OURAY COUNTY U.S. Olympic runner will defend title in Sneffels marathon

Special to the Plaindealer

With an anticipated record-number 800 runners from across the country, including two returning champions and course record holders, the Mt. Sneffels Education Foundation is hosting its 15th annual half-marathon and its fifth annual full marathon on Saturday, Aug. 8.

In addition to being MSEF’s largest races ever, they also could be the fastest ever, thanks to a new course route that has eliminated significant hills.
Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team (10,000 meter) and current MSEF half-marathon women’s champion, is returning this year to defend her title. Cherobon-Bawcom also holds the current U.S. 10-mile record.
“Janet is one of the most talented runners our race has seen,” said John Ferguson, past MSEF president and current race organizer. “We’re thrilled she’s returning to Ouray County to compete again.”
Other elite runners competing in this year’s races include men’s defending half-marathon champion and course record holder Mario Macias, two-time Colfax Marathon winner Heather Utrata, Jordan Chipigama (1:02 at this year’s San Diego Half-Marathon), and Ridgway’s own Angie Sandy, who boasts a 2:48 best marathon time.
The half-marathon course begins at Ouray Hot Springs Park, winds through the city of Ouray, then goes north on County Road 17 to County Road 23 along the Uncompahgre River Valley, extends briefly along County Roads 3 and 3A, and then into the town of Ridgway. The full marathon, which starts in Ridgway, goes to Ouray on the same course and returns to Ridgway. US 550 in Ouray will be closed for approximately 15 minutes on Saturday morning. All other roads will be open during the race.
According to Ferguson, who has run marathons on all seven continents, “The Mt. Sneffels race course is among the most beautiful of any marathon in the world.”
In addition to attracting both elite athletes and local runners, the MSEF Full and Half-Marathon receives great local support, including from such sponsors as High Country Capital Management, Alpine Bank, Ridgway Mountain Market, San Juan Accounting, San Miguel Power Association, Mountain Fever Shirts and Gifts, and First Contact Medical Specialists, Inc.
MSEF is a local organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for Ouray County’s youth. The organization aims to involve the Ouray County community in developing resources to enrich our students’ lives and broaden their educational experiences. Founded in 1992, the organization has raised funds for such activities as arts and music programs, athletic events and travel opportunities. In 2014–2015, 37 projects were funded for a total of approximately $70,000.00. For more information visit www.mtsneffels.org.