Runners dressed for success at Rescue Run
- Created on Sunday, 01 January 2012 22:50
- Written by Aaron Linn
Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette
By KEVIN CARMODY, THE GAZETTE
Jami Leahy soaked up the cheers, even accepted a few high fives Sunday morning as she completed her 5K run at the 34th annual Rescue Run at Palmer Park.
It had nothing to do, however, with her time. The 34-year-old mother of three was nowhere near the lead pack and didn't care. Adorned with a gold “Happy New Year’s” headband, a pair of brightly colored bead necklaces and knee-length gray argyle socks, Leahy announced to the world her excitement for the year ahead.
“It’s a fun way to start 2012, and maybe this is the start of a tradition,” said Leahy, who ran among five other festively dressed friends. “I ran two years ago but was very pregnant last year. We celebrated New Year’s at 10 last night with our friends in New York, woke up early, dressed up and were here to have fun.”
The race, which also featured a kids’ run and 10K trek, benefitted El Paso County Search and Rescue, an all-volunteer organization that assists not only in search-and-rescue operations in the mountains and backcountry, but also in any kind of emergency situation, such as blizzards or severe storms.
With a record 860 runners taking part on Sunday, Pikes Peak Search and Rescue hopes to use the proceeds to secure its building, maintain vehicles, update and modernize equipment and train its staff to handle just about any situation.
“We’ve always gotten tremendous support from the community,” said Ske Hipszky, the organization’s deputy operating director who serves as a contract instructor for advanced life services at Memorial Hospital during the week. “This is a fundraiser for us, and it’s just blossomed over the years. The running community is avid supporters of El Paso County Search and Rescue.”
Daniel Castaneda took top honors in the 5K, edging recent The Classical Academy graduate Josh Simkins by less than one second; both Castaneda, the assistant cross county and track coach at Colorado College, and Simkins, now a freshman at Western State College in Gunnison, finished in 17 minutes, 15 seconds.
“I really had to sprint as fast as I could at the end to hold him off,” Castaneda said. “It’s not what I was expecting for the first race of the year. It’s a great experience to go out there and be competitive.”
Simkins regretted falling a little too far behind toward the end.
“I probably should have hung closer to him after he passed me,” Simkins said. “Overall, I was pleased with my time. I ran here two years ago, and I had a 19:50. I’ve done a lot more training since then.”
Rochelle Persson of Colorado Springs claimed the female champion with a time of 20:22.
In the 10K, Manitou Springs distance specialist Peter Maksimow blew away the competition, finishing in 35:49, nearly three minutes ahead of the competition and nearly two-thirds of the 5K competitors. Connilee Walter won the women’s 10K in 43:36.
Simkins, a part of two 3A state cross country teams at TCA, feels quite at home in his new surroundings in Gunnison.
“It’s a small community, and everyone is really nice there,” said Simkins, who plans on studying exercise and sports science with ambitions in physical therapy. “I’ve lost my wallet and keys a few times and people have returned them.