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Fall Series race director saves surprise for finish
Flush with the Halloween spirit, Larry Miller decided to give the participants of the third race of the Fall Series what he called a “treat-trick.”
As runners reached what they thought was the stretch run at the Ute Valley Park course, Miller, the course director, gave them a surprise. Instead of racing for the finish, they took a sharp left and went up yet another hill.
He had discovered the obscure trail Friday while setting up the course for Saturday's race and decided to incorporate it. Making it trickier was that most participants were veterans of the series and had run this course – sans the detour – before.
“The runners are going to hate me by the time they get to the last portion heading into the finish,” Miller said before the race. “I ran it this morning and I got to the top of the last hill and I was wondering 'what am I doing to myself?'”
He wasn't the only one wondering what he was doing.
“With Larry, the psycho race director, you just never know how he's going to change it up,” said Thom Santa Maria, a participant in the series since 1992.
Mike Killam, who finished 14th, was one of those who Miller treat-tricked.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone running at the top of the hill,” Killam said. “I was already tired and was thinking, 'oh, this is just mean.' It was a nasty little surprise at the end.”
He laughed that he might have a few choice words for Miller but “probably none that you can put into print.”
The Pikes Peak Road Runners Fall Series is in its 32nd year, with Miller acting as the race director since 1990, which was also when the Kids' Series was added. The four-race program starts at Monument Valley Park and then goes to Bear Creek Park. The fourth and final race this year will be at Palmer Park on Nov. 11.
Sunday's winners were both science teachers. Robby Young, who has won all three of the Fall Series races so far this season, teaches science, physics and engineering at Rampart High School. Young, who ran collegiately at Grand Valley State, clocked in at 38 minutes, 13 seconds; 28 seconds ahead of second-place Simon Gutierrez. Rounding out the top three was Justin Ricks in 38:58.
The women's race winner was Ilea Eskildsen, a biology teacher at the Air Force Academy. Now a captain in the Air Force, she ran one season for the Falcons before joining the famous Wings of Blue skydiving team. Her time of 47:41 was 26 seconds ahead of Connilee Walter and 36 seconds better than Kayli Tabares.
The trickery is part of what makes the Fall Series so endearing to its participants and has made it so popular. The adult race Sunday had 422 runners, which was the fewest of any of the first three this year.
“This is a great series,” Santa Maria said. “You never know what you're going to get.”
That's how you get treat-tricked.