After watching the first two Super Half Marathon races from the sidelines with injuries, Peter Maksimow, of Colorado Springs, was eager to lace up his shoes and get in the field to contribute a winning performance. On Sunday, he finally got his chance.
Maksimow, 35, overcame cold temperatures and a snowy course to beat 357 runners in the third annual half-marathon held on Super Bowl Sunday. This year's race, co-organized by Pikes Peak Sports and the Pikes Peak Road Runners, took on added meaning for many in the field. Many of the runners proudly displayed their Broncos colors.
Maksimow covered the 13.1 miles in 1 hour, 18:11 minutes for an easy victory over runner-up Tripp Hipple, 26, of Denver in 1:19:40. Jason Koop of Colorado Springs crossed the finish line third in 1:19:47.
Maksimow, who missed the inaugural Super Half Marathon two years ago with plantar fasciitis and last year's race from a resulting bout with Achilles tendinitis, said his game plan for Sunday's race was fairly simple: "My plan was to run the ball up the middle," he said. "It was hard to watch the race the past two years, but I feel like I'm finally getting back to my former level. I was happy to be able to run well."
The snow-covered, out-and-back course on the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail was not conducive to fast times, which Maksimow anticipated after additional snow fell on the course Saturday. "I went out pretty conservative the first six miles or so," he said. "I knew the conditions wouldn't be great. I had the course record on my mind (going into the race), but about three miles in, I realized it couldn't happen. We were churning up a lot of snow and there was a stretch of about a mile where they had only been able to shovel the course, not plow. I had to be careful out there."
Koop, 35, said he was not slowed much by the snow. As an ultra-distance runner, the faster pace of a half-marathon was not adversely affected by the conditions. "This was a little fast for me," said Koop, who typically runs hundred-mile races. "This is about 10 minutes per mile faster than what I normally run, so how can I not be happy?"
The women's half-marathon winner was Tracy Thelen, 34, of Colorado Springs, who was 17th overall in 1:33:13. She, too, had hoped to run faster, "but that was before the (bad) weather moved in last week. I decided to just go out and see how it goes. I'm doing a 24-hour mountain bike race in Tucson in two weeks, so this was just training for me."
Second-place women's finisher Amanda Ewing (1:36:14) concurred. She is preparing for the Red Hot 55K in Moab in two weeks and had done a long workout Saturday. "I just wanted a good tempo workout today," said Ewing, 33, of Colorado Springs. She is also preparing to run her first 100-mile race later this summer at Leadville.
Ewing and third-place finisher Ashlee Romani (1:36:59) battled back and forth over the final five miles before Ewing pulled away with two miles to go. "I passed her a couple times," said Romani, 26, from Florence, "but she passed me back and I couldn't get her." Romani was coming off a victory at the Rock Canyon Half Marathon in Pueblo last month.
An additional 445 runners - many sporting No. 18 Peyton Manning jerseys - competed in the 5K race , which was won by Simon Gutierrez, 47, of Colorado Springs, in 17:34, a masters course record. Shannon Payne, 28, of Colorado Springs, tied the women's course record as she finished fifth overall to win the title in 19:10.