Mike Vidakovich
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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April 22, 2013
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Inaugural race brings runners together

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - On a mid-April Saturday morning that looked a lot like February, runners and walkers assembled at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs for the first running of the Roaring Fork Runoff 5K, which served as a benefit for the Western Colorado Girls on the Run and the Court Appointed Special Advocates program.

The race also served as a gathering point - just like last week's Boston Marathon served as a gathering point for thousands of runners.

The chilly temperature and light drizzle didn't put the slightest dent in the enthusiasm of the more modest running pack of 29 participants, who warmed up their bodies and chatted anxiously prior to the race's starting whistle.

Regardless of the weather, the solitary nature of distance running is interrupted by the mass gatherings when hundreds, or even thousands, of people come together at a race.

With the Boston Marathon events still lingering on the minds of many - where three people died and more than 170 were injured from the pressure-cooker bombs that went off at the finish line - Roaring Fork Runoff co-race director Jim Conway reflected on how he felt before the start of his own race.

"A running race is such an athletic event that brings people together," Conway said. "Anyone can enter and do it. There is so much positive energy associated with something like this. It's a shame about what happened in Boston."

Conway was helped in organizing the race by Lisa Nieslanik.

New Castle resident Eddie Murray was first across the finish line on Saturday, and he too, had some thoughts on the incident in Boston and of all the runners who were quick to jump into the fray to help those who were injured by the explosions.

"It's a natural human reaction. Everybody cares about everybody else. It was nice to see," Murray said.

Runners are peaceful, thoughtful people who are willing to lend a hand when needed, just like most others, as Murray pointed out. The events in Boston will be remembered, but won't dampen the spirit that will continue to be found at future road races, no matter how big or how small they may be.

A part of that enthusiasm was evident Saturday. Suzie Matthews of Carbondale, who helped Conway and Nieslanik during race day, cheered runners on as they crossed the bridge over the Colorado River into Two Rivers Park.

Mark Feinsinger of Carbondale ran the scenic river trail while pushing his 3-year-old daughter Eva in a stroller.

The weather was of little concern to the smiling Feinsinger.

"We like to do events like these because they are fundraisers, and the exercise is always a good thing," Feinsinger said. "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear."

As the sky began to lighten, and racers headed out of the park to attend to other plans of the day, Conway and Nieslanik were still visibly excited about their race as they scurried about doing final cleanup chores. Thoughts of next year's Runoff were already being bantered about.

Through race proceeds, close to $800 was raised for Girls on the Run, which is a self-esteem building program for elementary and middle school girls in the area, and for CASA, which helps train volunteers to assist juveniles in the public court system.

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The Post Independent Updated Apr 22, 2013 01:26AM Published Apr 22, 2013 01:23AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.