There was more than one thing separating Colorado State University track and cross country assistant coach Scott Dahlberg from the rest of the runners Saturday in the 30th running of the Colorado Springs 5K on St. Patrick's Day.
The 28-year-old may have stuck out as one of few runners not dressed in shamrock green or running with some other holiday-themed accessory, but Dahlberg and his speed were on full display when he burst off the starting line on Tejon Street and finished in 15 minutes and 8 seconds to win the 5K race held downtown as part of the St. Patrick's Day celebration.
It is the second consecutive year Dahlberg has won the event, which is widely regarded as the kickoff race for the spring season.
"Oh, absolutely," Dahlberg said. "This is my first race in a little over three months. I'm kind of in some deep training right now so it was good to get out here and do some good stuff. A lot of people find in the spring they can come out and get some racing in and kind of kick off the rest of the season."
Dahlberg shed three seconds off his 2013 winning time and was one of more than 2,500 runners who competed in the annual St. Patrick's Day 5K beneath overcast skies and blustery conditions.
The 2003 Peyton High School graduate finished just ahead of James Burns, while 30-year-old, Boulder resident Lesley Smith placed first overall in the female division by crossing the finish line in 17:53. Colorado Springs' Christie Foster placed second in 18:04.
The holiday also fell in line with CSU's spring break so Dahlberg made the trip down from Fort Collins to visit his family in Peyton.
The second-year assistant coach - he previously spent four years coaching at his alma mater Western State, where he earned All-American honors five times - admitted there is an adrenaline rush getting outside for the first race of the season.
"Yeah it definitely helps with the motivation when you train hard all winter and you get up in the morning and there are some pretty nasty days," Dahlberg said. "Now you get to come out and see what you have been working for."
The St. Patrick's 5K is one of the more festive races in the Pikes Peak region and nearly all of the runners in attendance showcased some sort of decorative garb. Green knee socks, leprechaun hats, hunter green kilts and skirts, glitzy green tutus, lime green mustaches and plenty of shamrocks engulfed the downtown area.
"A lot of people come out, especially with the parade afterward," Dahlberg said. "It's fun. You are running on these side streets and there are people out there cheering and it's a really good atmosphere. I like it."