Plan B after cancellation of NYC Marathon: Run the Rim Rock

Growing up along the Hudson River in New Jersey, Kevin O’Brien knew before any last-minute cancellation announcement by New York City’s mayor that there would be no New York City Marathon on 
Nov. 4.

All he needed to know was the subways were flooded to understand there would be no running of one of the world’s most prestigious marathons in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, so he canceled his trip to the Big Apple to run in the New York Marathon and enacted Plan B: Run in the Rim Rock Marathon.

It was easy enough to do. He lives nearby in Paonia, and he contacted Rim Rock’s race organizer in time to register.

The 54-year-old who teaches visually impaired students in the Delta and Montrose school districts then showed up Saturday and proceeded to place second overall, a little more than 10 minutes behind the winner.

“I’m glad they canceled it,” he said of the New York Marathon. “It was the right thing to do.”

He also was glad he had another place to run after 18 weeks of training for a marathon, of which he usually runs two per year.

“This was a good Plan B,” he said. “I had a marathon that had to get out.”

Snow under blue skies

Runners encountered snow at Colorado National Monument’s highest points, and that was welcomed by Galen Garrison, a member of national running club Marathon Maniacs. He moved to Salt Lake City in early September after spending most of his life in Florida.

He drove through snow for the first time in his life Friday night en route to Grand Junction. He then encountered it atop the monument, and when he stopped to use a portable toilet, some snow blew in through the vents. It was all magical stuff to him, as was the race.

“I heard beautiful things about this race, and it didn’t disappoint,” Garrison said. “Man, I had a blast when it was snowing on the top.”

The marathon was Garrison’s 118th overall, and he plans to have 40 under his belt for the year before 2012 concludes.

The elevation climb of the monument was another reason to rave. Garrison said he crouched as he ran and looked over the walls.

“That’s a long way down,” he said.

Another Marathon Maniac, 41-year-old Carl Dubler of Centennial, had the best characterization of the snow atop the monument.

“It was like a snow globe,” he said. “We had blue skies but swirling snow.”

Good Samaritan to the rescue

Sixty-six-year-old Christy Flowers of Ogden, Utah, completed her 54th marathon, all after age 50, with a little help from accidental first-time marathoner Katie Himes of Mesa.

Flowers fell down with about a 1½ miles to go, but Himes helped her up and ran with her the rest of the way.

Flowers crossed the finish line with a bloody nose, a scrape between her nose and upper lip, and immense respect for Himes, whom she called amazing.

“I did a face plant,” Flowers explained. “I fell into the road, and traffic stopped.”

Himes saw the fall because she was about 20 yards behind Flowers, who had passed Himes moments earlier.

Himes, 32, was running her first marathon after training for a half-marathon. She originally thought she would be part of a two-person relay, but Colorado National Monument officials nixed the relays this year. Himes then decided to run the whole marathon, as did two of her friends, Elisa Valdez and Kori Satterfield, both of Mesa.

“She is very tough,” Himes said of Flowers. “She refused to just hang out (after the fall). She was going to run.”

Flowers said the blood on her face probably made her injury look worse than what it was. And after spending some time being attended by medical staff, her husband helped her to her feet. She pumped her legs a couple of times as if she was ready to jog, to which Andrew Flowers said, “You don’t need to run.”

A nice 26.2-mile walk

Some people run marathons. Durango’s Joey Maceyak walks them. The Rim Rock was the 11th marathon walk for the 67-year-old, and he had his wife, Colleen, oldest daughter, Rochelle Buniger of Grand Junction, and two grandchildren — Buniger’s kids, Jasmine and Elijah — waiting at the finish line, which he was the last to cross, finishing 139th in 6:25.10.

“Usually the last person to come in is a slow runner. I’m a fast walker,” said Maceyak, who turned his passion for walking and hiking into marathon walking.

He did his first marathon in 2001 and does at least one a year because, in addition to his annual physical, it serves as another health checkup for him.

Jasmine ran up to him as he approached the finish line, and he actually broke his walking gait to jog up to her and swoop her up and carry her the final few yards across the finish line.

Cheering for everyone

Sonya Hickson and Jessica Green traveled from Denver along with Green’s boyfriend, Dave Chermak, and mutual friend Lizz Coyle to support the latter two, who were running the marathon.

As they waited for Chermak and Coyle to finish, they cheered everyone else as they approached the finish line. Their whoops early on served as the signal to race timer Darrin Eisman of Racing Underground that a runner was coming, even though he couldn’t yet see them.

Hickson also held up a hot pink sign that said, “It’s about time ... Way to go!” She said she, Green and Coyle all are pursuing master’s degrees in forensic psychology at Denver University.


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