Running Series offers variety of courses

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Whether you are a competitive racer or someone who simply likes to raise the heart rate, Northwest Colorado is the perfect place to get outdoors and run.

Both trail and road running are popular activities for tourists and residents alike, and the highlight of the competitive racing scene in the five-county area of Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt this season is the Steamboat Springs Running Series scheduled from May until October.

* May 22 -- Hot Springs Short Cut Run. 7 mile uphill, rolling point to point mostly paved ending at Straw-berry Park Hot Springs. Walk, run or mountain bike. * June 6 -- 23rd annual Steamboat Marathon. Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 1/2-mile Fun Run. Marathon course mostly flat and downhill paved from Hahn's Peak to downtown Steamboat; half marathon course follows same course. Call 879-0882 * June 26 -- 13th annual Spring Creek Memorial. 9-mile run, 5K run/walk, 1K kids run around reservoir. 9 mile is an out uphill, back downhill loop; 5K is a trail run. Call 879-1828 ext. 26 * July 4 -- 13th annual Steamboat Sprint. 400-yard sprint on Main Street. Call 879-4300 * July 11 -- 26th annual Mountain Madness Half Marathon, 10K, 2-mile Fun Run. Half Marathon is hilly and mostly paved; 10K is an out and back mostly paved course; 2 mile is flat out and back partially paved. * July 17 -- Hash House Harriers (new race). The hare lays a trail of flour over a course (s)he chooses. The harriers (the hounds) try to follow that trail to the end where they enjoy refreshments. This hash is 3-5 miles over hill and dale and through woods. The hash is not a competitive race. Contact Tracey Tyson at steamboattracey@h... * Aug. 7 -- 10th annual Mount Werner Classic. 12 mile and 5 mile from base of ski mountain. 12 mile makes loop to top of ski mountain and back to gondola via single track and dirt road. 5 mile is single track to gondola. Call 879-0899 * Aug. 22 -- Continental Divide Trail Run. 16-mile trail run begins at Fish Creek Falls and climbs to Continental Divide. Call 879-0385 * Sept. 5 -- 20th annual10K at 10,000 feet. 10K run at Rabbit Ears Pass on single track and rustic mountain roads. Call 879-0371 * Sept. 11 -- Kremmling Road Kill Trail Half Marathon, 10K, 5K. Half marathon is 70 percent dirt and rest pavement; 10K is half trail and paved with one major climb; 5K is paved through Kremmling. Call (970) 724-3472 * Sept. 19 -- 18th annual Steamboat Pilot & Today Run for Literacy . 7-mile run, 5K run and race walk, .4-mile kids' run for children 8 and younger. 7 mile is hilly loop both paved and dirt. 5K is shorter version of 7-mile course. Kids run is paved and nearly flat. Call 871-4224 * Oct. 3 -- Emerald Mountain 15K, 5K (new). This is a new race that incorporates a potluck lunch to follow the event. The race series will also use this event to award the season end awards for the running series. Call 870-0739

The Steamboat Springs Running Series includes 13 races in Routt County and one in Grand County, giving interested participants the opportunity to run, walk or race walk among some of the most breathtaking scenery in Colorado.

The series has a devoted local following, which keeps it alive, but first-year race director Heather Eller said the events, which frequently fall on the same weekends as other area activities or festivals, are open to anyone.

"We love to have people from all over," Eller said. "It increases the competition. Steamboat can offer such a variety of courses on such beautiful terrain."

Several events on this summer's schedule are the popular Steamboat Marathon on June 6, the 25th annual Mountain Madness Half Marathon, 10K and 2-mile fun run on July 11 and the 19th annual 10K at 10,000 feet, a race run solely on single track and rustic mountain roads on Rabbit Ears Pass on Sept. 5.

In addition, Kremmling hosts a Road Kill Half Marathon, 10K and 5K in conjunction with its Sept. 11 town festival.

Eller said she frequently receives messages from people interested in particular races or in running advice in general. The series' Web site at www.runningseries.com offers quick answers and the opportunity to pre-register for races.

For those visitors not interested in racing, they can take advantage of the large number of maintained area trails or paved surfaces for leisurely jogs.

Spring Creek Trail's trailhead is located in town, as are the trailheads on Emerald Mountain near downtown Steamboat Springs.

Runners from lower elevations are reminded to prepare and plan accordingly when attempting more strenuous runs.

Runners that venture out into the more secluded trails are also reminded to prepare for the worst and bring water, food and a rain jacket of some variety, considering the frequency of afternoon thunderstorms.

In addition, if a runner plans on going out alone, he or she should be familiar with the course and should let others know where he or she plans on going. n

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