(Half) Marathon Madness

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— Don't be surprised upon seeing hundreds of people running through the streets on Sunday when madness returns to town. The 28th annual Mountain Madness Half Marathon is not only one of the 2006 Steamboat Springs Running Series' longest-running events; it's also one of the most popular.

Series director John Chapman said he attributes the race's success to the format of a half marathon combined with a favorable 10K.

"A lot of runners are turned off by trail runs and long distances like a full marathon that wipes you out," said. "The half marathon and 10K distances are the most popular for attracting a lot of out-of-town runners. Combine that with the timing of a great weekend with the Balloon Rodeo in town, and you'll get a good turnout."

Chapman said he expects about 120 to 150 participants on race day.

The half marathon and the 10K races both start at 8 a.m. from the Howelsen Hill Park Complex near the tennis courts. The 13.1-mile half marathon course heads south down River Road and winds about 1.5 miles uphill through the Dakota Ridge subdivision along Aspen Ridge Road before looping back to River Road and returning to Howelsen.

"It's more rolling than you think," said Chuck O'Connell, co-directing the race on behalf of Christy Sports. "It's a great race with good scenery."

The 10K course also follows River Road out and back to Howelsen and a free 2-mile Fun Run will take place at the Howelsen complex starting at 8:15 a.m.

As the sixth series race of the season, many local Routt County runners will be looking to increase their rankings, with points awarded Sunday for the top ten male and female finishers and the top five finishers in each age category.

O'Connell said interested runners can still register from 7 to 7:30 a.m. on site the day of the race for $25. The registration fee goes toward a t-shirt and a raffle at the end of the race.

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