Cleaner lungs lead to faster run times

by | Aug 1, 2004 | News Articles

August, 2004 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi


Cleaner lungs lead to faster run times

Now that he’s kicked the habit, Brian Ropp is beginning to make a habit of turning in excellent running times.

The 40-year-old Puebloan hopes to continue that pattern when he runs the 13.1-mile Pikes Peak Ascent on Saturday and, if his muscles will permit it, the full Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday. At stake for Ropp is the personal record (PR) he hopes to record Saturday by finishing in under three hours as well as a medal finish in the Triple Crown of Running.

The Triple Crown also includes the Garden of the Gods 10-Mile Run and the 12K Summer Roundup. Ropp turned in a time of 1 hour and 10 minutes in the Garden and a 56:12 in the Summer Roundup. He currently sits in second place out of 46 in his age division in the series.

Since quitting smoking 10 weeks ago after being a smoker for about 23 years, Ropp has upped his training miles and probably his intensity a bit as well. It’s been paying off with a series of outstanding race performances. Those also include a PR of 39:44 in the Colorado Springs Classic last month, his first time he has ever finished a 10K under 40 minutes. He also finished 15th overall in the Leadville Marathon with a 4:39 time.

Ah, but with increased training and intensity comes Mr. Aches and Pains.

“I’ve been hurt more,” Ropp pointed out. “I’ve actually had shin splints that have bothered me since winter.”

He’s hoping they won’t hamper his bid to beat his 2003 Ascent time of 3:11 when he faded badly while being, as he put it, “in a fog the last three miles.”

There’s no question that he’s race-ready, since he’s done several long runs in the 10- to 15-mile range including jaunts on Greenhorn Trail in Rye, Bartlett Trail and on a trail course around Liberty Point.

Ropp is an Illinois native who moved to the Pueblo area nine years ago after his family had moved here to find nicer weather. He works at CBS Lumber, around which he fits in his training miles as well as some time on weights and the stepper machines at the Total Fitness gym in Pueblo West.

He hopes to follow this weekend’s races by running the American Discovery Trail Marathon in Colorado Springs on Labor Day. He’s hoping to lower the excellent time of 3:27 that he ran there last year.

Ultra Running

Marv Bradley of Cañon City made it through 21 hours and completed about 58 miles of the 135-mile Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon before his body decided enough was enough. Temperatures on the course that went through Death Valley, Calif., reportedly reached 125 degrees, and Bradley, 65, was unable to take in the necessary fuel to keep his body going. In true Bradley spirit, he shrugged it off and immediately set his sights on his next marathon, which will be next month in Tupolo, Miss.


Long-time area runners might remember the Pueblo Zoo Run that gave them a chance to run on the popular 5K cross country course on what then was the City Park 9-hole course. After many years, the race is being brought back as the Pueblo Tribute 5K on Sept. 11 by Rochelle Garcia, the East High School cross country coach. The race at what is now the Elmwood Golf Course will be held prior to a high school boys and girls invitational, and it will consist of a 5K community race and a 1-mile race for middle schoolers. This year’s Tribute Run will honor retired East High Coach Joe Garcia, who devoted much hard work and dedication to the sport of running in Pueblo. Entry forms are now at the Pueblo YMCA and also are downloadable from the Southern Colorado Runners’ web site by going to the calendar.

Many racing fans will be pleased to know that plans are already in the works for the very popular Beulah Challenge to return in 2005 on the first Saturday in August. The race wasn’t held the past three years because of a variety of factors. There will be new courses for the 10K run and 5K walk, but the start and finish will remain at the Beulah School. A new feature will be that the Beulah Art Show will be within walking distance of the start/finish line. Karin Kyte Romero will return as the event’s race director. Proceeds will go to the Beulah Fire Department, EMTs and Youth Organizations. Questions or useful information should be directed to Romero at (719) 251-5533.

Note that the Hot to Trot 5K, held annually in September in conjunction with the Chile and Frijoles Festival in the Riverwalk/Union Avenue area, has been cancelled this year.

For those not doing the Pikes Peak races, the annual Watermelon 10K Run will be held Saturday in Rocky Ford. Registration is at 6:30 a.m. and the race starts at 7 o’clock.

The Las Animas/Bent County Chamber of Commerce has scheduled The Dam Run for Sept. 12 at the John Martin Reservoir near Hasty. This is a beautiful 10K run and 2K fun run. The 10:30 a.m. starting time allows ample time for the commute to the race. Entry forms are now available at the Pueblo YMCA.


Former Puebloan John Ottersberg, 42, a former swimmer at Pueblo Central High, pulled off a good one last Saturday when he swam the English Channel in 14 hours and 35 minutes. The 23.69-mile course goes from Dover, England to Calais, France, and swimmers generally swim between 30 and 40 miles because of the water’s current. He was met at the finish line by his sister, Mary Vermersch, who lives in Paris. Ottersberg lives in the San Francisco area and swims regularly in the bay there. He is a religion teacher in a Catholic school for girls. I’ll try to get more details on this for next month’s column.

I was honored to be part of a Pueblo Masters Swim Club trio that tested their aqualungs in the Horsetooth Wingshadow Open-Water Swim last weekend in Fort Collins. There were two divisions – a 2.4-mile distance for those wanting to test the Ironman swim distance and a 6.2-mile division for true fanatics.

The lone local competitor in the 6.2-miler (10K) was Karen VanHaverbeke of Cañon City, who overcame a cold-body condition to finish in four hours flat. VanHaverbeke is a 42-year-old second-grade teacher at Cañon City’s Washington Elementary School. Each 10K swimmer had to be accompanied by a guide that provided fuel from a kayak or canoe, and doing the honors for VanHaverbeke was her good friend Merri Zenisky, also of Cañon City. Zenisky works for the U.S. Postal Service in Florence.

Meanwhile, Cecil Townsend and I successfully completed the 2.4-miler in 1 hour and 12 minutes and 1:16, respectively. Townsend is a retired District 60 teacher and swim coach who now runs the Swim America program at Pueblo County High School.

Upcoming Pueblo Races

  • Saturday – Watermelon Day Run, 10K, 7 a.m., Rocky Ford (719-254-7723).
  • Aug. 28 – Tunnel Drive Run (Prediction Series race), 5M, 7:30 a.m., Cañon City (784-6514).
  • Sept. 11 – Pueblo Tribute Run, 5K, 7 a.m., Elmwood Golf Course (719) 253-1650.
  • Oct. 23 – Harvest Poker Run (Prediction Series race), 5M, 5 p.m., Lovell Park in Pueblo West (564-9303).

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