Steamboat Springs Even race director Bill Philip has been lured into finding the fastest route in the Hot Springs Short Cut Run.
"One year, I thought I was brilliant," he said. "Even though it was a lot shorter, it turns out going through the bushes destroyed that advantage. "
The Hot Springs Short Cut Run is unique to the Steamboat Springs Running Series in a number of ways.
For runners and walkers, there is no set course. The idea -- if winning is your goal -- is to find the quickest route between the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center and the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Philip, who directs the race with Birgitta Lindgren, had some advice for participants.
"Just follow Paul Sachs," Philip said. "Nate Anderson has won it the last two years. Andy Picking, he's run it the last several years. Damian Wells has run it. Paul, Nate, Andy and Damian have really traded off the last 10 years."
All four men are locals, so they have the advantage of scouting the trail and knowing where they can and cannot go.
"There have been ways of cutting up to a minute off a person's time, depending on the route they take," Philip said. "For the winners, that's a big deal. That would amount to winning it."
The approximately seven-mile Hot Springs Short Cut Run begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with the walking division. The runners will begin at 9 a.m., and the cyclists will leave at 9:30 a.m.
All three races begin at the Health and Rec Center in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Runners and walkers can pick their courses, but the cyclists must follow the route from Fish Creek Falls Road to Amethyst Drive and out to Routt County Road 36, which leads to Strawberry Park.
"It's the only race that combines running, walking and mountain biking," Philip said, citing another unique aspect of the race.
Traditionally, the Hot Springs race was held Memorial Day weekend. In past years, there were three Running Series races in May and one in June -- the Steamboat Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. One June race left a void in the summer running schedule.
"(This was) moved to spread them out," Philip said.
The cost to enter the Hot Springs Short Cut Run is $20 before noon Friday at Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza or at www.active.com.
Race-day registration is $25. Both prices include a post-race lunch, a drawing and entrance to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs and the hot springs at the Health and Rec Center.
"That's always a nice little perk," Philip said.
Two of the prizes available Saturday are season passes to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs and the Steamboat Ski Touring Center.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org