Locals light up Firecracker 4K run on Tuesday | PostIndependent.com

Locals light up Firecracker 4K run on Tuesday

Mike Vidakovich

The Glenwood Springs Lion’s Club FireKracker 4k Run just keeps growing in numbers each year. This year’s annual 4th of July 2.5 mile scamper at Two Rivers Park, drew 140 runners and walkers to the starting line. It also brought a big smile to the faces of race directors Darrell Stanley and Kathy Wren.

“We doubled in numbers from last year’s race,” stated Wren, who also was thrilled with the added funds from race entries that will go toward furnishing local school children and adults with eye examinations and glasses. “Anyone with vision trouble that is in need, we try to help them get an exam and glasses if need be.”

New Castle’s Josh Hejtmanek and Glenwood’s Abbey Ehlers didn’t need any corrective vision in order to find their way around the Rio Grande Trail and back to the finish line behind the band shell at Two Rivers Park, as they swept the titles in the men’s and women’s division of the fourth annual footrace.

Hejtmanek, who more often than not proves hard to beat on the local road running circuit, spun some holiday humor following his swift 13 minute, 42 second sprint on a warm July morning.

“I was a little disappointed there was no slip-and-slide at the finish line,” Hejtmanek pointed out with a grin. “This is the first time I’ve done this race, and I enjoyed it. Nice out and back course.”

Ehlers, a teacher at Glenwood Springs Middle School, posted a winning time of 15:33, which was good for eighth place overall. Ehlers, along with Glenwood Springs High School teacher Anne Swanson, has kept close to the passion for teaching this summer as the two educators have given their time to guide the highly successful Glenwood Springers Track program. Ehlers is also gearing up for October’s Chicago Marathon and a possible qualifying time for the United States Olympic Marathon Trials.

One of Ehlers’ runners in the Springers’ program, 12-year-old Sophia Connerton-Nevin, had an impressive showing. The ever-improving seventh-grader placed second in the women’s division and 13th overall with a time of 17:26. Springers Reid Swanson (fifth overall, 14:54), Benny Swanson (sixth overall, 15:15), and state level high jumper Bryce Risner (ninth overall, 16:42), also represented their track club well.

Local names and faces were in abundance at the FireKracker jaunt, and none are more familiar to the tried-and-true running set than Brad Palmer from Carbondale. Palmer, just off doing all three races at the Strawberry Shortcut a few weeks back, placed 18th overall with a time of 17:51. The main joy to the day for Palmer, though, was just being at a race and around the running community.

“Good to see everyone, as always,” said the 60-year-old Palmer, who always seems to have a positive thought for everyone he chats with. “Nice course and a nice morning. I can’t think of a better place to be.”

The place to be this coming Saturday for area runners and walkers will be the Hogback Hustle 5K in New Castle. The race, which starts at 8 a.m., takes off from the City Market store and finishes at the town park in New Castle.

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