45:23.27). "Someone asked me if I had a running partner and I said, 'Yeah, I got about 150 of them.'"
One of the youngest runners, Kevin Stotler, 12, of Florence (44:53.12) hoped the hilly course would serve as good training for the Rock Canyon Half Marathon in Pueblo in December.
Gerald Romero, 41, of Colorado Springs, finished fourth in 33:15.17 and then ran across finish line again with friend Marta Podkul, 31, of Colorado Springs, who injured a muscle in her right leg earlier this week but decided to run anyway. She limped across the finish line to cheers from Romero and onlookers.
"It hurts a bit, but I made it," Podkul said. "I probably should have taken another day, but I felt good at the start. But this probably means I'll miss the Fall Series race tomorrow."
There were plenty of familiar faces among the top 20 racers, including Andy Rinner (fifth), Brad Poppele (eighth), Jon Teisher (11th), Tim Allison (14th), Rick Shoulberg (15th), Kim Baugh (17th) and Lisa Goldsmith (19th).
The runners' swag bags included long-sleeve race T-shirts, a pack of cards, a book about local history, and a coupon for a bit of gambling in Cripple Creek. The top three men and women received gold nuggets (first place runners, $500 worth) and trophies made from core samples from the mines. The top winners in various age categories also received core sample trophies and unique local ore samples.
The Brass Ass Casino set up a large tent for the race party, complete with beer wagon and live music, set to continue well into the night.
, and most said they wouldn't hesitate to sign up in 2013, no matter the weather.