Runners use Rim Rock Marathon as an escape from everyday life

Runners chug uphill after the east tunnel Saturday during the Rim Rock Marathon over Colorado National Monument. The event continues the 19-year tradition of a run over the monument, finishing with a 2,100-foot descent to the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita.



Nikki Arcieri, of Breckenridge, was the top female.



Zachary Martin, of Boulder, was the overall winner of the Rim Rock Marathon.



Running gives Zachary Martin a much-needed brain break.

The 23-year-old law student at the University of Colorado was the first runner to reach Cold Shivers Point and the first individual runner across the finish line Saturday in the Rim Rock Marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 55 minutes, 27 seconds.

“I think I would be a much less happy person if I couldn’t do this,” he said. He has 1½ years left of law school, and honestly, he’s in no hurry to finish. “There are no jobs out there,” he said.

He was running in his first Rim Rock, his sixth marathon overall, and was a little apprehensive about the weather before the event began.

“I think it was what we could expect for November,” he said “I was just glad it wasn’t raining. A friend of mine ran it a couple of years ago and said it snowed a lot, so that was probably rough.”

Only a handful of runners opted not to show with gloomy skies, but no precipitation, with 205 of the 215 registered runners starting the race, in its third year as a marathon and 19th year of running over Colorado National Monument. In all, 147 individual runners and 22 relay teams finished.

Nikki Arcieri grew up in Grand Junction and couldn’t believe people actually ran over the monument.

“I never ran the Rim Rock Run and now I wish I would have for the nostalgia, the history,” the women’s overall winner said. “Growing up, I thought the people who ran that were crazy. I told people, ‘You’ll never see me run that.’ ‘’

Not only did she run the marathon, she had enough left to sprint down the final stretch.

The 27-year-old caught and passed Karah Levely-Rinaldi just before the finish line, crossing 17th overall in 3:37.57. Levely-Rinaldi was only three seconds behind, in 3:38.00.

“She was ahead at mile 26 and I thought, ‘Do I have enough to pass her?’ ‘’ said Arcieri, who works for the town of Breckenridge and is a freelance graphic artist. In her spare time, she runs up in the mountains, and in the winter, skis down them.

The first runner to actually cross the finish line was Bob Woerne, part of relay team “Half Calf.”

Woerne and teammate Brian Johnson covered the course in 2:52.26, and actually helped the men’s overall winner.

“It really helped to have the relay folks around,” Martin said. “That was really nice; they kept me motivated.”

The men’s overall runner-up caused a few double-takes, running in only shorts, socks and shoes despite morning temperatures in the low 30s, even colder on the monument.

Tripp Hipple of Denver, 24, was running in only his second marathon and finished in 3:06.52 wearing the bare minimum. He finally pulled on a sweatshirt about a half-hour after finishing.

“I used to be a springboard diver and did gymnastics for a long time,” he said. “I’m not built like a runner, I’m not tall and skinny. I really enjoy (running), you can explore so much at one time, go wherever you want to go.”

He laughed at his athletic background of wearing minimal uniforms, and said running was pretty much the same thing.

“It takes pretty much the bare essentials,” he said. “Maybe that’s why I’m used to it.”

He marveled at the scenery of the monument as the runners made their way across the top.

“There are certain spots where it’s sheer cliff, which is amazing,” he said. “I like climbing more than going down, so it’s kind of a love-hate race. I love going up, but not going down.

“My favorite spot was toward the top. The scenery is amazing and it’s so peaceful up there.”

Martin and Hipple are novices in the world of marathon running.

Bryan Baroffio of Grand Junction is just the opposite. The 53-year-old veteran was running in his 75th marathon, but, ironically, his first Rim Rock Marathon.

Baroffio has run a marathon in all 50 states, so he figured it was time to run his hometown race. Baroffio won the master’s title in 3:22.00, fifth overall.

The fastest runner from the Grand Valley was Fruita’s Jef Friedman, who was fourth in 3:17.49.

Baroffio ran the Rim Rock Run three times, but has been out of town during the monument marathon the past two years. Training on the monument helped him master the ups and downs.

“You’ve got to consider the course,” he said. “An ideal course you do your pace, but you can’t do that here. You go uphill and downhill and it rolls in between.

“You have to have some kind of goal. I wanted to be somewhere around 3:20, that’s a 7:38 pace (per mile; his final pace was just off his goal,  7:43). You know coming downhill you’re going to get a 7-minute pace, on the uphill you’re going to add a good 30 seconds.

“Take your time, do 8:30, 9 minutes on the way up and fly down in 7 minutes and it averages out. I was a couple of minutes off, but I’ll take it.”


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