Cog Run participants face brutal task

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— Lindsey Heer has driven up and down the cog road in Hayden but hasn't braved it with her feet and a good pair of running shoes. As the race organizer for this year's Hayden Cog Run, she'll leave that task to the participants.

About 100 runners will run in the 8.4-mile, 10K or 5K events Sunday. Only a few will brave the cog.

The cog is a three-mile road with about a 750-foot elevation gain. Going up is tough. Coming down is brutal.

"It's a grueling race but one that people try and do accomplish each year," said Heer, the Hayden Recreation Coordinator. "But coming downhill, that's where it kills people's legs."

For more than 75 years, runners have accepted the challenge of the cog road only to find the reward in completing it. Mark Fischer and Kim Richardson, the heart and soul behind the inaugural Hayden Cog Run, were both avid runners, Heer said.

With strong support from the residents of Hayden and Steamboat Springs, the run quickly caught on and is one of the oldest races in Northwest Colorado. Entering its 24th year, it is the longest consecutively run race in the Steamboat Springs Running Series.

"The cog is the center of a wheel," Heer said. "Hayden is the center of the Yampa Valley."

All three races begin at the Hayden Town Park on Sunday. Entrants in the 10K and 5K fun walk/run will head toward Breeze Basin on a course with some rolling hills.

Those running the 8.4-mile course will head towards the cog road. All the courses are paved and water will be provided at certain intervals in the races. Heer said she still needs a couple of volunteers to work at the water distribution sites.

The 5K walk/run tends to be the most popular event, particularly for families, and the entire family can enter the Hayden Cog Run for $30.

Cost for race admittance is $12 for adults if they register before 5 p.m. Friday and $15 if they register on May 19 race day. Children 12 and under are $8.

Those interested can preregister at the Town Hall in Hayden, Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza in Steamboat Springs or at Parks and Rec in Steamboat.

Racers have the option of registering online at www.active.com as well.

On-site registration also will be made available on race day between 9 and 9:30 a.m.

Those racing in the Hayden Cog Run will receive a T-shirt and refreshments and will be eligible for awards, prizes and a post-race drawing, running series coordinator Emily Conjura said.

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