Original Atalanta founder to return for race Saturday
The woman who perhaps could be called the catalyst for organized women’s running in Pueblo will return this Saturday to the scene of one of the landmark races she helped found here 28 years ago.
Judy Tucker, who was part of a group that first organized both the Atalanta Women’s 5K and the Women’s Distance Festival in 1979, will return to her Pueblo roots from her home in Las Vegas, Nev., to take part in Saturday’s Atalanta race at City Park. The event includes both a 5-kilometer walk at 8:45 a.m. and a 5K run at 9 a.m. It is open to females of all ages and ability levels, including beginners.
The race was launched by a group that Tucker was the impetus in starting and that organized under the club name of Atalanta in 1979. Fittingly, Tucker was the first race director of the Atalanta Women’s 5K.
Tucker recalled how totally inspired she had been back then after completing two marathons.
“I was so excited about how I felt, and what a wonderful experience running was, and wanted to share it with other women in the community,” she said via e-mail correspondence recently.
Tucker remembered a group of women initially first getting together to have just a fun run before the two local women-only races were inaugurated. They then decided to band together formally as a group, at first exploring the idea of becoming a chapter of the Colorado Columbines before deciding to start their own Atalanta club.
Soon afterward, they merged with the Southern Colorado Striders to form the Southern Colorado Runners in 1980.
The first Atalanta race had about 40 runners, and the overall winner was Joyce Rankin, who at the time was living in Colorado Springs. Today, she resides in Carbondale and still corresponds regularly with Tucker.
Over the years, Tucker has kept a lot of her historical photos and articles from the early years of running, and she recently compiled much of the material in an album titled “That was Then, This is Now” that she will display for viewing at Saturday’s race. Included in it is a photo that is special to her, taken at the starting line of the 1979 Denver Post Marathon and showing local runners Joe Garcia, George Slaughter, Bob Spinuzzi and Cecil Townsend.
More personal than just a running album, it also contains some of her adventures in tap dancing, which she has done for years. One year after moving away from Pueblo, she returned to perform a couple of her dance routines in the City Park Pavilion following one of the women’s races.
In the early years, Tucker used to warm up the crowd for the post-race awards presentations by giving a brief historical account of Atalanta, who was a Greek mythological goddess. Traditionally, males have conducted the race for the women, and that tradition is expected to hold true again Saturday.
The co-race directors are Stacey Diaz and Jacqueline Wall, and the awards are made by Kathie Arwood, who was one of the women runners back when the race was started. The golden apples that Arwood produced in the race’s inaugural year helped Tucker tell her story of Atalanta.
Registration is continuing this week at the Gold Dust Saloon on Union Avenue, and race-day registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the City Park Pavilion. Registration forms are available at the Gold Dust and the Pueblo YMCA as well as online on the Southern Colorado Runners’ website. All long-time runners and former runners who remember Tucker are encouraged to attend, chat with her and relive the memories.
A group of runners based in Canon City placed fourth overall among 150 teams and first in the Mixed category in the 170-mile Colorado Outward Bound Relay Race that went from Idaho Springs to Glenwood Springs on Sept 21-22. Participating runners were Marcy Epperson, Lacey LeDoux, Thom LeDoux, Chris McIntyre, Jon Moore, Portia Moore, Katie Nester, Brian VanIwarden, Jeff VanIwarden and Jennifer VanIwarden. St.
Puebloan Robert Santoya, 45, made his arduous training pay off with a fine 4:08 time in the Denver Marathon last month … Travelers Marv Bradley of Canon City and Cheryl Cook-McCoy of Salida extended their odysseys to the Mount Desert Island Marathon (Bar Harbor, Maine) on Oct. 14 and Grand Rapids (MI) Marathon on Oct. 28. Bradley’s times were 4:00 and 4:50 in order while Cook-McCoy finished in 5:18 and then 5:35.
• Saturday – Atalanta Women’s 5K, run/walk, 8:45 a.m. walk, 9 a.m. run, Pueblo City Park (564-9303).
• Nov. 24 – Temple Canyon Run (Prediction Series race), 4M, 9 a.m., Canon City (785-6514).
• Dec. 1 – Rock Canyon Half-Marathon, 9 a.m., Pueblo City Park (564-9303).
• Dec. 16 – Rudolf’s Rudolph’s Reindeer Romp (Prediction Series race), 4.25M, 9 a.m., 10 Nona Brooks Ct. in Pueblo, 561-0741.
• Southern Colorado Runners: www.socorunners.org
Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.