A real Keeper: Former Bear places third in Rifle race | PostIndependent.com

A real Keeper: Former Bear places third in Rifle race

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

RIFLE, Colorado – It’s as simple as the law of gravity in that what goes riding up, must eventually come running down.

The going up part was easy at Saturday’s Cheatin’ Woodchuck Chase Run. Participants had only to board a yellow school bus at the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery and ride five scenic miles – mostly uphill – to the starting line at the Rifle Falls Campground. The hard part was getting off the bus, knowing that two feet, not four wheels, was the required method of transportation to get back down the hill to the finish line – and the chow line.

Michigan native Wesley Toews put one foot in front of the other, and traversed the slope to the finish better than anyone in a time of 27 minutes, 50 seconds. Rifle’s own Holly Keeper was the first female to the finishing stripe in 29:26 in the field of 108 runners and walkers, who competed in both the 5-miler and the 2.3-mile fun run/walk.

Keeper runs cross country and track at Colorado State University and Toews does likewise at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. They are both getting in some last minute distance training before the fall season starts at their respective schools.

“This is a nice, cool and awesome race,” said former Rifle Bear Keeper. “I just tried to stay with the front pack of guys for the first couple miles.” Keeper accomplished her goal in finishing third overall in the race.

Dana Peterson was the runner-up in the women’s division in 35:44, followed by Christina McClard with a time of 36:25.

Toews ran stride for stride with New Castle’s Josh Hejtmanek for the first four miles of the downhill jaunt before a finishing kick netted him a 17-second victory and a chance to wear the winner’s laurel wreath.

“We ran together for the first four miles of the race, then I was able to pull away at the end,” said Toews who works for the Forest Service as a firefighter during his summers away from college. “This is really a fun, fast course.”

Hejtmanek’s second place time was 28:07, with Rifle’s Jeffery Coombs and John Coombs right behind him at 29:33 and 30:30.

The Woodchuck Chase is the final race in the six-event Colorado River Valley Charity Race Series. Wayne Edgeton, from the Rifle Recreation Department has been, for years, the driving force behind the growth of these gatherings of fitness enthusiasts and is looking forward to even better things next season.

“The numbers we have had has been amazing. I’m stoked,” said Edgeton. “We raised over $8,000 for various charities. I’m looking forward to next year.”

The 2012 series will kick off with the 13th annual Kenny Cline Memorial Sequoia Glen 5k on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17.

The racing season is far from being over, however. Local runners need to keep up the training for local races from Glenwood Springs to Marble, which take place in Colorado’s beautiful autumn season. Plus, it’s only 109 days and counting to Glenwood’s best race, the 25th annual Turkey Day 5k, at the Glenwood Golf Course on Nov. 24.

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