Instant 8 Mile classic

Hanson and Walker top new Howelsen running event

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— It may be a long way from Detroit, but Steamboat now has a popular 8 Mile Road of its own.

The trail running course for the first Howelsen Hill 8 Miler, designed by race director Walter Magill as a "tour of Howelsen," got nothing but rave reviews from the 61 participants that showed up Saturday morning for the start of the eighth event of the 2006 Steamboat Springs Running Series.

Magill explained the course's layout -- winding up Howelsen Hill along the Lupine trails and topping out just below the Emerald Mountain limestone quarry before heading down forest traverses along Blackmere Drive -- as participants arrived and signed up for the race. Magill then joined the race pack heading up Howelsen's rolling dirt trails.

After the steady climb, runners worried about trying not to get lost in the switchbacks as they came cruising down "Robbie's cut-off" to the Olympian Hall finish.

"It was a nice downhill finish," said Greeley runner Sarah Walker, looking at her bruised knee. "I did a 180 on one of the hairpins and kind of ate it."

Despite the downhill miscue, Walker said she was able to pass runners on the uphill section to give her a large enough lead to finish as the fastest female runner. She ran the course in one hour, seven minutes and three seconds.

Walker's pace was not enough to catch 21-year-old Patrick Hanson, who gained a healthy lead on the first hill and finished the race with the fastest overall time of 57 minutes, 46 seconds.

"I wasn't sure how close people were on the climb, but I really let go on the downhill and was going as fast as I could, running into the brush on the switchbacks," Hanson said. The Columbia, Mo., native said he moved to Steamboat a few weeks ago. After recovering from patella tendonitis, he used the race as training for the upcoming Toronto Marathon.

Andy Picking followed Hanson, finishing second overall in 59:11, and Scott Kempers finished third in 1:00:46.

"That's one of the better runs on the running series," Picking said.

Picking and Kempers, both top finishers in multiple series events, agreed the 8 Miler was a great course, with Kempers giving credit to the mountain biking community's recent maintenance on Howelsen's Lupine trails.

Kelly Boniface, the second-place female finisher at 1:12:22, is an avid local mountain biker who said she was drawn to competing in a race on her favorite singletrack trails.

Fort Collins' Mary Schuette finished third in the female division in 1:13:36.

The next running series event is the 12th annual Mount Werner Classic on Aug. 5.

-- To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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