Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Women of the Durango Double trained together

Training for running in a long event such as a marathon can be a daunting, lonely experience.

But a few women have been getting together once a week in Durango to make their experience a little easier.

Marjorie Brinton, 50, has been organizing long weekend runs for about a year, but somewhere along the way the runs turned into women’s group outings.

“The guys tended to be in a hurry, so they would run ahead,” Brinton said. “Maybe it’s the nurturing side of women that makes us wait and look out for each other, but no one seems to mind stopping and waiting.”

Gail Harriss, a Durango attorney, trained by herself for the Canyonlands Half-Marathon and Tri-the-Rim Triathlon, but recently she has found some other people to run with and that’s made things more enjoyable.

“There is really tremendous support in the running community,” Harriss said. “I certainly feel encouraged, and it does not seem to matter that I am one of the slower ones.”

Robin Halloran, 32, special education teacher at Durango High School, has enjoyed meeting new runners.

“The thought of running with a group can be very intimidating, but the experience was far from it,” Halloran said. “I’m having more fun than ever having women to run with to prepare for racing.”

Lisa Ford spends summers in Durango and winters in Tucson. After taking off 10 years from running due to back pain, Ford has had a little difficulty getting into the running spirit again.

“It is hard to make myself run more than 10 miles alone, and I don’t always feel safe on the trails,” Ford said. “Two weekends ago was the first time I ran with a large group of women. The runners I was with knew the exact trail and the group had similar running abilities.”

Besides being a great way to get in some long training miles, the group runs give mothers who work a lot a good way to socialize.

And the women’s group runs have paid good dividends.

Brinton ran the Durango Double last weekend, completing the 25K trail run in 2 hours and 35 minutes. She followed that with a 1:56 in the half-marathon.

“The races went great and I was right where I hoped to be both days,” Brinton said. “I took a little fall on the trail run which was more embarrassing than painful.”

Harriss ran the Durango Marathon in 5:12, just a little slower than last year.

“This year was a tough race, and I walked a lot between miles 16 and 22,” Harriss said. “I’m getting together with my running buddies this week, and I bet the conversation will be about planning our next big event.”

Halloran ran the Chicago Marathon last weekend in 3: 38.48 and qualified for the Boston Marathon in April.

“I am so excited and appreciative of the support I have here,” she said. “Qualifying for Boston has been a lifelong dream.”

As for Ford, she ran the 25K in 2:37.

“This was the longest race I have done in about seven years,” Ford said. “I got a little emotional about being able to finish something like that because there was a time when I could not even walk 2 miles without severe pain.”

Marc Witkes is president of Durango Motorless Transit.
Reach him at 247-3116.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Miller kids find fun on the trail

Sarah Tescher, a busy professional cyclist, teacher, student and homemaker, has been the organizing force behind the mountain bike program at Miller Middle School for four years.

“Durango has some great trails for beginners, and this gives kids other al ternatives to team sports that they can do until graduating high school. Mountain biking is a lifestyle sport that you can do the rest of your life.” On Wednesday, when the bell sounded dismissing school, most of the kids ran off carrying books, laughing, eager to participate in other activities. Around 20 children gathered their bikes, helmets and gloves and waited in front of the school.

When Tescher arrived, she led the kids through a quick safety check. Next, Tescher and Mark Pastore, a Miller teacher who was helping out, directed the children to the parking lot to test their turning ability while weaving in and out of traffic lane hash marks.

Tescher has recruited many friends including pro riders Ned Overend, Frank Mapel and Todd Wells to ride with the kids over the years.

At least one participant demonstrated a pretty good wheelie.

Zoe Tregillus, 12, rode with the program last year and was back for another year.

“I like riding different trails,” Tregillus said. “Spirit Trail was a new one for me last year and it’s hard, but it’s also a lot of fun.” After riding through the parking lot, Tescher and Pastore watched while the children rode down a steep embankment. At the bottom of the hill, Tescher divided the students into smaller groups, according to ability, and prepared them for a trail ride.

Kyle Horn, 13, wore a colorful Junior Wheel Club jersey and rode a Gary Fischer hardtail bike that he built himself with a little help from his dad. Horn rode in eight races this year, which comprised the Mountain States Cup, and was also planning to ride in the scholastic state championship race.

“Kids don’t have to race and they’re not expected to, but this program can possibly take them to next level,” Tescher said.

Ben Kraushaar, 15, and Ian Burnett, 18, are two Miller mountain bike alumni who continue to race.

Kraushaar, a sophomore at Durango High School, finished first in the Junior Expert 16-and under cross-country race at Mammoth NORBA two weeks ago.

“I enjoyed the pros coming to ride with us when I rode at Miller,” Kraushaar said.

Burnett, a freshman at Fort Lewis College, now rides with the Skyhawks.

“The Miller program was a lot of fun, and it wasn’t too serious,” Burnett said.

With Durango Cyclery, Nature’s Oasis, La Plata Development LLC, Casey and Casey LLC and Boure among the program’s many sponsors, kids can purchase bright yellow, blue, black and white Miller Middle School Angel jerseys for only $10.

Tescher also received a grant from the El Puente Foundation in Denver which provides funds for new bikes that at-risk youth can ride for the season and later purchase with points for good grades, good behavior and community service.

FLC student-cyclists Jeremiah Bouchard and Patrick Piche were also on hand to help out last week.

“I want to be a teacher someday and I enjoy seeing the kids,” Bouchard said.

With Miller Middle School introducing kids to mountain biking, preparing them to ride at DHS, Fort Lewis and perhaps in the pro ranks, it would appear that biking will remain a dominant culture in Durango for years to come.

“Look at seventh grader Alicia Rose Pastore, who the won the (2005) Mountain States Cup,” Tescher said. “She’s the next one.”