Steamboat strong: Locals win Steamboat Marathon
Steamboat Springs — Drawing nearly 1,500 runners to the Yampa Valley, the Steamboat Marathon long has been seen as the unofficial start to summer tourism in Steamboat Springs. And again Sunday that proved true, with athletes and their families swarming into town from homes across the region, state and country.
Still, as the race’s masses streamed into downtown, runners savoring their finishes with shouts of accomplishment and sweaty embraces with friends and family, it was clear all may be welcome at the marathon, but this is a locals race.
Local runners won both the men and women marathon races handily, dominating a flock of visitors on home turf. Steamboat’s Nathan Allen won the race on the men’s side while Oak Creek’s Callie Bradley was tops among the women.
“It’s huge,” Allen said. “It means a lot to me, to be able to come out here for my first marathon. I’m so blessed.”
No one managed to put an exclamation point on things — neither the success of local runners or the day’s constant outpouring of joy — quite like Bradley. Racing the marathon for the second time, she became a two-time champion by slicing three minutes of her winning time from a year ago.
Standing near the finish line as the top women approached, reports of their progress weren’t clear and it sounded as if it may come down to the final few yards.
When Bradley appeared, she did so with gusto, too, sprinting down the final 150 yards on Lincoln Avenue. Fans ate it up, cheering loudly as she crossed the finish line with arms raised and muscles flexed.
There was no competitor in sight, however. None for nearly a mile, in fact. Sunday was a locals kind of day. Bradley underscored that with a torrid finish. It also was a day where the fast, the slow and everyone in between relished their result, and Bradley did that, too.
“I feel like the people are so nice to come out to watch that you should do something fun,” she said. “I like to do the sprint thing at the end if I’m doing well.”
And on Sunday, she was doing well.
Bradley dropped her only running mate about 8 miles into the race, which descended into Steamboat Springs from a starting line at Hahn’s Peak Village. She finished in 3 hours, 10 minutes and 38 seconds, ahead of Denver’s Annie Poland, second in 3:19:37 and Deborah Davies, third in at 3:28:52.
“I felt better than last year,” she said. “I knew the area last year, and I thought I was pretty familiar with it just from driving, but you don’t really know it until you’re on foot. There are a lot of nuances to the route.”
Allen’s race also summed up the day well.
Running his first marathon, he went to great lengths to prepare, researching past years and studying the course. He trained hard throughout the winter and had friends drop him off on the route when spring came.
“Steamboat’s a perfect place to train,” he said.
Sunday dawned brisk but was cloudless, and a day that began with runners desperate to keep themselves warm ended with brilliant sunshine and perfect weather.
Allen was prepared for it all. He kept pace with his top competition, two-time defending champ Gabriel Small, for the majority of the race, the pair hanging together through 18 miles of the generally downhill terrain that defines the course. Finally, as the runners pulled into the undulating terrain and serves to guard Steamboat from the north, Allen made his move.
“I decided it was time to be brave and take a chance. I felt good and I went with it,” Allen said.
He was cheered throughout his race by a group of raucous friends, fully loaded with posters showing their support. Once he crossed the finish line, like Bradley flashing a flex, they doused him in Champagne.
“I didn’t think about it until the last minute,” he said of his final-step muscle show. “I knew I needed to do something cool.
“I was the one that ran, but this was all about my friends and family. I had so much support out on the race today. I owe a ton to a lot of people. This was a team effort.”
His time was 2:42:14, seven minutes faster than Small’s winning time a year ago, but even the 2011 winning time.
Michael Oliva finished second in 2:46:04 and Small was third at 2:49:19.
Elsewhere, Lucas Crespin, of Steamboat, won the half-marathon, finishing in 1:16;02, ahead of defending champ Campbell Ilfrey, of Louisville, in 1:18:24. Tim Hola, of Highlands Ranch, was third in 1:19:30.
Kelsey Martin, of Denver, won the women’s half, in 1:25:32. Emily Lawrence, of Boulder, was second in 1:28:39, and Stephanie Seybold, of Evergreen, was third in 1:32:34.
Boulder’s Tom Straka won the men’s 10-kilometer race in 38:15. Steamboat’s Evan Weinman was second in 38:42, and Patrick Barrett, of Colorado Springs, was third at 38:43.
Local athlete Emily Hannah won the women’s 10K in 41:32. Rochelle Emerson, of Denver, was second in 45:36, and Judy Chamberlin, of Golden, was third in 45:42.
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