From Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc.
Haley Williamson prepped for her dental school exam by racing to a narrow victory over Emily Hanenburg in Sunday morning's Summer Roundup Trail Run at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
Williamson edged Hanenburg by four seconds in the chip-timed half-marathonas she finished in 1:47:22. Not bad for a 23-year-old former soccer player who didn't run her first competitive race until her senior year in college.
“I've always been competitive,” said Williamson, who played center midfielder on Air Academy High School's state championship soccer team as a junior.
“This was a fun race.”
She played soccer at Azusu Pacific University in California, but also liked the taste of distance running – especially after she won a race.
The 2013 Air Academy grad was all smiles after finishing eighth overall and one spot ahead of Hanenburg, despite the scrapes and dirt on her right leg and knee.
“I fell when I clipped a nice big branch on the trail,” she explained.
That was past the halfway point of the 13.1-mile race but Williamson bounced up quickly and was not deterred.
On Monday, Williamson takes her Dental Admission Test. She'll apply to nearly a dozen dental schools.
Last month, Williamson also beat the 30-year-old Hanenburg in the Garden of the Gods 10-mile race, finishing 45 seconds and two spots ahead of her new rival while placing fourth among female runners.
That puts Williamson in prime position to win the Triple Crown Series, although it likely won't happen. She has not planned on running the Pikes Peak Ascent (Aug. 18) or Pikes Peak Marathon (Aug. 19), either of which can be used as the third leg of the Triple Crown, following the races in the Garden of the Gods and Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
Williamson said she plans to run a race in Castle Rock that weekend.
Williamson leads the Triple Crown series with a combined time of 2:52:52, just 49 seconds ahead of Hanenburg. Abigail Rae Topper, 22, of Colorado Springs, is third in 3:06:48.
The half-marathon's overall and men's champion was Azarya Weldemariam, who finished in 1:22:34, 57 seconds ahead of Ben Payne.
“For 7 or 8 miles, we went together,” said Weldemariam, a native of Eritrea, a northeast African country on the Red Sea coast.
Weldemariam, 39, has lived in Colorado Springs for about two years and plans to “double” in the Ascent and Marathon for the third consecutive time next month. He was sixth in the Ascent last year and fourth in the Marathon.
“(Payne) is a very good runner and he could've beaten me,” Weldemariam said, “but I felt strong today.”
Payne, 36, is a 2004 graduate of the Air Force Academy who is in the Air Force Reserves and is a pilot for Southwest Airlines.
“Flying beats working for a living,” he said with a smile.
Finishing third Sunday, almost 15 minutes behind Payne, was Kyle Richardson of Boulder.
Weldemariam leads the men's Triple Crown Series standings with a combined time of 2:15:08, with Payne in second at 2:17:21. Richardson, 22, is third at 2:39:04.
Payne challenged Weldemariam for much of the race but fell back when they reached the challenging hilly portion of the course.
“For the first 9 miles we were trading off the lead and helping each other,” Payne said. “When we hit the hills, he pulled away a little bit. The hills are tough and he's a better hill runner than me.”