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Nearly 1,000 run wild at zoo's Run to the Shrine 10K and 5K
Nearly 1,000 runners took advantage of a sunny morning to race through the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo during the annual Run to the Shrine 10K and 5K.
The sunshine turned to rainclouds by the time those jogging or walking the 5K course were finished, but few seemed to mind. The mountain scenery, views of Colorado Springs and beyond, and the beneficiary of the run - the zoo, itself - were well worth a soaking, many said, ducking under shelter where they could.
"It's so beautiful here. The views were amazing," said Charity Grauberger of Colorado Springs, who entered the 10K with good friend Lindy Ruiz, of Greeley. The women had considered signing up for the Bolder Boulder, but chose the Run to the Shrine instead. "It's more real, more hometown," Grauberger said. "And it's for the zoo. Our zoo."
The event is a favorite of many returning runners and won over many first-timers who vowed to return next spring.
Tommy Manning, of Colorado Springs, won the 10K in 38 minutes, 40 seconds, sprinting through the final downhill turns past exotic cats and an agitated moose. He was well ahead of second-place finisher Peter Maksimow, of Manitou Springs (39:22), a rival for the top spot in many races across the region. Gerald Romero, of Colorado Springs, finished third, in 42:38.
Kelli Lusk, of Manitou Springs, looked confident and strong as she crossed the finish line in 49:06, winning the women's division and placing ninth overall. She was followed by Meghan Cogswell, of Colorado Springs (52:35), and Connie Shaner, of Colorado Springs (53:02), in the women's division.
See the full results for the 5K and 10K here.
Cogswell, an ultrarunner who is training for the San Juan Solstice, a 50-mile endurance trail run high in the San Juan Mountains, said she rarely runs on pavement but enjoyed the change of pace in her first-ever Run to the Shrine. "You run faster than on a trail; you don't have to constantly watch where you're running.
"And it's beautiful up here. I woke up and thought 'This is a good reason to get up and out of bed!'"
Cogswell enjoyed the long climb from The Broadmoor to the Shrine of the Sun, as did Lusk, who also was a first-time Shrine competitor. "I like to climb, so that was great," Lusk said. "The downhill was faster than I expected. And the views were phenomenal."
Carl Arnold won the 5K, crossing the finish line in 21 minutes, 59 seconds, followed by Kevin Morgan (22:25) and Michael Hagen (22:34). All three men live in Colorado Springs.
Eva Hagen was the top woman finisher and ninth 5K runner (26:07), followed by Louise Kriel (27:20) and Marzena Matecki (28:01). All three women also live in Colorado Springs.
Morgan used the race as part of his training regimen for the Pikes Peak Ascent in August. He has his eye on a top-5 finish.
The 10K race was a group experience for members of the Cougars RMSA soccer league, of Aurora.
"This is a good way to train, a sort of team-building thing," said Joey Carlson, 12, who ran with eight teammates. "We all finished in less than an hour. It was a lot of fun. And this race has great scenery."
Runners admitted slowing to watch the animals, and many said they simply had to stop to gawk at the giraffes, the mountain goats, or the moose, who seemed a bit befuddled by all the passersby. Drummers by the Shrine of the Sun reinvigorated their efforts and peacocks strutting by the post-race festival were a special sort of reward for the morning's efforts.
Another special reward were the medals given to the top three male and female finishers in the 10K and 5K races. They were created with the help of Lucky and Kimba, the zoo's two African elephants. Touted as the "poo without the ewww," the medals were elephant dung shaped into disks and then encased in resin. The result was more attractive than it sounds, resembling artfully arranged dried herbs.
Winner Manning joked this was the first time he had won a race and got, well, poop, for it.