Rebecca Bramley ran the race she was born to run on Sunday.
The Fort Lewis College junior tackled the 14.5-mile Mt. Evan’s Ascent. The race starts at 10,600 feet on Echo Lake and finishes on the summit of Mount Evans on the paved road leading to the top of the 14,264-foot peak.
Bramley finished third among women and 14th overall out of 367 runners. She reached the top in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 6 seconds.
In 1977, Bramley’s late father, John Bramley, set the course record in 1:41:35. The record stood for 31 years before current record-holder Matt Carpenter set the new mark of 1:37:01 in 2008.
John Bramley died at the age of 55 in 2009 in a fall on Long’s Peak, another one of Colorado’s famed fourteeners. Rebecca Bramley was 13 when he died. Sunday, on Father’s Day, she ran the race in honor of her father.
“I got teary-eyed at Mile 9 because my whole family was there and cheered for me,” Bramley said. “It felt good to be there, and I connected with my dad. It was definitely more happy emotions than sad.”
She ran alongside FLC track and cross country coach Joshua Coon for a good chunk of the race. Coon finished 17th overall and was the 13th male finisher in 2:21:58. Bramley and Coon had no plans of running together going into the event, it simply played out that way. The coach was blown away by his athlete’s finish.
“Pretty incredible,” Coon said of Bramley. “I knew she could grind, but this surprised me.”
Bramley cruised through those first nine miles before dealing with tough switchbacks on a steeper grade the final five. Still, she took time to enjoy the mountain views on her way to the summit and ran with a smile much of the race. She has run at elevation before at the Kendall Mountain Run in Silverton, but she admitted going above 13,000 feet was a new challenge.
“The first nine miles were pretty, well, not easy, but steady,” she said. “Overall, I felt great. It was harder to breathe above 13,000, and I could definitely tell I was high.”
Bramley plans to compete in the Kennebec Mountain Run at the end of July and said she may look for another race before then. It will all be great preparation for her junior year of running at FLC.