Steamboat Springs Taylor Hatcher, 26, was on a short vacation from a Florida explosives school and decided to sign up for the men's 10K race at the 17th annual Fish Creek Sneak Sunday. The first-timer will be heading back soon to continue training as a search and rescue diver, with a 10K victory to show for his vacation.
"It feels good," Hatcher said, shrugging off the win with a smile. "You've always got to keep on competing. It's a good run."
About 115 people participated in the most casual race of the Steamboat Springs Running Series. Runners of all ages were encouraged to bring dogs, children in strollers or walk in either a 10K or 5K race. The race began at Ski Haus and went up Steamboat Boulevard to the water-treatment plant, where runners then head back downhill to Ski Haus, which sponsored the event.
"It's pretty exciting," said Ian Ramsay, 17, who finished first in his fifth try at the men's 5K. "There are usually a couple of really fast guys. There weren't too many this year."
The event normally draws up to 150 people per year, said organizer Rod Schrage. Nothing much has changed over the event's 17-year history, Schrage said. Minor alterations were made to accommodate new streets and construction; the race was also moved back from August, when the streets began to get too crowded.
"We were all runners here, and we thought it would be a pretty fun course," said Schrage of starting the event.
K.C. Jones won last year's 10K with a time of 36 minutes, 11 seconds 40 seconds faster than Hatcher's winning time. Kelley Carlson came in just a few seconds later at 37:08, second overall and tops in the women's 10K division.
"It's another beautiful day and another great group of people," said volunteer Jan Goodbread as she posted the final times. "It is more of a casual race. It's a chance for people who probably don't race in the other races."
Winners in each division, including those who raced with their canine companions, were recognized at the end of the race, followed by a drawing for prizes.
First-timer Charlie Smith, 10, and his dog Emerald received a tremendous ovation as they crossed the finish line. Smith placed seventh overall in the men's 5K and was among the top runners with a dog.
"I did it 'cause I wanted to run with Emerald," Smith said.
Sheryl Kelley also drew a commotion by taking first place in the "stroller division." Kelley went through the course while pushing 16-month-old son Benjamin in a stroller. She had no particular strategy for navigating the course but told future participants to make sure to "change diapers beforehand, and just have fun."
"Everyone gets a chance to win something," said announcer Tom Whiddon. "It's more for you to do your personal best."