Getting the last out of one’s legs
VAIL – There were no illusions of a relaxed finale to wrap up the local trail racing season. Not as far as what could be seen from the finish line.Andy Ames came tearing down the service road on the final stretch of the 10-kilometer race in a dead sprint. Like a man being chased by a bear, Ames wrenched his head around every few steps for a backwards glance at Paul Brett, who was in hot pursuit, before putting his head down and barreling through the finish line for the victory.Ames finished with a time of 47 minutes, 22 seconds, beating Brett by six seconds.”I took the lead on the uphill,” said the 42-year-old Boulder resident. “That’s my strength – the uphills. He caught me on the downhill going into the aid station. I kind of pulled away. I tried to get any gap I could on the uphill, ’cause I knew he’d catch me on the way down. On the way down, with about a half-mile to go, I looked back and I could see him almost right behind me. I knew we had more of an open road – on the open roads, I can run pretty good. It’s just on the technical ones I get kind of timid. So it was a sprint. We were both just sprinting the last half-mile.”The course began and ended at the Vista Bahn chairlift in Vail Village, taking runners on a loop course beginning on the service road and winding through technical singletrack on Berry Picker and Simba trails. The downhill finish was on the service road, and Brett is sure he could have closed the gap had there been more singletrack.
“If there was just more technical downhill, that’s what I run all the time. It would have been really close,” said Brett, who lives in Fairplay but works in Avon and who won the Breckenridge Mountain Marathon last weekend. “It was a blast, though. It was fun to see (Ames) there ahead of me. He was just that little carrot.”Nacen Gray rounded out the podium for the men with a finish time of 51.25. In the women’s race, Anita Ortiz came pounding down the homestretch with a pack of the top-10 men. She won in 54:03, with Megan Boord in second (56:11) and Katie Mazzia (58:31) in third. “It’s a beautiful race to end the season with,” Ortiz said of the Evergold. The Eagle resident will be off to New Zealand later this week to gear up for the World Mountain Trophy Race. Battle Mountain trail running extraordinaire Jonathan Stevens also made the Teva Mountain team. Ortiz was his kindergarten teacher and they will be racing together on Sept. 25, Stevens in the junior event and Ortiz in the masters, of which she has reigned world champion the last four years.”It hasn’t been my best summer,” said Ortiz, who is plagued by her arch, having torn her plantar fascia in last year’s trophy race. “I was in a cast all winter,” she said. “Running is a struggle for me right now. Pretty much, I’m in pain every time I walk. Initially they said I’d never be able to run again. But here I am running.”All’s well that ends well
As to running with the guys, Ortiz says it’s old hat. “I think they’re used to me now,” she said. “There’s always someone to run with. It used to be that I was just running with the guys. But there’s some new girls who are really good. I’ve slowed down a little and everyone else has sped up.”Boord, who won last weekend’s triathlon in Avon and who doesn’t consider herself a running specialist, said that she’s noticed an improvement in her stride, all when she just came for the views.”I love these races because of the scenery,” she said. “You get to see the Gore Range and everything around it. Everyone is so laid back and everyone cheers on everyone else. It’s just a comfortable, fun race.”Most racers echoed the same sentiment. Even Ames and Brett described the atmosphere as “relaxing.”
“It’s sort of the last time you get to see some of these people until next spring,” Brett said. “It’s nice to hit this one because everyone’s kind of nostalgic. Your competitive nature is sort of down and you can just chum around and bid each other good winters.”So, does that mean that carrot can just get away?”Oh no,” Brett and Ames said in unison. “You still want to win.”In other results, 65-year-old Betty Valent was the only racer in her field. She finished in 1:19:38, faster than half of the 40-49-year-old women’s field. Also, John Swartz, 57, won his age category, and with a time of 52:22, was the fifth overall men’s finisher.Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado
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