A Classic climb

Mount Werner Classic hits the ground running Saturday


After a three-week break, the Steamboat Springs Running Series heads into the final two months of the season with the ninth annual Mount Werner Classic.

The Classic consists of 12-mile and 5-mile runs along with a 5-mile hike on Mount Werner. The races will take place Saturday in conjunction with the Storm Peak Thunder bike festival.

The date and course for this year's race has changed, but director Emily Conjura said the Mount Werner Classic races will still be as challenging as ever.

The 12- and 5-mile runs are among the most difficult trail runs in the Running Series.

The 12-mile course begins at the base of the ski mountain in Gondola Square. Runners will climb to the top of Mount Werner on a loop before descending to the finish at the top of the gondola.

The 5-mile runners will run up a single-track course to the top of the gondola.

The 5-mile hikers can hike the same course.

"The 12 miles is really hard," Conjura said. "I ran it last year, and I can't believe I make people do this."

A last-minute change on the course, which will take runners on a different path between Headwall and the top of Thunderhead, has been implemented to help racers avoid the heavy mountain bike traffic expected on Mount Werner as part of The Downhill, a 1,900-foot downhill race that is part of the first Storm Peak Thunder event.

"The little sweepover cuts off barely anything," Conjura said.

The difference in the course shouldn't affect people's ability to better last year's finish times, though it may still be tough to beat the 2002 winners.

Steamboat's Andy Picking and Tenadore Dean won the 12-mile and 5-mile race, respectively.

Picking finished the 12-mile race in 1 hour, 47 minutes and 52 seconds. Dean came across the line in the 5-mile in 43:03.

Steamboat's Jessica Philip won the women's 5-mile in 1:08:25, while Boulder's Paula Bowman finished the women's 12-mile course in 2:04:09.

Conjura said the Mount Werner Classic is a popular course for Boulder residents to enter.

Space is limited to 100 for Saturday's races, but slots are still available, Conjura said.

People can either register online at www.active.com or on race day in Gondola Square for $20 starting at 7 a.m.

Aid stations will be available on the course at four locations, including the top of the Christy Lift and the top of Buddy's Run.

The entry fee covers post-race drawings, a catered lunch from Winona's and a visor. All the drawings are at the top of the gondola.

Saturday's 12-mile begins at 8 a.m. The 5-mile run and hike begins at 8:30 a.m.

All runners will receive a free ride down the gondola after the race.

--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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