Endurance athletes: Start your engines

by | Jul 5, 2006 | News Articles

Fit to be Tied Column
July 5, 2006
From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi GaryFranchi

Endurance athletes: Start your engines

The competitive juices will be flowing on several fronts this weekend for endurance athletes of wide-ranging ability levels.

Locally, the annual Women’s Distance Festival (WDF) 5-kilometer race will take place Saturday morning at Pueblo’s City Park. The women-only event includes a race walk starting at 7:15 a.m. and a run at 7:30.

The real beauty of the WDF is that it gives women of different abilities the opportunity to celebrate the true spirit of fitness together. The event provides a forum for the novice runner trying her first race, an experienced runner with a long, competitive history and even those who prefer walking, whether competitively or not.

Race amenities include navy blue sleeveless women’s shirts, bearing a new WDF logo with “Run like a Girl” wording, for all entrants. Hand-made overall and age-division awards are being donated by the Woodturners Association.

Register at the Gold Dust Saloon on Union Avenue by 5 p.m. Friday or on race day at the City Park Pavilion.

Meanwhile, runners entered in the Triple Crown of Running in the Colorado Springs area or those seeking a trail race will traverse the second leg of the series on Sunday when the Summer Roundup 12K takes place at Bear Creek. The first Triple Crown leg was the Garden of the Gods 10-Mile Run last month, and the final leg will be either the Pikes Peak Ascent or the ascent portion of the Pikes Peak Marathon in August.

Finally, Pueblo’s Michael Orendorff, forever seeking a triathlon challenge, will be competing Saturday in the USA Triathlon Age-Group National Championships in Kansas City, MO. Athletes will be competing to qualify for the International Triathlon Union World Championships to be held Sept. 9 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Orendorff is coming off some unique recent accomplishments. Last month, he took first in the 55-59 age division of the Boulder 5430 Sprint Triathlon with a 1:18:25 time over a course that included a half-mile swim, 17-mile bike and 5K run.

Prior to that, he tested his endurance limits in the three-day Desoto American Triple-T Triathlon held in Columbus, Ohio. The weekend included a sprint triathlon Friday evening, two Olympic-distance triathlons on Saturday and a Half-Ironman on Sunday.

He gave himself an early endurance check by completing the California Half-Ironman in 5:06 in February. Orendorff is a Hawaii Ironman veteran and repeat national and world age-group triathlon qualifier who competed at “worlds” when it was held in Perth, Australia a few years ago.


Two Pueblo women completed the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon last month, with Gina Benfatti recording a super 4:13:10 first-marathon time on her 45th birthday and Louise Samora, 52, finishing in 5:55:32.

Marv Bradley, 67, of Cañon City and Cheryl Cook-McCoy, 61, of Salida ran the Lake Placid (NY) Marathon on June 11 in 4:37:20 and 5:20:16, respectively.

The inaugural Denver Marathon will be the city’s second new marathon this year when it takes place downtown on Oct. 15. The event will include a half-marathon, four-runner relay division and a two-day Health & Fitness Expo at the Adam’s Mark Hotel.

Many runners from this area will be happy to know that the Las Vegas Marathon will resume having a half-marathon when it is held on Dec. 10. The event had dropped the “half” last year when it was re-mastered under new management with a course that started and finished on the famous “strip” and moved to December.


Leading the contingent of 137 Pueblo finishers at the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day was Dick LeDoux, 49, in 36:54. But it was two Pueblo runners at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum who placed in their ages. Dave Diaz finished third among 217 57-year-olds with a time of 42:55, while 6-year-old Kevin Hughes ran the race in 60 minutes and change to place third out of 96 others his age. Hughes, who was the youngest runner in the local Cinco de Mayo race this past May, followed up his Boulder performance to record a 43:52 time in the Spiral Drive 4-mile run in Salida last weekend on a course that included a 500-foot vertical climb up Tenderfoot Mountain.

Diaz came back to run a superb 21:11 5K in the Sailin’ Shoes on June 17 to take second in his age division. Other Pueblo runners to place were Larry Caffey and Mike Barris, both 42, who took second and third in the 40-44 division with 5K times of 18:20 and 19:28. In the 10K, Regie Marquez, 29, was 18th overall in 39:56.

Two area races that won’t be held this year are the Beulah Challenge, normally an early August race, and the Pueblo Tribute Run, which preceded a cross-country run on the City Park short-9 course in September.


Pueblo’s Chris Gredig, 47, led area finishers in the inaugural Prospect Lake Triathlon held June 25 in Colorado Springs. Gredig finished in 1:23:45 over a course that included a 750-meter open-water swim, 13.1-mile bike and 5K run. Placing third in their age divisions were Diaz in 1:25:2 and James Austin, 64, of Westcliffe in 1:48:42.

Upcoming Pueblo-area races

• July 8 – Women’s Distance Festival, 5K run/walk, walk 7:15 a.m., run 7:30 a.m., City Park (676-7343).
• July 29 – Moonlight Madness (Prediction Series), 5M, 7:30 p.m., 3685 Verde Road south of Pueblo (676-7343).
• Aug. 26 – Tunnel Drive (Prediction Series race), 5M, 7:30 a.m., Cañon City, 784-6514.

Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at garyf@bresnan.net.