Laura Keaton's first trip to the zoo is as Run to the Shrine winner

May 17, 2014 Updated: May 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm
photo - Run to the Shrine 5k/10k at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Saturday May 17, 2014.  Photo by Jeff Kearney
Run to the Shrine 5k/10k at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Saturday May 17, 2014. Photo by Jeff Kearney 

Laura Keaton had never visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, so perhaps that explained some of her urgency.

Keaton was the top female finisher in the 10K at the Run to Shrine, a race that takes participants through the zoo, up to the Will Rogers Shrine and finishes back in the zoo, just past the Moose Lake.

"I think I'll stick around and enjoy the zoo," Keaton said after her victory.

The course climbs for the first four miles before concluding with two scenic downhill miles.

Keaton, a Manitou Springs resident for the past three years, finished in 55 minutes, 33 seconds, edging Ilana Cobban of Colorado Springs by one second.

"There was one girl right behind me the whole way," Keaton said. "I think that's the reason I ran so fast was to stay in front of her."

Keaton, 26, grew up in Alabama and didn't take up running until college. After moving to Colorado with her husband, who is active military, she developed a knack for the many uphill events this area offers.

She hasn't forgotten to enjoy the views, however.

"It was beautiful," said Keaton, who has run the Pike Peak Ascent three times. "There was one point where it opened up and the sun came out. It was amazing."

On the topic of amazing, Gerald Romero's performance in the men's 10K couldn't be described any other way.

He ran a mind-bending pace of 7 minutes per mile and destroyed the field in 43:26, finishing 58 seconds before runner-up Wes Thurman.

"I don't have any goals in terms or pace, I just want to go as fast as I can," said Romero, a Colorado Springs resident and native of Pueblo. "I was with second place for a while. I finally laid it down and broke him and sped up. I wanted a good gap at the turnaround, and then I flew down."

The morning race attracted 1,094 participants, the majority of whom competed in a 5K that was won by Sebastien Mullebrouck (25:45) in the men's division and Jaylynn Tabares (27:05) for the women.

Mullebrouck enjoyed a Romero-esque cushion of 54 seconds in his victory.

The race had its share of competitive runners, but also a number of walkers and even a couple dressed as Tarzan and Jane.

"I like this race because it supports the zoo and you've got a good view from up there," Romero said.

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