Silt’s Boettcher takes first at Hogback Hustle 5k |

Silt’s Boettcher takes first at Hogback Hustle 5k

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

NEW CASTLE, Colorado – Every minute that it advances from sunrise, the morning becomes hotter. Long shadows grow shorter, and the day wakes up to the realization that it is July and it starts to act appropriately.

As the field of 110 runners and walkers at Saturday’s Hogback Hustle 5k in New Castle tried to stay cool, readying themselves for the race’s initial, steep climb up into Castle Valley, race director Bryan Vashus had the look of a man who was pleasantly surprised at the gathering of participants at the starting line.

“I’m shocked. I really didn’t expect this many people,” said Vashus. “Our numbers were down a bit last year, but it’s nice to see so many here this year.”

Runners of all ages, shapes and sizes kept Vashus smiling throughout the morning as they conquered the early hills of the course, then got a nice downhill break as they exited Castle Valley, before a slightly uphill finish at the town park in New Castle. Awaiting them was shade, refreshments and a nice breakfast.

The race served as a homecoming of sorts for Silt resident Bernie Boettcher, who beat 109 other folks to the finish line with a time of 17 minutes 37 seconds. Boettcher used to live in New Castle years ago, and following the race, he wanted to talk more about the way things used to be in the area, than about running itself.

“It’s always fun to come to New Castle and see how things have changed,” said Boettcher, who has run the Hogback Hustle twice and won it the same number of times. “There wasn’t any houses up on that hill [Castle Valley], and once, when I was out on a run, I saw a mountain lion about where City Market is now.”

One thing that hasn’t changed much through the years is Boettcher’s spot at, or near the top of the races he enters. At age 47, Boettcher continues to prove himself time and again at varying distances on the roads and trails.

Pat Cade was the second place overall finisher with a time of 18:43. Basalt’s Giulio Del Piccolo was third among the men, and fourth overall, coming in at 20:26.

It was a homecoming for former Rifle High School standout Holly Keeper also. Keeper, who just completed her freshman year at Augusta State University in Georgia, dominated the ladies field with a time of 20:19. Keeper is glad to be back home.

“It’s good to come back and see everybody,” said Keeper. “This is a hilly course, but based on my time, my training is on schedule.”

Recent Basalt graduate Chiara Del Piccolo also ran a nice race to place second in the women’s division. Del Piccolo’s time was 21:20. Glenwood Springs resident Abbey Walters placed third for the ladies.

The Hogback Hustle 5k was the fourth stop on the Colorado River Valley Charity Race Series. Runners have two more chances to score points and move up in the overall standings. The Cheatin’ Woodchuck Chase 5-miler and 2.3 mile fun run will be held at Rifle Mountain Park on Saturday, Aug. 7, and the Banzai Road/Trail 5k will be held in West Glenwood on Oct. 9.

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