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Photo Gallery 1
Photo Gallery 2
Photo Gallery 3
(Photo gallery start/finish line)
(Full results here)
Kenyan Simon Cheprot looked around as he loped through the eight-mile marker on Sunday in the 34th running of the Garden of The Gods 10-Mile Run.
On his shoulder was Mario Macias of Alamosa. But with a quick series of powerful strides, Cheprot (right) made it a one man race. He hit the finish line in Manitou Springs in 50 minutes, 47 seconds, to win for the second-consecutive year. He missed the course record that he set in 2009 by 16 seconds, but he did set a 20-24 age-group mark.
Daniela Cirlan, a Romanian training in Boulder, won the women’s race with a time of 1:01.02, setting a record in the 25-29 age group.
Nuta Olaru of Longmont placed second among the women in 1:02:31.
The top three men and women won $1,000, $500 and $250 respectively.
Cheprot, who spoke in broken English, said he could have gone faster.
“I need my friends there to push me,” he said. “This year was more difficult.”
And though nobody could tell, Cheprot admitted his
conditioning is not as good as a year ago when he crushed the course record by nearly two minutes.
“Last year, better conditioning,” he said. “This year, not as good.”
Macias (below), who cruised home in second place (50:59, a 25-29 age-group record) said he was impressed by Cheprot’s strength on the final hills of the tough course.
“He made a surge up the hill with about 1 ½ miles to go,” Macias said. “All I could do was try to hang on. He’s a strong guy.”
Reuben Mwei, the NCAA Division II cross country champion from Adams State placed third in 54:20, followed by Jordan Wilson of Fort
Collins (56:04), and Tommy Manning of Colorado Springs, 56:39.
“I’m psyched,” said Manning, a track coach and teacher at Fountain Valley High School. “I felt really good today.”
Manning and Wilson were having a private duel for fourth place when Wilson found an extra gear.
“We were even and he just took off,” Manning said. “He dropped me. I was kind of impressed.”
Cirlan took an early lead and was not challenged in the women’s race. She competed in the 2004 Olimpics as a race walker, and has been running competitively for only about two years. She was
second at Garden of the Gods in 2009, but 12 seconds faster this year.
“I wanted to win, so I just went hard from the first mile,” Cirlan said. “I just tried to beat my time from last year. I didn’t care too much about who was behind me.”
Olaru said she new Cirlan (right) was ahead of her, but couldn’t muster the strength to chase her down.
“This course is difficult,” she said. “I wanted to finish the last two miles at a quicker pace, but by that time, I had nothing left.”
Zoila Gomez of Alamosa was third (1:02:31) followed by Wendy Thomas, a St. Mary’s High School graduate, who now lives in Windsor.
“I’ve had better days,” said Thomas, who does better at shorter distances. “But this is my third race in 13 days, so I shouldn’t expect too much.”
It was also her first Garden of the Gods experience.
“It’s true what they say,” Thomas said. “This course is really tough.”
There were plenty of success stories at this year’s race.
One of the most impressive runs of the day was turned in by 13-year-old Zachary Alhamra (left), a student at Mountain Ridge
Middle School. In his first 10-mile race – he’d never gone farther than five miles - Alhamra clocked a blazing 1:06.47 smashing the 14-and-under age-group record (1:11:29) set last year by Brandon
Supernaw of Colorado Springs.
Gerald Romero (below right), the two-time defending men’s Triple Crown champion, placed 20th with a time of 1:01:44.
“This is a good kickoff for the Triple Crown,” Romero said. “I set my PR for the Garden, so that is a good sign. Now we get ready for the Summer Roundup (July 11 in Bear Creek Park).”
The Triple Crown consists of the Garden of the Gods, The Summer Roundup, The Pikes Peak Ascent or the ascent portion of the Pikes Peak Marathon. The lowest accumulative time wins.
The race set a new record for entries, 1,993.
“We came up seven shot of 2,000,” race director Ron Ilgen said. ‘But that’s alright, we’ll keep building on what we have.”
There were 1,004 finishers in the men's race, 785 among the women.
Top 10 Finishers Men:
1. Simon Cheprot, Aurora, 50:47, 2. Mario Macias, Alamosa, 50:59, 3. Reuben Mwei, Alamosa, 54:20, 4. Jordan Wilson, Fort Collins, 56:04, 5. Tommy Maning, Colorado Springs, 56:39, 6. Alex Nichols, Colorado Springs, 57:14, 7. Daryn Parker, Manitou Springs, 57:21, 8. Joe McDaniel, Colorado Springs, 57:44, 9. Peter Maksimow, ManitouSprings, 58:35, 10. John Nichols, Denver, 59:25.
Top 10 Women:
1. Daniela Cirlan, Boulder, 1:01:02, 2.Nuta Olaru, Longmont 1:02:23, 3. Zoila Gomez, Alamosa, 1:02:31, 4. Wendy Thomas, Windsor, 1:02:31; 5. Christie Turak, Colorado Springs, 1:04:36; 6. Ashlee Nelson, Colorado Springs, 1:06.52, 7. Stephanie Jones, Colorado Springs, 1:07:55, 8. Amanda Ewing, Colorado Springs, 1:08:10, 9. Adrian Chouinard, Manitou Springs, 1:08:3, 10. Rochelle Person, Manitou Springs, 1:10:06.

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I saw Zachary running his heart out during mile 7 as I was getting into mile 3. The kid never faltered--just kept right on going and going and going! He should be really proud of his hard work and perseverance today!! Inspirational even to us older folks!! (GAH! I just identified myself as old!!)
There were audible gasps from the crowd when his time was announced at the awards ceremony. People were really shocked. Two years ago, the 14-and-under record was 1:22. Brandon Supernaw knocked 11 minutes off of it last year. And now Zachary has lowered it by another five minutes. Incredible.


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