Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Santa Fe's Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon

Last fall was the inaugural running of the Buffalo ThunderHalf Marathon, the first large professionally sponsored road race to come to northern New Mexico in some time. The race is the brainchild of Santa Fe attorney Joseph Karnes, financial advisor Antonio Lopez, and educator Abraham Kosgei - all decorated runners and marathoners in their own right. The goal is to establish a destination running event in Santa Fe, possibly growing to the marathon distance race over the long term. Karnes has experience helping with the organization of the California International and Big Sur Marathons in California and he sees no reason why the same type of event can't be built here in Santa Fe with all the city has to offer as a vacation destination and sweet outdoor play-land.  

As might be expected, I'm fairly keyed-up about this new development. Just as Santa Fe's trails system is really coming together as a first-rate network it looks like we've suddenly landed a first-rate racing event on the roads. The timing is uncanny. Perhaps not coincidentally, IMBA has taken notice and will be hosting this year's Mountain BikeWorld Summit here in town. That sound you hear - is my face exploding.

So, we're psyched. But does the race show promise? I think it does. Last year's race drew a significant amount of interest and a sizable turnout of 700+ finishers. The organizing team hopes to double that number this year. Prize money and an active recruiting effort of local elites resulted in a stacked field up front. Champion Sam Kosgei ran to a wicked-fast time of 1:04:49 at 6500ft altitude. That is remarkably fast. It's no surprise that it is believed to be the fastest half marathon ever run in New Mexico. Meshak Kirwa ran second, and UNM All-American Rory Fraser finished two minutes back in third. The remaining top ten was rounded out by local road racing pros including Pat Kiptum, Bernard Langat, and three time Quad Cities Marathon champ Andrew Musava. Super-Mike Ehrmantraut held on for top trail-runner's honor in 12th. Hi-fives for my man Mike. 

Kosgei at the line - courtesy of Max Mujynya

Ashley Quintana out on the course - Max Mujynya

In the womens race, champ Atalelech Asfaw blazed to a 1:15:55 finish, over three minutes clear of the womens field and good enough for 11th overall. Former NCAA star Kay Ulrich of Los Alamos claimed runner-up honors in 1:19:23. San Francisco Marathon champ Emily Field of Nambe grabbed the final podium spot a minute back. Emily is coached by race founder Abraham Kosgei.

The fleet-footed Uffe Schwender lights up near the finish - Max Mujynya

Dr. Joe Vigil presenting an award to the indomitable Vin Kelley - Max Mujynya

What then can be expected in the event's sophomore year? A lot more awesomeness apparently. Early planning for the September 2012 race includes a Saturday Athletes Expo at the Convention Center, the involvement and corporate financial backing of Nike N7 and Whole Foods Market, appearances from VIP guest and 1964 Olympic 10,000m Champion Billy Mills as well as Nike-sponsored pro Alvina Begay of the Navajo Nation. I've been told to look for the half-page race advertisement in the upcoming May issue of Runners World Magazine. It will be exciting to watch this event get off the ground.

Related Posts:
  - 2012 Buffalo Thunder Half - A Brief Meeting with Billy Mills

View Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon in a larger map

Overall Name
Finish Pace
1 Sam Kosgei 1hr 4m49s 4:57
2 Meshack Kirwa 1:06:10 5:03
3 Rory Fraser 1:06:45 5:06
4 Jonathan Ndambuki 1:08:01 5:12
5 Jacob Kirwa 1:08:47 5:15
6 Simon Sawe 1:08:49 5:15
7 Patrick Kiptum 1:11:08 5:26
8 Josphat Ndeti 1:11:49 5:29
9 Andrew Musava 1:15:35 5:46
10 Bernard Langat 1:15:51 5:47
11 Atalelech Asfaw 1:15:55 5:48
12 Michael Ehrmantraut 1:17:22 5:54
13 Eugene Hogue 1:17:30 5:55
14 Stuart Gillespie 1:17:46 5:56
15 Kay Ulrich 1:19:23 6:04
16 Scott Valdez 1:19:35 6:05
17 Nicholas Martinez 1:19:53 6:06
18 Emily Field 1:20:38 6:09
19 Aaron Padilla 1:21:12 6:12
20 Roy Collins 1:21:24 6:13 

Womens  Overall Name
Finish Pace
1 Atalelech Asfaw 1hr15m55s 5:48
2 Kay Ulrich 1:19:23 6:04
3 Emily Field 1:20:38 6:09
4 Tanya Collins 1:26:01 6:34
5 Sara Wagner 1:27:21 6:40
6 Linsey Sandoval 1:27:44 6:42
7 Liz Turner 1:27:50 6:42
8 Ashley Quintana 1:31:56 7:01
9 Jennifer Steketee 1:33:59 7:10
10 Shannon Zanelli 1:34:24 7:12


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This race is designed for the african runners they know their always going to win first place it's a drop in the bucket and easy money for them. I was there and we came along way for this race and there's alot of negativity in the air regarding one of the co-founders of this race, it's a bad idea and we won't be coming again. Yes and I did place.

    1. I just read this for the first time. You have got to be joking. Designed for the African runners? What kind of racist and wrong headed statement is that? How can you design a race to favor anyone? The only thing you could argue is that people born at altitude would have an advantage. Negativity about one of the co-founders? We clearly were not at the same race.

    2. Yes, it's a foolish comment. Initially I had considered deleting it but chose instead to let the ignorance stand on its own. Perhaps another runner will recognize the author (who logged in from Kansas City). All of the men's top 10 train in New Mexico. The top 5 women are New Mexican and one from Flagstaff. All are terrific competitors.

      I'd love to see this race build in participation and depth. There were some serious runners in this inaugural field.

  3. Are you saying this course was designed for someone to hammer out a 1:04? Because you would be wrong if that's the case. This was a very strong field. Rory is British, and he seemed to run well enough for third. He's was also one of the top collegiate runners in the country last year.

  4. What time is the slowest runner for women. I just don’t want to embarrass myself greatly if I can’t even reach that.



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