Running in Gunnison this Saturday
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans cross-country team continues their focus on the long haul but is already making strides in the short term as they took huge steps at the Hotchkiss Invitational on Saturday, September 8.
The Titans have eight boys and two girls on the roster but only had four runners at their opening race two weeks ago and then bumped up to six runners for the race in Hotchkiss.
“We don’t want to race someone who is not ready, and the first two races we’re really just dipping our toes in,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall.
The Hotchkiss course can be brutal, especially for the Titans, as the Western Slope climate throws seemingly oppressive conditions at the Crested Butte runners more suited to the mountain climate. There’s even a section of the course named unofficially by runners as Death Valley.
“The only shade on the entire course is a telephone pole,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We battled heat, dust, hills, isolation and sometimes even our own bodies, but the team did so well in overcoming all these obstacles.”
Titans Max Faust and Joseph Stock led the Crested Butte team in Hotchkiss as Faust battled his way to his first top 10 result passing two runners in the final 300 meters to place ninth. Stock bounced around the high teams during the first couple of miles but rallied to finish in 15th place, posting a faster time than last year on the same course.
“Because of the heat they seemed a little tentative before the race, but we told them to go out solid and strong at the start and just get faster and faster and all of them got faster that third mile,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was just fun to watch them compete.”
Cormac Billick rode the wave on speed created by his front-running teammates to post a personal record time by a minute and crack the top 50. Yvon Michel rose to the challenging conditions to finish a strong and smart race just out of the top 50.
Meanwhile, additional young Titans got their first taste of high school race suffering as both Porter Washburn and Logan Utz lost the battle with their stomachs on course, but remained focused to complete the course.
“Every racer kept their mind in the game which was great to see,” says Sullivan-Marshall.
The Titans have their only race within earshot of Crested Butte this weekend as they will toe the line at the Cowboy Invitational on Saturday, September 15 in Gunnison on the course behind the middle school. The racing starts at 9 a.m. and the Titans have a penchant for rallying on the Gunnison course.
“We should have a full squad by then and the course and temperatures play to our strengths,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “We’re five weeks into our season so the work is getting done and the Gunnison race is always a good turning point for us.”