Soloing At The Cheyenne Mountain Stampede

Bethany Michalak took a quick glance down at the watch on her right wrist between her smooth, efficient strides. With less than 400 meters to go in Friday's 4A race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, the clock was her only competitor. 

And at this moment, it was ticking just over 16:30. 

She pumped hard - but controlled - up the final hill and ran onwards in what looked like a solo tempo run. Just another run in the park.

As the clock ticked on the Air Academy freshman took a hard right into a spectator-less Penrose Stadium, where hundreds of tiny American flags lined the sides, leading her towards the finish line. 

Absent where what would have been excited cheers from the stands, where everyone would be eyeing the clock, and the blazing figure back on the dirt, racing towards history. 

From the outside in, it almost appeared anti-climactic, but when the Michalak crossed the finish line in 17:27, and the announcer rang out her final time, nearly everyone on the course knew they had just witnessed something special. 

Michalak's 17:27 winning time was the second-fastest clocking on the course, ever - only behind 2016 national champion Brie Oakley's 17:07. To add to Michalak's ridiculously impressive run, before Friday afternoon only two had broken 18 minutes on the Penrose course - Katie Rainsberger ran 17:39 here in 2015. 

Take a moment to let those facts sink in... 

As stellar of a run Michalak had way, way up front, quite a few behind her put up great runs of their own. 

Hope Stark led the chase from the first wave, running 18:49 - just a few clicks behind her state performance from last year. 

While the Cheyenne Mountain junior was the second to cross the finish line, she actually finished fourth. 

The race was run in 45-second waves, and the Lewis-Palmer duo of Aubrey Surage and Jade Allen used that to their advantage. 

Surage and Allen started in the second wave and ate up most of the first wave by two miles. They went on to run the second and third fastest times of the day, with Surage crossing in 18:29, while Allen was just 11 seconds back in 18:40. 

A year ago Surage finished 27th at State, running 19:27 - add that Friday's run was a personal best. Clearly, she's made The Jump.

Air Academy ran away with the team race, putting their entire top-five in the top-13 (and three in the top-eight) to tally 38 points. Palmer Ridge was second with 81, while Lewis-Palmer was third with 91.


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