Record crowd turns out for 10th anniversary of race

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A pair of USA Mountain Running Team members ran off with the 12-mile titles at the 10th annual Mount Werner Classic, held Saturday at the Steamboat Ski Area.

A record field of 85 runners came out to celebrate the decade birthday of the grueling trail climb, race director Tasha Thrasher said.

The 12-mile run takes competitors from the base of the ski area up dirt roads and singletrack to the top of Storm Peak before ending at the top of the gondola.

Elite runner Bill Raitter, 34, of Estes Park dominated the men's field in the 12-mile race, finishing in 1 hour, 45 minutes and 35 seconds -- despite taking a nearly two-mile detour after turning the wrong direction at a downed arrow, Thrasher said.

Following him -- without running the extra mileage -- were two Steamboat Springs runners. Nate Anderson, 46, finished second in 1:47:40 and Andy Picking, 32, was third in 1:55:38.

In the women's race, 40-year-old Anita Ortiz of Eagle crossed the finish line in 1:48:55, beating the field by more than 15 minutes. Ortiz, also a member of the USA Mountain Running Team is a master's runner and the 2003 National Mountain Running Women's Champion.

Following her were Katie Mazzia, 35, of Eagle in second place with a time of 2:04:37, and Karen Tremaine of Steamboat Springs in third with a time of 2:12:05.

In the five-mile run, in which competitors climb Yoo Hoo, Valley View and Huffman's to reach the finish line at the top of the gondola, Steamboat Springs runner Mike Knutson topped the pack. The 24-year-old finished in a time of 44:34, followed by Shawn Scholl, 40, of Kremmling at 51:10 and Brian Tate, 42 of Clark, at 55:55.

Scholl, who with his wife, Stephenie, makes the trip to Steamboat annually to compete in the Classic, recently returned from the Olympic rowing trials, where he just missed a spot on the Athens team, Thrasher said.

In the women's five-mile race, 27-year-old Ashley Crithclow of Vail won with a time of 58:34. She was followed by Melissa Short, 24, of Steamboat Springs at 1:04:18 and Stephenie Scholl, 41, of Kremmling at 1:05:39.

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