Titans cross country team runs on home turf

“The kids were jazzed”

by Than Acuff

It had been 16 years since the Titans cross country team hosted a race here in Crested Butte and this one was especially sweet as it was all part of Emma Coburn’s Elk Run 5k fundraiser on Saturday, September 29.

The stars aligned for the event as the Titans got the word out to teams throughout the state and pulled in a number of programs including their neighbors to the south, Gunnison. With Emma Coburn’s event the same day, the high school athletes lined up the hour prior to the start of the Elk Run 5k for their races and were treated to a showcase event.

“It was wonderful to have the race here,” says coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall. “It was such a special event and they embraced the whole experience. The kids were jazzed.”

In addition to the event itself, the race had other advantages as well, such as the weather and the proximity.

“They were most excited about the cool temperatures,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “And we never get a chance to wake up in our bed and be at the course 20 minutes later.”

Sam Merck was the lone girl running for the Titans, as her teammate fell ill the day before. Merck took to the course like never before as she posted a new personal record time.

“She was just so fluid and had a great stride,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was the fastest I’ve ever seen her run.”

The boys had seven line up for their race with one dropping out early due to illness. Joe Coburn led the charge for the Titans in the end. Feeding off the energy of his sister’s event and his first five-kilometer race of the season, Coburn cracked the top 10 on the hometown course.

“He’s missed all the other races because of illness or hockey and he raced really well for his first 5k this season,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

The rest of the boys followed suit as they all finished near their current personal record times using the cooler temperatures to their advantage.

“Everyone ran aggressively,” says Sullivan-Marshall. “It was a good meet overall.”

Sullivan-Marshall also saw her athletes start flirting with faster starts as they continue to work on their overall race strategy.

“The freshmen and sophomores are still playing with their effort in the first mile but they’re attacking sooner than they did a month ago,” says Sullivan-Marshall.

The team heads to Delta this Friday and the coaches are looking for their athletes to hit their true potential at the race.

“This race tends to be where we set our personal records for the season,” explains Sullivan-Marshall. “We’re hoping everyone is healthy and everyone toes the line.”

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