Fulk-Gray, Rollins win Basalt Half Marathon that benefits BHS cross country team
2019 race results
1. Watkins Fulk-Gray, 1:18:55
2. Guillermo Ceja, 1:27:40
3. Kevin O’Brien, 1:32:17
4. Thomas Simmons, 1:32:46
5. David Portman, 1:44:26
1. Amy Rollins, 1:28:26
2. Ashley Connolly, 1:31:35
3. Mary Cote, 1:34:02
4. Lauren Warkentin, 1:34:58
5. Jessica Pooler, 1:39:52
The kids probably enjoyed Saturday’s Basalt Half Marathon more than Amy Rollins. An assistant coach for the Basalt High School cross country team and daughter of head coach Ron Lund, Rollins won the women’s portion of the race all while the BHS athletes looked on from aid stations along Frying Pan Road.
“It’s a fun kind of role reversal for them to see me suffering and cheering for me, instead of the other way around,” Rollins said. “It’s just exciting to see them out there and to maybe give them some inspiration. They inspire me so much, so it’s a fun role reversal for them to see a different side of me and hopefully inspire them to start their summer training.”
In its 43rd year, the Basalt Half Marathon is a fundraiser for the BHS cross country team and helps get athletes to Arizona each year for a large postseason regional event put on by Nike. The 13.1-mile race begins at Ruedi Reservoir and descends roughly 1,000 feet to the finish at Lions Park in downtown Basalt.
Usually held later in the summer, Lund, the race organizer, decided to move the race to earlier in the season this year to avoid conflicts with other similar races that typically occur in July and August. It’s a change he plans to make permanent going forward.
Lund said they had just over 40 racers on Saturday, a significant decline from years past. He believes a lot of that simply had to do with the earlier start date.
Also new this year was the addition of a two-person relay option, although only a couple of teams took part.
“In the long run it’s going to be good for us because of the saturation of events. Everyone was vying for the same runner,” Lund said. “We just need to get the word out there and stick with this date for a while and I think it will come back. I know a lot of people are training for the Aspen Valley half, which is five weeks away. This is certainly a great fitness indicator of where you are at.”
Taking the win Saturday was Watkins Fulk-Gray, who works for the Town of Basalt. He finished in 1 hour, 18 minutes, 55 seconds, while Aspen’s Guillermo Ceja was second in 1:27:40.
“It’s very much a local race, which is fun. I wanted to show Ron support. I know him a little bit and to support the cross country team is always good,” Fulk-Gray said. “I don’t usually like running early-season races like this, because I don’t feel like I’m in very good shape, but racing yourself into shape is also a thing.”
Fulk-Gray said the win was significant for him as it was his first in a couple of years; a span that included many runner-up finishes. He said most of his main races will not be until the fall, and he currently has his eyes set on the 2020 Boston Marathon.
Rollins was third overall in 1:28:26, which she said was a new personal record time, while Aspen’s Ashley Connolly was fourth overall in 1:31:35. Mary Cote was third among women, finishing seventh overall in 1:34:02.
“Usually the women’s field is very competitive at this race,” Rollins said. “It was about a minute PR, which I was thrilled with. Super happy.”
Kevin O’Brien finished third among men and fifth overall in 1:32:17, while Thomas Simmons was sixth overall in 1:32:46.
Lund hopes to build the race back up to where it has around 100 runners. He believes it could become a solid early-season option for athletes in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Plus, it’s good for the BHS runners to build camaraderie ahead of the cross country season. This upcoming fall should be a strong one for the Longhorns, who are set to host a regional meet for the first time in more than a decade.
“All the kids on the team are aid station workers. That’s how they contribute and they like doing it. It’s a good day to hang out with their friends or meet new kids on the team,” Lund said. “It’s a good team bonding thing, and it’s a lot of fun. Even though it’s not the numbers I was hoping for, I think it’s going to be a success.”
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