Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Steve Flint didn’t shed any tears, but he poured plenty of sweat and a little bit of blood into his record-breaking finish Saturday morning.
Flint cruised to an easy first place at the annual Steamworks-Animas Valley Half Marathon in 1 hour, 11 minutes, 49 seconds, breaking Jacob Bore’s 2007 record of 1:12.20 and speeding in 3 minutes ahead of the next fastest man.
“It was tough,” said Flint, wiping blood from his nose onto his shirt. “A half marathon is never a cake walk.”
The Bayfield High School graduate could’ve fooled the crowd: He hardly was winded after his finish.
Flint, who now runs for Brigham Young University and is back in the area to work for the summer, said he just tried to go out and hit 5-minute, 30-second mile splits for as long as he could.
And it worked, keeping him on his record-setting pace as he ran through the line and into the arms of his grandmother, Susan Terrill-Flint, and his wife, Jessica.
“It’s just too exciting for words,” said Terrill-Flint after giving the sweaty runner a hug. “We’ve watched him run since he was in middle school.
“He’s everything a grandma would be proud of,” she said of the 2005 state high school cross country champion.
Flint’s pace also pulled along Logan Ott, a Fort Lewis College and Mancos High School alumnus who won last year’s race in 1:15.33. His 1:14.24 was good enough for second this year after Flint broke away from him after the 4-mile mark.
Still, Ott said the course always is a favorite.
“Shady, straight, downhill,” Ott said. “I couldn’t ask for much more.”
Durango’s Jay Johnson, who took second last year, finished third in 1:18.50 as he worked to keep up with the quick pace.
In the women’s field, Kara Barnard didn’t have the luxury of chasing a pacesetter; she was all by herself over the rolling, “rhythmic” hills with only some barnyard creatures for company.
“I was in no man’s land. It was the sheep that were like ‘Maaaaa!’” Barnard said. “I was like ‘Say something to me!’”
The bleating must have helped some; Barnard finished almost a full 6 minutes ahead of her competition in 1:25.15.
Not good enough for her “own little demons,” she said, but first is first.
“Oh it’s always good to be first, of course,” Barnard said with a bright chuckle. “What kind of question is that?”
Still, she made it look easy. Maybe because those “beautiful” 13.1 miles aren’t so gnarly compared to the Boston or Los Angeles marathons, both of which Barnard, who’s from Los Angeles, has checked off her list.
“I sprinkle my life with marathons here and there,” said Barnard, a Durango transplant who plans to pound Boston’s Heartbreak Hill again next year now that she’s finished her third Steamworks Half Marathon. “Boston is brilliant.”
Andra Battocchio was the first anyone to cross the line, though.
Battocchio started with the early, walking group to be with some of her friends, and she just kept running ahead of the men’s field.
“I thought, ‘They’ll catch me; they’ll catch me,” Battocchio said.
But they never did.
“I’ve never done a race where I was out front the whole time,” she said. “And it’ll probably never happen again.”
Elisa Mullikin is more accustomed to being somewhere out front.
A Western State runner who said she’s only had two weeks of long distance training since the end of track season, Mullikin finished second in 1:31.07 – faster than her runner-up 1:34.50 from last year.
Molly Hummel was third in 1:32.42 before clusters of the full 300-person field began to run, jog and stumble across the finish as the cool morning air gave way to ever-soaring heat.
“I think runners are a little bit masochistic,” Barnard said. “You have to get over the pain. If you can get over that, you can get over anything.”