On your marks

Steamboat Marathon is Sunday

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The 23rd annual Steamboat Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K doesn't start until Sunday, but race director Paul Sachs has seen out-of-town runners out and about.

Ideally, those not used to the altitude of Steamboat Springs would arrive by Friday to acclimate to the change, and those who can often arrive at the end of the workweek.

But this year, a large number of participants -- 181 as of Wednesday -- won't have to travel much because they call Routt County home.

"There are a lot of Steamboat runners this year, which is great," Sachs said.

Registration is closed for the full and half marathons, but people can sign up for the 10K until Saturday, and Sachs said late entries are typical with the 10K event.

"We are right on track with our typical registration for the 10K," he said. "That race doesn't fill, so there isn't that pressure of getting that registration in."

As of Wednesday, 1,866 people were registered for this weekend's events, including 583 in the marathon and 978 in the half. Anyone interested in registering for the 10K run or racewalk, which takes participants on a rolling, paved road through Strawberry Park and Old Town, can do so at Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza for $25 on Friday and Saturday.

Those are the same days that pre-registered participants in all three events can pick up their race packets at Christy Sports. At the same time, people can sign up for a pasta dinner to be held Saturday at the former Chart House on Pine Grove Road. The guest speaker is George Hirsch of Runner's World magazine.

All three running races begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. A free "fun run" is available for everyone. Fun run registration is on race-day only and begins at 11:15 a.m. in front of the courthouse.

The marathon begins at historic Hahn's Peak Village in North Routt and follows Routt County Road 129 down through the Elk River Valley before finishing at the courthouse downtown -- a descent of 1,400 feet.

The half-marathon course begins at the mid-point of the marathon, known as Moon Hill, and finishes at the courthouse.

While the courses have remained largely unchanged through the years, and spectators, as always, are welcome to gather alongside the course to support and encourage the runners, there are some detours and changes new to the marathon this weekend that people should keep in mind.

C.R. 129 from Routt County Road 44 to Cullen's Corner will be closed to nonresidential traffic. Cars will be detoured on C.R. 44. In addition, people can expect delays on C.R. 129 before and during the marathon, particularly close to Steamboat, as the two-lane road is closed to one lane for traffic. Pilot cars will be guiding north- and southbound traffic in the southbound lane.

From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., the westbound lane of Lincoln Avenue from Fifth to 11th streets will be closed, and the side streets will be closed from Lincoln Avenue to Oak Street, as well.

"It's something we've talked about for a while," Sachs said of the detour off C.R. 129. "I'm thinking it will be a much better experience for the runners, and I think it will be faster if you are driving."

In past years, Sachs said, C.R. 129 has become congested because people slowly followed their friends or family in cars and stopped to take pictures. This year, people can line the course but are encouraged to park by Cullen's Corner and walk the course to find a spot.

Free transportation for marathon and half-marathon participants is available on race morning. The marathon buses board between 6 and 6:15 a.m. at the parking lot on the corner of Eighth and Oak streets and at the Gondola Transit Center on Mt. Werner Circle. The half-marathon buses board from 6:15 to 6:30 a.m. Buses will bring personal items back to the finish area, but racers need to provide a bag and identify it clearly.

"This week is stressful," Sachs said. "But I have a great, great, great committee. This year, I think we have it pretty wired. ... We do still need volunteers. We will definitely not turn anyone away. We will find something for them to do."

Anyone interested in volunteering to help out can call the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association at 870-0882.

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

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