Wild, wild relay

195-mile race enjoys greater popularity

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— Lisa Javernick was busy making signs Tuesday afternoon to help direct the 1,040 runners who will race Friday and Saturday during the challenging, 195-mile Wild West Relay.

Javernick, assistant race director, said the success of last year's Wild West Relay - in which 60 teams raced the lengthy Fort Collins-to-Steamboat Springs course - fueled increased interest this year. Ninety-four teams have signed up for the race.

"The relay is becoming more popular," Javernick said. "People enjoy it because it appeals to different levels of runners. You don't have to be a superstar to do well."

The race will have two different relay formats. One format will have teams of 12, with each participant running three relay legs averaging 5.25 miles, and the other format will have teams of six, with each participant running six legs of the same distance.

"People love relays because of the camaraderie," Javernick said. "Who would want to wake up at 3 (a.m.) to run after two hours of sleep otherwise?"

The race begins with staggered starts from 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday in Fort Collins. Racers will head north through the Roosevelt National Forest and briefly into Wyoming before heading back south - ideally under moonlight - through Jackson County and up Rabbit Ears Pass. Coming down U.S. Highway 40 on Saturday morning after the Tour de Steamboat cyclists have made their way up the pass, the runners will hook up with the Yampa River Core Trail that will take them to the finish at Steamboat Springs Middle School.

While Javernick was busy finishing the race signs Tuesday, Steamboat's Bart Kounovsky was sending e-mails "fast and furiously" to the members of his six-runner team as they worked out last-minute logistical details.

"We didn't pick our team on running so much as on function," Kounovsky joked about his team, named "The Judge and Five Clowns." It is one of only two local teams registered for the race. "We've got a doctor, a judge, in case we get in trouble, and one guy that has the van."

Looking forward to 24 hours of staying awake, running and scrambling to get their van-load of teammates between the course's 35 exchange points, Kounovsky said he is excited about the unique race.

Though the race is a Steamboat Springs Running Series event, series director John Chapman said the Wild West Relay is not included in the series point standings.

Javernick said the event, which has raised $17,000 for United Way, is capped for race participants but is still looking for volunteers to man the relay exchange stations between Walden and Steamboat. Visit www.wildwestrelay.com for more information.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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