Flooding nor a finish line could stop Dan Vega, runners at XTERRA Trail marathon

by BRENT W. NEW sports@gazette.com - Updated: September 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm • Published: September 22, 2013 | 10:55 pm 0

Dan Vega couldn't stop running - even when his race was over.

Vega, 45, bulled through the finish line to take first place in the half marathon, only to grab his medal, put it back down, turn back, and re-run the 13.1-mile loop to unofficially win the marathon as well at the fifth annual XTERRA Marathon of Trail Races.

"I guess that was his cool-down," race director Victoria Seahorn laughed as she peered through her black-rimmed sunglasses at him.

Vega won the half marathon at 1 hour, 32 minutes and 2 seconds before he instantaneously turned back to the course and ran the second Cheyenne Mountain State Park loop in a little more than 2 hours to unofficially win the marathon at 3:42:58.

"I was only signed up for the half and thought that is all I could do today," said Vega afterward, as he laid flat on his back stretching.

"But I was feeling good coming in so I said 'Why not?' This isn't the first time I've done this."

Vega started this ballooning tradition of his two years ago at this race when he won the half marathon, looked at his watch intently and then decided in favor of running another 13.1 miles right then and there.

"I wasn't looking at my time," he thought back. "I was looking at what time it was. I just didn't want to go back to work yet, so I thought I'd just keep running."

Sunday, Vega beat Alejandro Rocque Venzor, 29, by nearly 15 minutes, but Venzor, who was signed up for the marathon, took the official win at 3:57:43.

Rochelle Persson won the women's half marathon at 1:50:02 and Connilee Walter, 40, won the marathon in 4:29:35.

"I felt really good and didn't have much pain at any time," said Venzor, who is trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon for the first time. "The course was beautiful. You wouldn't believe what happened here just a couple days ago."

It was almost unreal. It was emotional for many in the wake of the state's floods, more than 300 competitors of all ages were amazed with the condition of the course, which was groomed and repaired by park workers over the past couple of days, as well as the picture-perfect morning that was the background to this rebuilding community.

"I think runners weather all storms, like our state has been doing, and a lot of places have been doing a lot of this year," said Seahorn, who received an email from two runners from Japan who informed her they wouldn't make it to the race because of a looming typhoon in that part of the world.

"Whether it's the Boston Marathon or the floods or wildfires, we are always helping each other and trying to find a way put it back together. I think this race was an outlet to come together and feel that."

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