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Despite two course records by Andrew Benford and Emily Harrison on Saturday morning, the real story at the ninth annual Gaspin’ in the Aspen was the new-look, late-season version of the perennial high-altitude favorite.

As Jerald Nez of Winslow churned uphill at the outermost reaches of the Abineau Trail, with an aspen stand to his right, he smiled.

“You have to look around,” Nez said. “You forget about the running.”

Despite long, steady climbs and 8,300 feet of altitude at the halfway mark in the race, Nez and 400 other runners gasped their way through the stunning aspen scenery in either the 15K, 5K and Kids Kilo events at the Flagstaff Nordic Center.

Gaspin’ closed out the six-race Run Flagstaff Summer Series. For the first time, participants experienced the event in monsoon-drenched late August rather than dry and dusty mid-June.

As Nez’s wonder suggests, the seasonal difference between those two months was striking. An autumnal chill greeted runners as they lined up at the starting line. The naked aspen logs didn’t jump as high off the soft turf. Mushrooms sprouted near footsteps on the trail, and gothic clouds over the Peaks to the southeast lent a fairyland quality to the scene.

“It was absolutely beautiful out there,” said Steve Sue, who set a personal best in his fourth Gaspin’ 15K. “It was so nice because there wasn’t a lot of dust around, and every 10th person wasn’t bleeding because they’ve fallen down. It probably saved a bunch of knees today.”

Sue wasn’t the only one with a PR. Emily Harrison, fresh off last week’s TransRockies open mixed division title with Gaspin’ race director Ian Torrence, bettered her 2013 course-record time by 25 seconds with a 58:26 showing in the 15K.

The men’s division also featured a 15K course best. Andrew Benford, who moved from Austin, Texas, in April, geared up for his first season as the cross country coach at Coconino High School with a 51:31, which blitzed by 1 minute, 50 seconds the course mark that was shared by Chris Vargo and Chris Gomez, who was ill and unable to compete Saturday.

“I didn’t even know what the course was,” said Benford, who left behind a star-studded field that included Summer Series leader Nick Arciniaga, Gabe McGowan and Joshua Pauley from the first mile. “I was prepared, and I was really pushing it and hammering on the downhills. It was in better shape than I expected. It’s really a great course.”

Torrence confirmed that the 2015 Gaspin’ will again be the season finale. The 10th Gaspin’ will be Aug. 22, 2015.

“We’re keeping the same groove,” Torrence said.

Summer Series results will be tabulated and made available soon.

15K Results

Men’s Overall: 1. Andrew Benford, 51:31; 2. Nick Arciniaga, 53:23; 3. Gabe McGowan, 57:51; 4. Joshua Pauley, 58:06; 5. Ryan Stevens, 1:00.07; 6. Joe Carver, 1:01.48; 7. Bret Sarnquist, 1:02.26; 8. Tom Wilson, 1:02.29; 9. Mark Nabel, 1:04.00; 10. Rob Byers, 1:04.01.

Men’s Age Group –

20-29: 1. Andrew Benford, 51:31; 2. Gabe McGowan, 57:51; 3. Joshua Pauley, 58:06

30-39: 1. Nick Arciniaga, 53:23; 2. Ryan Stevens, 1:00.07; 3. Joe Carver, 1:01.48

40-49: 1. Rob Byers, 1:04.01; 2. Chris Croyts, 1:04.46; 3. Michael Zimmer, 1:10.30

50-59: 1. Rob Hall, 1:08.42; 2. Dirk Murphy, 1:13.39; 3. Kent Haugerud, 1:19.42

60-69: 1. Al Hendricks, 1:16.03; 2. Ray Lobato, 1:18.37; 3. Paul Cooley, 1:21.40

70-older: 1. Nat White, 1:49.15; 2. Jim Edmonds, 1:59.58.

