Popular Spring Creek trail hosts race Saturday

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— A busy holiday weekend combined with a favorite local trail has convinced Steamboat Springs Running Series director John Chapman he has the recipe for race success.

The Spring Creek Memorial run begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with the 9.5-mile trail run. A three-mile run/walk is at 8:15 a.m., and a one-mile fun run will be offered later in the morning. The Spring Creek Memorial is the fifth race in the running series.

"I'm getting a lot of visitors who are looking for something to do," Chapman said. "It's a fun weekend for that."

An advertising push in the Front Range -- and even nationally -- has boosted Chapman's optimism that Satur--day's race could feature as many as 100 participants, which would be the most in the event's 15-year history.

"Pre-registration is up from previous years," he said.

The Spring Creek Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in Routt County. The trailhead is at Maple Street and Amethyst Drive near Steamboat Springs High School.

The trail's proximity to downtown makes it attractive for local runners and out-of-town hikers.

It is the first all-dirt race offered by the running series this season.

"The nine-miler has the rugged element of it," Chapman said. "There still are some tricky parts where you have to hurdle logs. The bridges are looking good. We had a lot of spring runoff, and there are still places where runners will splash through some muddy parts, but that's part of doing a race like this."

The 9.5-mile race is a scenic loop on primitive trail, singletrack, doubletrack and U.S. Forest Service roads with more than 1,200 feet in elevation gain in the first 2.5 miles.

"That will get you anaerobic pretty quick," Chapman said. "But, once you get to the top, it's nice and rolling."

The three-mile race is on rolling single- and doubletrack.

The Spring Creek Memorial honors Patty Brenner Hagberg, who was struck and killed by a truck on the lower section of the trail in 1991. The race serves as a reminder of the importance of sharing multi-use trails.

Early registration is $20 and continues through noon Friday at Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza. Racers also can register at www.active.com, or for $25 on race day, beginning at 7 a.m.

"Over 50 percent of our racers show up the day of (the race), which is fine," Chapman said. "They like to see what they feel like."

The race registration fee includes a pair of SmartWool socks, brunch from Winona's, coffee from Starbucks and a chance to win a number of prizes, including more gifts from SmartWool and other local merchants.

Chapman, who also directs the Spring Creek race, is handing out prizes to all the age-group winners because he wants people of all ages to feel comfortable coming out to race Saturday.

The start of all of Saturday's races is a half-mile from the parking area.

-- o reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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