Ben Payne crossed the finish line of the Summer Roundup Trail Run in first place with a time of 41 minutes, 8 seconds. It was the second most memorable event of his week.
Just seven days prior, Payne's wife, Erin, gave birth to a baby boy named Palmer.
On Sunday, Erin and Palmer watched as the new father dominated the 12k trail run, besting second-place Azerya T. Weldemariam by 42 seconds. It was almost as if Payne hadn't just experienced one of the most taxing weeks of his life.
"I'll just say my sleep hasn't been the most ideal over the last week," Payne said. "But at the same time it's been the best week of my life. So, yeah, it's definitely been a fun adventure."
Once the 35-year old got out on the course Sunday, Palmer's presence had a motivating effect.
"Once I was in the lead, I was kind of thinking, this one's got to be for Palmer and my wife," Payne said. "I saw the whole labor and the challenge of labor last week, so the least I could do is run hard for 40 minutes."
Normally Erin might have been running in the race, too. Though she says she isn't "elite" like her husband, Erin plans to start running again in six weeks, when her doctors allow her to do so. The Summer Roundup Trail Run served as the second leg of Ben's first attempt to conquer the Triple Crown of Running. He'll finish up with the Pikes Peak Ascent on August 19th. But in the trail run, Payne says, runners face challenges that they don't face in the rest of the Triple Crown.
"You've got the steep hill three times, so that's challenging," Payne said. "And then you've got three loops and other people to dodge, and that's different than other races I've done in the past. But it's great training for some hill-climbing races to come."
Payne's celebration after the win was as calm as it was memorable. He walked over to Erin and Palmer, kissing them both while trying not to wake the baby.
According to Payne, that's how it's been the past few days, and that's how the celebration will probably look when the trio returns home.
"Most days are quiet with a newborn, so it's all relative now," Payne said. "We'll be at home if that tells you anything. My parents are coming to town so maybe we'll celebrate a little with them."
Days likely won't be as quiet for the Paynes in the coming months and years with Palmer. But for now, the family will drive home with a trophy for Ben's accomplishment. It's the second most cherished thing in their car.