It had been 10 years since Scott Gall had competed in the Barr Trail Mountain Race.
The former Manitou Springs resident placed second in 2001 before he and his wife moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, opened a running store and settled in.
But Gall made those 10 years disappear on the rugged switchbacks of Barr Trail on Sunday. The 37-year-old took the lead at the 2-mile mark and held off Manitou Springs’ Daryn Parker to win the 2011 BTMR in 1 hour, 39 minutes and 2 seconds.
Under a blazing morning sun, Gall said he knew good things were going to happen when he ascended into the forest and found some shade.
“When you get high enough and you’re grinding but it’s cool, then you get in a rythym and it’s nice,” he said. “That was good to feel, it’s been a while.”
Video interview with Scott Gall
A full field of 425 runners dashed away from the starting line near the Pikes Peak Cog Railway Station on an out-and-back trip to Barr Camp. The 12.6-mile course included 3,630 feet of climbing before turning back
The race was missing a familiar face. For the first time since he founded the event in 2000, Matt Carpenter was not at the starting line. And course record holder Ryan Hafer (1:29:05) was absent with injury. But that didn’t bother Gall, who said Parker gave him all he wanted.
“There were some big guys who weren’t here and some good guys who were,” he said. “The cool thing about all that is that any trail run now days is competitive. Ten or 15 years ago, it wasn’t like that.”
Parker, who stepped gingerly on a sore left ankle, finished second in 1:40:24.
“I pushed it on the way up,” he said. “My goal was to be the first to Barr Camp. That didn’t happen. Scott was first, but I’m happy with the effort.”
John Tribia of Boulder finished third in 1:41:48.
Link to photos, video and race results
The women’s race began as a classic duel between Brandy Erholtz and Megan Kimmel, a pair that had waged many battles up and down Pikes Peak. But Kimmel dropped out, telling race officials she just didn’t have it, and Erholtz – who will compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in September – struggled to a third-place finish.
That left an opening for 27-year-old Stevie Kremer of Crested Butte, who shocked herself with the win. She finished in 1:51:58.
“I surprised myself 100 percent,” she said.
Kremer didn’t think she could win with Erholtz in the race.
“I have raced with her before and she kicked my butt both times,” Kremer said.
Video interview with Stevie Kremer
Rachael Cuellar, 29, of Albuqurque, finished second. She flew on the descent and nearly caught Keremer.
“I was about 10 feet behind her with six minutes to go, but I was too chicken to run any faster,” she said.
Erholtz clocked in at 1:56:21, well shy of her race record 1:47:57 set last year.
“I had a tough day,” she said. “My times have sucked. Today I struggled to get third and I was eight minutes slower than last year.”
Giving something back: The Barr Trail Mountain Race gives all the entry fees back to the community. This year, Barr Camp, Friends of the Peak, and El Paso County Search and Rescue were presented with checks for $5,778.
The High School Challenge: Area high schools are invited to set up and staff the aid stations. Runners then voted for their favorites.
This year, The Classical Academy took top honors and earned $2,250 for their cross country and track and field programs. Widefield placed second and earned $1,750. Manitou Springs was third ($1,250) and Widefield picked up a check for $500.
In 11, years, the High School Challenge has provided about $66,000 to area sports programs.