The Strength of the Spirit

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If you listened carefully you could hear the sound of rubber shoes kissing the pavement in front of the Steamboat Springs middle school on Saturday morning.

The sound was generated by more than 100 runners who took part in the 5- and 10-kilometer Spirit Challenge racing events the first events of the 2000 Steamboat Springs running series.

"It was a lot of fun," men's 10-kilometer winner Paul Sachs said. "I liked having the 5- and 10-kilometer races start at the same time. It pushed the 10-kilometer runners a little bit more."

Sachs set a blistering pace in the first half of the 10-kilometer race. He ted he was pushed a little by Tenador Dean who was competing in the 5-kilometer race. But since both races started along the same stretch of road, Sachs and many of the 10-kilometer racers pushed their pace to stay up with the leaders of the 5-kilometer pack.

"It was my first time to run in this race, so I wasn't used to that," Sachs said of the start.

If the unusual start helped Sachs' push in the beginning of the race, it was competitors Damian Wells and John Smith who pushed Sachs in the second part.

"I was a little surprised that they were so close to me at the turn around," Sachs said. "It gave me a little incentive to run faster in the second half.

Sachs finished in first with a time of 38 minutes, 29 seconds.

Damian Wells was second at 38:43 and John Smith was third at 39:23.

Kelly Boniface topped the women's race with a time of 44:04. She was followed by Tracey Tyson in second at 47:51 and Deb Rose in third with a time of 48:13.

Sachs said the May 6 race was the first time he has competed in the Spirit Challenge and it also was his first race of the season.

He enjoyed it because he got a chance to complete a few laps with his children after the race. They were taking part in the walk-a-thon.

"It was nice to get to do a few laps with my daughters,' Sachs said. " This is a fun event."

There were 150 young walkers taking part in the walk-a-thon. The students will be collecting pledges this week and the profits will go to the Routt County Education Foundation.

Sachs said he isn't sure how many events he will be able to compete in on this year's running series calendar.

He plans on doing the Hot Spring Short Cut race. But he admits he will miss many of the other events this season because of a busy schedule.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail him at jrussell@amigo.net.

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