Falcon leads women on grueling trail course
BRECKENRIDGE – Heavy legs and all, Jaime Falcon finally broke through at the Nike Summit Trail Running Series (STRS).It took a strong downhill push for her to get past perennial foe Kim Eytel for the first time in their friendly rivalry, but Falcon did just that to win the third long-course race in the series Wednesday evening on the New Nordic World trails below Breckenridge’s peaks 7 and 8.Falcon did it on a grueling course, one which consisted of such a draining uphill section that almost every runner in the field of 124 had to hike at least some of the route as thunder and lightning cracked all around. She won with a time of 57 minutes, 22.75 seconds on a long course estimated to be between eight and nine miles.Afterward, the grinning Breckenridge resident said she was surprised she triumphed considering her holiday weekend activities.”I had a big weekend backpacking in the Gore Range so my legs were pretty heavy on the uphill, but I felt good on the downhill,” she said.For Eytel, an accomplished Breckenridge distance runner who won the first race in the series and finished runner-up to endurance superstar Danelle Ballengee in last week’s second race, Falcon’s win had been on the horizon for a while.”I knew it was inevitable,” said Eytel, who finished in 57:48.48. “Each week my margin of victory over her was getting smaller and smaller.”Eytel crossed the finish line just two seconds ahead of Falcon last week before Falcon overtook her on the downhill portion this week to reverse the standings. Local triathlete Monica Wilson finished third with an impressive time of 58:09.96.In the men’s long course race, Dylan Olchin continued to dominate the series with his third straight win. He coasted to victory in 46:31.19, more than a minute and a half ahead of runner-up Steve Marshall – despite a route Olchin called “the hardest course I’ve ever done. It was up, up, up – wouldn’t end.”Marshall, a former Big Ten runner at Iowa, said he thought he had a chance because he could see Olchin on the straightaways, but he couldn’t close the gap. The always dangerous David Wilcox rounded out the top three, in 51:52.59.For Wednesday’s short course racers (distance estimates hovered around five miles), the uphill sections were just as tough, only more short-lived.With Dennis Flanagan, who won the first two races in the series, having to pull out of the race with a knee injury, it paved the way for Colorado Runner magazine editor Derek Griffiths to win his first STRS race of the summer.Griffiths passed University of Tulsa scholarship runner Jay Matlack with about a mile to go to seal the win. He crossed the line at 34:17.17, about 31 seconds faster than Matlack. Battle Mountain High School sophomore Jonny Stevens made the trip over Vail Pass to take third (36:27.33).Another Vail runner, Lynda Andros, won her third straight STRS short-course race in 39:12.65, while Kelly Ahern (41:43.66) and Julie Thebeau (42:36.30) rounded out the women’s top three.Other notable finishers included longtime Summit resident John Swartz, who won his 50-plus long-course age group, as usual, while placing seventh overall; and Summit High School cross country coach Heather Quarantillo, who won the 30-39 women’s short-course division and placed fourth overall.The next race in the series is set for July 20 at the Breckenridge Ski Resort.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.New Nordic WorldTop FinishersMen’s Long Course1. Dylan Olchin – 46:312. Steve Marshall – 48:053. David Wilcox – 51:52Women’s Long Course1. Jaime Falcon – 57:222. Kim Eytel – 57:483. Monica Wilson – 58:09Men’s Short Course1. Derek Griffiths – 34:172. Jay Matlack – 34:483. Jonny Stevens – 36:27Women’s Short Course1. Lynda Andros – 39:122. Kelly Ahern – 41:433. Julie Thebeau – 42:36
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