Runners fare well at Suffer Fest
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat runner Sarah MacCarthy dropped to her knees on Howelsen Hill field after finishing first in her team in the 2002 Suffer Fest cross country race.
The 3.1-mile course included some of the steepest hills on the face of Howelsen.
Steamboat’s toughest competitors were from Chatfield High School, the first-place team, and Aspen High School, which took second.
MacCarthy, a freshman, finished ninth with a time of 23:52 and led the Steamboat Springs girls cross country team to a third-place finish.
MacCarthy said it was the first cross country race she has ever run and she was very surprised to do so well.
“I was happy to get in the top places,” she said.
The strong showing of Steamboat’s cross country team’s underclassmen runners was very encouraging for coach John Smith.
“A lot of younger runners really stepped it up. I’m excited about this season,” said Laura Philip, junior cross country member. Philip finished behind MacCarthy with a time of 24:05.
She said having teammates to push her during the race helped keep her pace through the grueling course.
The cross country course is rated as the hardest in the state.
Parent Gulya Graves said she tried running the course before the race started.
“I made it for 12 minutes,” she said.
Graves’ daughter, Lilia Paraketsova, started training with the high school cross country team in her eighth-grade year. She finished in the middle of the pack and said she thinks last year’s training helped her get ready for the start of the season.
The boys cross country team secured second place overall with four runners placing in the top 15. Chatfield High School finished first and Central High School finished third overall.
Bjorn Arnesson was the first Steamboat finisher, placing sixth with a time of 19:54.
Arnesson, a junior exchange student from Sweden, said he thought he wouldn’t be so good at running uphill.
“Bjorn ran a great, great race. I’m very happy with his performance,” Smith said.
Arnesson said he never ran cross country races before coming to Steamboat. He said Sweden doesn’t have the sport of cross country racing.
Sophomore Mike Gleason was the third Steamboat finisher to cross the finish line.
“I kind of wish I could have finished with Sam and Bjorn,” he said. Gleason finished 10th this year, three places higher than he finished last year. He said as long as he improves he feels satisfied with his performance.
Smith said he anticipates Steamboat to continue with an exciting and successful season.
“We have a very young team. I’m very excited for the year and future years,” he said.
To help the Steamboat runners through the challenging course, classmates came out with signs and cheered them on.
“This is the hardest course they have to do. I felt bad for them so I thought they needed support running this thing,” sophomore Jenna Hammerslag said.
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