Falls race a tough one

16-mile Continental Divide Trail Run includes grueling ascent

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— The Fish Creek Falls trail offers locals and tourists some of the most beautiful hiking around Steamboat Springs.

On Sunday morning, the same trail surrounded by lush foliage and usually sprinkled with hikers will become one of the toughest stretches in the Steamboat Springs Running Series as about 40 runners take part in the 16-mile Continental Divide Trail Run.

The approximately 2.5 mile ascent from the Fish Creek Falls parking lot to the Upper Falls is the most taxing part of the race, race director David Dietrich said.

"It's not bad once you get above the second falls," he said. "It becomes more rolling terrain, but it's a climb from the Fish Creek Falls parking lot to the top no doubt about it. People know it's a tough one. The first year we got a lot of reviews, and people said it's a great one."

Mountain trail running is becoming an increasingly popular activity, and the Continental Divide Trail Run provides participants with all the amenities one would seek in a race. There will be a tough ascent, some rolling hills and a descent with beautiful scenery through the duration of the race should runners take time to look around.

That, however, might be a little dangerous. Dietrich said he went and rode the course a couple of weeks ago and found downed trees on the trail. They were cleared on his most recent tour of the course, but that doesn't mean there won't be obstacles come Sunday morning at 8 a.m., when the runners take off.

"If you want to hike it you can hike it any other day of the week," Dietrich said. "It's more of a trail race. If you think you might not be ready for it, don't do it."

Once participants make the ascent past the Upper Falls, they will turn right onto the Mountain View Trail before actually reaching Long Lake. Runners will stay on the Mountain View Trail that ends at the summit of Mount Werner.

The descent then begins down the mountain to the top of the gondola, where the finish line awaits. After the postrace drawing, runners can take a free ride back down the gondola.

Two aid stations will be placed along the trail with water and provisions for race participants. An EMT will be on hand and Dietrich said several employees of Ski Haus, the store putting on the event, will be patrolling the course to clean trash and make sure everyone is doing fine.

Because there is no race-day registration for the Continental Divide Trail Run, those interested are asked to come to Ski Haus and register today. The cost is $20.

Due to limited parking at the base of Fish Creek Falls, race organizers have arranged for participants to park in the Knoll parking lot located off Mount Werner Circle. From there, runners will be shuttled to the start at Fish Creek Falls and can come down the gondola to return to their vehicles once the race is over. Runners are asked to be in the Knoll lot by 7 a.m.

To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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