Volume 104, Number 39 - September 27, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Alecia Warren
Della Works stood gabbing to fellow runners before the Pinedale Half Marathon on Saturday as she laughed at her swift climb up Pikes Peak this summer and the 13th marathon she ran a couple years ago with a leg cramp for 23 miles.
Leaning on one leg and strapped in white tights with purple spiderweb designs, Works occasionally quoted her friends’ exclamations of how amazing she was.
But then, at 72, she had a right to brag. “My son first got me into running after he got back from college years ago,” the Casper citizen said of her son. She spoke of him more passionately than her achievements, describing him as “tall, dark and handsome,” at 6-foot-3, not that he needed looks after graduating sixth in his class at college. He signed Works up for a marathon in 1984, and, not knowing she didn’t have to participate, she tried it and surprised herself by finishing. After her son died in a plane crash only a few years later, Works continued running in his memory.
“When you run, you can pray or think of anybody,” she said. “To me, it’s very spiritual.”
Nearly 400 congregated for their own reasons to follow the winding black bike trail through town in the fourth annual Pinedale Half Marathon this weekend. License plates of cars parked by the starting line at Rendezvous Pointe read Texas, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, proving how far word had spread of the small town course weaving through walls of gold-orange aspen.
Entrants milled around the starting point on Saturday morning in Gore-Tex and spandex that hugged long stork legs and two-dimensional waistlines. “We had no idea when we started what the turnout would be,” said Randy Teeuwen, spokesperson for EnCana, the event’s sponsor, as he gazed at the crowds with raised eyebrows. He attributed the soaring success to Race Director Cally McKee and the organizing committee, which launched the advertising campaign, organized and marked the course and directed the volunteers.
As he safety pinned his entry number to his shirt for the 10K race, Teeuwen added that many entrants drive hours for the event simply because of the choice between a 12-mile, 6-mile and one-mile course, with the choice of running or walking.
“That’s the beauty of it, there’s no expectation that you have to compete,” he said, adding that he planned to walk or cheat, whichever struck his fancy on the course. Although the race organizers were still working out a few “kinks” with the company that provided the racers with ankle bracelets equipped with timers, McKee announced the winner of the 12-mile race as John Liccardo, 36, from Rock Springs, and the winner of the six-mile course as Tom Borschel, 49, from Idaho Falls, Idaho.
The race committee didn’t consider the one-mile race a competition and didn’t place anyone as the winner.
Matt Ricks, from Bountiful, Utah, finished among the first handful competing in the 12-mile race, and immediately met his wife Susie and their four children, who stand at the sidelines of every marathon he races across the country.
The Pinedale marathon differed from his usual events, however, because he was joined by his parents Beverly and Lon from Newdale, Idaho, as well as his aunt and two cousins, also from Idaho.
“It’s great,” Matt said of experiencing a marathon with his entire family, who agreed to try the course after a friend of Beverly’s praised its scenery. “I just like getting out and doing something that makes me feel good.”
Beverly started running eight years ago, after watching her son from the sidelines and wondering if she could maybe make it through a marathon, too.
“It was great, the fall colors were so beautiful,” Beverly said when she waited for her husband to finish after she crossed the finish line. Few other marathons she’s attended could compare to the serene experience, she said.
“We’ll definitely be back next year.” Perhaps the entire community didn’t sign up to run, but many Pinedale citizens volunteered to stuff gift bags, man water stations and collect ankle bracelets.
Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Godfrey announced racers’ names off a registration list as they crossed the finish line. As some athletes collapsed on the lawn of Rendezvous Pointe after finishing and others stood in line at the free community barbecue, Lions Club members supplied hearty helpings of food to more than 500 people.
“This is one of those things that really shows the spirit of the community,” Teeuwen said, adding that popularity has rocketed so quickly, EnCana hopes to add a health fair to the event next year, and expects the marathon to remain a Pinedale ritual for years to come.
“You get people from all parts of the country — kids, seniors, and everybody in between,” he said. “And it’s a healthy activity. People can spend a day walking or running with friends and just have a good day.”
Photo credits: Alecia Warren
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