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Run for Rio kicks off busy schedule of racing

Local runners, you can skip the speedwork drills this month. Instead, try racing yourself into top shape with a different 5-kilometer race in Pueblo County each weekend in June.

You can start by heading a bit south and firing up the racing flats this Saturday when the memory of Rio Martinez will be rekindled in the Greenhorn Valley with the twelfth annual Run for Rio. The race pays tribute to the former Rye High School student/athlete who died in an accident in 1997 just prior to the start of his senior year.

Fittingly, the race is based at Rye High, where it starts and finishes. It covers a beautiful and rolling course through the neighborhood streets of Rye, mostly south of Highway 165, at a 6,900-foot altitude. Following the race, participants will be able to stay in the area and enjoy Greenhorn Valley Days that will be celebrated about five miles east at Greenhorn Meadows Park off Highway 165.

While the accident devastated the community then, Nancy and Jim Martinez, Rio’s parents who now live in Trinidad, have turned it into a real positive by using the race to fund a scholarship for a graduating Rye High student each year.

The recipient of this year’s Rio Don Diego Martinez Memorial Sholarship is Cody McCullah, and that presentation was made at the high school recently by Nancy Martinez. Cody was a three-sport athlete and scholar who also was active in student government, the National Honor Society and, equally as important, in several community volunteer activities.

The race also promotes the Colorado Organ & Tissue Donor Registry since Rio’s organs were donated to the registry 12 years ago. On the race’s 10th anniversary two years ago, the recipient of Rio’s heart, Dave Karnell of Centennial, Colorado, attended the race for the first time and did the walk with Jim Martinez. Dave returned last year to walk with his son, and this year he is registered to walk the course again.

Another tradition that will be renewed this year will be having a photo of Rio on the natural color race T-shirts. Too, attendees can receive Colorado Organ & Tissue Donor Registry literature and free “Donate Life” wrist bands.

Race entry forms are now available at Rye High as well as at the Gold Dust Saloon and YMCA in Pueblo. More information is available via e-mail at either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Running

World Gym of Pueblo is again sponsoring the Spirit Fest 5K run/walk on June 13 beginning at 8 a.m.along the Riverwalk, with both the start and finish at the Xcel Amphitheater near South Main St. The race is part of a two-day festival that includes music, food, vendors and a festive atmosphere.

A week later (June 20), the folks at the Pueblo Community Diabetes Project will conduct their Prevent-a-Thon 5K run & 2-mile walk in a new location – the course used in last summer’s 75th Anniversary Run. The course runs from Pueblo Community College to City Park and back, with runners making one loop in the park stead of the two loops taken in the Anniversary Run. In addition to overall and age-group awards, all entrants will receive a ton of amenities – a free entry into a concert that night on the Riverwalk and tickets into the Little Britches Rodeo National Finals in August. The 6 p.m. concert will take place in the Xcel Amphitheater and will feature Martini Shot followed by Dizzy Sphere, The Barnburners, Hitlist and Phil Taylor and Rachel James.

On June 27, the annual Women’s Distance Festival, a 5K run and walk, will be held in Pueblo’s City Park. This women-only event encourages all ability levels as a way for them to enhance their physical and emotional well-being. Look for males to produce the race for the ladies. All entrants will get a ladies short-sleeve technical shirt, and age-group placers will get stylish necklaces.

July will start off with a bang when the magic of last year’s low-key, inaugural Independence Day race July 4 in Pueblo West will be rekindled in the Liberty Point 5K Run and Walk. It will begin at finish at Purcell Blvd. & Joe Martinez Blvd. on an out-and-back trip to Liberty Point. Stick around and get wet afterward at the parade.

Running wild

Pueblo’s Levi Medina, 21, is certainly on a roll. After posting overall victories locally at the 5K distance in the Spank Blasing, Cinco de Mayo and Run With The Bulls races, Levi took his act on the road and stepped up to the 10K distance to place 20th overall in the 49,000+ field in the Bolder Boulder. Levi’s 32:47 time topped the 231 competitors in the 21 age division as well.

Ultra running

Justin Ricks wasn’t the only area runner in the Greenland Trail Races as four others were among 93 finishers in the 50K division. Others to complete the 31 miles were John Castanha, 49, of Rye in 5:39 and three Pueblo West women – Kim Arline, 42, and Kim Dodds, 43, finished together in 6:06 and Marti Marshall, 46, recorded a 6:46 time. In early April, all three ladies and good friend Terri Tibbs, also of Pueblo West, ran the Moab Marathon in post- blizzard conditions.

Cycling

Downtown Westcliffe will host the Bike With Pike Adventure century ride to Colorado City and back on Sept. 12, and those wanting to chew off a little bit less of the full meal can choose the 69-mile distance or the abbreviated 8-mile family ride. It’s nice to have a ride in this region since the Red Canyon Century Ride is not being held in Canon City this year.

Last month, Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law a bill that requires drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing them. In addition, persons throwing objects at a cyclist now face fines and a possible jail sentence of three to 12 months.

Race Calendar

• Saturday – Run for Rio, 5K run/walk, 8 a.m., Rye High School (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
• June 13 – Spirit Fest, 5K run/walk, 8 a.m., Riverwalk (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
• June 20 – Diabetes Prevent-a-thon 5K, 8 a.m., PCC campus (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
• June 27 – Women’s Distance Festival, 5K run/walk, 7 a.m., Pueblo City Park (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
• July 4 – Liberty Point 5K run/walk, 7:30 a.m., Purcell Blvd. & Joe Martinez Blvd. In Pueblo West (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
• Aug. 1 – Moonlight Madness (predicted time run), 5M, 7:30 p.m., 5395 Verde Rd. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Websites

Southern Colorado Runners: www.socorunners.org/
Bike With Pike: www.bikewithpike.org

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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