Organizers expect about 1,700 runners for Steamboat Marathon
June 2, 2012
Steamboat Springs — About 1,700 runners are expected to answer Sunday morning's early wake-up call to participate in the races of the 31st annual Steamboat Marathon, half-marathon and 10K. Those athletes will represent cities across the state and all corners of the country.
That's a big event and a lot of tourists, even for a big-event, lots-of-tourists town like Steamboat Springs.
Still, Friday afternoon as the runners began to pick up their race packets at Howelsen Hill, the vibe was positively small. It felt more like a class reunion than the largest race on Steamboat's annual calendar.
"I see so many of these people every year," race director Paul Sachs said, surveying an Olympian Hall busy with runners preparing for the race. "That's fun for me. They all remember me, and I try to remember most of them."
Friends new and old will set out for the challenge bright and early Sunday, their day beginning with bus rides from downtown Steamboat to the marathon start in Hahn's Peak Village and the half-marathon start at Moon Hill just south of Clark. Bus pickups start at 5:45 a.m. at Eighth and Oak streets for the marathon and at 6 a.m. at the same intersection for the half-marathon. Both of those races as well as the 10K begin at 7:30 a.m.
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The route for the full marathon runs from the base of Hahn's Peak Village on the shores of Steamboat Lake, down along the Elk River and into Steamboat Springs, finishing directly in front of the historic Routt County Courthouse on Lincoln Avenue. The half-marathon picks up midway along that marathon route, and the 10-kilometer race runs in and around downtown Steamboat.
It means a day of road closures for drivers in the area. Much of Routt County Road 129 (Elk River Road) running north out of Steamboat will be limited to one lane of traffic guided by a pilot car beginning at 6 a.m. Lincoln Avenue through downtown Steamboat will be reduced from four lanes to two — one for travelers headed in each direction — during the race.
For runners, that route and predicted good weather — mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures by midday — will mean a lot of beautiful scenery.
"What a setting for a half-marathon," Steamboat's Scott Kempers said Friday. "It's a beautiful course, coming down through the Elk River Valley."
Kempers will be running his sixth half-marathon. The annual event simply has become what he does the first weekend of June. Throughout the years, he's enlisted plenty of friends and family from across the state to join him.
He said the nervous excitement buzzing as competitors file onto the buses early Sunday morning always is infectious, and the views that lie ahead always are intoxicating. No matter whether he's brought one buddy or 20, when he lines up in the mass at the starting line, there's a familiarity that's comfortable enough to keep so many runners from ever missing an edition of the annual reunion.
"You're walking through the crowd, and you see everyone else, and they're really encouraging and excited," Kempers said. "They're hollering your name, then you see people along the trail, and it's fun. … It's really neat."
There will be traffic delays on Lincoln Avenue and detours on Routt County Road 129 on Sunday because of the Steamboat Marathon. There will be one lane of traffic in each direction on Lincoln Avenue downtown during the race from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Fifth and 11th streets. All of the side streets in that span between Lincoln and Oak also will be closed. Traffic on C.R. 129 southbound will detour onto C.R. 44. Northbound traffic will not be affected. Traffic on 129 north of Cullen's Corner to the start of the half marathon, at Moon Hill, will be controlled by a pilot car and long delays can be expected. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association encourages people to walk, bike or use Steamboat Springs Transit.
■ Registration still is available at packet pick-up.
■ On the day of the race, buses are only picking participants up downtown and not at Gondola Transit Center.
Where to watch
Most of the full and half-marathon will take place on C.R. 129, which goes north out of the west end Steamboat Springs. Much of the road will have traffic delays for the day, however, making it a bad place to watch the race. Better ideas include:
■ Downtown: All of the races finish in front of the Routt County Courthouse on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs. The lawn in front of the courthouse will be buzzing all day with activity, including an 11:45 a.m. Honey Stinger Fun Run for children 5 and older.
■ Cullen's Corner: C.R. 44 offers a way around the mostly closed C.R. 129, and spectators can park at Cullen's Corner, where 44 intersects with 129 and the Elk River. The road breaks left off of 129 1.5 miles north of 129 and U.S. Highway 40, just past Steamboat Springs Airport.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Packet pick up at Howelsen Hill
5:45 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Transportation to the start of the full and half-marathons.
7:30 a.m. Start of the marathon, half-marathon and 10-kilometer race
11:45 a.m. Kid's Fun Run
1 p.m. Race courses closed
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com
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