Bette Poppers was one of the first formidable female long distance athletes. She got a late start in the game, starting her running career at 34 years old (and seven months pregnant), but she quickly made a name for herself. Representing Colorado, she became one of the nation’s top Masters runners in the 1980s as well as went on to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials twice (1984 & 1988) after turning 40. Bette is now retired in Littleton.
Pablo Vigil may be called the greatest mountain runner in the world. He is the only man to have won four straight 32-kilometer Sierre-Zinal Mountain race titles (1979-82), setting a race record that lasted for a decade. He also won the Cleveland Marathon three times and competed in three U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials (1980, 1984 & 1988) and was a member of the United States World Cross Country Championship Team in 1978 and the World Mountain Running Championship Team in 1980. He boasts a 1989 win in the Super Marathon de Hoggar, a 100-mile stage race in Tamanrasset, Algeria and was a National 25k Masters Champion in the Old Kent River Run in 1995. Pablo continues to run cross country and mountain races around the world. He lives in Loveland and teaches literacy in both English and Spanish at Harris Bilingual Elementary School.
• National age group record for 5k (23:30)
• National age group record for 10 miles (1:19:22)
• National age group record for 10k
Libby James didn’t enter her first race until her 40’s, but she made a mark from the beginning. The mother of four and grandmother of 12 set national records in the 5k (both 70-74 and 75-79 age groups) as well as the 10k (75-79 age group) and the 10-mile (75-79 age group). She set an age group world record in the 2011 Aetna Park to Park 10-miler with a chip time of 1:19:22 and is the 2011 Running Times Master Runner of the Year in age groups 70-74 and 75-79. In 2010 and 2011 she ran the Bolder Boulder with her oldest grandson when she was 63, and in 2000, she ran the Steamboat Springs Marathon with both her daughters. She currently has a business “oldBags,” (tea bag art) and has also finished the text for a picture book about an old woman who decides to run a marathon (“no research required” she says).