5-mile mistake pays off | SteamboatToday.com

5-mile mistake pays off

Hayden Cog Run attracts even those who didn't volunteer

Erin Gallagher runs in Saturday's Hayden Cog Run. After signing up for the 5-kilometer race, she got more than she bargained for when she accidently followed the racers for the event's namesake Cog Run, a steep 8.4-mile adventure. Still, she finished the race.

— Rarely in the world of road running does "oops" hurt quite as much as it did Saturday for Steamboat Springs runner Erin Gallagher in the annual Hayden Cog Run.

"I registered for the 5K, then I got here late," she said, laughing in the city park after the event. "I walked up, and they said, 'Runners, you have two minutes.'"

She hopped in line behind a big crowd, then took off with them when the race started, stretching her legs as the pack wound its way out of town, toward the bluffs and up the road that climbs them.

"I started out kind of fast; then, we were going up hill, and I thought, 'Uh oh. We're going the wrong way.'"

Well, at least someone was going the wrong way.

The 5K race launched in the other direction and took runners across mostly flat terrain around town.

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Gallagher has her eyes set on running the half-marathon race next month at the Steamboat Marathon, so she's been putting in enough miles.

It's a great way to get to see the area, she said, and she's been thrilled to do that since she and her husband moved to Steamboat from Chicago in February.

She hasn't been reluctant to dive into the local sports scene, but she has had plenty of surreal moments along the way, whether it's finding an Olympian working out next to her in the gym or, for instance, Saturday, when a runner passed her, despite tackling the rural-road course barefoot.

"There are just so many athletes here," she said, marveling. "These Coloradans are no joke."

She may be embracing that world, but she certainly wasn't planning to embrace Saturday's biggest challenge, the Cog Run.

It stretches 8.4 miles up from the town of Hayden and to the top of the nearby bluffs, an intense challenge even for an Olympian.

It gassed the day's fastest runner, Lucas Crespin, who repeated as the event's champion and finished in 55 minutes, 51 seconds. It wore out the rest of the pack, too. Matt Milde was second and Ryan Larson third.

Shannon Fonger won on the women's side in 1:09:51. Michele Trujillo-Veit was second and Jacquelyn Denker third.

At least they all knew what they were getting into. Gallagher didn't, not just in a philosophical sense, but literally.

She knows how to prepare for a race, but didn't make the best choices for the challenge that awaited her. She shared a few beers with her husband Friday evening, then skipped breakfast Saturday morning and was throwing back coffee on her way to Hayden from Steamboat.

It would have been fine for 5K, she said, but 8.4 miles? She had enough music ready on her iPhone but few other necessities. She was short on sunscreen, then, halfway up the Cog, picked up a vital bottle of water off someone watching the race.

But, she didn't turn around early Saturday, not even when she realized her mistake. It hurt, and it will continue to hurt, as 8.4 steep miles make for quite a bit more soreness than 3.1 on flat terrain.

She was already set to laugh about it as soon as she crossed the finish line, however.

It was an "oops," for sure, but one that, afterward, she didn’t entirely regret.

"Once you start it, you might as well finish," she said. "It was beautiful. You go all the way up, and the views of the valley are gorgeous."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

Cog Run results

8.4-mile Cog Run

Men’s results

1 Lucas Crespin, 55:51

2 Matt Milde, 58:55

3 Ryan Larson, 59:00

Women’s results

1 Shannon Fonger, 1:09:51

2 Michele Trujillo-Veit, 1:16:51

3 Jacquelyn Denker, 1:17:45

5K results

Men’s results

1 Josh Smullin, 19:50

2 Brian Smith, 22:51

3 Rowdy Pressler, 23:09

Women’s results

1 Sancy Shaw, 26:46

2 Emy Keeling, 28:28

3 Cortney Richards, 28:56