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Over 160 runners participate in Vallecito Lake Heavy Half Marathon

Mark Schenberger won the race’s fourth running
Vallecito Lake Heavy Half competitors make their way down County Road 501 on Saturday near Vallecito Reservoir. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

For the first time in the event’s history, the Vallecito Lake Heavy Half Marathon sold out. Luckily for the 164 runners on Saturday, the weather wasn’t as bad as forecast, and runners appreciated the local scenery around the Vallecito Reservoir.

Originally started by Rocky Mountain Races, the race is now managed by the Durango Running Club.

“This was the first year we did it in a clockwise direction,” race director Tim Funk said about the course. “We've always run it counterclockwise previously. Moving forward, we plan to alternate every other year. Also, this year was the first year we added single track trail, there was about three miles of trail. Previously it was all on paved roads and gravel roads. So that could be part of the increased popularity is adding the trail segment.”

The Vallecito Lake Heavy Half Marathon is the only way to run entirely around the lake, with a portion of the race traversing private property that is normally closed to the public.

Most runners were local, but some came from as far away as Florida and Georgia.

Durango’s Mark Schenberger won the race with a time of 1 hour, 25 minutes and 44.21 seconds. Last year’s winner and Durango resident Ian Huang finished second with a time of 1:28.38. Durangoan Jeffrey Hofferber finished third with a time of 1:37.51.

Mark Schonberger of Durango barrels through a big puddle of water en route to crossing the finish line during the Vallecito Lake Heavy Half Marathon on Saturday near Vallecito Reservoir. Schonberger won the event in 1 hour, 25 minutes and 42.89 seconds. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

Alexandra Bender of Durango was the top female finisher in fourth place overall with a time of 1:38.02.

Nine-year-old Natalie Silversmith was the youngest finisher with a time of 2:14.47, which was good for 54th place. Durango’s Vana Hart Sutton and Emily Irwin, both age 77, finished the race with a time of 3:26.11.

All the money generated from the race goes to nonprofits, with the primary beneficiary being the Vallecito Community Center Scholarship.

“The Vallecito community itself has been super supportive of the race,” Funk said. “We've probably had at least 10 to 12 volunteers that live in Vallecito, and they've been part of the race every year. I think the reason why they are still part of it is because it's important to them that this continues to benefit the community.”

Each runner received a performance hoodie and a stainless steel pint glass. After runners finished the race, they were treated to a post-race meal donated by the Rocky Mountain General Store and Meats of either smoked brisket or veggie burgers. Ska Brewing and Zuberfizz donated drinks, and local bluegrass band La La Bones performed at the finish line.

Funk thanked the volunteers, as they were all unpaid and put in countless hours to make the race happen. He’s most proud of the community coming together to make the race happen.

bkelly@durangoherald.com



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