Rye student’s spirit lives on in annual Run for Rio 5K

by | Jun 1, 2002 | News Articles

June, 2002 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi


Rye student’s spirit lives on in annual Run for Rio 5K

There are a handful of events in our lives that seem to affect us forever.

For many residents of the Greenhorn Valley south of Pueblo, the accidental death of Rio Martinez in the summer of 1997 was one of them. Because of Martinez’s personality and positive outlook on academics, athletics and life itself, this tragedy has become one of those handful of events.

Rio, who at the time was about to enter his senior year at Rye High School, participated in four high school sports — football, basketball and track for Rye High and cross country for Pueblo County High during his junior year since Rye, at that time, didn’t have that sport. Since football and cross country took place during the same season (fall), Rio basically ran on his own when he could, usually near his home 20 miles west of the high school.

It was during those solitary training runs near his home that Rio began thinking about someday running the route from his home to the high school. Unfortunately, he never got the chance.

But his father remembered Rio’s dream and lived it for him.

The inaugural Run for Rio was organized the following year, and Jim Martinez, Rio’s dad, made the trek from his home to the high school on a hot summer day. A handful of runners ran the entire distance with him, and dozens of others jumped in at different points along the way, running a few miles, keeping Jim company and sharing in what was a highly emotional day for all involved.

The tone of the festivities in the Rye High parking lot afterward was all celebratory, and Jim’s post-run speech there focused on the positive as he thanked everyone for participating and talked of maintaining the spirit that his son had carried to his Thunderbolt classmates.

Today, that spirit endures in the Run for Rio, though the course has been reduced to a more participant-friendly 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) run and walk. This year’s fifth annual Run for Rio is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, June 22, beginning and finishing at Rye High.

The proceeds from the race are used to help fund the Rio Don Diego Martinez Memorial Fund, which each year provides a $1,000 scholarship to the college student from Rye High who best exemplifies the attributes exhibited by Rio – absolute integrity, intelligence, athletic excellence and compassion. The race also endorses Donor Alliance, a tissue bank and organ procurement organization, since Rio was an organ donor.

Race entry forms are available at the Pueblo YCMA and the Gold Dust Saloon, and students (high school and under) receive a $5 discount. There also will be race-day registration starting an hour before the race, but the entry fee increases after June 14. After the race, the local Lions Club will sell delicious pancake breakfasts.

Rye High is located on Highway 65 (Exit 74) about seven miles west of I-25. For more information, call (719) 859-5136.

Running Notes

The other local race this month is the second annual Little Run on the Prairie, a 5K run and 2K walk moved to July 29 after being held in August last year when it drew more than 100 racers in its inaugural year. Although this is a fundraiser for the St. Paul’s church in Pueblo West, the race site is actually Lovell Park on Hahn’s Peak Avenue. Pre-register by June 23 to get a discount on the entry fee. All of the awards are hand-crafted.

Looking ahead to next month, the annual Women’s Distance Festival, a 5K run and walk, will give females the chance to race over the Fourth of July holiday. The race is scheduled for July 6 at City Park, and this is an event that is a perfect forum for women of all ability levels.

The following week (July 13), runners and racers get a rare opportunity to experience cross-country racing when the Pioneer Run, a 5K run/walk, is held on the Hollydot Golf Course in Colorado City. If you’re not talented enough to place in your age division, your prize will be the free post-race pancake breakfast.

Ride the Rockies

While fathers will be feted on their special day this Sunday, six local cyclists will be in Alamosa for the start of the seven-day, 489-mile Ride the Rockies. Selected through a lottery were Puebloans Mark Angel, Amber and William Larson, Steven Milligan and Sylvia Thompson along with Dave Anderson of Pueblo West.

Anderson, Angel and Thompson have been training together for what will be their first Ride the Rockies. Their monthly mileage, which Anderson meticulously recorded on his Palm Pilot, was 211 miles in January, 327 in February, 328 in March and well over 400 miles in both April and May. The Santa Fe Century was part of the training in May.

This is the first year the Ride the Rockies has had a loop course that starts and finishes in the same city, and it also will not have a rest day as it has in the past. Through his many years of cycling, Anderson has covered every inch of this year’s course in one direction or the other.

That experience will help on the 99-mile first day and as he traverses Wolf Creek Pass, Coal Bank Pass, Molas Divide, Red Mountain Pass, Monarch Pass and Poncha Pass.

Bon voyage!


History will be made next month when the first known off-road Ironman-distance event – the Off-Road Endurance Challenge – will take place July 20-21 in Rifle, CO. As if the Ironman distances (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run) weren’t tough enough, having the bike and run legs on trails takes the term “challenge” to a whole different dimension.

The field of 200 has been filled for some time, and it includes participants from nine countries and 32 U.S. states, with the age range from 23 to 58 including 12 competitors 50 years of age or older. Twenty-five females are in the field.

I note all these facts because the race field also includes Pueblo’s own Michael Orendorff, who at 50 years of age continues to be probably our finest endurance athlete. Mike is a Hawaii Ironman veteran and repeat national and world age-group triathlon qualifier.

Wish him well if you see him.

Upcoming Pueblo-area Races

* June 22 – Run for Rio, 5K run/walk, Rye, 8 a.m., (719) 859-5136.
* June 29 – Little Run on the Prairie, 5K run/1M walk, 8 a.m., Lovell Park in Pueblo West, 547-9273.
* July 6 – Women’s Distance Festival, 5K run/walk, 8 a.m., City Park, 564-6043.
* July 13 – Pioneer Run, 5K run/walk, 7 a.m., Hollydot Golf Course in Colorado City, (719) 676-3353.
* July 27 – Moonlight Madness Prediction Series Run, 5M, 3685 Verde Rd. off Exit 87 south of Pueblo, 561-3343.
* Aug. 3 – Beulah Challenge, 10K run and 5K walk, 8 a.m., Beulah School, (719) 485-3820.

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

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