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Garden of the Gods race winners come from different walks of life

June 10, 2018 Updated: June 11, 2018 at 10:42 am
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The 10 mile and 10K Garden of the Gods racers move through the park's trail system and roads in Colorado Springs on Sunday, June 10, 2018. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner, The Gazette)

Winners of Sunday’s Garden of the Gods 10-mile and 10K race featured a Boston Marathon champion, a recent college graduate who hoped to be elsewhere and a pair of local runners, including one that just finished their freshman year of high school.

Jerrell Mock, a recent Colorado State University graduate, was the first person to cross the finish line near Rock Ledge Ranch, winning the men’s 10-mile race in 51 minutes, 17 seconds. After the race, he completed one of the event’s first performance-enhancing drug screenings. He had hoped to be in Eugene, Oregon with the Rams’ track and field program at this weekend’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships but failed to qualify from regionals.

Instead, he won his first road race.

“I had a little bit of a bummer of an end to the track season,” Mock said.

“I was frustrated, and I wanted to run fast. I knew I was in good shape, but I really didn't know who was going to be here.”

Patrick Smyth was second, 11 seconds back of Mock, and eight other men finished before Caroline Rotich, the 2015 Boston Marathon winner, took the women’s 10-mile race in 57:36, a new course record. The Kenyan who lives and trains in Santa Fe, N.M. finished nearly four minutes ahead of the second woman, Elvin Kibet of Colorado Springs.

“We took off, and I think I was just like all by myself,” Rotich said, “so the only thing I was trying to do was just try to catch the guys in front of me.”

The youngest winner of the day was 15-year-old Francisco Alvarez, who just concluded his first year at Palmer High School. He won the 10K in 39:51, much to his surprise.

“No, not at all,” he answered when asked if winning was on his radar after he placed 10th a year ago.

“It feels really good.”

Tracy Thelen, another Colorado Springs resident, was the first woman to finish the 10K in 44:48.

For Mock, the up-and-down course played into his hand even though he admitted to some struggles over the final couple miles.

“I feel like I usually have a bit of an advantage on hills,” he said. “I don’t usually have as good of a kick as some guys.”

The CSU alum has spent the post-graduation weeks hanging with family and friends, playing music and training on his schedule.

“It’s great right now. I love having a little bit of a break and it just really brings the joy back in running. It’s not that I stopped enjoying it, but in college, it can be kinda a job,” Mock said.

“It’s just kinda fun to run for myself for a bit and just enjoy the ride.”

He wasn’t alone.

“I’m glad to be here,” Rotich said. “It was beautiful out there running.”

While Rotich and Mock are picking out races to complete their summer schedule, Alvarez is taking a more laid-back approach ahead of his sophomore year.

While he said he didn’t expect to win, he added Sunday’s finish won’t impact what he hopes to accomplish moving forward.

“I’ve been taking time off since track, like not running as much mileage, but I just decided to do this because I did it last year,” Alvarez said.

“I’ll just wait until I figure out what I can do and figure it out from there.”

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