Two tradition-rich races head running calendar

by | Nov 1, 2000 | News Articles

November, 2000 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi

Two tradition-rich races head running calendar

So what happened to all the road races?

After a summer that allowed local runners to pretty much pick and choose from a hefty racing schedule in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, the well seemingly has run dry. That’s because, along with the falling of the leaves, fall generally signals the winding down of the year’s racing season.

But fall still contains two of the more tradition-rich and popular races of the entire year. On Nov. 18, the 21st annual Atalanta’s Women’s 5K will be held. Then on Dec. 3, the 14th annual Rock Canyon Half-Marathon will take place.

Both races will start and finish in Pueblo’s City Park, but there the similarity ends. While the Atalanta is intended to inspire low-key and unseasoned runners and walkers in addition to seasoned racing women, the Rock Canyon, by its 13.1-mile distance alone, is for the hard-core who have put in the miles this summer and early fall.

Here’s a brief look at both races:


This 3.1-mile race was launched in 1979, just a year before the founding of the Southern Colorado Runners. Named after the mythological female figure of strength and courage, the Atalanta’s intent was to inspire women to accept a challenge and do their best.

The courses have varied over the years, but this run/walk event has always been based in City Park. For a few years, the walk was a 1-miler, but both the run and walk divisions are 5Ks today.

Under new race director Maddy Tormoen, this year’s Atalanta will have a unique new course. Rather than the traditional two loops inside City Park, the race will be an out-and-back course within the park, giving participants the chance to see all of the other competitors.

Two traditions of the Atalanta are that men conduct the race and Kathie Arwood, an SCR member since the early SCR years, provides hand-crafted awards. Those two traditions will be in effect again. Besides the mugs made by Arwood, the top finishers also will receive line-art drawings made by Susan Tormoen, Maddy’s mother.

All entrants will receive new-design sweatshirts.

Rock Canyon

This race has had two names and several different courses since its inauguration in 1987 as the Osprey Half-Marathon. Initially, it was part of the three-race Autumn Challenge that was launched that year, the other two series races being the State Fair 10K and the Pueblo River Trail Marathon.

Dave Diaz

While this half-marathon originally was based at the Osprey picnic grounds, it moved to the Snakeskin picnic area in 1992 and to the Cottonwood picnic grounds in 1993. That year, it was renamed Rock Canyon, and SCR member Dave Diaz took over as race director.

Since the weather is always chancey in early December, Diaz moved the start and finish of the race to City Park in 1996. That meant the Pavilion could provide warm shelter for registration and packet pickup before the race and for the awards ceremony afterward. True to its name, it retained the River Trail and the Rock Canyon area as part of its course.

This year, however, the race is changing again, this time because of construction taking place along the River Trail System. Hence, the course will start in City Park, make a loop inside the park, and then will head east on the River Trail, going all the way to Runyon Lake before returning to City Park.

Under Diaz’s leadership, the Rock Canyon has grown steadily from about 100 finishers to the 165 that the race has had in each of the past two years. Each year, he also has created great logo designs that have adorned some highly attractive sweatshirts.

SCR members who register for the Rock Canyon by Dec. 2 will receive a $5 entry-fee discount.

Spring Runoff update

The Pueblo Chieftain-sponsored Runoff will have a new base when it is held the first Sunday in March 2001. Approval has been received to move the races – it includes a 5K, 10K and 10-miler – to Dutch Clark Stadium. The start will be in the parking lot, with the finish below on the stadium’s track.

A 2-mile walk division will be added, and the walk and all of the running races will start at the same time. A toddlers race for kids 6 years old and under will take place on the stadium track.

More Spring Runoff particulars will be ironed out in upcoming months.

Upcoming Area Races

* Nov. 11 – Temple Canyon Prediction Run, 4M, 9 a.m., Cañon City.
* Nov. 18 – Atalanta Women’s 5K Run/Walk, 5K, 8:45 a.m., City Park.
* Dec. 3 – Rock Canyon Half-Marathon, 9 a.m., City Park.
* Dec. 10 – Excellent Adventure Prediction Run, 8+M, 9 a.m., 117 Regency.

See ya next month.

Send thoughts and comments to Gary Franchi via e-mail at