Locals conquer the distance in Durango Double

Thanks to the efforts of Animas Surgical Hospital, Matt Kelly and the Women’s Resource Center, the Durango Double has returned to the delight of many local runners.

“It’s a herculean effort,” said Kelly, the race director. “The Women’s Resource Center has been phenomenal, mobilizing nearly 100 volunteers. It’s been a great team effort.”

Brett Gosney of Animas Surgical Hospital was looking for a big event that could bring together its charitable contributions program.

“I thought the Durango Double would be a great community event, and we found a great partner and beneficiary through the WRC,” Gosney said. “It’s been a great turnout, and we are really excited about building this thing for years to come.”

This year’s event presented some new goal opportunities for many local runners seeking the challenge of a longer distance.

Suzanne Shieltz had never run farther than 10 miles but decided to train for the 25K.

“I got busy with work and was traveling, so it became more difficult to get the runs in,” Shieltz said. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna do it, I think I have the stamina, so I’m just going to go and try it.’”

Visibly emotional at the finish, Shieltz said, “I was so thankful to finish before the course closed. I haven’t been this happy to have a medal since I was 8 years old.”

Veteran marathoner Kristina Siladi decided to tackle the ultra distance and signed up for the 50K.

“I was training for marathons and doing the 20-milers that were once a big deal weren’t really anymore, so I felt I was ready to take it to the next level,” Siladi said.

This is a hectic time of year for Siladi, and she admitted her training was off.

“I’ve actually done more mileage for a marathon than I have for this,” she said. “It was kind of a rude awakening.”

Siladi is undaunted and plans to try the 50-mile distance next.

Dean Bettis and Dave Thibodeau raised the bar for themselves by tackling the full Double (50K and marathon). Both had never run anything longer than a marathon.

“I had planned to train differently for this, but then we had a baby,” Bettis said.

Alternating between feeling good and really bad, Bettis was pleased with his races overall.

“I felt much better than I expected. I would do it again but would like to do so much better,” he said. “Obviously, that means training. I feel so good about accomplishing it.”

Thibodeau echoed the more training theme.

“It was much harder than I thought it would be,” he said. “My training definitely wasn’t adequate for the weekend as a whole, but it turned out great anyway. It was just really my goal to finish.”

Thibodeau’s advice to others thinking about it: “Go out and do it and enjoy it.”

Aubrey Farnham hadn’t planned to double her mileage, but after missing the turn-around for the half marathon, she decided to continue on the marathon course rather than drop out.

“I spent five months getting ready for this,” Farnham said. “I wanted to finish it, so I did it.”

Collapsing at the finish line, she quickly recovered and was surprised to discover she had won her age group. Next year, she plans to sign up for the full marathon and hopes to qualify for Boston.

All the participants praised the event for its organization and great volunteers. Next year promises to be even bigger and better.

Reach Marjorie Brinton at runswim55@gmail.com.

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