With the best weather conditions The Bear Chase has seen since its first race in 2010, over 900 runners took to the trails of Bear Creek Lake Park for the third annual Bear Chase Trail Race in Lakewood, Colorado.
With a stacked field in each event distance – the 50 Mile, 50K, Half Marathon and 10K – the excitement in the air was palpable and contagious.
In the 50 Mile race, 41-year old Kelly Knowles of Golden took top honors with a blazing 6:50:54 finishing time. Tim Host of Santa Fe, NM grabbed second in 7:16:58 and Jeremy Duncan of Carbondale, CO rounded out the top three in 7:19:20.
In the women’s 50-miler, 41-year old Gayle Zorrilla of Golden took first place and set a new course record in 8:14:40. Meredith Terranova of Austin Texas took second in 8:29:39 and 43-year old Colorado Springs resident Tonia Smith finished in third in 8:39:02.
New course records were set in both the men’s and the women’s 50K races, with Joel Hamilton now holding course records in both the men’s half marathon (2011) and the men’s 50K with his finish on Sunday of 3:24:25. Paul Hamilton finished right after in 3:26:23 and Austin Johnson took third in 3:35:24.
Jeanne Cooper of Eagle, CO claimed the new course record in the women’s 50K with a 4:02:08 finishing time. 39-year old Lisa Javernick of Loveland took second in 4:19:16 and Edwards, CO’s McKenna Douglas rounded out the top three in 4:22:37.
The largest race of the day was the half marathon, boasting over 400 participants. The men’s race saw Josh Wright of Lakewood take first in 1:17:06, with Luke Crespin of Littleton nabbing second in 1:25:06. Hot on Crespin’s heels was John Franzen of Denver who finished in third in 1:25:47.
Setting a new course record in the women’s half marathon race was Boulder’s Katie Blackett who finished in 1:29:31. Malia Mullen of Edgewater came in second in 1:31:08 and Sarah Pizzo of Denver rounded out the top three in 1:33:46.
Finally, in the Baby Bear 10K race, all three of the men’s top 10K finishers were above the course record time, but only one could prevail with a new record, and that was Matthew Kempton of Denver in 34:21. Less than 20 seconds separated first and second, as Keith Solverson of Aurora came in at 34:41. Rounding out the top three was 26-year old Kyle Pietari of Edgewater who finished in 37:34.
In the women’s 10K, Heather Utrata came out to defend her 2010 course record, and while she didn’t set anything new, she did come away with an awesome win and fourth place overall in 39:43. Second place belonged to 23-year old Quinn Cooper of Lafayette who finished in 46:32. The other half of the Crespin’s came away with a third place finish as Courtney Crespin finished in 48:53.
This year’s Bear Chase, without a doubt, saw the best race conditions yet. Whether it was the weather factor or the increasing popularity of the race that attracted so many top runners, this year’s Bear Chase saw new course records and some incredible performances.