Mark Fischer remembers running up the steep Hayden Cog road with a group of friends each spring.
It was the 1970s, and running for pleasure was just starting to become popular.
The grueling jog up Routt County Road 76 became a rite of passage for the stout of heart.
"Sometimes we ran under the full moon," Fischer said. "It was kind of crazy."
The annual ritual may have been a bit wacky, but it also was fun. So in 1979, Fischer and Kim Richardson, a former physical education teacher at Hayden Valley Elementary School, turned it into a community event.
"We were just young and enthusiastic. ... We took joy in that (run) and enrolled others in it so that they experienced the same joy we did," Fischer said.
The 26th Hayden Cog Run, which now includes a 10-kilometer run and 5K fun run/walk, is Saturday.
The run, which is the third race in the Steamboat Springs Running Series, will challenge runners on an 8.4-mile, out-and-back course on C.R. 76 north of Hayden.
The 5K and 10K races will head south of Hayden on Poplar Street to a rolling course along C.R. 53.
The run, which usually attracts 85 to 100 runners and walkers, is a good way to highlight recreational activities offered in Hayden, town recreation coordinator Lindsey Heer said.
"Recreation is growing in Hayden, and the Cog Run kind of starts off the summer," she said.
Distance running, a common pastime for many Americans, was just getting started in the early years of the race. During the running craze in the 1980s, more than 200 people participated in the race.
Back then, runners didn't have fancy running shoes, personal trainers or physical therapists, said Fischer, who has paid for years of running with hip problems.
Fischer and friend Bill Philip recently joked about their running careers and subsequent hip surgeries.
"Both of us laugh at the fact that we ran the Cog Run for 20 years and now are getting hip surgery," he said.
Although many hearty souls continue to push their limits up to the Cog, Fischer particularly likes that the race has become a family event.
"Health and diet are still an issue. ... If families and children can obtain joy from this type of exercise, that is what I take pleasure in," he said.
Registration for the Hayden Cog Run is available for $20 at Christy Sports or at www.active.com until noon Friday. A no-frills fee is $15.
Hayden residents may pre-register at Hayden Town Hall for $12 per person until noon Thursday. Hayden children cost $8 and families may register for a $30 group fee.
Fees include a long-sleeve T-shirt, post-race refreshments and the chance to win awards and drawing prizes.
On site registration will be from 9 to 9:30 a.m. race day. The cost is $15 for Hayden residents and $25 for other racers.
All races will start at 10 a.m. at the Hayden Town Park on South Third Street. Call 276-3741.