The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


Golden Leaf Triumph: Barton Tofany Shines in Local Half Marathon

Courtesy of Barton Tofany
AHS teacher and head track & field coach Barton Tofany receiving his first-place award at the finish line of the Golden Leaf Half Marathon at Koch Park.

On September 23rd, 2023, 511 contestants including one of Aspen High Schools’ educators Barton Tofany set off on a treacherous trail run, adventuring 13.1 miles from Snowmass Village to the heart of Aspen, Colorado.

The Ute Mountaineer Golden Leaf half marathon, sponsored by Skratch Labs, Darn Tough, and presented by Adidas Terrex, is a trail running race that occurs in the Roaring Fork Valley once every year. This race is no ordinary 13.1 miles but contains over 1000 feet of vertical gain winding through the valleys and mountains of Colorado which presents a beautiful and new challenge for racers. Rated by Trail Runner Magazine as one of America’s 14 most scenic races and by the Colorado Runner as the Best Half Marathon, the Golden Leaf is one of the most beautiful foot races in the Rockies, especially during the fall season.

AHS teacher and coach of the high school track and field team, Barton Tofany decided to embark on this local challenge in order to push himself past his comfort zone as this was his first-ever trail running race. Tofany is an alumnus of AHS and has returned to teach science to students and continue on with Aspen traditions.

“When I was an athlete here at AHS, the cross country team always volunteered for it and I remember one of the coaches when I was on the team ran it and it was really fun getting to cheer for them as they came over the finish line. Now that I’m back here coaching the cross country team I figured to give it a shot since it’s a pretty popular race in the area,” Tofany said.

Tofany ended up winning the Golden Leaf half marathon, beating 510 other competitive contestants during the longest endurance race he has ever participated in.

“A little over halfway through the race, I started cramping up and getting tired. I thought I could hear people cheering for the people behind me so I was panicking that people were about to pass me and then I realized that it wasn’t people cheering, it was an elk bugling. It was really cool because I went from hurting and being scared that someone was about to pass me to realizing that this was a beautiful moment and something that I should be enjoying,” Tofany said.

Just three days prior to running the Golden Leaf Half Marathon, Tofany participated in Emma Coburn’s Elk Run 5K in Crested Butte, Colorado. The course is 3.1 miles in total, taking place at 9,000 feet of elevation which is quite an undertaking for all of those who participate. Emma Coburn for whom the race is named after, is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist who specialized in the 3000-meter steeplechase. The Elk Run is a fundraising event that supports local residents battling cancer and is in honor of Emma’s mother Annie who passed away in January 2023 after three years of battling stage four colon cancer. Tofany ended up placing 14th against other Olympic participants with a time of 18:43.

After running this half marathon, Tofany has realized how difficult trail running really is, even for those who have been running for long periods of time. However, Tofany has been able to make connections between track and trail running. He expresses his love of running and how important he believes it is to have the ability to see progression and growth in something that you are deeply passionate about.

“This was my first trail running race and my first half marathon so I didn’t have a lot of experience with it but I can see why people like it. Trail runners think track is really boring but I think it is awesome because I can go to multiple races and as a coach, I can watch my athletes get better.” Tofany said. “Trail running is really hard because there is a lot of variation between races so it is harder for me as a coach to show my athletes their improvement and it is harder as an athlete to embrace the fact that they are getting better, even if they don’t see it on the clock. I love the idea of working hard and seeing an improvement, and because it is on a stopwatch you can see your hard work pay off in a very tangible way,”.

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About the Contributor
Elsa Tullar
Elsa Tullar, Editor-in-Chief
Elsa is a senior at AHS and is one of the Editor-in-chiefs for the Skier Scribbler.  This is her third year participating in the journalism program and has enjoyed exploring different leadership positions and styles of writing.  Elsa is an avid skier and pickleball player and will do anything to get a plate of tacos.  Additionally, Elsa enjoys spending her time being active outside and educating young students about journalism and the environment.

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