By Kirsten Le Roux
Special to The SUN
Family, friends and GECKO volunteers lined the road until 10:30 p.m. on Saturday waiting for a glimpse of bobbing headlamps making their way in the dark toward the finish line of the 50-mile trail run.
After almost 16 hours of running, the final two elated and exhausted ultra runners crossed the line in pitch-dark.
Sixty-year-old Gail Leedy, from Albuquerque, was the final female, with a time of 15:24:41 seconds, and last to cross the line was 61-year-old Larry Boven, from Louisville, Colo.
Boven has started this event numerous times with his 35-year-old daughter Anna Boven, and he was very pleased to have completed the distance this time. Gail and Larry were welcomed, as were all the ultra runners, to a bonfire with s’mores, pizza and a celebration of their achievement.
Rounding out this 60-plus ultra age group was local resident “Frozen” Ed Furtaw, who finished the 50 miles in 14:28:31. Furtaw, an ultra runner with more than 100 completed ultras on his esteemed resume, deserves all the credit for creating the course, working for years to put together this challenging and beautiful route.
Furtaw has some acclaim as the author of “Tales from Out There: The Barkley Marathons, The World’s Toughest Trail Race.”
Devil Mountain pays homage to this race with 50-mile competitors needing to tear a page from a book as proof of reaching the out-and-back section to Sally Point Lookout.
There was plenty of action on the Turkey Springs trails on Saturday. Kicking off the day early was the Devil Mountain Ultra, with six local ultra runners finishing the 50k: Bentley Henderson, Scott Slind and Paula Miller; and in the 50-mile, Joe Gatton, Ron Bubb and Ed Furtaw.
The half marathon started at 8 a.m. and the 5k and 10k started at 9 a.m. The Lucas family brought nine runners from Redwood, Calif., competing in the 5k, 10k and 21k events. Heath Hibbard from Montrose won the half marathon event and wanted to stay for the prize ceremony, but decided wisely to leave early and spend the day with his wife on their 36-year wedding anniversary.
Finally, the kids’ free fun trail race was presented by Marie and Tristan Fichtelman from GOAL Academy and special guest Smokey Bear, and Forest Service personnel were there to cheer them on and hand out the medals at the finish line.
Proceeds from the event went to GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors) and four GECKO scholars (Jessey Hampton, Davin Hanley, Heidi Williams and Angette Pastuszek) attended the day as volunteers on course and talked to racers about their summer trip experiences.
Results for overall winners are as follows.
Male: Karl Mayer (age 23), from Boulder, in 9:26.
Female: Rebecca Hall (age 36), from Evergreen, in 9:58.
Male: Joey Negreann (age 24), from Englewood, Calif., in 4:10.
Female: Katie Landry (age 30), from Flagstaff, Ariz., in 5:2.
Male: Heath Hibbard (age 61), from Montrose, in 1:39.
Female: Lauren Atkinson (age 32), from Moab, in 1:56.
Male: Craig Natalis (age 29), from Garfield, N.J., in 51:49.
Female: Katie Phillips (age 19), from Ontario, Canada, 48:49.
Male: Jesse Lucas (age 22), Redwood, Calif., in 49:48.
Female: Margaret Phillips (age 54), from Ontario, Canada in 35:06.
Mountain Chile Cha Cha
The next GECKO event is the Mountain Chile Cha Cha, in town park, on Saturday, Sept. 27. The Mountain Chile Cha Cha celebrates trail running and the southwest green chile harvest, combining our incredible in-town trails with music and a chile festival.
This year, the live Latin music at the free outdoor concert will be by Solfire out of Sante Fe and local band Los Mitotitos.
There will also be on-site chile roasting, a Mexican beer garden, food booths and kids’ activities.
The festival kicks off with a morning trail run (5k, 10k, 21k) and a kids’ free fun run.
For more information, go to the website www.joingecko.org/chilechacha, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 398-0612.