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More than 200 participants met for the XTERRA Turkey Track Trail Run to kick off the GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors) racing season. Included were athletes from Colorado, Michigan, South Dakota, California and Alaska, as well as seven Pagosa runners.
The Turkey Track Trail race consists of both a marathon and a half marathon. Essentially the trail is all single track providing runners with very little traffic due to the lack of roads and fire roads.
“This type of track is rare in Colorado,” said GECKO founder Morgan Murri, “There is not a lot of climb in it. It is promoted as an event for runners going from road running to trail running. The feedback was excellent.”
Jamie Falcon, 35, from Breckenridge, won the women’s half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 25 minutes and 5 seconds.
Jeffrey Hofferber, 25, from Durango, finished first in the men’s half marathon with a time of 1:25:05. This was his first half marathon on the trails.
Amber Young, 31, from Albuquerque, won third overall in the marathon with a time of 3:42:20. With this time, she won the women’s’ title.
Marshall Thomson, 34, from Crested Butte, finished first in the marathon with a time of 3:01:43.
The first Pagosa Springs runner to cross the finish line in the half marathon was Patricia Flynn, winning her age group (50-plus) with a time of 2:01:39. Pagosan Stacy Boone finished strong in the full marathon in age group (40-plus) finishing at 6:03:52.
Two brothers from Michigan were the youngest placers in the event. Reed Vanderlugt, age 11, placed second in the men’s 0 to 19 division with a time of 1:55:08. His brother, Alec Vanderlugt, age 13, placed third in the same division at 1:55.10.
“To have an eleven-year-old and a thirteen-year-old place in a half marathon is pretty cool,” Murri said, “They were fast. They were up there, ranking in age groups as well as everyone overall. That is GECKO. These kids are part of our mission so that is a really cool part of it.”
Finishers received a hand-crafted Turkey Track medal and first through third age-group placers received a Turkey Foot Silhouette crafted by students at Pagosa Springs Elementary School. Overall winners received a metal customer award dubbed the “Turkey Runner,” hand-crafted by local artist and runner Scott Slind.
According to race director Mike Le Roux, “The race went incredibly smoothly with our new timing system operating as it should, which made my job a lot easier. Fortunately, only a few of the marking ribbons were eaten by cattle this year so virtually no runners went off course, and all made it round safely.”
“We were almost up twenty percent from last year,” Murri said, “We are continuing to grow and that is great for GECKO and the community. I am very proud. What I saw poignantly was the involvement that we had with the community. The roller group, the ATV club, the cross country club aid station, and the local people that help us so much. They get to see what we are doing and that is great. We anticipate a great year.”
All proceeds from the race went towards the GECKO scholarship fund.
“The more we grow, the bigger the scholarship fund is. It is great to watch it get bigger.”
For more information on the race or any future races, visit www.joingecko.org or visit the GECKO Facebook page.