The series stretches across four mountain towns, lasts five months and includes 13 different events.
But more importantly, the Honey Stinger Steamboat Springs Running Series gives runners a reliable place to compete throughout the spring, summer and fall -- and it starts Saturday.
"The idea behind the running series was to get more runners to do more races," runner Larry Handing said. "It seems to be working."
The series began in 1986 and had several directors over the years including Handing, Lane Schrock and, for the past five years, Emily Conjura.
Conjura said that while the number of races will remain the same in 2003, runners might notice a few changes on this year's schedule.
First, the Fish Creek Sneak, which normally takes place in June, will not return to the series this summer. It will, however, be replaced by the Road Kill Trail Half Marathon, is Sept. 13 in Kremmling.
Runners might also notice that the Mount Werner Classic has moved to Saturday, Aug. 2. In the past, the Mount Werner Classic traditionally has been held on a Sunday, but because of a scheduling conflict with a mountain bike race on the same weekend, Conjura opted to move the race to Saturday.
Another notable change is the location for the 17th annual Steamboat Pilot & Today Run for Literacy, to be held Sept. 21.
This year, the race will begin at the Steamboat Pilot & Today office building. It will include a 7-mile run, 5-kilometer run and race walk. There also will be a kid's fun run.
Despite the changes, Conjura thinks the series will remain strong in 2003.
The series will include several local events, including the Hayden Cog run, Steamboat Marathon and Mountain Madness Half Marathon, which have been a part of the Steamboat summer for decades.
The series begins Saturday with the 18th annual Spirit Challenge.
"May is a pretty busy month," Handing said. "There are four races in six weeks, which is a challenging start."
The Spirit Challenge will begin and end at the Steamboat Springs Middle School. Runners can chose from 5- or 10-kilomter running race. There also is is is is a 5-kilometer race walk and the children will be taking part in the annual walk-a-thon to raise money for the Routt County Education Fund.
"It's always a fun race," Handing said. "It's the start of a new season and a good way to mark the passage from winter to spring."
The race will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot in front of the Steamboat Springs Middle School. A walk-a-thon will take place on the school's track.
-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail email@example.com