I went to bed the night before the race with a forecast of light snow hanging over my head. I wanted the arrows marking the course to be clearly visible. If it snowed enough, I could get bright spray paint to put on the snow. As it turned out. I headed for town in a stinging wind on dry roads.
In spite of the cool temperature, 45 runners toed the line. Mike Schmidt, now a freshmen at Western State, and his former Pueblo West teammate, Michael Cernoia, were ready for a head-to-head duel. Schmidt handed off to Anna Marshall at 7:35, a 4:44 mile pace if the 1.6 mile distance is accurate. Cernoia was 20 seconds behind, still under five minute pace. Cernoia’s partner, Lindsey Smith, is a 400 meter specialist who figured to be hopelessly destroyed by Marshall. Anna is one of the best high school distance runners in the state. In fact Lindsey lost less than a minute and her team was second overall in 19:38, a time good enough to have won all but three of the previous ten Valentine’s races. Anna and Mike easily surpassed the previous race record of 18:47 with a stunning 18:11, and they may be back next year.
The number of runners was a record, beating the 38 couples in 2008. It seemed to me that more people had more fun than ever before. There were twenty couples in the 60-79 division. I clearly should have narrowed the age range, but fourteen of those twenty couples had combined ages in the 60’s. Jill Montera and her son Jordan won that division in 24:13, pretty remarkable when you consider that they used a basketball for a baton, and dribbled it part of the way
We had five couples in the youngest age division, 30 and under, the fastest being Jessica Klaven and Brian Shapiro. They were 6th overall in 24:12. They youngest were Kira and Kevin Hughes with a combined age of seventeen.
On the other hand, we had no old folks. The “oldest” couple averaged less than 48 years each.
The batons, as always, were amazing. The Most Romantic was a big key to the heart, painted on Jessica’s t-shirt, and carried by Jessica Sorgule and Ryan Kopp. The Biggest was a white Siberian Husky owned by Sheena and Rob Archuleta. The well-behaved dog carried himself. The Ugliest wasn’t really ugly. It may have been the least attractive of a wonderful bunch of batons. It was a bone with some colorful streamers on one end. The Most Creative, shared by Wendy Raso and Bradley Mohar may have been a big arrow piercing a red heart. I apologize for incomplete notes. I really liked the sentiment on the sandwich board carried by Marilyn Vargas and her son Felix. When Marilyn carried it, it said “I love my son. He taught me how to run.” It was flipped over for Felix and said, “I love my Mom. She taught me how to run.”
Ruth McDonald is a treasure. She and ninety runners and several other helpers gave me a wonderful Valentine gift. I love this run.