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Newcomer to Fort Collins, Air Force Academy cadet win titles in Colorado Marathon

Fort Collins Coloradoan logo Fort Collins Coloradoan 10/24/2021 Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan

Benjamin Hanson has been in Fort Collins for only about a year now, and he hadn’t spent much time in the Poudre Canyon before.

On Sunday morning, though, he got an up-close look at the lower portion of the scenic highway while running and winning the Colorado Marathon.

“It’s a beautiful course, unreal, by the river and everything,” Hanson said after crossing the finish line at Washington Park in downtown Fort Collins. “It’s a great course, great atmosphere. It was awesome. I love it.”

Hanson, 27, who moved to Colorado from Esko, Minnesota, was the first of about 800 runners in the marathon to reach the finish line, crossing in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 20.84 seconds. Runner-up George Rykovich, 22, also of Fort Collins, was four minutes back in 2:38:22.70, while third-place finisher Jeremy Bennett came across in 2:40:05.23.

Benjamin Hanson, 26, celebrates as he approaches the finish line while winning the Colorado Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo. © Kelly Lyell/The Coloradoan Benjamin Hanson, 26, celebrates as he approaches the finish line while winning the Colorado Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo.

Hanson said he was running in sixth place for most of the race but moved to the front with about five miles remaining.

“And then it was no looking back,” he said while posing for pictures with a large group of friends and family who were cheering him on at the finish line.

Andi Almodovar, 21, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, was the women’s winner and No. 22 overall, finishing in 3:01:06.46 – more than 8½ minutes ahead of runner-up Maria McDaniel, 26, of Englewood, who crossed in 3:09:32.79. Colleen Noonan, 37, of Eldorado Springs was third in 3:12:77.85.

Complete race results are available at comarathon.com/results.

Andi Almodovar, 21, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, smiles as she crosses the finish line to win the women's Colorado Marathon title Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo. © Kelly Lyell/The Coloradoan Andi Almodovar, 21, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, smiles as she crosses the finish line to win the women's Colorado Marathon title Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo.

Almodovar, who grew up in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, ran with several of the men on the Air Force Academy’s marathon team for the first nine miles or so, then slowed down a bit as they ran ahead. Air Force cadets Andrew Schaeffer, Christian Montelongo and Andrew Aderhold finished fifth, sixth and seventh

“They were cruising,” she said. “They really helped me set my pace, and I’m like, ‘Well, I can’t slow down.’ And when I backed off, it was still within range.”

She marveled at the scenery along the way, too, of a course that begins 17 miles up Poudre Canyon at the Stevens Gulch Picnic Area and winds down the canyon along Colorado Highway 14, then through Laporte and along the Poudre River Trail through northwest Fort Collins.

Isaiah Remington, 23, of Greeley stops his watch at the finish line after winning the Colorado Marathon's half marathon race Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo. © Kelly Lyell/The Coloradoan Isaiah Remington, 23, of Greeley stops his watch at the finish line after winning the Colorado Marathon's half marathon race Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo.

“It was gorgeous,” she said.

Both winners are relatively new to marathon running.

Almodovar ran her first 26.2-mile race in May at the Air Force Academy just north of Colorado Springs. Sunday’s race was her second.

Hanson was competing in his fourth marathon, having run two live races previously and one virtual marathon during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was the first live version of the Colorado Marathon since the pandemic began, too. The 2020 version was conducted remotely, and this year’s race was postponed from its usual May running to late October in hopes that increased vaccinations would slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The 2022 race will return to its regular spot on the racing calendar in May.

Race director Logan Martin said about 2,500 people registered for this year’s marathon and its associated races, a 13.1-mile half-marathon and 10- and 5-kilometer races, all finishing at the same location. The biggest draw was the half-marathon, with about 1,000 participants, he said. It begins at the halfway point of the marathon, at Gateway Park about four miles up Poudre Canyon.

Isaiah Remington, 23, of Greeley won the half-marathon in 11:11:09.67. Bobby Scott, 19, of Castle Pines was second in 1:12:45.91 and Jordan Allen, 19, from the Air Force Academy team, was third in 1:13:39.21.

Audrey Suttor, 27, of Evans crosses the finish line to win the women's half marathon race of the Colorado Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo. © Kelly Lyell/The Coloradoan Audrey Suttor, 27, of Evans crosses the finish line to win the women's half marathon race of the Colorado Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo.

Audrey Suttor, 27, another newcomer to the area, was the women’s half-marathon winner in 1:25:53.80. Jessica Cunningham of Loveland was second in 1:26:10.78, and Taylor Robinson of Cheyenne, Wyoming, was third in 1:28:25.11.

Suttor moved to Evans from Michigan two weeks ago.

“I love the mountains,” she said. “It was awesome starting in the canyon, and running through the sights was awesome; that kind of made the miles fly by really fast.”

Sky Grahn, 31, of Salt Lake City was the men’s winner of the 10K, in 25:27.43, and Shannon Zanotelli, 44, of Fort Collins was the women’s winner, in 42:26.42. Fort Collins residents Steve Kannenberg, 30, and Kierann Toth, 38, won the men’s and women’s 5K titles in 17:33.95 and 19:01.23, respectively.

Kelly Lyell reports on CSU, high school and other local sports and topics of interest for the Coloradoan. Contact him at kellylyell@coloradoan.com, follow him on Twitter @KellyLyell and find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KellyLyell.news. If you 're a subscriber, thank you for your support. If not, please consider purchasing a digital subscription today.

Colorado Marathon second-place women's finisher Andi Almodovar runs through Poudre Canyon on Sunday. © Tanya B. Fabian/For The Coloradoan Colorado Marathon second-place women's finisher Andi Almodovar runs through Poudre Canyon on Sunday. Colorado Marathon first-place men's finisher Benjamin Hanson runs through Poudre Canyon on Sunday. He is followed by Lonnie Cruz, fourth-place finisher, and George Rykovich, second-place finisher. © Tanya B. Fabian/For The Coloradoan Colorado Marathon first-place men's finisher Benjamin Hanson runs through Poudre Canyon on Sunday. He is followed by Lonnie Cruz, fourth-place finisher, and George Rykovich, second-place finisher. Billy Ward encourages participants in the Colorado Marathon as they run through Poudre Canyon near Ted's Place on Sunday. © Tanya B. Fabian/For The Coloradoan Billy Ward encourages participants in the Colorado Marathon as they run through Poudre Canyon near Ted's Place on Sunday. Colorado Marathon participants run through Poudre Canyon on Sunday. © Tanya B. Fabian/For The Coloradoan Colorado Marathon participants run through Poudre Canyon on Sunday.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Newcomer to Fort Collins, Air Force Academy cadet win titles in Colorado Marathon

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