Town Race welcomes all in Evergreen

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Elite runners compete alongside pets and strollers

By Chelsy Woods Klein

People rang cowbells and cheered wildly at the Lake House as runners crossed the finish line in the Evergreen Town Race on Sunday.

The 5- and 10K races were a beacon for Colorado’s elite runners, as well as for those who just enjoy running for fun, to come and sprint to the finish.
Runners as young as 4 and people running with dogs and strollers competed alongside some of Colorado’s fastest sprinters in the 5K race, but it was 26-year-old Denver resident Charles Hillig Jr. who took first place with a time of 14:47, just missing the course record. Second place went to Connor Lockwood, who finished in 16:00.
Last year, Hillig competed in the 10K, finishing third.
Hillig competed in the Olympic qualifying run in Sacramento, Calif., last December, missing the qualifying time by 22 seconds. A former runner at the University of Northern Colorado, Hillig is a two-time winner of the Slacker Half Marathon.
“This is a gorgeous course,” Hillig said. “I really wanted to break the record, but it just wasn’t happening for me today.”
The 10K course record was, however, broken in both the men’s and women’s competitions.
Colorado Springs resident Robert Cheseret, 28, set the new course record with a time of 29:44, seizing first place from last year’s champion, Patrick Rizzo of Boulder. Rizzo finished four seconds behind Cheseret, with a time of 29:48.
“I feel great about my race today,” Cheseret said. “This is a beautiful course, and it has a good mix of flat surface and hill — I like that.”
Cheseret said he had to push himself extra hard because Rizzo was so close. That sentiment was echoed by the women’s course record breaker, Brianne Nelson, 31, of Fort Collins.
Nelson finished in 33:52 — seven seconds faster than 31-year-old Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz.
“(Kristen and I) were side by side the whole way until about the last 800 meters,” Nelson said. “We helped each other out until that last 800, and then I figured, ‘I have 800 left; let’s see what I’ve got.’ ”
Tania Pacev, chair of USA Track and Field, was delighted at the turnout and competition.
“We had some very fast runners today,” Pacev said. “These are the best of the best, and we love that everyone comes out here to compete.”