Thirteen-year-old Laura Zirkle's goal in Saturday's Hot Springs Short Cut Run was to not stop running.
Despite going "a little too fast up the hills," the Hayden youth, who was the only runner in the 19 and under division, kept a steady pace, completing the race about 12 minutes behind the lead female finisher.
"I want to keep going and get farther and faster," said Zirkle, who has been running for three years and hopes to complete all 14 running series races this summer.
Zirkle's time was 1:13:39.
The Short Cut race, which was about seven miles, was the third event in the series.
Runners were allowed to take any path to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs from the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center. Walkers and mountain bikers also participated in the race.
"This is a local's race. You've got to get out and scout it," said Nate Anderson, who crossed the finish line first with a time of 48:01.
Anderson said he cut about 350 yards from his route by darting through an open gate and cutting across the middle school football field. He took another small shortcut through the woods near the hot springs.
Andy Picking took a slightly different course from Anderson, finishing second with a time of 50:10.
"It comes down to who gets to Butcherknife Trail first," said Picking, who finished first in last Sunday's Hayden Cog Run.
Jim French rounded out the men's field with a time of 53:21.
The men were among 35 runners in the race -- 14 more than competed in last year's run.
In the women's division, series director Heather Eller took first with a time of 59 minutes, 47 seconds. Joy Rasmussen crossed the finish line second with a time of 1:02:36.
"It was a great race because it's the beginning of the season, and everyone was psyched," Rasmussen said, adding that the cool weather and a mostly dust-free road leading up to the hot springs made for ideal running conditions.
Tasha Thraser took a close third with a time of 1:02:46.
Because of the increasing popularity of the running series, Eller is putting together a committee of people to help organize all aspects of the races. "It can be a big job. ... It's getting bigger and bigger," she said. " It has a lot of potential."
Those interested in being on the committee should call Eller at 879-0899.
To meet the demand for race information, the series' Web site, www.runningseries.com, is getting a face-lift. Runners soon will be able to register for races on the site, Yeller said.
The next event in the running series is the 23rd annual Steamboat Marathon on June 6, which includes a half marathon, 10K run/walk and one-half mile fun run. The half marathon is sold out, but there are limited spots available for the full marathon. To register for the marathon, 10K race or fun run, go to www.active.com. For more information on the event, call 879-0880.
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