Drawing a crowd: Harbert Lumber 5K continues growth in popularity
Natalie Anderson-Coats had a goal in mind Saturday.
“I was shooting for a (specific) time,” the 14-year-old Hotchkiss runner said. “I’ve been trying to break 20 (minutes in a 5-kilometer race).”
Alas, her goal was not quite fulfilled during the Harbert Lumber 5K race at Canyon View Park.
That’s not to say Anderson-Coats had a bad day. Quite the contrary.
She crossed the line in 20 minutes, 39 seconds, finishing as the top female runner in what has become one of the Grand Valley’s more popular 5K runs.
In each of her five weekly training runs and in every race she enters, Anderson-Coats has a goal, a stepping stone toward the overall picture.
In two weeks she will run in a Junior Olympic regional qualifying race with the hope of running fast enough to qualify for the Junior Olympic nationals in December in Reno, Nev. She finished 33rd in her age division in the national Junior Olympic race last year.
Although active in other sports (basketball is among her first loves), she began running with family members four years ago.
“It’s just something we did for fun,” she said. “Then I took it up competitively.”
She’s been competitive ever since.
Saturday, she was the 12th finisher overall.
Bernie Boettcher was the overall winner, finishing in 17:04.8, 14 seconds ahead of Marty Wacker.
Anderson-Coats has a strategy when she races.
“If there are girls in front of me, I pick ‘em off,” she said. “If it’s guys, I run for time.”
Time being her main focus, she’s got two more chances to break that 20-minute barrier before she puts running on the back burner for the winter.
More than 1,000 people registered for Saturday’s race, which is a fundraiser for Grand Junction’s Girls on the Run program.
Girls on the Run is a nationwide program designed to help young runners make good life decisions, stay healthy and maintain a positive attitude.
The recommended fee for a Girls on the Run participant is $150.
“We ask for $40,” said one of the local program’s organizers, Jill Henwood. “We want girls more than we want the money.”
The money raised from Saturday’s race will help pay for scholarships for potential members.
The Grand Junction program has drawn runners from as far away as Hotchkiss, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison and Steamboat Springs this fall.
“We hope to serve 1,600 to 1,700 girls this year,” Henwood said.
One of the Steamboat Springs runners, 9-year-old Renee Lorenzen, joined Girls on the Run in September. Saturday was her first 5K race.
“It was tiring and fun,” Lorenzen said.
The uphills and one big loop posed the biggest challenge for her, but she took pride in one thing.
“I ran the whole way,” she said.
In Girls on the Run circles, that’s achieving a goal with a positive attitude.