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Grand Prix long series champs cruise at Pumpkin Races

Winning tastes sweet whether it is your 11th time, like men’s Grand Prix of Running Long Series winner Gerald Romero or first-time women’s overall champion Brianne Pierson.

“It’s exciting,” said Pierson, 33, who had won her age group in years past but never the overall title. “I won at the Sailin’ Shoes and ran a fast Top 10 so I knew I was in good shape coming in. I ran a tough half-marathon last weekend but I PR’ed this course so I am real happy with how I ran.”

Pierson’s personal course record (44 minutes, 24 seconds) was good for third in the Great Pumpkin 10K Race on a cold, damp Saturday morning at Venetucci Farm in Security.  Kelly Calway, 28, of Manitou Springs set a new course record in 37:00 on her first attempt around the area’s oldest still-working farm.

“I heard the 10K was more road racing, but it was like cross country out there, which was awesome,” she said. “It was super fun.”

The long series includes the 5K on St Patrick's Day, the Garden of the Gods 5-Miler, Sailin' Shoes 10K, Grand Prix Classic 10K, The Top Ten (Mile) and the series-ending Pumpkin 10K race on Oct. 6. Series competitors' times from each race are totaled to determine an overall champion.

Romero, 41, recorded his 11th series championship since 1997 despite a head cold that limited him a little on Saturday. He also has two GP runner-up awards for 13 top-two finishes in 15 years.

“That’s the streak,” Romero said. “Hopefully I can do this a few more times. I keep getting better. I am still having fun.”

His time of 37:36 on Saturday was good enough for fifth behind Pumpkin winner Daniel Castaneda (34:41) and runner-up Matthew Petrocci (35:02) and kept him well ahead in the overall standings. Romero entered the final race with a 29-minute advantage over Shawn Dorry, 29, who placed second overall with a combined time of 4:05:47 behind Romero’s 3:34:43. Connor McCabe, 13, placed third overall in 4:11:57. All times are unofficial.

Pierson built a steady lead over series runner-up Karen Matheny, 35, leading by 12:30 headed into the finale. Pierson finished with a combined time of 4:26:12. Matheny’s time of 45:03 Saturday was good for fourth and kept her in second overall (4:39:21) ahead of Vanessa White, 33, who placed third (4:46:31).

In the Pumpkin race, Sarah Boysden, 25, of Gunnison placed second (41:56) among the women, followed by Pierson (44:24) of Manitou Springs, Matheny, and 36-year-old Janna Habeck (47:39) of Colorado Springs.

Castaneda, 28, a volunteer cross country and track coach at Colorado College, has made big strides by training with the team, he said.

“They said the course might be muddy but it was good,” he said. “It was a great day for running.”

Footprints

Saturday’s race was dedicated to Bob Small, the former assistant director at the Pikes Peak Community Foundation who helped organize the race until he passed away shortly after the 2011 race during a bicycle ride in Garden of the Gods park, said city parks and recreation’s Brian Kates who helped lay out the initial courses with Small … The old course record for the women’s 10K was 37:14 by 2011 winner Christie Foster of Colorado Springs. … Lelia Gibson-Green of Colorado Springs was the final entrant to cross the finish line. She took on the 10K in her first-ever competitive race to help train to walk a half-marathon fundraiser in Las Vegas this December. “I did it without pain,” she said. “That’s a blessing.”... The 10K race was held in conjunction with a 5K that concluded the Grand Prix of Running’s Short Series… The Pumpkin races serve as a fundraiser for PPCF, generating between $5,000 to $10,000 a year to fund education programs for area school children at the farm, said foundation chief executive officer Michael Hannigan … Ages of the competitors ranged from 8 to 78… Winners of the Kids Fun Run afterward received ribbons and a pumpkin from the farm as prizes. The adult overall series winners received a customized Venetucci Farm mug, a $20 gift certificate, a tote bag of vegetables from the farm and free entry into the 2013 Bedrock Series, which includes the Pumpkin races, the Blue Moon Run and Bob’s Bash, named for the late Small... The races were an official event of Worldwide Play Day (Oct. 6) and recognized as such by Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, according to city officials on hand.

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