Kelly, founder of the Durango Marathon, bills this weekend’s
first-ever race as a destination marathon – an event that
will draw runners to Durango. However, he also notes that spectators
won’t be disappointed as an intense local duel is shaping
Kelly hatched the idea for a Durango marathon just more than
a year ago.
“I was directing the
Steamworks half-marathon, and we started talking and wondered,
‘Why doesn’t Durango have a marathon?’”
From there, Kelly had to decide
what type of marathon to create.
could have done a 26.8-mile screamer that loses major elevation
or done the opposite and have people climb 5,000 feet,”
he says. “But those kinds of races already exist. We decided
that we wanted to create a destination marathon. To make the
race have a broader appeal, we crafted a course that has broad
The course has been designed
to be runner friendly – no killer hills. Racers will begin
at 8 a.m. Sunday at Fort Lewis College. The course then quickly,
but gently, drops 360 feet in elevation as runners make their
way toward down Goeglein Gulch Road toward Main Avenue. From
there, the course will head north through the Animas Valley
on Highway 550, cross the highway in the vicinity of Dalton
Ranch and come back to Durango on County Road 250. Runners then
will return to downtown Durango via the Animas River Trail and
finish the 26.8 mile loop at Ninth Street & Main Avenue
in the midst of the Harvest Block Party.
Kelly says that spectators
should see an impressive duel between two locals, Ken Flint
and John Ndunga.
“As far as I know Ken
holds the fastest marathon time of anyone around the area,”
says Kelly. “But John actually won the Steamworks half-marathon
in August, beating Ken by 15 seconds.”
the Steamworks race, the rivalry headed south to Albuquerque,
where Flint won the Duke City marathon by just six seconds over
Ndunga. “They’ve raced almost 40 miles and been
separated by only 21 seconds,” says Kelly.
To make things even more interesting,
Boulder runner Mark Werner will be in town to “tune up”
for the Olympic trials in December. In addition, Mike Smedley
(not that Mike Smedley), an Olympic hopeful for triathlon, will
set the pace for at least the first portion of the race.
“We’re going to
send him out doing six-minute miles, and he’s going to
set the pace for 10 miles,” says Kelly. “It’ll
be a real battle between John and Ken, and it’ll be something
of a strategy race depending on whether this Mike Smedley keeps
going after the first 10 miles.”
Regardless of the race’s
outcome, Kelly is looking forward to a successful first event.
“The folks volunteering in the community and the sponsors
have gotten behind it so well that it’s running beautifully,”
For information on the numerous
events happening in conjunction with the Durango Marathon see
“On the Town” on pages 18-19 or check out www.durangomarathon.com.