Women’s Overall: 1. Emily Harrison, 58:26; 2. Kate Papenberg, 1:00.30; 3. Sara Wagner, 1:05.05; 4. Michelle Wesson, 1:06.29; 5. Rachel Buzzard, 1:11.33; 6. Kristina Kaiser, 1:12.46; 7. Michelle Grey, 1:12.53; 8. Valerie Cross, 1:13.20; 9. Claire Lears, 1:14.00; 10. Angi Christiansen, 1:14.11.

Women’s Age Group –

15-19: 1. Terri Baker, 1:22.51

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20-29: 1. Emily Harrison, 58:26; 2. Kate Papenberg, 1:00.30; 3. Rachel Buzzard, 1:11.33

30-39: 1. Michelle Wesson, 1:06.29; 2. Valerie Cross, 1:13.20; 3. Claire Lears, 1:14.00

40-49: 1. Sara Wagner, 1:05.05; 2. Kristina Kaiser, 1:12.46; 3. Angi Christiansen, 1:14.11

50-59: 1. Michele Favron, 1:20.39; 2. Anne Phillips, 1:25.55; 3. Katy Abrams, 1:28.46

60-69: 1. Linda Redman, 1:43.25; 2. Leah Schmidt, 2:00.38.

5K Results

Men’s Overall: 1. Reid Hatch, 20:34; 2. Austin Horn, 21:12; 3. Kai Grumbine, 22:37; 4. Larry Butler, 22:47; 5. Brian Buzzard, 23:12; 6. Udell Yazzie, 23:42; 7. Tom Viskocil, 23:58; 8. Mark Thurston, 24:14; 9. Gian-Paolo Musumeci, 24:58; 10. Steve Rhode, 26:35.

Men’s Age Group –

14-under: 1. Kai Grumbine, 22:37; 2. Wren Cooperrider, 30:49; 3. Kaden Vetsch, 31:20

15-19: 1. Reid Hatch, 20;34; 2. Austin Horn, 21:12; 3. Derek Whitehead, 27:09

20-29: 1. Udell Yazzie, 23:42; 2. David Hopkins, 54:45

30-39: 1. Larry Butler, 22:47; 2. Brian Buzzard, 23:12; 3. Gian-Paolo Musumeci, 24:58

40-49: 1. Steve Rhode, 26:35; 2. Matt Irwin, 27:57; 3. Russell Marsitto, 31:26

50-59: 1. Tom Viskocil, 23:58; 2. Mark Thurston, 24:14; 3. Robert Miller, 28:11

60-69: 1. Keith Kendall, 27:24; 2. Don Rowley, 31:12; 3. David Blanchard, 32:44

70-older: 1. Marsh Linnander, 38:45; 2. Peter Price, 41:18; 3. David Hockman, 41:31.

Women’s Overall: 1. Valentina Nyhart, 24:19; 2. Janie Bohn, 25:04; 3. Sayti Plank, 27:12; 4. Arletta Nez, 27:30; 5. Aidan Schultz, 28:45; 6. Paisner Sharon, 29:29; 7. Ellie Hammond, 31:37; 8. Ina McLean, 31:40; 9. Linnea Lyding, 31:45; 10. Amy Markstein, 32:19.

Women’s Age Group –

14-under: 1. Sayti Plank, 27;12; 2. Aidan Schultz, 28:45; 3. Zoe Schrag, 33:32

15-19: 1. Valentina Nyhart, 24:19; 2. Ellie Hammond, 31:37; 3. Lauren Setnicky 44:43

20-29: 1. Amy Markstein, 32:19; 2. Jessica Turner, 33:06; 3. Kim Weaver, 35:12

30-39: 1. Janie Bohn, 25:04; 2. Arletta Nez, 27:30; 3. Paisner Sharon, 29:29

40-49: 1. Jenny Gutt-Ohly, 32:20; 2. Betsy Fera, 35:42; 3. Emy Tice, 35:50

50-59: 1. Ina McLean, 31:40; 2. Linnea Lyding, 31:45; 3. Stephanie Haughton, 33:34

60-69: 1. Theresa DeBoer, 42:23.

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