Local runner memorialized in annual race

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— For the past 10 years, local athletes have used their feet to memorialize fallen runner Patty Brenner Hagberg at the Spring Creek Memorial.

"I can't believe that it's been 10 years since we started this race," Brenner Hagberg's brother Ken Brenner said. "I had to call my mom and make sure it had been that long."

Brenner Hagberg was struck and killed by a Ford F250 pickup truck as she jogged along Spring Creek Road on July 29, 1991.

The accident prompted Brenner to start the race in an effort to raise awareness on sharing multi-use trails. He also wanted to raise money to improve the roads and trails in the Spring Creek area.

"That first year the road and the area was much more rugged," Brenner recalls. "I think I had 20 people out for the first run and it was much shorter."

Brenner, however, kept the race alive over the years, and today it is one of the most popular runs on the calendar, drawing an average of about 100 runners for the event. Brenner, who stepped down from directing the race a couple of years ago, said he thinks the running event has been successful for a number of reasons.

First, it has adapted over the years to offer a little something for every type of runner. When the race takes place this year on June 30, runners will be able to take part in a relatively easy 3-mile race or a very demanding 9-plus mile trail run that follows an old stage route to Buffalo Pass, Dry Lake and then back to the Spring Creek area where it started. There is also a 1-kilometer fun run for the kids.

"It (the long course) is truly a rugged mountain trail run and a lot of people are looking for that," Brenner said.

The longer course forces runners to forge through a half- dozen streams, jump over logs and keep their wits about them as they tackle unpredictable dirt and rock trails.

"It's a very challenging run," current race director Chris Young said. She has organized the run the past two years along with her husband, Chan Young.

"We get a lot of out-of-town people for this one," Young said. "It's absolutely a unique opportunity."

But for Brenner, the race is about much more than just offering another challenging summer run.

His idea was to raise awareness and to encourage people to share the roads in the wake of his sister's death especially along Spring Creek Road.

He said he thinks things are better today than they were a decade ago but they still are not perfect.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Brenner said.

The run, which is the seventh of the season in the Steamboat Running Series, will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday with the 9-mile run. The 3-mile run will follow at 8:30 a.m. and the fun run will take place about 10 a.m. (or somewhere in that neighborhood , said Young).

The cost to run in the race is $20 and runners can pick up registration materials at Christy Sports or register on site the day of the race from 7 to 7:45 a.m. Young said local merchants have provided plenty of good stuff for prizes, which will be given out after the race is completed on Saturday.

Brenner feels the run is also important in remembering his sister, who was a huge part of his family and also the Steamboat community.

This summer Brenner will propose installing several benches along the trails in the Spring Creek area. If Brenner can win the favor from the city's parks and recreation department and several advisory committees that oversee Spring Creek, then he will go ahead with the memorial as soon as the process has run its course.

Brenner said the money for the project would come from the race proceeds, roughly $3,500, which has been raised by the race and set aside in a special memorial fund for the past 10 years.

"It's been a Brenner family project," he said." We would just like to offer some places where people can sit down and enjoy the area. It's beautiful up there."

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