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More than 600 Winter Series runners get little extra mileage
Rainsberger, Burns win short-course races
Billed as a 5K and 10K event, the first race of the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series got just a little bit extra.
“We use that term very loosely,” series co-director Michael Shafai said of the distance. “They get bonus miles in this race.”
Not to be confused with frequent-flier miles, but the participants did get a little extra time at the scenic course winding through Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The short course was actually a hair over 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometers) and the long course was just over 7.1 miles (11.4 kilometers).
It’s good that the runners got some extra Saturday since the Winter Series is progressive. Each of the four events is a little bit longer that the previous one, with the fourth having extended to 10K for the short course and 20K for the long course.
Saturday’s women’s short race was won by Air Academy wunderkind Katie Rainsberger, who was denied a 4A state cross country championship as a freshman in the fall when she was barely beaten at the tape by Niwot’s Elise Cranny. Rainsberger finished in 21 minutes, 16 seconds, 1:01 faster that her nearest rival.
For Rainsberger, it’s just part of her between-season conditioning program.
“I’m doing the winter series, which is so much fun, they put on such a great event,” she said. “And I’m going to be rock climbing, swimming and running — keeping it fun — to gear up for track season.”
Rainsberger is an up-and-coming star in the Colorado Springs running community. The Winter Series attracts established stars as well.
“We have some former Olympians, current Olympians and national champions in this race,” John Gardner, the other co-director, said. “There are some fast people.”
One of those fast people was James Burns, a professional triathlete who won the men’s short race in 17:41.
“I’m just getting back into shape right now; just using this as a little workout,” Burns said. “Get a little competition. It was a little cold but it was a good race.”
Jeremy Joiner won the men’s long race and Kelly Ramirez won the women’s long race.
The Pikes Peak Road Runners is in its 34th year and is involved in more than 40 races each year. Membership for the all-volunteer organization has grown to around 1,700 and race attendance has more than doubled over the past five years.
“Our mission is to promote running and fitness in the Pikes Peak region,” Shafai said. “We are the largest Roadrunners Clubs of America organization in the state of Colorado and one of the top-10 largest in the country. That’s a testament to the running community in Colorado Springs.”
And that community responds in droves. More than 600 were in attendance Saturday.
“The winter series is a great local series,” Burns said. “It’s a great way to get out there and have some fun while getting a good workout.”