Pitter patter: Breck Crest turns 10
BRECKENRIDGE – With the Breckenridge Crest Mountain Marathon hitting double digits on Sunday, one of the most competitive fields ever to enter the grueling race is sure to make it an exciting birthday.Course record holder Dave Mackey of Boulder headlines the men’s field, returning to try to beat his 2001 time of 3 hours, 25 minutes. He’ll be challenged by Colorado Springs’ Paul DeWitt – who won this year’s Leadville 100-mile trail race in record time two weeks ago – and powerful runner Rick Hessek, also of Colorado Springs.Local Bob Mayer, who finished third overall in last year’s Crest and won the masters division, should lead the Summit charge on the men’s side. For Mackey, the biggest advantage could be his competition’s summer running schedule.
Speaking of his chances at victory, Mackey said, “We’ll see. Those guys have been running hundreds (100-mile races) all summer, so I doubt they’ll have much leg speed in them for a marathon. I doubt they’ll go out too fast.””But they are incredible athletes,” he added. “Anything can happen.”The women’s field will be led by at least two of the top runners in Colorado’s High Country, Summit’s Danelle Ballengee and Crested Butte’s Anthea Schmid. They could be joined by defending Crest champ Monique Merrill of Breckenridge, should she decide to compete. (She was still waiting to figure out her weekend schedule as of Wednesday, and said she won’t know for sure until Friday or Saturday.)With Ballengee and Schmid in the field there should be plenty of female speed. Because of their recent schedules, though, neither is expected to challenge Merrill’s record of 4:11.Ballengee recently returned from winning the multiday adventure racing world championship in Canada, and said she is still recovering. Schmid, like DeWitt, won the Leadville 100 two weeks ago.
In typical understated fashion, Ballengee – who won the Crest in the mid-1990s – said she isn’t expecting a lot from herself this year.”I haven’t been running much lately,” she said. “The longest run I’ve been on in the last month was about 45 minutes. But there’s no better time to do a long one than the present, I suppose.”In addition to celebrating the Crest’s 10th anniversary, this year’s race also will serve as the USA Track and Field Colorado Trail Championship – a distinction Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center spokesperson Helen Cospolich said has helped attract the top-notch field. (The BOEC organizes and benefits from the Crest.)”There’s definitely more of a buzz around the race this year,” said Cospolich. “This event has grown a lot. There’s a lot of national recognition now. Sponsors are calling us to see if they can get involved, instead of us having to beg them to come sponsor our race.”Cospolich said she expects around 600 entrants in the Crest and Sunday’s other two events, the Tenmile Trail Run and the 5-mile run/walk. (The Blue River Run and Roll 5K race through town, which took place the day prior to the Crest and was open to runners and wheelchair racers, will not be held this year.)
The Crest’s renowned course has a lot to do with the growth. Starting and ending at the Riverwalk Center in downtown Breckenridge, the route takes runners first to the top of the Tenmile Range, then to Frisco and back. It includes about 6,000 feet of elevation change over its 24.5 miles.In addition to Sunday’s races, there will be a runner’s expo all day on the Riverwalk lawn, featuring running equipment and accessories.To register for any of the events, contact the BOEC at (970) 453-6422; go to http://www.active.com; or stop by Great Adventure Sports or Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge. Race-day registration starts at 6 a.m. at the Riverwalk Center.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.
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