A historic Shortcut repeat for Rich
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Adam Rich was gone with the wind during Sunday morning’s Strawberry Shortcut races — even if that wind was blowing in his face.
Rich, a 34-year-old runner from Colorado Springs, made race history by successfully defending his championships in the 10K and 5K races with convincing victories in both races despite a steady headwind that runners ran into during both races.
“That headwind was probably there for a good three miles of the 10K and for a good two miles of the 5K,” Rich said. “That really might not seem like much, but when you consider that you’re not only running into the wind but also running uphill during the race, that can make things pretty difficult.”
Regardless, Rich still managed to blow away the field in each race. His winning time in the 10K of 32 minutes, 23 seconds outdistanced the race’s second-place finisher — Zach Walsh of Basalt — by more than two minutes. He followed that with a winning time of 16:15 in the 5K, which he said was nowhere near the 14:15 he ran at a 5K race in Grand Junction last year.
“[Sunday’s race] was about the performance I expected in the 5K,” he said. “I was really hoping that I would break 16, but after a moderately uphill 10K with that headwind, your legs just aren’t there anymore.”
Rich, a member of Western State’s Division II national championship cross country teams in 2004 and 2005, posted nearly identical times last year when he won the 10K in 32:02 and the 5K in 16:13.
With his victories on Sunday, according to race records kept by the late Bob Willey of Glenwood Springs, Rich became the first runner in Shortcut history to win back-to-back 10K and 5K races. The closest anyone had come were the 2000 and 2001 races, when Phillip Castillo won the 10K and 5K races in 2000 but won only the 10K in 2001. Castillo, by the way, won the Shortcut 10K every year from 1997 to 2002.
The last runner to win consecutive 10K Shortcuts was Marco Salmen of Glenwood Springs, who prevailed in the races in 2004 and 2005.
Walsh finished second in the 10K in 34:26. Josh Hejtmanek, himself a former 10K Shortcut winner, finished third in the 10K in 35:33 before notching a fourth-place finish in the 5K in 18:09.
“There was a serious headwind going south that really made a difference to me,” said Hejtmanek, who hails from New Castle and is regularly a top finisher during the monthly Colorado River Valley Charity Race Series events that take place from March through August. “Adam told me it made a difference to him, too, but it sure didn’t seem like it.”
No doubt, Rich was well ahead of the 10K field by the time he was half a mile south of Two Rivers Park on the Rio Grande Bike Path. There was no one in his sight when he took the time to look behind him — and saw no one there.
“Adam is,” Hejtmanek said, “on a different level.”
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament Saturday.