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Runners close out Fall Series in winterlike conditions; Young and Bar win titles
First-time competitors Robby Young and Clare Bar took gold Sunday in this year’s Fall Series, a group of four races organized each year by the Pikes Peak Road Runners, a local running club.
Young and Bar also won the men’s and women’s divisions in the fourth race, held midday Sunday under cloudy skies at Palmer Park. Mother Nature gave the runners a taste of winter: temperatures that hovered in the low 20s accompanied by a frigid breeze.
Young, 27, of Colorado Springs, crossed the finish line of the 7.3-mile trail race in 46 minutes, 50 seconds, with a comfortable lead over second-place finisher Justin Ricks, 32, of Pueblo West (47:06).
Ben Klungvedt, 27, of Colorado Springs placed third Sunday in 47:51. Ricks and Klungvedt also placed second and third in the series.
See photos from the race! (Check back for the full photo gallery.)
Ricks said he has enjoyed the 32nd annual series, named the best in the state in 2009 by Colorado Runner magazine. “It’s not so fun when you’re racing on a day as cold as (Sunday), but it was a great series overall.”
Bar, 25, of Colorado Springs crossed the finish line in 56:12, about 30 seconds ahead of challenger Ilea Eskildsen, 26, of Colorado Springs (57:41).
But it was 13-year-old challenger Kayli Tabares, of Colorado Springs, who placed third Sunday (59:11) and claimed the runner-up spot in the series, who put the running community on notice that local women’s races will be a battle for years to come.
“I don’t see her slowing down,” Eskildsen said. Tabares won the first race of the series at Monument Valley Park and was a top-three finisher in the other races.
Connilee Walter, who placed fifth Sunday (1:10:01 ) took third overall in the series. Eskildsen did not enter every race so was ineligible for the title.
Neither Young nor Bar admitted to focusing on winning their inaugural series.
“I really didn’t know what to expect from these races,” Young said. “But I’ve had great competition. I just took each race one at a time.”
A cold and a sinus infection took a toll on his training last week. “But I felt pretty good once I was out on the trail,” Young said. “I tried to pour it on the last mile.”
The four-race series, held at Monument Valley, Bear Creek, Ute Valley and Palmer parks, increases in distance from course to course. The tricky terrain and obstacles, including a creek crossing and near-vertical hill climb in previous weeks, tripped up many runners.
Runners shared tales of leaping over fallen competitors who had tripped on tree roots or slid on loose pebbles on Palmer Park’s twisting, roller-coasterlike trails.
“My husband told me this was the last (series race) so there was nothing to lose,” Bar said. “I just went after it and focused on not falling on the downhills.”
Ben Hanson, 30, of Aurora, said the series was challenging. “This was great. Rocks, switchbacks, tree roots, short hills — it was everything a trail run should be,” he said.