The third leg of the Winter series lived up to its reputation Saturday.
“Our nickname for this is ‘the dreaded windy course,’” race co-director Michael Shafai said. “It lives up to its name.”
“It’s always cold here, even when the sun is shining,” added John Gardner, the other co-director.
Photo gallery 1 ... photo gallery 2
The course began at the Baptists Road Trail Head of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail. From there, it headed north through Monument and southeastern Palmer Lake, roughly paralleling the railroad tracks. The 5-mile course turned around near Second Street in Monument while the 10-mile course turned around just short of Palmer Lake proper.
It also features a gentle, constant uphill grade on the entire way out. The downhill grade and treeless terrain on the way back has an unexpected consequence.
“You get about a mile and a half from the finish and you can see the finish but it never seems to get any closer,” Shafai laughed.
It’s a course that’s spoken of with a knowing wink or a grimace. Twice in the past decade this race been canceled, the most recent in 2006, and it was shortened last year.
“The wind chill was so cold last year — I think it was 7 or 8 (degrees) below — that search and rescue advised us to just run the 5-mile course for everybody,” Gardner said. “I don’t think any runners complained.”
Results: Women's 10 mile ... men's 10 mile ... women's 5 mile ... men's 5 mile
The wind chill, although not dangerous, was no picnic. A bitter north wind blew into the runners’ faces on the way out.
“It was really windy and cold on the way out and nice and warm on the way back,” said Katie Rainsberger, who won the women’s 5 mile, her third consecutive short race win in the Winter Series. “It was weird because you didn’t know what to wear because on the way out you were cold and on the way back you were too hot.”
James Burns won the men’s 5 mile while Clare Bar took the women’s 10 mile. Like Rainsberger, both have won all three legs of the Winter Series and will take a big lead into the final run, which is Feb. 23 in Black Forest.
Mike Killam won the men’s 10 mile. With Tommy Manning, the winner of the series’ first two long races not competing, Rye’s Corban Pagnotta, 16, moved into the series lead.
Runners finished with red, chapped cheeks and lips from the persistent wind and coughing as the downhill plane at the finish facilitated long sprints to the end.
“The ground speed of the wind isn’t so bad, but when you’re running into it at a pretty brisk pace it picks up quite a bit,” said Logan Whealing, who took third in the men’s 5-mile. “It was tough on the way out and extremely fast on the way back.”