Women driving running’s second boom

by | Jul 1, 2000 | News Articles

July, 2000 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi

July represents a very special milestone in the world of women’s running. It was 20 years ago this month that the Road Runners Club of America launched nationwide the Women’s Distance Festival, a 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) run/walk to highlight the lack of women’s distance running events in the Olympic Games.

This was a women-only race, something that was unheard of at the time.

Many years ago, I had a casual conversation with Puebloan Judy Tucker, one of the original founders of the Southern Colorado Runners. Tucker was explaining that, at the start of the first running boom, it was extremely difficult for many women just to put on a pair of running shorts and head out the door for a jaunt in public.

Today, of course, the situation has made a 180-degree reversal. Running is experiencing a second boom, and women are helping drive it. For instance, race fields today often have as many women entrants as men, although this usually isn’t the case in Pueblo.

“The fastest-growing activity in the United States is running and walking, and the fastest-growing segment of that is women,” pointed out Katherine Switzer at the recently held RRCA annual convention in Atlanta. In 1967, Switzer was the first official female entry in the Boston Marathon.

Thanks to Tucker and the SCR, Pueblo jumped on the Women’s Distance Festival bandwagon early — in 1982 — and hosts the 5K race annually. This past Saturday, the 19th annual version of the race was held at Pueblo’s City Park. Only one club in the U.S. has hosted the race in each of the past 20 years.

Tucker and her husband, Bill, split the year living in Pueblo and Las Vegas. She was on hand for the race Saturday and was recognized for having been the race director of the inaugural WDF in Pueblo. Marijane Martinez, a past president of the SCR, has been the race director of the local women’s race for approximately the past dozen years.

Upcoming Races

The only other race in Pueblo County this month is the Pioneer 5K Run/Walk on July 22 in Colorado City. This course is unique in that the race is held on the Hollydot Golf Course. Most of it takes place on the golf cart trails, but a portion is on one of the fairways of the west nine-hole course.

The event is based at the Colorado City Community Center and includes a free pancake breakast. Entry forms are available at the YMCA and Gold Dust Saloon in Pueblo and at various locations in Colorado City and Rye.

Looking ahead, another huge race field is anticipated Aug. 5 for the Beulah Challenge, a 5K walk and 10K run that starts and finishes at the Beulah School. The Beulah Arts and Crafts Show follows the race, and there is free shuttle service to the show for runners. Entry forms are available at several locations in Pueblo County.

Also, the annual HARP Riverwalk 5K Run/Walk has been moved to Oct. 7 to coincide with the grand opening of the Riverwalk.


There is no Hawaii Ironman triathlon qualifier in Colorado this year, but there is a new half-Ironman on the calendar and it will take place in Southeast Colorado. The Harvest Moon Half-Ironman will take place Sept. 10 at the John Martin Reservoir and Lake Hasty recreation area. A half-Ironman consists of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run (half-marathon). The Harvest Moon is limited to 300 competitors, and early registration is $75. For information, call (303) 527-1798.

Two Puebloans completed the Buffalo Springs Lake Half-Ironman outside Lubbock, Texas, last weekend. Mike Orendorff, 48, was 12th in the 45-49 age division with a time of 5 hours and 39 minutes. Melissa Mazur, 33, finished in 8 hours and 27 minutes. Kudors to you both!

Bicycle Rides

HARP Century — Dave Anderson has scheduled the second annual HARP Century ride for Sunday, Aug. 27. The event consists of a 100-mile ride, a metric 100 (62 miles) and a 30-miler. Last year’s inaugural ride had 84 participants, and approximately 150 are expected this year. The course will not include the interstate this time.

In case you were wondering, there will be no criterion bicycle races in downtown Pueblo this summer. Actually, they won’t be held anywhere else in Pueblo either. Event organizers from past years simply ran out of time and energy.

Out and About

The SCR is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The group currently has approximately 175 individual or family memberships.

Former Puebloan Steve Cathcart and two business partners have opened a Runner’s Roost store in Fort Collins, where he now lives. Cathcart is recovering from a hip injury he incurred while training for the Boston Marathon. He hopes to conduct a running shoe seminar in Pueblo later this year, possibly in conjunction with the River Trail Marathon in October.

Until next month, be kind to your body by taking in extra fluids during the hot summer.

Send thoughts and comments to Gary Franchi via e-mail at csports@chieftain.com.