Chamber gets head start on marathon plans

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— Forget the snow and forget the cold, the time to start thinking about those running shoes has arrived.

That is, if you want to be a part of the 20th annual Steamboat Marathon and Half-Marathon.

The registration for the June event opened Jan. 1, and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association expects the marathon and half-marathon (both of which are limited) to fill by March. Spokeswoman Judy Wiesner said she already has 100 entries for the two events and registration has only been open for a week.

"The two races fill very, very quickly," Wiesner said. "What has happened in the past is that we get our brochure ready, advertise in places like Runners World and other major running publications and forget about some of our local runners."

But she added that's not the case this year.

On Monday, the Chamber ran an advertisement in Steamboat Today to remind local runners to register for the event early. In addition, the organizers are offering a reduced rate for local runners in both the half- and full marathon for the first time.

"These races are always filling up earlier and earlier," Paul Sachs said. Sachs is the events race director.

"We ran an advertisement so that people around here don't get shut out of the race," he said.

The early registration warning and reduced locals rate are just a few of the changes for the races this season. Runners will also be able to register online for the first time. The locals rate, however, will only be honored by runners who stop by the Chamber Visitor Center to fill out their paperwork and pay their entry fee.

"The online registration is going to be great," Sachs said. "It should cut down on a lot of paperwork and make the whole system run smoother."

Locals who want the reduced rate (which will be offered for a limited time) will not be able to register online however, because Sachs explained that there was just no way to verify online if a person was a Routt County resident.

"It's brand new," Wiesner said of the online registration. "I've already received about 60 entries online."

While local runners will not be aided much by the online option, Sachs is hoping they will be happy with the reduced price to enter the race. Locals can sign up for the marathon for $40 and the half-marathon for $35. Out-of-town runners will pay $50 to enter the marathon and pay $45 for the half.

"The costs have just gone up so much the last few years and we wanted to be able to give the local runners a bit of a break," Sachs said.

Locals can register online if they wish to avoid going into the Chamber, but they will have to pay the out-of-town registration fee if they choose to do so.

"We just wanted to get people thinking about the marathon and let them know that they can register for next summer's races now," Wiesner said.

The marathon is limited to the first 500 runners and the half-marathon is limited to the first 900 runners. The past several years, both races have filled in record time.

"This is a big one," Wiesner said. "It's the 20th anniversary, so it is big to us."

Wiesner said she has sent out letters to the group of runners who took part in the first Steamboat Marathon 20 years ago. She said those runners can take part in the marathon or any of the other races free of charge.

"We are hoping to get a few of those runners out here and make this one special," Sachs said.

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