Desert Championship has faithful following

Striders Desert Championship has small, faithful following

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Accompanied by his shadow, Scott Olson of Grand Junction runs the last few steps toward the finish line to take first place in the 10k race of the Monument Striders’ Desert Championships off of 27 1/4 Road north of town Saturday.

Honestly, Grand Junction resident Scott Olson wasn’t too concerned with his performance in Saturday’s Striders Desert Championship 10K race.

“It’s a hard course, so I wasn’t expecting a personal best time,” said Olson, who won the 10K in 45 minutes, 1 second.

He was there for the company.

“I know a lot of the runners from running in the past,” he said. “It’s the same old group.”

The race, put on by the Mesa Monument Striders running club, took place Saturday in the desert north of H Road. Marty Wacker of Grand Junction won the 15K race.

The two races had a total of 25 participants, many training for other races, who covered miles of dirt terrain with plenty of hills and no frills such as water stations, rest rooms or T-shirts.

“It’s sort of primitive,” said Paul Wubben, who organizes the race. “There’s no prize money or anything.”

Despite a lack of amenities, there was plenty of competition.

In the 15K race, Wacker’s time of 59:06 beat Lenny Staats by only 21 seconds. The two traded leads throughout the race.

“We did the whole thing together,” Wacker said. “We were back and forth in taking the leads.”

He said having Staats nearby gave him a bit more motivation.

“When you do a long run by yourself it’s hard to push that hard, even if you try to push as hard as you possibly can,” he said. “When you have somebody who’s within 20 seconds of you in the race, it’s easier to push.”

Ben Hauschulz took third in the 15K with a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes.

In the 10K, Olson won by more than two minutes. Second-place finisher Suzie Steele finished in 47:35 and Larry Ingram took third in 48:39.

Wubben, who has been running in the desert for more than 40 years, said the weather worked out well for the event, with a slight breeze keeping runners cool. He said the course had a few more dips than usual because of rain washout.

Entries were on par with what the race normally draws.

“It appeals to a certain group of runners,” he said. “Most people run roads, and that’s OK. These guys really like to get out in the dirt.

“We’re not keeping it small, there’s just not many people that like to do it.”


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