This story has been archived from the Monday, August 18, 2008



A familiar face waited for Keri Nelson at the finish line Sunday.
Salynda Fleury, who came out of nowhere to win the Pikes Peak age year, was back again. In 2007, Fleury trailed Nelson by more than 17 minutes at the summit before putting forth a fearless downhill effort — helped by Nelson’s bout of heat stroke — and winning by almost 11 minutes.

Race organizers contacted Fleury to defend her title, only to learn she was pregnant.

Though expecting a girl in three weeks, Fleury turned out to volunteer, holding the banner when Nelson crossed the finish line and handing food and drinks to finishers.

She’ll be back next year, she said, referencing Paula Radcliffe, the British distance runner who won the New York City Marathon after having her first child.

“Training for motherhood is more intense,” said Fleury, who took a 2.5-mile jog up Barr Trail a few days earlier. “I still do 10 hours a week of running and hike and bike. ... After running with 30 extra pounds, I’m sure I’ll be running even faster.”

Perfect send-off

Greg Voekel, a 29-year-old Air Force alumnus, knew exactly how he wanted to spend his last day in Colorado before he leaves for a three-year assignment flying F-15’s from Langley (Va.) Air Force Base. He didn’t mind that he might not be able to stand up at his going-away party. With sheet metal screws in his shoes (only one remained after his slog down the mountain), Voekel finished sixth, just one place off his last Marathon in 2000.

Spectators tried to stay dry under umbrellas and on porches Sunday as they cheered on runners during the Pikes Peak Marathon.
Spectators tried to stay dry under umbrellas and on porches Sunday as they cheered on runners during the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Volunteers love the work

During the Ascent on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday, some former runners turned volunteers helped make the event run as smoothly as possible for the participants, who at times battled brutal conditions.

First-year volunteer Yvonne Monsauret, a yoga instructor from California, felt compelled to stay connected to Pikes Peak races after running one or the other 14 times between 1977 and 2005.

“I feel this race all the way through my veins,” she said.

Jack Hoyt, the leader of the aid station about 1.5 miles from the summit, was praised by fellow volunteers and participants for his efforts Saturday in the foul weather.

“The runners were coming through in such bad shape because they weren’t prepared for the cold and sleet,” he said. “We spent most of the time cutting up trash bags with holes for their heads and arms to try to keep them warm. Some we had to duct tape trash bags to their legs to keep them warm so they could get going.”

Legend returns

Steve Gachupin, the only man to win the Pikes Peak Marathon six consecutive times — 1966 to 1971 — started the Marathon. The Jemez Pueblo, N.M., resident became the first to run up and down the Peak without walking in 1968. “They told me I’m part camel,” he said.

Copyright 2008, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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