Front Range couple excel as singles |

Front Range couple excel as singles

John GardnerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Bernie Boettcher Special to the Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – As he finished his fourth lap Sunday, Michael Hagen was unsure of his position in the Endurance Challenge at Sunlight Mountain Resort.So he thought he would ask someone who was keeping track.”They said I was leading,” Hagen said. “I said, ‘Really? I’m leading?'”While Hagen, 47, was shocked to find out that he was leading the men’s solo division at the first Endurance Challenge, a new 12-hour version of the popular 24 Hours of Sunlight, he was not surprised to learn that his wife Eva was out front in the women’s solo division.”I thought she had a good chance to win,” he said.And so did Eva.”I thought I had a pretty good chance,” Eva said. “But I was not sure.”Nearly nine hours and 16 laps later, Michael finished the challenge in front of second- and third-place finishers Billy Laird of Crested Butte and Travis Macy of Evergreen by one lap. Eva, 42, finished the race with 15 laps, three better than Merideth Edwards, Anne St. Claire of Breckenridge, and Bre Hickel of Salt Lake City, Utah, who finished second, third, and fourth, respectively, in the women’s solo division.Both Michael and Eva, of Colorado Springs, agreed it was an exciting way to finish out the tough day together. Each received a trophy and $2,000 cash prize for winning their respective division.”I didn’t realize that he was in the lead for a long time,” Eva said.After several laps, she asked someone how Michael was doing.”We were quite excited,” Michael said.The couple participated in the 24 Hours of Sunlight event in 2009, taking third place in the duo category. But they both really liked the shorter, more aggressive version of the race.Michael said that they were excited to hear that the race was changing to a 12-hour format. And that was the ultimate decision to compete this year.”We were kind of glad to hear it was 12 hours,” he said. “That part from midnight to 4 a.m. in the 24-hour race is tough.”Michael said that the different format presented different challenges than the 24-hour race. And just because the time to compete was cut in half, it didn’t make the competition any easier.”This is more physically demanding, going hard for 12 hours straight,” he said. “But you don’t have the sleep depravation to deal with like [in] the 24-hour race.”For Eva, she said that the biggest challenge for her was competing in the solo division, rather than as part of a duo.”I have never raced that long at one time before,” she said. “It was hard just to have to motivate yourself to go continually.”According to Sunlight Marketing Manager Dylan Lewis, the race attracted more than 140 competitors from across Colorado and other states.Lewis said that the event was more relaxed and that even with all the changes, everything went off without a hitch. And the firedrill category, new this year, was one of the event’s most popular with nine teams signed up. The category allowed teams of four or more to do laps together, rather than in the conventional relay style. And people really seemed to enjoy it.”That was one of the biggest categories, and one of the most popular, because of the social aspect,” Lewis said.One reason for the event’s huge success was the outpouring of volunteers who helped with every aspect of the competition. Michael and Eva agreed, saying that it was one of the best organized events they’ve competed in.”The organizers and the volunteers for this event were fantastic,” Eva said.So, with the first one in the bag and some much needed sleep, Lewis hasn’t began planning next year’s competition just yet. But he said he thinks it will be bigger and better, even in the condensed 12-hour format.”The 12-hour format seems to be very popular, and at this point we don’t see any reason to change that,” he

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