Runner pushes on downhill to take women’s title in race from Basalt to Carbondale |

Runner pushes on downhill to take women’s title in race from Basalt to Carbondale

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Mary Cote spotted Julia Bensen tailing close behind about nine miles into Saturday’s Mount Sopris Runoff and took off.

Cote hadn’t been having the best of races ” by her standards, anyway.

“I knew the first mile I was too tired to race hard,” the Basalt resident and reigning Runoff champ, conceded. “All of a sudden I came over the top and saw a woman behind me, so I took off on the downhill.”

Calling upon reserve energy ” and a fiery competitive streak ” Cote tore up the 16.5-mile Runoff’s stretch run to win the women’s crown with a time of 2 hours and 58 seconds.

“Once I saw her, I was like, ‘Come on, this is a race.’ I said ‘OK, I’m going to turn it on,'” said the 44-year-old runner, who competed at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in Boston back in April.

Ever since, Cote’s had trouble mustering the energy to train as hard as she used to. Regardless, she’s still training far more than most, and is prepping for an October marathon in her hometown of Kansas City.

“I’ve been taking it easy since racing the trials in April,” she said. “After that, it’s been hard to do any training program.”

Cote and Bensen, who respectively finished fourth and fifth overall, were among 50 competitors at the morning race. The brutal trek began at the 7-Eleven in Basalt and routed runners along a challenging course that featured a 1,500-foot ascent on West Sopris Creek Road and an 1,800-foot descent on Prince Creek Road into Carbondale.

Bensen, who ran cross country and track at Williams College in Massachusetts, knew what she was in for once the course turned downhill.

“She’s so good on the downhill,” said the 24-year-old Aspenite, who clocked a time of 2:02:33. “I mostly do uphill stuff rather than fast stuff.”

Winning the overall and men’s portion of the Runoff was Silt’s Bernie Boettcher in a time of 1:42:24. He easily edged out second-place finisher Derek Darling (1:59:37) and Gilles Cote, Mary’s husband. He finished eight seconds ahead of his wife (2:00:50).

“I just couldn’t catch him,” Mary said.

Boettcher’s won the Runoff every time he’s entered it, and last won it two years ago. He missed last year’s race, won by Zeke Tiernan, due to a conflict in his racing schedule. Tiernan, who scored tickets to see the Dalai Lama in Aspen, missed this year’s Runoff.

“I always seem to miss Zeke,” Boettcher joked. “He does it when I don’t do it and vice versa. I was looking forward to it.”

With Boettcher at Saturday’s race was the digital camera that’s accompanied him on many a race in recent months. He’s been shooting pictures for Colorado Runner Magazine while running.

“At a lot of the races, photographers take pictures at the start and finish line,” he said. “There’s a lot in between ” incredible, fantastic views that no one ever sees.”

Pulling double duty obviously doesn’t slow Boettcher down all that much.

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