Hejtmanek, Popoff win Grand River Gallop | PostIndependent.com

Hejtmanek, Popoff win Grand River Gallop

Mike Vidakovich
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Deborah Billings Special to the Post IndependentRunners take off at the start of Saturday's Grand River Gallop 5K in Rifle. Josh Hejtmanek won the 13th running of the race.

RIFLE, Colorado – Bright sunshine and cool temperatures greeted 170 runners and walkers at Saturday’s 13th annual Grand River Gallop 5K in Rifle.

The Gallop serves as a fundraiser for the Meals on Wheels program of Western Garfield County, which delivers meals to the elderly, disabled and recovering individuals in New Castle, Silt, Rifle, Parachute and Battlement Mesa.

Kaaren Peck, who is the manager of the Meals on Wheels program, is in her second year as race director. Peck was thrilled with the record turnout for her race, and with all of the volunteers who make her program what it is.

“I’m thankful to all of the people who came out today and to my volunteers who delivered over 1,100 meals during the month of March,” said Peck.

This year’s Gallop also raised funds to help local children attend a diabetes health camp this summer in Rifle.

The Grand River Gallop course in one of the few relatively flat venues on the area running circuit, which allows runners to go hard and try to go fast, looking for personal-best times to boost them into the summer racing season.

As is the case with many local races, New Castle’s Josh Hejtmanek kicked his stride into high gear and came back to the finish area at the south end of the Grand River Hospital well before anyone else did.

“It’s nice to have a flat course. I had fun,” said Hejtmanek, who recorded a time of 17 minutes, 12 seconds.

Winning is always fun. It sure beats the alternative.

Giving chase to Hejtmanek in second place was Nick Garay of Silt with a time of 17:55. Garay was followed by Rifle’s Chad Johnson, who crossed the finish line in 18:49. Glenwood’s Eric Lamb also put in a fast run, placing fourth overall with a time of 19:07.

Gabriella Popoff of Glenwood was the women’s winner, and ninth place overall, with a time of 20:45.

Popoff enjoys the local races and the causes they benefit.

“I just enjoy coming out and running these races. They always help out a good cause,” said Popoff.

Berry Hurst of Basalt was second on the women’s podium at 21:35. She was followed by Glenwood’s Erin Williams with a time of 21:44.

The Grand River Gallop was the second of the six-race Colorado River Valley Charity Race Series.

Next up will be the Titan Trot 5K in Silt on Saturday, May 12. The Titan Trot is a benefit for the Coal Ridge High School booster club.

For further information on the race series, contact Rifle Recreation at 665-6570 or visit http://www.rifleco.org.

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