Youth in motion: Young runners fare well in Thigunawat 10K race

verall winner Lenny Staats, 38 in white, leads the runners at the start of the Thigunawat 10K at Powderhorn Ski Resort on Saturday. Staats won with a time of 45 minutes, 21 seconds.

17-year-old Natalie Anderson won the women’s race in 52:55. She was one

It turns out the kids are all right.

Saturday at the Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Associates Thigunawat 10K at Powderhorn Ski Resort, 15-year-old Natalie Anderson was the top finishing woman.

“I love trail runs,” said Anderson who finished in 52 minutes, 55 seconds. “On the trail I feel like there is nothing holding me back.”

Anderson is a native of Hotchkiss, and said the terrain on Grand Mesa is similar to what she’s trains in.

“I liked the course, there was a lot of mud and water,” Anderson said. “Where I live there is a lot of mud so I’m used to running in it.”

The Thigunawat is the third long distance race that Anderson has run in this summer. Anderson ran in both the Bolder Boulder 10K and Cherry Days 5K in Paonia.

Anderson finished 124 out of 26,494 female runners in the Bolder Boulder.

“I love distance running,” Anderson said. “I don’t try short distances because I know I can’t run it.”

Anderson is entering her freshman year at Hotchkiss High School, and said she’s excited to join the Bulldogs’ cross-country team.

“As a freshman, I don’t know really what to expect but I want to make state,” Anderson said. “Out of the four years, I would want to be a state champ.”

Anderson wasn’t the only youth runner in Saturday’s event — three of the top 10 female finishers were 17 or younger.

Avelicia Guzman, 17, was the sixth-place female finisher at 1:01.43.

One of the most impressive performances from the Thigunawat was 10-year-old Matthew Meyers, who finished 26th overall with a time of 1:02:35.

“He passed me like I was standing still,” Lori Meyers, Matthew’s mother said. “He runs with his dad (Mike, who finished in 1:15.09), and we call him Forrest Gump because he loves to run.”

It was Matthew’s first 10K, and Lori Meyers said he’s a natural athlete.

“He’s very athletic, loves running track, playing soccer,” Meyers said. “As far as running it next year, I’m not sure Mom will, but he’ll run it again, he loves it.”

There were a total of 110 runners in Saturday’s event, and race organizer Dustin Perkins said he enjoys seeing a group of young runners taking on Grand Mesa.

“I think it’s great to have the younger runners,” Perkins said. “Last year, we had a 17-year-old kid win it (Kevin Martin), and we have a lot of kids under 20. They’ll only get better while the rest of us are getting worse.”

Although the younger runners had a strong showing at the Thigunawat, the overall winner was 47-year-old Lenny Staats, who finished in 45 minutes, 21 seconds.

Austin Germiller, 19, finished second in 48.39.

“We’d like to continue to put it on and it would be great if it grows,” Perkins said. “But I think it will be a Grand Valley thing, which we love.”

Robb Reece designed the 2010 course, and the proceeds benefitted the Powderhorn Racing Club which is a non-profit organization that offers a ski race program for kids ages five and up.


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