Column: Human spirit not deterred by floods
Post Independent Sports Editor
All the rain pouring down outside the Post Independent office Wednesday wouldn’t be a welcome sight to anyone living on the Front Range of Colorado right now.
Craig Macek can relate to that. So can Ryan Moeller.
Macek is the guy who runs the annual Lead King Loop Run in Marble, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this past week. It’s an event that features a 25K race, a race that goes half that far (12.5K) and a 2.5K kids fun run. Runners in the long race make a 3,000-foot ascent into the Lead King Basin, drop into the old mining town of Crystal and pass by the numerous waterfalls along the way until they follow the Crystal River back into Marble.
All of the 250 people who ran — many of them from the Glenwood Springs area — dealt with the wet, soggy and foggy conditions along the race course. Those conditions have been a mainstay in recent weeks, making this part of Western Colorado look a lot like Western Oregon during the wintertime.
That number could have been much higher, though. Macek said 65 people who had preregistered for the race were no-shows, all of whom were dealing with much damper conditions in the Boulder, Fort Collins and even Greeley area.
“There was a group of women from Estes Park who make it every year, and they sent me an email saying they couldn’t make it,” Macek said. “There was another guy who said he couldn’t make it because he had to re-caulk his basement from all of the water coming in. There’s just so many emails and stories that came.”
One of them was Lisa Marshall, a writer for Runner’s World magazine who was stranded in Pinewood Springs with “no roads in or out and no power or phone,” she wrote to Macek in an email. Another, Jennifer Taylor, was hoping to contact her family stranded in the Big Thompson Canyon. And that group from Estes Park couldn’t make it because, according to an email to Macek from Christine Yokley, “there are just higher priority issues to be taken care of over the next several days.”
For the record, the Glenwood Springs area has gotten 1.13 inches of precipitation during the past month, according to the National Weather Service. But that’s a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the 17.17 inches of rain that has come down in Boulder, which smashed the previous record of 9.59 inches in a month back in May 1995. A massive 9.08 inches of rain fell in Boulder on Sept. 12 alone, and its aftermath had a huge effect on tens of thousands of people.
Moeller was one of the lucky ones. The Rifle High School graduate, who was one of Colorado’s top prep running backs in 2012 with 3,002 rushing yards for the Bears, is a preferred walk-on football player at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The CU athletic department canceled the Buffaloes’ Sept. 14 home game against Fresno State because of the flooding. Moeller, as a redshirt freshman, wasn’t slated to play anyway, but he watched as other college freshmen and teammates living on campus had their dorms flooded by the mass of water, which caused a prolonged closure of the school.
Moeller’s stuff, which is in a garden-level dorm room in Hallett Hall, was spared from the flood waters. But one of his teammates, wide receiver D.D. Goodson, told the school’s official website that he lost his television, sofa and other possessions after his apartment was filled waist deep with water.
And on Saturday instead of joining his team at Folsom Field for a college football game, Moeller joined his teammates on campus to serve food to people in the Boulder area who were displaced by the massive rainstorm.
“It was a bummer we weren’t able to play,” Moeller said. “But at least today [Sept. 14], we were able to focus on helping others.”
That statement puts things in perspective, for sure.
Sports are a source of pride, joy and entertainment for many people. We marvel at those with the God-given abilities to run faster, farther and harder than the rest of us, placing them on a pedestal because of things they can do that many can only dream of.
That said, I grow annoyed when someone is called a “hero” for scoring a game-winning touchdown, hitting a walk-off home run or making a buzzer-beating shot to win a basketball game. Having the ability to do that makes you a great athlete, but it doesn’t make you a hero.
Heroes step up and help people in need in times of crisis, giving food and shelter to people displaced from their homes, or giving up a run in the mountains to find a lost family member or to help a neighbor avoid an oncoming wall of water. I think people parallel heroic acts in sports since it entails someone stepping up to help their team in a time of need, but it’s not the same.
Sports do have their place in times of crisis, though. Macek said one couple made the trip from the Front Range to the race in Marble just to get away from all of the gloom and destruction the flooding had caused. It provided a happy distraction to an otherwise gloomy circumstance.
It’s a gloomy circumstance that is made brighter by events like the Lead King Loop, the CU football team and the countless others who have stepped up to do the right thing in a time of crisis.
Those are the true heroes, inside and outside of the competitive arena. They always will be.
Jon Mitchell is the sports editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Rifle Citizen Telegram. He can be reached at 970-384-9123, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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