Frisco’s annual early 10K and half marathon draws a deep field for men, women and children | SummitDaily.com

Frisco’s annual early 10K and half marathon draws a deep field for men, women and children

Leo Wolfson
Special to the Daily

The 2015 Summit County running season started with a bang this past weekend with the 39th edition of the Run the Rockies half marathon and 10K.

Many competitors, like Ksusha Shambarger, saw it as a chance to warm up for summer and see familiar faces after a long winter.

"I plan on just having fun and reconnecting with our running community," Shambarger said before the race. "It's also a good one to start with because it's a forgiving course."

A good portion of the course was downhill, but the word "forgiving" is only relative when talking about any half marathon or 10K running race.

“(Beer is) very deserved, and I really think it’s a Colorado style of celebration, which makes it even more fitting.”Adam Kramersrunner

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The runners started outside Copper Mountain and then meandered along Tenmile Creek into Frisco. From there, the 10K runners finished on Main Street, while the half-marathon participants continued on to Summit High School before returning to Frisco. Mild temperatures helped the runners, which was important because some underestimated the difficulty of the course.

"They tell you it's 100-percent downhill, but those first two miles they're not — they're flat," Melanie Homoki said with a laugh.

To Homoki's credit, those first two miles also had the highest elevation in the race at nearly 9,700 vertical feet.

The section between Summit High School and Frisco was particularly difficult for some of the half-marathon runners.

"That hill coming back to Frisco was pretty disheartening," Josh Peterson said. "I felt like I was walking up it."

The race may have been just a tune-up for many, but there was still some amazing performances throughout the day.

Despite his struggles, Peterson still managed to win the men's half marathon with a lightning-fast time of 1:14:57. He beat out the second-place finisher by almost six minutes and demolished the 2014 winning time of 1:21:39.

Nikki LaRochelle of Breckenridge ran the half marathon while five months pregnant and still managed to win the women's 30-39 division. She was all smiles at the finish, showing no signs of exhaustion after 13.1 miles with an extra passenger.

"I was pretty comfortable," she explained. "I'm doing the Leadville Marathon in a few weeks, so it was good training for that."

One of the most impressive feats came from one of the youngest runners, 11-year-old Alayna Szuch of Evergreen. She was the women's 10K overall winner with a time of 39:43. It's safe to say that she has a future in running.

"I want to go as far as running takes me," she nonchalantly said. "I just want to have fun with it."

When watching her feather-like frame cruise through the course with a constant look of determination emanating from her face, one couldn't help but be inspired.

"It was a hard race," she said. "I was really feeling it in my ankles the last three miles."

Each runner was given a Backcountry Brewery jar once they crossed the finish line, which they had the option of filling up with beer or water.

"The beer tastes great," Adam Kramers said between sips. "It's very deserved, and I really think it's a Colorado style of celebration, which makes it even more fitting."

If the race was telling of one thing, it was the talent of Colorado runners. It may have just been a warm up, but you would have hardly known with the level of athleticism on display.

With the unofficial kick-off now finished, let the running season begin. The next upcoming local races are the Summit Trail Running Series, starting June 10 at French Gulch with a combination 4K and 6K, and the nationally televised Spartan Race in Breckenridge on June 13.

2015 Run the Rockies results

Men’s half marathon

1. Josh Peterson

2. Paul Steinweg

3. John Cavallo

Women’s half marathon

1. Autumn Moses

2. Madeline Brown

3. Ksusha Shambarger

Men’s 10K

1. Mario Macias

2. Matthew Batliner

3. Luke Bruns

Women’s 10K

1. Alayna Szuch

2. Jennifer Valentine

3. Sabine Preisinger