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Ryan Hafer: Barr Trail’s New Champ

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The record heat that’s plagued Denver and most of the state over the weekend likely sent many city dwellers in search of respite at higher altitudes, but the concept doesn’t really hold if you’re heading to the mountains to participate in one of the most challenging races the state has to offer.

The Colorado Springs Gazette has the details of the 11th annual Barr Trail Mountain Race, which pushed runners to the max Sunday, as they ran more than six miles from the Pikes Peak Cog Railway depot in Manitou Springs to Barr Camp (elevation 10,200 feet) and back into Manitou. That didn’t matter much to Ryan Hafer, a 24-year-old from the Springs who beat his next-closest competitor by more than six minutes.

Hafer’s performance was more than enough to unseat 45-year-old Matt Carpenter, a local legend who had won the previous six Barr Trail Mountain Races. Carpenter’s incredible lung capacity (or VO2 count) is often referenced in coverage of his wins, including by The New York Times in a video from February 2009.

“He came in and just cleaned it open,” Carpenter says of Hafer. “I was concerned about the heat, and he wasn’t. He just kept going. … I think had I gone harder earlier, I probably would have blown up.”

Thirty-two-year-old Brandy Erholtz of Bailey was the women’s champion for the second straight year, finishing the race in 1:47:57 and smashing the record she set in 2009.

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