Salmen shatters meet mark in 1,600 |

Salmen shatters meet mark in 1,600

Phil Sandoval

Marco Salmen felt a pounding in his chest and a good feeling in his heart after winning the 1,600 meters at Saturday’s 23rd Demon Invitational.

In his final appearance at Stubler Memorial Field, the Glenwood Springs High School senior added another stunning performance, and another record-breaking one, to his list of superlative efforts in his four-year career with the Demon track team.

For the second straight meet, Salmen battled Rob Thayer of Hotchkiss in a stride-for-stride, start-to-finish battle. Last week, Thayer defeated Salmen by less than a second.

On Saturday, Salmen returned the favor, besting Thayer by three-tenths of a second with a 4 minute, 28.27 finish to Thayer’s 4:28.64. As a bonus, Marco’s winning mark set a new boys’ 1,600 meet record, shattering the year-old mark of 4:36.24, set by his older brother Chas, by eight seconds.

Pretty good for an event that got off to a bad start.

Both runners zoomed to the front of the pack, but the entire field was called back for a re-start after a Aspen runner fell before the runners cleared the first turn.

After being recalled to the starting line, Salmen said “Let’s do it again” to Thayer – and they responded with an instant replay, setting up a cat-and-mouse chase between the two runners.

Salmen gained an early slight lead, only to be caught, then passed by Thayer on the backstretch.

By the third lap, Salmen had pulled ahead, but appeared to be tiring when Thayer took charge and the lead, heading into the gun lap.

Thayer was duped into a false sense of comfort after opening a body-length lead going into the final turn.

“I wanted to set the pace, or if Rob got out in front of me, set a pace that I was comfortable with or just tuck behind him, and that’s what happened,” said Salmen of the 1,600’s first three laps.

“So I just went out strong, tucked in behind him, and held on for a while.”

Salmen hung on, then made his move in the final turn of the last lap.

Salmen fired up the jets, caught Thayer in the final straightaway and took the race with a final kick as the runners lunged at the finish line.

“I tried to make a move and get the lead in the last 500 meters, and that didn’t work, because he took the lead right back,” said Salmen. “So I just stuck with him to the final corner and took an all-out sprint at the end.

“It was fortunate I had a little more today. It was a great race and Rob’s a great runner.”

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