More than 800 runners braved frosty temperatures for a New Year’s Day tradition in Colorado Springs, CO. No matter what the weather – rain, snow, or 20 below – the Rescue Run 5K and 10K goes on. This year the event celebrated is 35th running under sunny skies with temperatures hovering in the teens.
Since 1995, the event has been held in Palmer Park, one of seven regional parks located within Colorado Springs. The park offers an off-leash enclosed dog area, single track trails, picnic areas, softball fields, a soccer field, a sand volleyball court, as well as gorgeous views at the higher vantage points.
Although the park boasts more than 25 miles of trails, the majority of the 5K was held on paved roads within the park. The 10K featured pavement as well as gravel and dirt surfaces. Both courses had significant climbs resulting in more than 500 feet of cumulative elevation gain. In addition to the two signature events, there were runs for kids ranging from 50 yards to 1 mile held prior to the start of the 5K and 10K.
Both the 5K and 10K started together just ten minutes after the 10AM published start time. “We still have long lines at the toilets,” remarked race starter Dave Sorenson as runners gathered at the start line, “We’re going to delay the start until 10:10. So, keep doing your pre-race warm-up.”
Sorenson gave a two-minute warning, followed by a one-minute warning, and then a 3-2-1 countdown. It took just over one minute for every runner to cross the chip timing mat.
Leading the way was eventual 5K winner 20-year-old Joshua Simkins, with Rescue Run 10K course-record holder Simon Gutierrez, 46, nipping at his heels. Gutierrez opted to run the 5K in the hopes of closing in on that record as well.
Gutierrez ended up setting an age-group record and was second to Simkins by a mere 4 seconds. “I just didn’t have the legs heading up the hill. We went through the mile a bit slower than I expected and then Josh got a bit away from me (20 seconds) by the two-mile mark,” said Gutierrez. “I was catching him on the downhill and then the last turn toward the finish, I thought if I got up on his shoulder he would have sprinted and I would have had nothing left to pass him.”
Simkins ran 17:25 for the win with Gutierrez clocked in 17:29. One minute later, 35-year-old Paul Mann crossed the finish line to round out the top three.
In the women’s 5K, Amanda Ewing, 31, raced to victory in 22:02, followed by Nancy Hobbs, 51, in 23:34, and Donna Garcia, 39, in 24:23.
The 10K winning time in this year’s race was well off Gutierrez’s course record of 33:09 which he set in 2005. Scott Spillman, 26, finished in 36:30, more than one minute ahead of Andy Rhine, 27, who posted a time of 37:51. Rounding out the top three was 18-year-old Philip Meyer in 38:38.
On the women’s side, Connilee Walter, 39, was also well off the women’s course record time of 36:59 set in 2004 by Jo Lodge. Walter’s time was 42:13, nearly two minutes ahead of professional triathlete Tracy Thelan, 33, who ran 44:04. Kelsey Barry, 24, bested 20-year-old Sarah Gull by just one second for the final podium spot. Barry’s time was 44:37.
In spite of the temperatures, which didn’t reach 20 degrees throughout the race, some of the runners had better finish times than in past years. Joyce McKelvey, who won the 65-69 category in the 10K, ran her fastest time since 2010. “I was hoping to run under 1:10 and as I approached the finish line, I looked up at the clock and thought I saw 1:10. In fact it was actually 1:01 and change,” said McKelvey, “My husband (Jim McKelvey) ran faster this year too. We were both really happy with our race finishes.”
Besides Gutierrez, two other runners set age-group course records. In the 10K, Elliott Henry, 66, bested his record of last year by 25 seconds to win his age group with a time of 48:39. Kayli Tabares, 13, also bettered her 10K record from last year knocking more than two minutes off her time. Tabares won her age group with a time of 45:17.
Local businesses contributed over $2,900 in prizes and random drawings for the race. The top three men and women overall and the first-place finisher in each age group for both the 5K and 10K received awards.
All proceeds from the race were donated to El Paso County Search and Rescue, an all volunteer 501c3 organization. In a post-race letter from race director Diane Kelsay she writes, “We are on call 24x7 and do not charge for our services. Your entry fee helps offset our operating expenses, to which we are very grateful. Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing you January 1, 2014!”
In addition to Colorado, 12 other states were represented among the 866 entrants, although the top three men and women in both the 5K and 10K were all residents of Colorado Springs. Results are available online at www.pprrun.org.