BOULDER - After a blur of speed was vital for Scott Dahlberg for most of the race, he wanted to slow things down for just a second, and soak in the moment, as he broke the tape at the 36th annual Bolder Boulder on Monday.
The 2003 Peyton High School graduate pointed to the picturesque sky and let out a smile that could've been spotted from the nosebleed seats at Folsom Field as he finished the men's 10K citizens race on top. His time of 30 minutes, 50 seconds held off Andy Wacker (30:56.71) and two-time champion Josh Eberly (31:01.19) as well as others, like Nick Moore (50:07.72), a recent Arapahoe High School graduate, who wore a pink tutu and led for the first 200 meters of the race.
"I never prepared myself to win the Bolder Boulder. It's always been a dream of mine, but not one I planned for," said Dahlberg, who is an assistant track and cross country coach at CSU in Fort Collins. "It's an amazing feeling to go against this level of competition and come out on top - I don't quite know how to put it into words."
Dahlberg, who finished in the top 10 twice in years past at the Bolder Boulder, felt even more confident this time around, having won quite a few races in the past year - including the St. Patrick's Day 5K in Colorado Springs in March.
On Monday, it took one gamble to add to his trophy case. In the second mile, Dahlberg circled around the lead pack and pushed out to a 5- to 10-meter lead - one he'd never relinquish.
"It was a risk to go that soon - I was running scared from that point on. 'Just hold on,' I kept telling myself," Dahlberg said.
Behind him, most of the 52,000 runners at the Bolder Boulder - young and old - followed. Of note, Sarah Crouch, 24, won the women's citizen's race in 35:11.72, Coronado runner Bailey Roth (32:32.96) finished 16th overall and Peter Fleming of Colorado Springs set the age-group record for 53-year-olds by 37 seconds with an 87th-place finish at 35:03.75.
"I want to break the age-group records (at the Bolder Boulder) from here on out," said Fleming, who was one of many runners who vowed they'd be back next year.
A little later, Afewerki Berhane put Eritrea on the map when he held off two-time champion Allan Kiprono of Kenya in the men's elite race with a winning time of 29:11.37, and Ethiopia's Mamitu Daska won the women's elite race by 43 seconds over American Shalane Flanagan in 32:21.63.
The biggest cheer of the day, however, didn't belong to a race winner. During Bolder Boulder's annual Memorial Day Tribute, following the races, a thunderous applause echoed through the Flatirons for World War II veterans Jack Thurman and Dr. Dick Jessor, both of whom fought at the battle of Iwo Jima.
Men's wheelchair race: Josh George, of Virginia
Women's wheelchair race: Amanda McGrory, of Kennet Square, Pa.
Men's citizens race: Scott Dahlberg, of Fort Collins (formerly Peyton)
Women's citizens race: Sarah Crouch, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Men's elite race: Afewerki Berhane, of Eritrea
Women's elite race: Mamitu Daska, of Ethiopia