With thunderstorms threatening, 148 area runners braved ominous conditions on Wednesday to get back out on the trail for the Summit Trail Running Series’ Horseshoe Gulch 6K and 14K races.
With a 65 percent chance of rain in the forecast and light thunder rumbling in the distance, organizers decided to go ahead with the runs.
Brian Schaefer, with the Breckenridge Recreation Department, said that up to an hour before the start time, he was close to calling the race off when the clouds cleared.
“It was perfect conditions,” said Greg Ruckman, 39, of Breckenridge, “really pleasant to run.”
At 5:45 p.m. runners started off over rocky ground as the course weaved around the large tailings piles near the Dredge Boat, off Tiger Road.
Ruckman said the rocky start forced him to adjust his usual racing strategy. He jumped ahead of the pack as soon as he could, not wanting anyone in front of him on the uneven trail. The move made it easier for him to see obstacles ahead.
“I usually like to let someone else lead,” he said, preferring to conserve his energy.
Instead, Ruckman took the lead and held it, finishing the 14K course first in 1 hour, 1 minute and 4 seconds.
“Yesterday was one of those times I could get some separation and get out there and enjoy it,” he said.
For Ruckman, a former U.S. Olympic rower, it’s the experience more than the competition.
“There’s nothing as pure as a trail run. It reminds me of being a kid,” he said. “If I were poetic I could share that feeling better.”
April Thomas finished first among the women in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 29 seconds.
The Horseshoe Gulch course is the third in the six-race Summit Trail Running Series. It’s also one of the longest. The series continues Wednesday, July 31, with the Carter Park races. Registration is open online for $17; same-day registration is $22.
Complete race results are available at www.townofbreckenridge.com. Remaining races in the Summit Trail Running Series: July 31, Carter Park (10K and 15K courses); August 14, French Gulch (5K and 10K courses); August 28, Flumes/Tom’s Baby (5K and 12K courses).