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Texan takes Steamboat Marathon

Richard Powell
Joel Reichenberger

2015 Steamboat Marathon top finishers

Men’s marathon

  1. Richard Powell, 2:37:13
  2. Andrew Biglow, 2:44:54
  3. Gabe Small, 2:45:32

Women’s marathon

  1. Heather Pietrykowski, 3:13:19
  2. Brooke Waters, 3:16:35
  3. Kimberly Lieb, 3:17:04

Men’s half-marathon

  1. Kory Skattum, 1:17:17
  2. Billy Edwards, 1:19:47
  3. Scott Buser, 1:25:40.

Women’s half-marathon

  1. Bean Wrenn, 1:24:21
  2. Ashley Corn, 1:29:23

3. Penelope Freedman, 1:33:25

Men’s 10-kilometer

1. Chris Zirkle, 36:55

2. Watkins Fulk-Gray, 38:07

3. Josh Smullin, 38:23

Women’s 10-kilometer

  1. Grace Delnero, 41:25
  2. Lati Kenfield, 42:26

3. Heather Gollnick, 44:59

Italics indicate from Routt County

— The hills aren’t a big deal for Richard Powell. The mountains — and notably the elevation — are a different story for the longtime Texan. So when he came down the home stretch of Sunday’s 34th annual Steamboat Marathon, he felt the thin air slowly pulling him under.

“‘Why am I here?’ crossed my mind maybe twice when I was just exhausted,” Powell said. “I felt like I was dragging an anchor. Like physically, I just felt exhausted. I’m not used to the mountains.”

2015 Steamboat Marathon top finishers

Men’s marathon



  1. Richard Powell, 2:37:13
  2. Andrew Biglow, 2:44:54
  3. Gabe Small, 2:45:32

Women’s marathon

  1. Heather Pietrykowski, 3:13:19
  2. Brooke Waters, 3:16:35
  3. Kimberly Lieb, 3:17:04

Men’s half-marathon



  1. Kory Skattum, 1:17:17
  2. Billy Edwards, 1:19:47
  3. Scott Buser, 1:25:40.

Women’s half-marathon

  1. Bean Wrenn, 1:24:21
  2. Ashley Corn, 1:29:23

3. Penelope Freedman, 1:33:25

Men’s 10-kilometer

1. Chris Zirkle, 36:55

2. Watkins Fulk-Gray, 38:07

3. Josh Smullin, 38:23

Women’s 10-kilometer

  1. Grace Delnero, 41:25
  2. Lati Kenfield, 42:26

3. Heather Gollnick, 44:59

Italics indicate from Routt County

Maybe Powell was exhausted when he crossed the finish line in front of the old courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs, but he was also alone. The 26-year-old finished the race in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 13 seconds, more than 7 minutes ahead of second place. In fact, he was so far ahead of the field, nobody even noticed his arrival.

While Powell’s sudden appearance left race director Paul Sachs a bit surprised and out of place — the winners usually get to run through a banner at the finish line — it did nothing to ruin the day for Powell, who won his first marathon in nearly 30 tries.

“I’ve been around, seen the world and done a lot of cool things. But (winning a marathon), it’s been on my bucket list,” Powell said. “No matter how big, no matter how small, I can say, ‘Yes, I can check that off my list now.’ And it’s such a great place.”

His time was plenty impressive — 16 minutes faster than 2014’s best and the third fastest in the past 15 years in Steamboat.

Powell has been living in Forth Worth, Texas, for the past few months. He recently left the Marine Corps after eight years — including a stint in Afghanistan — and plans to head to law school in Syracuse, New York. These next months, including Sunday’s race in Steamboat, are part of his relaxing summer as he transitions into a new chapter in his life.

He relaxed Sunday after his race with girlfriend and fellow Texan Kacy Smith, who had a strong showing herself, placing 49th in the half-marathon. As she only started running six months ago when she started dating Powell, It was her first race longer than 10 kilometers.

“This is my favorite place in the world, and I’m with my favorite person in the world, and he won his first marathon,” Smith said. “I’m just about as happy as I could be.”

Finishing second in Sunday’s full marathon was Littleton’s Andrew Biglow in 2:44.54, and third was Lafayette’s Gabe Small, champ in the race in 2011 and 2012, in 2:45.32. Two Steamboat Springs residents finished in the top 10 — Jesse Wilkins (fifth, 2:51.33) and Donnie Haubert (ninth, 3:07.50). A total of 255 runners finished the marathon.

Nederland runner tops women’s race

The top female finisher in the full marathon was 36-year-old Nederland, Colo., resident Heather Pietrykowski. She finished 11th overall in 3:13:19.

“I just love Steamboat. I think it’s a beautiful area and wanted to check out the course. I thought the beauty that surrounds me would be a good distraction when the miles added up,” said Pietrykowski, a stay-at-home mom who also owns her own marketing consultation business. “You really feel your quads by the time you’re done with this. But I was happy with the result, and I think, overall, as far as marathons go, the course was just beautiful.”

Pietrykowski has been running in marathons for nearly a decade, even competing in ultras. Sunday wasn’t the first time she finished on top of a women’s field, but she said the uniqueness of the Steamboat Marathon made it very memorable.

“This was actually a more challenging course than I had anticipated. It has such a drastic downhill you think that would help with time,” she said. “It felt like a long last mile. You work so hard to get to that point, and you are thinking one more mile to go, and sometimes, it just seems to drag on. But it was nice to see the finish line banner all the way down the street. You knew you were getting there, step by step.”

Some, like Steamboat’s Marietta Roberts, used Sunday’s marathon as training for other events. In this case, the fitness director for the Old Town Hot Springs is looking to get in shape for Boulder’s Ironman competition in August.

“It was not an easy course. Of course it was my first one,” said Roberts, 43, who finished her first marathon in 4:45:23. “This was very good training for me. So then at least I have 26 miles. Now I’ll go and do the Ironman.”

Winners from near and far

In the half marathon, which had 886 finishers, Broomfield’s Kory Skattum took first in 1:17:07. Skattum, 22, is a member of Colorado University’s prestigious triathlon team and takes family trips to Steamboat almost every summer.

Sunday’s half marathon was the longest road race Skattum had ever run.

“I’ve done a trail marathon, but never a road marathon. Very different,” Skattum said. “It’s a good confidence thing. I’m trying to get more into higher-level stuff, so it was good to win something. It was a lot of fun.”

Boulder’s Bean Wrenn, 42, was the top women’s finisher in the half marathon. She finished third overall in 1:24:21.

The 10K race was dominated by local runners. Chris Zirkle, a former Hayden High School track star who won multiple state titles, won the race in 36 minutes, 54 seconds. Zirkle, 22, is back home for the summer and impulsively decided to run Sunday’s 10K, a first for the local.

“I thought I’d just jump in it and see how it would go … I haven’t done any special training for it,” Zirkle said. “This is really fun. I may run it next year, I don’t know. I’m really focused on track in college. But this might be my last opportunity to run in front of this group of people. So it was a really fun opportunity.”

Zirkle spent two seasons at Garden City Community College in Kansas, where he was an all-American in cross country. He currently attends Northwest Christian College in Eugene, Oregon, where he still has one more year of eligibility in track.

After Zirkle, the next five 10K finishers were all from Steamboat, led by Watkins Fulk-Gray in 38:07.

Denver’s Grace Delnero won the women’s race in 41:25.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert


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