Back when she was 15 and wanting to go out for the Durango High School track team, Elva Dryer promised her father that he if bought her a pair of running shoes, she would one day run in the Olympic Games.
Buying shoes for one of their eight children was a sacrifice for Alonso and Abigail Martinez, first generation immigrants from Mexico, but their sacrifice paid off when Dryer made good on her promise by competing at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.
On a damp and cool Memorial Day, Dryer, 33, continued making her family proud and ascending onto the world stage by winning the 2005 Bolder Boulder 10K pro women’s race, leading Team USA to a 1-3-4 finish and another International Team Challenge title.
Dryer picked up $24,000 for her win, part of a race purse of $162,600. She finished in 32 minutes, 51 seconds, well clear of Ethiopian Merima Hashim, second in 33:17.
With fellow Olympians Jen Rhines in third and local Colleen De Reuck, fourth, the U.S. totaled eight points, third lowest in Bolder team history, followed by Ethiopia (17), Japan (26), Romania (29) and defending champion Mexico (45).
“Finishing in the stadium carrying the flag and hearing the crowd was surreal,” said Dryer, a native of Durango who now lives with her coach and husband, Russ, in Albuquerque. “Colorado has always been my home and to do well here is truly special.”
It was special for Clint Wells in the men’s race as well. Another Colorado prep product, from Craig High School, Wells was the top U.S. finisher in the men’s race, placing 14th in 30:49.
“No, I am not surprised to be the top American,” said Wells. “I am coming around and have my motivation back.”
Wells – a runner with no sponsorship who works two jobs – was part of Team Colorado, which also included Sean Nesbit (30th) and Jon Severy (32nd). Team Colorado placed eighth, just out of the team money.
Team USA, comprising Peter Julian (16th, 30:58), Jason Hubbard (19th, 31:16), Austin Vigil (21st, 31:32), finished in a tie with Ecuador and Russia (50 points), and was given fifth place based on the third man tie-breaker. The U.S. team shared $8,000.
“It was a good day for the U.S.,” said Julian, recently named head coach of Metro State in Denver. “The women won and men ran solid.”
The men’s race was another Ethiopia-Kenya battle, with Ethiopia coming out on top. Gudisa Shentama won in 29:21, with countryman Mohammed Awol second.
After dueling with Shentama until the final kilometer, Kenyan Thomas Kipiltan fell back to third. Kenya, which saw defending champ Paul Koech pull out because of injury, edged Mexico by one point for second in the team competition.
The races were run under damp, cool conditions. There were 46,481 registered for the 79 waves comprising the people’s races. Many stayed in the football stadium on the University of Colorado campus to watch the American women.
Early in the race, it looked as if it would be Merima Hasim who would be doing something special. The Ethiopian ran 32:14 at a track race in Palo Alto, Calif., on Sunday evening. She then flew in from California Monday morning, arriving at Folsom Field with just enough time to warm-up.
At the start, Japan’s Masako Chiba bolting into an immediate lead, passing the mile in 5:01. Hashim caught up and went to the front, with Dryer in the chase pack running a conservative pace as planned.
Soon, however, Dryer left the pack and caught first Chiba and then Hashim.
“My original plan was not to go out fast,” said Dyer, a two-time USA 10K road champion, “but I knew I was fit. It was risky to go out as hard as I did. But since I am altitude trained, I figured if I faded, I would not fade that much. It was a risk I am glad I took.’
As Dryer battled Hashim for the lead, Rhines and De Reuck gradually moved up. Dryer would see her teammates on each of the laps up and down Folsom Street, pumping her fist in encouragement.
“I’d see the other girls and say, ‘Oh yeah, we are doing good'”, said Dryer.
Dryer and Hashim clicked off miles of 5:15, passing 4 miles in 20:59. Another 5:15 mile left Dryer clear of Hashim, who ran a gutsy race in finishing second.
“The Ethiopians often run fast at altitude, so that (Hashim’s fast early pace) wasn’t a surprise,” said Dryer, who earlier this month ran her 10,000-meter personal record (31:21.92), fourth fastest U.S. woman all-time.
“She was always with me, and I sensed when she dropped back. Then I just wanted to go as hard as I could and hold my position to the end.”
That is what Dryer did, and the large crowd that filled Folsom Field three-quarters full roared when, on the TV coverage being shown on the scoreboard, fans saw Dryer grab a small U.S. flag and carry it down the ramp into the stadium.
There she smiled and waved the flag, bringing fans to their feet and filling the stadium with a roar that sounded like, well, a football game.
“I was exhausted, but coming into the stadium I felt at ease,” said Dryer. “I’m happy because wins at this level are few and far between. Jen and Colleen have been great teammates in the past, and I felt a bit of pressure. I just wanted to run well for the team.”
Afterward, fans were buzzing about the American performance. “What a great race,” said Francie Bosley, mother of race director Cliff Bosley and wife of race founder Steve Bosley. “Wasn’t it exciting?”
