Sports column: The end-of-winter party
It doesn’t seem possible that 16 years have passed since a small group of local runners got together on a snowy Saturday afternoon in early February for the very first race up to Sequoia Glen. That year marked the start of a new century, and the birth of a unique little run in the Western Colorado backcountry that has turned out to resemble more of an end-of-winter party than a serious footrace.
About a half a mile above the Glenwood Fish Hatchery is a quaint little spot along Mitchell Creek that was christened “Sequoia Glen” by a couple of local running enthusiasts years before the thought of having a race pass through that neck of the woods was even imagined. Bob Willey and Joe Mollica made the uphill journey part of their weekly Monday running group’s routine. Upon arrival at Sequoia Glen — named for the tall spruce and pine trees that decorate the landscape that borders Mitchell Creek — Willey would hug one of the pines, and Mollica proceeded to dunk his head in the icy, flowing waters of the rushing stream, which signaled the rest of us to find our sit spot, and begin the always lively conversation about the happenings in our lives. The scenery was wonderful, the company was good, and the trip back home was much easier because we were going downhill.
In the early years, the race was only to the top, the destination where we would routinely gather. The party began in the blink of an eye at Kenny Cline’s home, located just across the creek from Sequoia Glen. Kenny’s house was a blast, and a while later, another blast ensued, from Kenny’s hunting rifle, which started us all off, just before nightfall, back down the hill as happy and carefree as larks.
Now a 5K, Sequoia Glen runners must make it up the big hill, and then back down again before beginning the much anticipated early spring revelry with friends. The course is certainly a challenge, one of the toughest races in the area, but the scenery and the euphoric feeling of accomplishment that awaits at the end of the journey is well worth the effort.
This year’s edition, being the 17th running up to Sequoia Glen, makes the race one of the longest tenured running events in the valley. Participants usually number anywhere from 50-60 beautiful spirits, so it’s not nearly as big as many other races in the area, and the perks don’t come close to being as plentiful. Your $15 entry fee will not include a T-shirt or a goodie bag filled with goodies, but you will have a tall, cold one waiting for you at the finish line, if you so choose, and some very fine company to boot.
The Sequoia Glen 5K will take place this coming at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 12, in West Glenwood. All proceeds from the race go to local animal shelters, and the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation in Silt. Registration will start at 2 p.m., and you can call 970-945-0979 if you need any race information. Walkers are very much welcome.
At past races, Bigfoot has been spotted lurking in the bushes, and even venturing near the road to get a closer look at the strange looking, running humans. Don’t worry about being attacked — Bigfoot has deemed most runners too skinny to make a decent meal. The big, hairy beast hasn’t been spotted yet this spring; he usually waits until the day of the race to come out of hibernation. He’s got it right, you know. Sequoia Glen is a good day to awaken from the dreariness of winter and celebrate spring. It’s the end-of-winter party.
Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.
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