Nobody knew who had won at the finish line of the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon on Saturday in Durango. Nobody seemed to mind.
In a year in which must running events have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thirsty 13 found a way to run. Waves of 10 runners would depart Ska Brewing Co. at a time for an out-and-back course on La Posta Road (County Road 213).
The Thirsty 13 typically offers a shuttle service to the start in Hesperus and offers a mostly downhill run back into Durango, but the race was unable to offer the shuttle this year because of coronavirus-related protocols, so race organizer Matthew Krichman reorganized to offer an out-and-back course.
“It felt so good to be out there putting on a race again,” Kirchman said. “This was the seventh year for the race. The Thirsty 13 Half Marathon has always been about celebrating our love for running, and that was on display this year more than ever before. The energy and enthusiasm from the runners was amazing. After seeing so many races get canceled earlier in the year, I think the runners were just so grateful and excited to have an opportunity to finally get out there and race.”
Running started at 7:30 a.m. with more than 150 starters staggered throughout the morning. After 13.1 miles, 63-year-old Paul Hughes of Pagosa Springs won the men’s race in 1 hour, 27 minutes, 14 seconds. Bayfield’s Zachary Stone, 26, was second in 1:29:33, and Hesperus’ Jake Kuylen was third in 1:31:34.
Albuquerque’s Abby Iselborn, 31, won the women’s race in 1:37:47. Durango’s Makiah Salzano, 22, was second in 1:39:25, and 53-year-old Lydia Dissly of Boulder took third in 1:50:42.
There were 126 finishers Saturday.
Kirchman thanked San Juan Basin Public Health for help in finding a way to make the race happen. He said common-sense changes such as limiting the size of the field, implementing the staggered start and offering bottled water at aid stations helped the race operate in a safe fashion.
“Back in April when we opened race registration, there was a lot of uncertainty about what things would look like come race day,” Krichman said. “But we never lost our optimism that we could find a way to do this and do it safely. Things looked a little different this year, but the essence of the event was and always will be the same – celebrating friendship, fitness and our love for running.”