Runners battle tough terrain in Thigunawat 10K
The course of Sunday’s Thigunawat 10K at Powderhorn was as unique as the name of the race.
The inaugural race was held on the ski slopes of Powderhorn, and had competitors heading up and down slopes, around trees and across streams.
“The feedback to me has been positive,” Thigunawat organizer Darcie Perkins said.
“I think people liked it; it’s really different than anything else on the Western Slope.
It’s alpine, which there isn’t a lot of.”
Perkins said she and her husband, Dustin, were late putting together the race after beginning the process in March. They were happy with the 138 competitors who attended the race named after a Ute Indian, who used the Grand Mesa as hunting ground — a word which means ‘home of departed spirits.’
“It’s been a big success,” Darcie Perkins said. “Powderhorn and Rocky Mountain Orthopaedics really helped us get the word out. We have people here from North Carolina, Indiana and the eastern slope.”
The overall consensus for the big turnout was people wanting to run a trail 10K. Audra Stock of Grand Junction is relatively new to the sport, but said her first trail 10K was especially tough.
“It was pretty brutal,” the 34-year-old Stock said. “There is a lot of loose land. There were stumps and stream crossings. It was about half up-hill which is challenging by itself, then you add altitude to all of that.”
Stock finished 91st at 1:18.42.
“I’ve done a couple of road runs, but this was really challenging,” Stock said. “But it was also really rewarding.”
One of the competitors who was used to the difficult terrain was also one of the oldest competitors, 65-year-old Carl Felling of Grand Junction. Felling was the 100th competitor to finish in 1:21.16, and said his favorite races are off-road.
“This kind of terrain is fantastic,” Felling said. “You have to be watching ahead of you because there are hidden oak brush stumps and slippery grass. But it’s all really natural.”
Felling said he spends a lot of time on Grand Mesa taking walks, hiking and running. He was impressed by the layout of the Thigunawat race.
“There were places that were really surprising,” Felling said. “You had to cross the stream about 10 times in places where the trees completely surrounded you overhead. There were places where you say, ‘I’m not sure if I’m on the trail or not.”’
The goal of the race was to raise money for the Powderhorn Racing Club. Dustin Perkins said the money will help the ski club in a couple of different areas.
“We had a (ski) race right before the end of the year, and our timing equipment broke right before the race and we didn’t have a backup,” Perkins said. “We also have a scholarship fund, so with this race we wanted to increase our scholarship money and have money when things break.”
As for the winner of the race, Grand Junction High School cross country runner Kevin Martin finish atop the leader board, coming across in 46.02.