MORRISON — From the start, Lonnie Cruz was focused on what was directly in front of him. The stunning scenery of nearby Red Rocks Amphitheatre and its surroundings couldn’t faze the 30-year-old Denver runner. Neither could the building heat as the race wore on. Nothing slowed Cruz down during the Mount Falcon 15K.
The third race in a five-race series organized by the Evergreen Park and Recreation District was Cruz’s to win from the start. He was dominant from beginning to end, winning the 9.3-mile race in a time of 1 hour, 8 minutes and 48 seconds. Cruz’s knowledge of the mountainous course came in handy.
“It’s about a 2,000-foot climb in the first 4 miles,” Cruz said. “I’ve actually run here training before. I know the course pretty well. It was great.”
The field of 79 registered runners — some of whom didn’t show for the start — was no match for Cruz. His nearest competitor, 32-year-old Patrick Cole of Denver, was nearly five minutes back.
“He smoked me. He was fast. I didn’t know it was five minutes,” Cole said. “From the get-go, he shot out. He had that form that you knew you’re not going to catch him. He’s too good.”
Cole, who finished in 1:13:45, took his second-place finish in stride. He laughed off being so far behind Cruz.
“You just kind of ignore that and pretend you didn’t see that, because it’s kind of disheartening,” Cole said.
So instead, Cole enjoyed running with his friends and embraced the surrounding scenery.
“It’s so beautiful up here,” Cole said. “You run and run as hard as you can, but at the same time you’ve got to appreciate it; otherwise, what’s the point.”
It was a good training regime for Cruz, who is scheduled to run in the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon in a week and half. The pace in that downhill run almost certainly will be quite a bit faster than in the Mount Falcon event.
The downhill speed of 35-year-old Lindsay Krause of Littleton certainly helped her. She was able to sprint to the finish line as the first female runner to complete the race in 1:24:53. However, it was anything but easy.
“It’s definitely a tough course. The first 4 miles is just climbing. Then it’s flat and then downhill,” said Krause, who found herself trailing eventual runner-up Heather Utrata through the early going. But she made up the difference on the down side.
“I’m not a great climber,” Krause said. “I felt terrible at the top. But the descent was OK. I was able to make up some time on the way down.”
Krause was fascinated with how the terrain influenced all the runners differently. But, in the end, it’s all about where you finish, she said. Overall, she was the eighth finisher.
Utrata came in second in the female division in 1:26:29. Ashley Anderson, 28, who was third, was more than eight minutes back of Utrata.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.