As far as he knew, 26-year-old Andy Wacker was fully prepared for this morning’s Janus Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon & ½ Marathon. He was sure the race started at 8 a.m. and arrived an hour early to stretch. But as he made his way to the start line, he noticed other runners rushing by in a big hurry. Very quickly, panic set in. He wasn’t an hour early. He was seriously late, arriving with just a minute to spare before the gun went off.
“I didn’t get to warm up quite like I wanted to and I definitely sprinted from my car and luckily got to the start line just in time. Don’t ever make that mistake!” he said, laughing. “It was way too close.”
In the end, his mix-up didn’t cost him anything except a little extra energy. Wacker would go on to win the half marathon in 1:05:42. He ran alongside fellow Boulder resident Brent Vaughn for the first few miles, before making his move and maintaining his lead from mile 5 to the finish. Vaughn would finish in third place in 1:08:17, behind Benjamin Zywicki in second at 1:07:54.
In the women’s race, Kristen Arendt, 25, of Niwot, won her very first half marathon. A graduate of Adams State College where she ran track, Arendt’s first venture into longer distances was a learning experience.
“I went out too fast. I had to remind myself I wasn’t running a 10K,” she said. “Then I just got into a rhythm and kept reminding myself I had a long way to go. I loved the crowd though. The energy here is so different than any race I’ve ever run so even though it felt long and mentally tiring, at least there’s someone there the whole way cheering you on.”
Also at stake was the USATF Colorado Half Marathon Championships, which was moved to the Janus Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver event after the recent cancellation of the Boulder Marathon. The Championships offered additional prize purse bonuses and added recognition for several top finishers, including Wacker and Arendt. Local runners were also competing for a Colorado-resident prize purse.
In the marathon, Paul Petersen of Fort Collins won handily, more than 15 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor in 2:26:43. An experienced marathoner with dozens of 26.2 mile races under his belt, Petersen said winning this race was special.
“This is one of the biggest races in the state, so it’s an honor,” he said. “It’s pretty hilly so it’s a very honest course but I felt great. It’s all about going out and competing against the best people you can. Winning this race is a big deal to me.”
In the women’s marathon, Lakewood’s Monica Folts, 28, finished first in 2:58:29, ahead of Kerry Nekuda (3:06:00) and Annie Poland of Denver (3:08:15).
More than 15,000 runners participate in the 5th annual Janus Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon & ½ Marathon, which debuted a new course and 10K on a perfect fall day.