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Moms Dominate Colorado’s Biggest Marathon

Female runners at ColfaxWomen of all ages lit up the Colfax Marathon races this year in Denver.
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Four of six women standing atop this year’s Denver Colfax Marathon and Half Marathon podiums had kids on their hip or in tow.

Female runners at Colfax
Women of all ages lit up the Colfax Marathon races this year in Denver.

A qualifier for the prestigious Boston Marathon, Denver’s historic Colfax Marathon, which includes a half-marathon, a 10-miler, and a 5K, draws 20,000 runners from around the nation. Racers are treated to a tour of the city and are challenged to sustain a race pace at 1 mile above sea level.

Women stole the show this year, with moms taking over a majority of the marquee events’ podium spots. New Mexico distance runner Malika Camacho won the half-marathon, and Denver’s Julie Olsen-Smith took second in the full 26.2-mile road race at 3:08:53. Both winners are 36-year-old mothers of two.

And Olsen-Smith trailed only 25-year-old Emily Van Meter’s searing 6:44-per-mile pace.

Winning Moms at Colfax Marathon

Colfax Marathon in Denver
Evan Semón Photography

While she’s an experienced Ironman triathlon competitor, this was Olsen-Smith’s first real sanctioned road marathon. “I’ve always said that doing an Ironman is harder than going through labor,” she told us, laughing.

Olsen-Smith, a middle school teacher, said she’s faster now than before having kids. She pins her post-kids athletic success on three things: preventing injury by focusing on a triathlon instead of running exclusively, having a tight window of free time that makes her training feel mandatory, and counting on running as her number-one stress-management tool for family life in the fast zone.

Runner Julie Olsen
Julie Olsen-Smith hangs with her girls after another race a previous year.

Another mom, Malika Camacho, won the Colfax Half Marathon this year in 1:19:56. It was her first time entering the Denver race.

Camacho trains in Albuquerque, where she lives with her husband and two active boys, ages 2 and 4. “I was trying to go faster, but I had a stomach issue a couple nights before,” she said.

“I’m still just trying to get back from pregnancy, so I used Colfax to build up speed for the marathon,” Camacho told us. In fact, she’s trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the longer discipline.

Her marathon goal time? 2:37.

“I would love to represent the U.S. in the marathon,” said Camacho, who grew up running in Morocco and has lived in the U.S. since 2006. She is still working toward her U.S. citizenship.

Other moms topping the podium at the Colfax Marathon included Christine Hammond, 36, of Boulder, Colo., who placed third in the half at 1:25:19. And Joanna Masloski, 40, of Lone Tree, Colo., took third in the full marathon at 3:15:05.

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