Gaspin’ in the Aspen run test runners’ endurance, strength
By DANIEL BERK
Sun Sports Staff
Sunday, June 21, 2009
After he took first place in the 15k at the Gaspin’ in the Aspen run at the Flagstaff Nordic Center, Rob Krar hung out at the finish line for as long as possible.
“Anybody who completes this course deserves a big pat on the back,” Krar said. “This is a very, very difficult course. You start out at 8,000 feet and the race just gets harder and harder as you go through. “It’s no joke up there.”
According to the runners, the Gaspin’ in the Aspen, the third race in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Summer Running Series, is the most difficult race in the series.
Not only is the race at an extra 1,000 feet of elevation, it’s a 100 percent off-road trail with wood chips, pine cones, branches and leaves dumped throughout the course.
“You have to be exceptionally careful when you’re up there,” 5K winner Ryan Schmidt said. “You have to pay attention to every step you take. There’s so many things out there, one bad step can cost you the entire race.
“This trail has everything you want. It’s difficult, it’s fun to run and the atmosphere up here is a lot of fun.”
Krar finished more than a minute ahead of the second place finisher in the 15k, Zachary Thomas. Krar finished in 54 minutes, 50 seconds, while Thomas finished in 56:02. Vince Sherry took third, finishing in 56:39.
On the women’s side, Sara Wagner won her third straight race in the summer running series. Wagner finished the 15k in 1:09.28. Michelle Wesson was the second female finisher at 1:13.11.
Both of the races before the Gaspin’ in the Aspen were 5k and 10k. However, in order to add diversity to the series, the race organizers throw in a 15k at the Nordic Center and a half marathon at the end of the series.
“It gives us a chance to give the runners a mix of distances,” NATRA director and race timer Neil Weintraub said. “With all of the obstacles up there, it almost becomes like a steeplechase, especially at the end.”
In the 5k race, Flagstaff resident Ryan Schmidt won his second race of the summer, finishing in 18:22. Ryan Stevens and Jeff Organ took second and third, finishing in 19:08 and 19:48 respectively.
Jennifer McCarthy was the top female finisher at 22:20. Hannah Colter was second at 23:26.
For Krar, the race was an opportunity to help him train for the TransRockies Challenge he’ll be participating in later in the summer. There, over seven days, Krar and a teammate will mountain bike over 113 miles in several stages.
“For me, I’ve really been training for the TransRockies and we really haven’t done any speed work,” Krar said. “Today’s race was a perfect opportunity to get some speed work done in a really tough environment.
“I’ve missed a couple of the races this summer, but there was no way I was going to miss this one. A race like this really reminds me why I’m so lucky to live in Flagstaff.”