Whelan wheels to victory in Silt foot race
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
SILT, Colorado – Former Grand Valley High School track and cross country runner Sam Whelan had enough gas left in the tank to hold off New Castle’s Josh Hejtmanek in the final mile to claim race honors at Saturday’s fourth annual Run/Walk For Their Lives 5K in Silt.
Whelan, who is home for the summer after a freshman year spent running and studying business management at Oklahoma Baptist University, wanted to run at a steady pace and use the race as part of his college offseason training schedule.
Having Hejtmanek pushing him through the first two miles altered that race strategy a bit.
“I was just planning on running a tempo run today, but I had to push the pace that last mile with Josh by my side,” said Whelan, who was coming off a quick 36 minute, 57 second time at last week’s Bolder Boulder 10K.
Hejtmanek, who is at or near the front in most all local runs, was the leader in the early stages of the race before giving way to Whelan’s youth and collegiate training.
“He was behind me the first half of the race,” said Hejtmanek. “Then he got by me, but it was good to have some tough competition out there and somebody to chase.”
Whelan finished in 17:33. Hejtmanek clocked in at 17:56.
Coming in third overall, behind the Whelan-Hejtmanek duel, was Eddie Aispuro with a time of 21 minutes even. Fourth place, with a time of 21:40, went to Mike Schubert, who was a first team 4A all-state basketball player at Glenwood Springs High School in 1994.
Schubert still plays a good game of hoops, but he doesn’t do a lot of distance running, which made placing all the more special.
“I don’t really run much, but I’m thinking about getting into it more. It’s fun,” stated Schubert.
New Castle’s Eileen Wysocki, fresh off a victory at last month’s Titan Trot 5K in Silt, continued her winning ways by topping the rest of the women’s field with a time of 24:53.
“This was the first time I have done this race because I’m usually helping with trail projects on this weekend,” said Wysocki. “I wanted to do it, though, because it’s part of the race series.”
Lupe Alvarado was the second-place female with a time of 26:38, followed by Glenwood’s Kathy Falkenberg, who came to the finish line in 26:50.
The series that Wysocki was referring to is the ever-growing-in-popularity Colorado River Valley Charity Race Series, in which runners can accumulate points based on where they finish in their respective age groups.
With a record field of 97 runners and walkers, race director Sandy Burns was ecstatic at the turnout of supporters for the race, which benefits the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation in Silt. Since 1984, the Schneegas Foundation has rehabilitated and released an estimated 5,000 animals back into the wild.
“Oh my gosh,” said the excitable Burns. “It’s fantastic. It’s an awesome day!”
Next up for local runners and walkers is Paul’s Run. The Paul Driskill Memorial 5K will be held next Saturday, June 11, at Glenwood Springs Elementary School.
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