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First race an eye opener

Casper's CornerJeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

As a sports writer, it’s always been important for me to be able to do – at the very least at a basic level – what the people I write about do. This doesn’t always hold true. No adventure racing, triathlons, extreme skiing or rodeo adventures for me. Still, I consider myself somewhat athletic and do my best to maintain as active a lifestyle as time permits. I’m willing to try just about any sport given the opportunity.Runners rule the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys. Consequently, we find ourselves penning about folks like Bernie Boettcher, Jenny Barsness and the Tiernans with extreme frequency. And let me tell you, after running my first footrace on Saturday, the Cheatin’ Woodchuck Chase in Rifle Mountain Park, I have a newfound respect for these amazing athletic specimens. The race spanned just 5 miles, was mostly downhill and canyon-shaded. Thankfully, it wasn’t the toughest venue for a first race.But it was a nerve-wracking experience nonetheless.Just sitting on a bus filled with seasoned runners on the way to the start line proved an intimidating experience. When it comes to distance running, I’m anything but fast. I can run for a while, but I’m not going to set any land-speed records.And I didn’t. My modest time looked enormous compared to that of Boettcher, the Silt stud who’s a distance junkie with countless marathons under his belt. And there were so many others whose prowess rivals the dominant Boettcher, who passed me backtracking the course on a cooldown run before I even sniffed the finish line!Sadly, he wasn’t the only one who did that. At first, that bothered me. I’m not a big fan of being bad at something. I suppose that’s not an abnormal trait among human beings. But it’s all relative. While the Boettchers and those of his ilk are there to win, I was there to finish, to prove to myself I could complete a competitive run. I did just that, and hope to run more races in the future. Running is a very personal sport. My abused ankles and short legs will likely always prevent me from posting top times, but I at least have personal bests for which to strive. And it’s a great way to stay in shape. If I came away with nothing else, I caught a glimpse of the pace the big wigs keep. It’s ridiculous what those guys are capable of putting their bodies through. That itself made the experience worthwhile.And at least I didn’t finish last!Contact Jeff Caspersen at 384-9123 or jcaspersen@postindependent.com.


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