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At the Spring Runoff, it's all in the family

It doesn’t take long to figure out that The Pueblo Chieftain-sponsored Spring Runoff is a fitness oasis for families. A quick look at the various race categories on the registration form tells you this.

There’s a toddlers’ race, a quarter-track sprint and fade for the little spitfires 6 years old and under for whom pacing is a foreign word. There’s a 1.6-mile walk that allows every age of family member – from the young ones being accompanied by mommy and daddy to grandma and grandpa and every age in between. And, of course, there are the competitive races, which include 5-kilometer (3.1 miles), 10K and 10-mile distances for the serious spirits. After all the smoke has cleared, there’s even a “Funner to be a Runner” one-mile youth race for newcomers wanting to experience their maiden racing excursion.

They’ll be out there en masse at Dutch Clark Stadium this Sunday for the 31st annual version of the Runoff that will begin with the toddlers’ race at 8:45 a.m. down on the track. The other categories will follow with a 9 a.m. shotgun start in the parking lot. Wrapping it up will be the one-mile race at 10:45 a.m.

While the race field had already swelled to 600+ runners by Wednesday morning, registration is ongoing and will continue until 8:15 a.m. on race-day morning. It seems inevitable that last year’s record turnout of 698 registered entries will be shattered, and a good reason is the race’s “family” aspect that sees couples, families and even organizations sign up and run or walk.

Marshall plan

One such couple is Julie and Warren Marshall, two former Puebloans who worked in the city’s District Attorney office in the 1970s before moving to Canon City where she is a district court judge and he is an attorney. The 60-year-olds have a combined running log of approximately 70 years and have only missed a half-dozen or so Spring Runoffs between them.

“The Runoff is a tradition for us and we wouldn’t miss it,” said Warren, who has fond memories of the inaugural race that took place at the Pueblo Mall in blizzard conditions. He also recalls ducking between the rail cars when a train had stopped on the course in one of the first Runoffs.

For years, the Marshalls did the 10K regularly, but they caught a serious marathon bug in 2000 after their two daughters had grown and long-distance training time became more available. Hence, they have done the 10-mile race the past few years and will run that distance on Sunday.

That will help them prepare for running the next month’s Boston Marathon, which they qualified for last February in the Myrtle Beach Marathon in South Carolina. It will be the 30th marathon for both of them and they have covered 24 states in their quest to run a marathon in every state. But they haven’t forgotten where the racing careers really began.

“It really started with the Spring Runoff,” Warren pointed out. “We’ve just always enjoyed it.”

Hughes clan

Ken Hughes has been running since he was a 10-year-old lad growing up in Rye, but the on-and-off consistency of his training has become “on” again the past few years now that his family is involved, too. Now 38 and living in Colorado City, Ken will be accompanied by his wife, Melanie, and their two young children in Sunday’s Runoff.

Young Kevin did his first race at the age of 5 and, despite being just 9 now, is getting so proficient that he’s beginning to leave dad in his wake.

“Trying to keep up with him is getting tough,” the father admitted, noting than Kevin has beaten him in the last four races they’ve entered together, the first being a 7.5-mile Bear Creek trail race. Considering that Kevin has placed first, second and fourth in his age division of the Bolder Boulder the past three years, that’s probably not surprising.

This year, they’ll be joined by 6-year-old daughter Kira, who will be running just her second race, the first being the Hot to Trot 5K this past September.

Melanie, a Pueblo native, will be running the 5K with Kira this Sunday, while Ken will be trying to keep up with Kevin in the 10K category.

How could family time get any better?

Yes, they can

An organization that exemplifies what it stands for is Family Care Specialists in Pueblo. Always emphasizing the benefits of good health, Dr. Nancy Moya likes to get her staff involved in various wellness activities.

This year, she’s paid the entry fee for a dozen of her employees to participate in either the 5K or the walk, and they’ve contributed to the cause by getting another half-dozen of their children registered, too. Ironically, although she walked the 5K distance with staff last year, Dr. Moya won’t be with the group Sunday because of another commitment.

It’ll be the third consecutive year that some of the Family Care Specialists staff has participated, and their ranks have grown from the eight that participated in last year’s Runoff. They also will do the Spank Blasing run/walk at CSU-Pueblo next month.

Moya supports Pueblo’s running scene further by donating bottled water for the Southern Colorado Runners’ two annual women’s races – the Women’s Distance Festival and the Atalanta 5K, both run/walk events.

Runoff notes

• Those who registered early and want to avoid the Sunday morning rush can pick up their race packets Friday and Saturday at The Pueblo Chieftain building, located at 825 W. 6th Street across from the Midtown Shopping Center. Pickup hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 2 pm Saturday.

• Packet pickup on race day will take place in the concession stand on the opposite or east side of Dutch Clark Stadium. The starting line will be in its traditional spot in the parking lot on the west side of the stadium.

• Runoff participants are urged to pin their bib numbers on the front of their upper body so they can be identified when nearing the finish line. Also, pins should not go through the tear-off tags at the bottom of their bib numbers.

• Race-day registration will be held from 7 to 8:15 a.m. Sunday. The race-day fee is $30.

Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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