Rev your engines for Cheatin’ Woodchuck Chase

Jon Mitchell
Post Independent Sports Editor

Christopher Mullen Post Independent County Road 217 runs threw Rifle Mountain Park, where the Cheatin' Woodchuck Race will be held August 3rd at 9:00 AM.
Christopher Mullen |

RIFLE — Foot race series usually aren’t associated with a stock-car race in any way. Wayne Edgeton found a way to bring them together.

“It really is kind of like NASCAR,” said Edgeton, who works at Rifle Recreation. “It’s based on a point system over the course of all the races. But it’s not just for the hard-core racers. It’s also for the average guy who just wants to get out and run a race.”

The thing Edgeton is treating like NASCAR is the Colorado River Valley Charity Race Series, which has run over the past six months since March. There’s been one race a month since then, with registration money going toward good causes, and overall finishes going toward end-of-the-season awards based on race finishes.

And it all winds down on Saturday, when the series concludes with the Cheatin’ Woodchuck 5-mile Race, which will be held at Rifle Mountain Park.

Start time is scheduled for 9 a.m, and the registration fee is $20. Edgeton said 45 people had preregistered early in the week, and he expects anywhere from 100 to 120 to participate.

The course — which is mostly downhill — starts at the Three Forks trailhead and runs through the White River National Forest and Rifle Mountain Park to the park’s gate. A bus will pick up runners at the Rifle Fish Hatchery at 8:10 a.m. to take them to the start line, and runners are encouraged to leave no less than 40 minutes of travel time from downtown Rifle to the fish hatchery. Awards will be distributed to the first-, second- and third-place winners in each age group, with more prizes given to the overall male and female winners.

That’s been a motivational point of sorts for the entire series, which concludes with the race in Rifle Mountain Park. Times and finishes over the course of the series are compiled into a point total, and gift certificates of $75, $50 and $35 are given to the series’ first- through third-place finishers in each age group.

Edgeton said early in the week that 13 people have completed the first five races of the series. Runners must complete no less than four to qualify for the points series.

Then again, there’s a balance in the series between the competitive runner who is compiling points and the casual runner who is just looking to get out and be active. That’s where the charity part of the race series comes in, as the first five races have raised an estimated $9,600 for local charities so far this year.

Among those were the Grand River Gallop in Rifle in April, which drew close to 200 runners and raised an estimated $3,000 for the nonprofit Meals on Wheels program, which distributes food to area senior citizens. The Titan Trot 5K in May raised $1,200 for Coal Ridge High School’s sports programs, and the Hogback Hustle 5K in New Castle, which took place in June, brought in $3,000 for the Lions Club.

Edgeton’s hope is that Saturday’s race will, if nothing else, come close to the overall goal of $12,000 in charitable donations for the series. Saturday’s race will benefit Rifle Recreation and the Sunlight Mountain ski bus, which takes skiers from Parachute, Battlement Mesa and Rifle to Sunlight Mountain Resort during ski season.

“This has been very successful so far,” he said. “If we can get even close to the goal we’ve set, I’ll be happy with that.”

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