Indeed, it was, as the strong front running by Dryer coupled by the top finishes by Rhines and De Reuck were the perfect cap to the Bolder Boulder’s Memorial Day celebration.
Dryer proved to be a fine replacement for three-time Bolder Boulder champ Deena Kastor, who was forced out of the race by an injury two weeks ago. Dryer had already planned on running a track race over the weekend but quickly changed her plans when athlete coordinator Rich Castro called.
“I had another race planned, but track races will always be around,” said Dryer, “The call was rather unexpected, but I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. It did not take us long to make the decision. I am glad my family and friends (in Durango) were able to watch this.”
With the race prize purse, coupled with the Olympic development funds, Dryer certainly has enough money to buy shoes if need.
When told she had won $24,000, Dryer smiled and said, “Great! Now I’ll be able to get that bedroom set.”
And as for that first pair of shoes, a pink and white pair of the original Nike Pegasus, they are still around, used by Abigail Martinez as her gardening shoes.
27th Celestial Seasonings BolderBOULDER 10K: 8th Int’l Team Challenge
Boulder, CO, Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2005
1) Gudisa Shentema, Ethiopia, 29:21, $3000
2) Mohammed Awol, Ethiopia, 29:27, $2750
3) Thomas Kiplitan, Kenya, 29:32, $1500
4) David Galvan, Mexico, 29:33, $1000
5) Tekeste Kebede, Ethiopia, 29:36, $800
6) Gilbert Okari, Kenya, 29:39, $700
7) Teodoro Vega, Mexico, 30:02, $600
8) Herder Vasquez, Colombia, 30:03, $500
9) Pablo Olmedo, Mexico, 30:06, $400
10) Titus Kimani, Kenya, 30:08, $300
11) Silvio Guerra, Ecuador, 30:09
12) Andrew Letherby, Australia, 30:11
13) Dmitri Maximov, Russia, 30:44
14) Clint Wells, Colorado, 30:49
15) William Naranjo, Colombia, 30:55
16) Peter Julian, USA/CO, 30:58
17) Vladimir Guerra, Ecuador, 31:09
18) Kim Gillard, Australia, 31:13
19) Jason Hubbard, USA/CO, 31:16
20) Oleg Bolokhovets, Russia, 31:25
21) Austin Vigil, USA/CO, 31:32
22) Pavel Kokin, Russia, 31:34
23) Cesar Gualotuna, Ecuador, 31:41
24) Jason Ward, Great Britain, 31:46
25) Michael Power, Australia, 31:49
26) Jae Yung Hyung, Korea, 31:53
27) Dave Anderson, Great Britain, 32:03
28) Joneg Hun Sin, Korea, 32:13
29) Andrew Norman, Great Britain, 32:18
30) Sean Nesbit, Colorado, 32:27
31) Kyong Sun Kil, Korea, 32:28
32) Jon Severy, Colorado, 33:49
1) Ethiopia, 8, $15,000
2) Kenya, 18, $10,000
3) Mexico, 19, $7000
4) Ecuador, 46, $6000
5) USA, 50, $8000 (won tie-breaker)
6) Australia, 50, $3000
7) Russia, 50, $2000
8) Colorado, 71
9) Great Britain, 74
10) Korea, 79
1) Elva Dryer, USA/NM, 32:51, $9000
2) Merima Hashim, Ethiopia, 33:17, $2750
3) Jen Rhines, USA/PA, 33:28, $3750
4) Colleen De Reuck, USA/CO, 33:40, $2250
5) Masako Chiba, Japan, 33:54, $800
6) Abeba Tola, Ethiopia, 33:59, $700
7) Mari Ozaki, Japan, 34:02, $600
8) Constantina Dita, Romania, 34:11, $500
9) Elfenesh Alemu, Ethiopia, 34:24, $400
10) Lida Simon, Romania, 34:32, $300
11) Nuta Olaru, Romania, 34:34
12) America Mateos, Mexico, 34:36
13) Angelica Sanchez, Mexico, 34:51
14) Kiyoko Shimahara, Japan, 34:55
15) Naomi Wangui Ndegwa, Kenya, 35:10
16) Nicole Aish, Colorado, 35:12
17) Eunice Jhepkirui Kirwa, Kenya, 35:13
18) Leah Jemeli Malot, Kenya, 35:23
19) Kang Soon Duk, Korea, 35:26
20) Zoila Gomez, Mexico, 36:31
21) Kim Na Ra, Korea, 37:05
22) Fiona Docherty, Commonwealth, 37:13
23) Katie Blackett, Colorado, 37:25
24) Lucy Hassell, Commonwealth, 37:39
25) Amy Manson, Colorado, 37:43
26) Jenny Gillard, Commonwealth, 38:12
27) Min Da Mi, Korea, 41:31
1) USA, 8, $45,000
2) Ethiopia, 17, $10,000
3) Japan, 26, $7000
4) Romania, 29, $6000
5) Mexico, 45, $4000
6) Kenya, 50, $3000
7) Colorado, 64, $2000
8) Korea, 67
9) Commonwealth, 72