Marathon continues to have magnetic appeal

by | May 20, 2008 | News Articles

Marathon continues to have magnetic appeal

“If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” — Emil Zatopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals

They keep showing up, in all different sizes, shapes and ability levels but with a similar motivation. If one is a runner, the lure of someday running a marathon is quite magnetic.

The beauty of the marathon is that, with a distance of 26.2 miles, reaching the finishing line is an awesome and usually emotional experience, regardless of one’s recorded time. Hence, a five-hour marathoner can experience the same high as a three-hour finisher.
What’s interesting is that Pueblo, which has a good share of runners, is not a hotbed of marathoning. Writing for Running Times magazine, Aaron Ladd reported in the May 2008 issue that in a study of the number of individual marathon finishers in U.S. cities with a population of 100,000+ in 2006, Alexandria, Virginia ranked first with 10.04 finishers per 1,000 residents.

But in the same report, Pueblo ranked fourth from the bottom with just 22 marathon finishers. This is despite the fact that, as a state, Colorado ranked fifth highest with 1.71 marathon finishers per thousand population.

Still, there are plenty of Pueblo runners being lured by the magnetism of the marathon, with the age range and ability levels being across the board.

Last month, Pueblo’s 45-year-old Mark Gurule, written about here last month, had a memorable experience by finishing his first Boston Marathon in 3 hours and 44 minutes, a respectable 8:33 pace, in just his second marathon. A fellow Pueblo Central High School grad, Greg Sekera, also 45 and now living in Lakewood, ran a 3:53.

Looking outside Pueblo, two Westcliffe runners also ran Boston. Robert O’Callaghan, 47, sped to a 3:33 time while 74-year-old Joe D’Angelo continued to defy physical limitations imposed by a severe auto accident nine years ago by completing his 108th marathon and first at Boston in 7:27 while competing in the impairment division.

Earlier this month (May 4), Gregory Berryman of Pueblo completed the Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins in the time of 4:36.

This Sunday, two Puebloans on opposite sides of the marathon experience spectrum will be running the Colorado Colfax Marathon in Denver. On one side is Patricia Cisneros, 45, of Pueblo West, who will be attempting just her second marathon. On the other side is Puebloan Robert Santoyo, 46, a long-time long-distance machine who has run 13 marathons since 2000.

Cisneros, who manages the Orange Julius outlet at the Pueblo Mall, didn’t start running seriously until 2004 and ran the Las Vegas (NV) Marathon with a friend in 2005, finishing in 5:42. The 1981 Pueblo East High grad recently ran all three legs of the Toyota Running Series, recording times of 1:42 in the Spring Runoff 10-mile race, 1:03 in the Spank Blasting 10K and 1:02 in the Cinco de Mayo 10K. With three kids between the ages of 8 and 16 keeping her busy, Patricia did as much training as she could while following the Smart Coach program she discovered on the Internet. She hopes for a finishing time between 4:30 and five hours on the new Colfax course.

Santoya, meanwhile, has been a consistent racer and marathoner for years and continues to notch one or two more of them each year. He ran a 4:08 in the Denver Marathon last year, and his best time over the last decade has been the 3:38 he ran in the Marathon de Taos (NM) in 2001. Santoyo recently ran a 47:11 in the Cinco de Mayo 10K (7:36 pace) and a 1:22 in The Pueblo Chieftain’s Spring Runoff 10-mile race (8:14 pace).


The memory of Rio Martinez will be renewed May 31 when the 11th annual Run for Rio 5K Run & Walk is held at Rye High School. Martinez was a student at the school who died accidentally just prior to his senior year in 1997. His parents – Nancy and Jim Martinez – started the race in Rio’s memory and to promote the Colorado Organ & Tissue Donor Registry. In addition, the proceeds from the race are used to fund a college scholarship for a graduating Rye High senior.

This year’s scholarship recipient is Jack Highberger who has been a supreme student-athlete at Rye. Highberger played varsity football, basketball and baseball, was a member of the National Honor Society, the Future Business Leaders and the Gifted & Talented organizations and ranks 13th scholastically in his class with a 3.52 GPA. Jack plans to attend Arizona State University to study journalism.

Jim Martinez is assembling a group of veterans to do the walk together, and vets from Pueblo, Greenhorn Valley and other areas are invited to join them.

Race entry forms are available at Rye High and at the YMCA, Gold Dust Saloon and Almighty Muscle in Pueblo.


For the second consecutive year, the Pueblo Swim Club’s Pueblo Open will consist of a combined age group and masters meet June 13-15 at Mineral Palace Park’s 50-meter outdoor pool. Masters competitors will be seeded by time with age group swimmers. They must be 2008 U.S. Masters Swimming members with a valid registration card. Entry forms accompanied by fees and a copy of one’s USMS card are due June 7. Inquiries should be directed to

Meanwhile, endurance swimmers looking for a real challenge can test their long-distance mettle in the second annual 4 Loops 4 Fun 6K Open Water Swim on June 28 in Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs. Swimmers can split the chore by forming a relay team or tackle the entire 3.72-mile distance.


Swimming in new age brackets this year, Carrie Slover, 55, of Pueblo and Cecil Townsend, 60, of Avondale represented the Pueblo Poolhardies well at the 2008 Colorado Masters state swim championship meet held at Denver University last month. Slover made the most of her four events, winning all of them. Besides her 100 individual medley victory, she established new age-division state records in three backstrokes – the 50 (36.86 seconds), 100 (1:17.71) and 200 (2:26.15). Townsend swam an astonishing 11 events and earned high-point honors for his age division.


Colorado State University-Pueblo professor George Dallam came up with a unique final exam for students in his Triathlon Training course (EXHP 291). Their culminating test was to compete in the TRI 4 Me sprint triathlon in Denver last month. Completing the task and placing in their age divisions were Ashley Samek, RaeAnn Gulley, Brian Seawald and Jamie Crownover. Meanwhile, business instructor Geri Wink joined them. Dallam and his wife, Susan, were third and second overall finishers for their gender.

Race Calendar

• May 31 – Run for Rio, 5K, 8 a.m., Rye High School (947-3682).
• June 14 – Spirit Fest on the Riverwalk, 5K, 8 a.m., Riverwalk Excel Amphitheater (564-7685).
• June 14 – Little Run on the Prairie, 5K run/2K walk, 8 a.m., Lovell Park in Pueblo West (547-4187).
• June 28 – Women’s Distance Festival , 5K run/walk, 7:15 am walk, 7:30 am run, City Park (564-1443).
• July 13 – PCC/CSU-Pueblo 75th Anniversary Run, 7.5K run/2M walk, 8 a.m., Pueblo Community College (549-3222).


• Southern Colorado Runners:
• Colfax Marathon:
• Pueblo Open swim meet:
• 4 Loops 4 Fun:

Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at