MONUMENT - More that 660 people showed up Saturday for the Winter Series III race despite a stiff, cold wind and starting temperatures in the 30s. Families of the runners huddled together out of the wind, while several dogs played in snow that required boots for both man and animal to keep warm. Runners grouped together in the early portion of the race, but shortly thereafter the pack began to separate, and runners began to make their push on the Sante Fe Trail.
Thirty-year-old James Gray was the first to cross the five-mile race finish line with a time of 27 minutes, 22 seconds. As the race wore on the day became warmer, and the snow started melting, causing the trail to be slushy and wet.
"When it's this soft, it kind of feels like sand," Gray said. "So there is really nothing you can wear on your feet, you can run barefoot but it wouldn't help you."
Gray recently moved to Colorado from Washington state, and is still getting used to the altitude. "I don't know if you ever really get used to it, it hurts in a different way. I guess you just learn how to race at altitude."
Professional triathlete James Burns, 25, kept up with Gray for the majority of the race. "With about 1,000 meters to go he pulled away, once he got me there, it was a little too hard to bring back. He was tough, it was a good race," Burns said. He added that this race was one of the hardest things that he's done, but he still came away with a respectable time of 27:58.
Taking first place in the 10-mile race was Tyler Dimson, a sophomore at the Air Force Academy who finished in 1:10.58. "I came in here knowing that it wasn't the best conditions, and I was thinking I was going to tough it out," Dimson said. The young cadet led the entire way, but he didn't let that knowledge affect his pace. "The guy in second really pushed me, I could feel him breathing right down my neck.
Chasing Dimson was 17-year-old Andy Boyle, a senior at Air Academy High School. Boyle fought through a sickness earlier this week, and was hoping to push Dimson the entire race. "I thought I would stay with him, but the last three miles he just took off, so I just went on my own pace then," Boyle said.
Sheila Geere won the women's five-mile race in 35:52. Hannah McIntyre, 18, was second, in 38:51.
In the 10-mile race, Stephanie Wurtz ran 1:18.47 to capture first. Melissa Bay, 1:20.24, took second.