Cougar Canyon Killer
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Runners slay at Cougar Canyon Killer race

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On Saturday, Sept. 21, runners from throughout the region gathered at the edge of Trinidad to run for their lives at the inaugural Cougar Canyon Killer 5K/10K.

Organized by Run Trinidad, a local non-profit that has hosted area-running events for the past two years, the races began at the corner of Cougar Canyon and Simpson Drive in Trinidad. 5K runners headed east along Cougar Canyon Drive on an out-and-back route that featured a paved, blazing-fast track, while 10K runners headed west along the challenging hills of Corundum, Grey Creek, and Kunzite roads before looping back to the finish line at Cougar Canyon.

As a first-time event, the Cougar Canyon Killer races were full of innovative surprises, devised by event organizers Run Trinidad. ”The Run Trinidad Organization Committee members decided to change up our goodie bags for this race,” says committee member Shannon Youngquist. “We gave out Run Trinidad beanies to participants in anticipation of cooler running weather, rather than t-shirts. Committee members also approached local eateries, health and wellness businesses, and merchants for discount coupons that we included in the goodie bags for every race participant. We also held a drawing for both runners and race volunteers with lots of swag, gift cards, and gift certificates for the lucky winners. We want to encourage participants to visit local businesses by giving them a little extra incentive to shop or eat.”  

“Run Trinidad wants to attract both local runners and those who want to travel to a new running destination to have a new experience to our events. And we want to encourage all of them to spend some time in town before and after our races,” says Youngquist.

The competition was fierce among the dozen runners who participated in the Cougar Canyon events. “Interestingly, ten of the runners were women, ranging from teenagers to 60-plus years of age,” says Youngquist. “I was impressed with the stamina and determination of these women, regardless of their ages and abilities.”

“We are hopeful that more men will turn out for Run Trinidad events in the 2020 season. We provide a wide range of challenging terrain in scenic settings, and there are opportunities to compete with runners from Huerfano, Las Animas, and Colfax counties via the Raba Cinco race series. We even have folks from Pueblo County who are earning points in the competitions,” Youngquist says.

With clear skies and cooler fall temperatures, it was a beautiful day for a race. “Conditions were perfect for me to try and defy my age,” says 5K male champion Ben Wiley, who completed the race in a blistering 23:45. “The 5K course was flat. The weather was pure perfection. And maybe most importantly, there was a fast woman up ahead and a fast woman chasing from behind. Mix all that with a couple of weeks of interval training on the track, and it added up to a 7:39 per mile pace, which is faster than I could have imagined at age 66 at 6,000 feet of altitude.”

Trinidadian Michelle Hopper, the second place finisher for the women in the 10K, found the race to be a deceptively challenging event in the ongoing RaBa Cinco running series. “Knowing the area, I really didn’t think this would be a ‘killer’ race today; but when you’re competing for RaBa Cinco points, you find yourself pushing to do your best. It really almost killed me.”

Youngquist and the Run Trinidad organization appreciate all those in the community who donated time and services in order to benefit local outdoor recreation efforts like the Cougar Canyon Killer 5K/10K. “Run Trinidad thanks all of the community members who contributed volunteer time, coupons for the goodie bags, and generous gift cards and certificates,” says Youngquist. “We also appreciate free marketing support from KCRT, the Chronicle-News, and the First National Bank in Trinidad, as well as all of the merchants who posted race flyers for Run Trinidad.”

“If any businesses are interested in being represented by coupons or cash donations, please contact myself or respond generously when Run Trinidad representatives come around in 2020, working on fundraising for the upcoming racing season,” says Youngquist, who can be contacted via email at

The final event in the 2019 RaBa Cinco running series will be the Oktoberfest La Veta Downhill Half Marathon on October 5.


5K Female Results:

1.Desiree Dallaguardia - 22:25

2.Carli Valdez - 24:51

3.Ruth Stodghill - 26:23

4.Susanne Vandermeer - 29:29

5K Male Results:

1.Ben Wiley - 23:45

n 10K Female Results:

1.Tammy Valdez - 52:59

2.Michelle Hopper - 54:17

3.Shannon Youngquist - 57:09

4.Alison Mendonca - 58:48

5.Jillian Baca - 1:01:47

6.Denise Shirmer - 1:20:05

n 10K Male Results:

1.Ted Sillox - 49:52

Cougar Canyon RaBa Cinco Team Competition:

1.Huerfano County- 20 points

2.Las Animas – 18 points

3.Colfax – did not field a team

RaBa Cinco Leader Boards thru 9 Events:


 STANDINGS –  Top Ten:

1.Desiree DallaGuardia, Ruth Stodghill – 100

3. Shannon Youngquist-Lucy – 93

4. Michelle Hopper – 80

5. Melanie Nelson – 77

6.Tammy Valdez – 58

7.Jillian Baca – 48

8. Carol Brimmeier – 47

9.Susanne van der Meer – 44

10.Lorraine Cisneros – 42



1. Danny Nelson – 103

2. Ben Wiley – 99

3. Ted Sillox – 96

4. Floyd Herrera – 35

5. Jeff Walters – 25

6. Eli Dvorak, Caden Floyd, Chris Ellefson – 20

9.Perry Eaton, Arnold Tsosie, Rowen Floyd, Robert Kanieski, Ace Mosimann – 19

Cumulative Team Standings through 9 events:

1.Las Animas – 135.43

2.Huerfano – 109.17

3.Colfax –  30.5

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