The sixth annual Animas Surgical Hospital Mountain Marmot Trail Run presented by Durango Running Co. attracted its largest field of competitors ever to Purgatory Resort on Saturday.
About 211 runners showed up to run 12 miles total to the top of Purgatory and back down the mountain, climbing and descending about 2,200 feet along the way.
“When we came up with the idea for the race, the idea was, ‘can I get to the top of this mountain?’” said co-race director Matt Krichman. “It’s the ultimate challenge.”
He said the race starts with a steady climb from the base area up 2,200 feet to mountain’s highest point.
“You get to the top, look down and know you did something special,” Krichman said. “It’s kind of a relentless climb.”
With a 12-mile distance, however, he said they also designed the race to be accessible for average distance runners.
“You don’t have to be an elite runner. If you can do a half marathon, you can do this race,” he said, noting that it’s about a mile shorter than a half marathon, but the climbing balances it out. “It attracts all kinds; plenty are not in it to win, just to celebrate fitness and enjoy the scenery.”
After finishing third two years ago, Victor Ruggiero of Durango threw caution to the wind running down the mountain on Saturday, especially with a lead. “When I got into first place, I was going a little faster than I wanted to, but it’s amazing what the human body can do when you’re hyper focused,” Ruggiero said.
Ruggiero ended up winning the race by nearly two minutes.
“At age 48, it’s pretty fricken amazing (to win),” Ruggiero said. “A couple of years ago I was content to win my age group. I’m getting faster and running smarter with age; more efficient.”
Ruggiero won the race in 1 hour, 39 minutes 16.98 seconds. Dan Yeager, also from Durango, placed second in 1:40:59.71 while the women’s champion, Kelly Wolf, finished third overall in 1:45:27.63.
Being at Purgatory at this time of year, and not in the winter, also added to the experience.
“It’s a trip running on the mountain,” Ruggiero said. “I usually snowboard down it; it looks so much different in the summertime.“
Getting cheered on also helped him.
“The Fort Lewis team out there were awesome,” he said. “They were making so much noise; it was definitely the highlight of my day.”
The Fort Lewis College women’s coach, and Durango Running Co. owner, Brett Sublett, is also a co-race director of the event and set up the course.
Rounding out the top-three men on Saturday was Justin Poehnelt (1:48:28.79), while Lency Chiles (2:03:00.45) and Meagan Johnson (2:07:16.87) were the second and third females to finish.
Ian Weinreich, meanwhile, finished fifth overall in 1:51:27.98, followed by Drew Haslett (1:53:34.12), Joshua Coon (1:54:27.04), Michael Wilk (1:55:04.07), Victor Rudolph (1:55:45.62) and John Bogen (1:55:46.85) in 10th.
Fifteen-year old Tristan Sager won the men’s 17-and-under division in 2:12:11.96.
Weinreich won the male 18-29 division, followed by Irving Sanchez (2:04:04.64) and Zak Channell (2:12:17.39).
Following Wolf in the female 18-29 division were Lydia Rose (2:12:15.58) and Lydia Jung (2:19:46.20).
Yeager, Poehnelt and Coon were the top-three finishers in the male 30-39 division.
Chiles won the female 30-39 division, followed by Stacey Cavanaugh (2:09:58.12) and Jennifer Moore (2:15:48.74).
Finishing behind Ruggiero in the male 40-49 division were Haslett and Wilk.
Johnson won the female 40-49 division, followed by Liz Carrington (2:13:50.69) and Amy Hartline (2:16:19.87.
Rudolph was the first finisher in the male 50-59 division, followed by Christian Van Lindt (2:05:52.78) and Scott Zuiderveen (2:11:38.58).
Rainey Weaver (2:15:20.39) crossed first in the female 50-59 division. Susan Fischer (2:15:23.12) placed second and Susan Bettger (2:19:57.30) placed third.
In the male 60-69 division, John Bogen crossed first in 1:55:49.37, followed by Eric Pierson (2:01:30.61) and Baker McKonly (2:21:09.21).
In the female 60-69 division, D’Ann Rohde (2:42:27.10) was the first to finish, followed by Kate Pritchard (2:58:55.84) and Nancy Fisher (3:29:56.69).
In the 70-plus divisions, Art Rohr (3:03:25.77), Glen Walker (3:09:14.60) and Rick Post (3:22:59.36) led the males while Lynn Udick (3:40:29.04) and Janine Lake (4:02:08.50) led the females.
Krichman said the average time is around 2.5 hours.
With the fall colors, the scenery also added to the experience.
“I literally don’t know of a race that’s prettier,” Krichman said. “I don’t think it exists.”
“Fall is when everyone seems to be peaking, just like the leaves,” Ruggiero said. He said he trains with the Durango Running Club, and, “this is when you see the payoff.”
Complete results are available at https://runsignup.com/Race/Results/33814#resultSetId-277030;perpage:100