Hayden Ask five Hayden residents why the hill up Routt County Road 76 is called the Cog, and you get five different answers.
Ask five runners at Saturday's 28th annual Hayden Cog Run what it's like to run up it, and you get the same answer -- brutal.
Starting simultaneously from Hayden Town Park, 25 5K runners and ten 10K runners left the park heading south for the out-and-back courses while 25 Cog runners headed north toward the imposing hillside.
"If you start running downhill, you're going the wrong way," race starter Mike Luppes jokingly todl the Cog runners.
With cool morning shade in their favor, the Cog racers started through Hayden and across the Yampa River, but the sun was beating down by the time they began the grueling, three-mile, 900-foot-elevation climb.
"It's a hump going up. You just plug up and then ride down," racer Allen Belshaw said.
After the turn-around point at the top of the hill, J.J. Huie had a healthy lead, coasting down the hill and finishing the 8.4-mile race with a first-place time of 53 minutes, 39 seconds.
"I took the lead at the beginning and tried to relax on the uphill. It was extremely challenging, but beautiful, too, looking around the valley with the view of Mount Werner," Huie said.
Belshaw took second place in 56:03, closely followed by Campbell Ilfrey in 56:15. Carbondale's Candy Granger-Underhill won the women's division with a time of 1:11:01, using a strategy of taking brief walking breaks on the uphill and listening to "everything from Johnny Cash to Public Enemy."
One of the more impressive running efforts was Walter Magill's 10th-place time of 1:09:08 -- no small feat considering that Magill was the only Cog runner to push a baby stroller up the hill. After forgetting his running bag, he also ran the race in a pair of denim Carhartts.
"I had no shoes or shorts. Luckily, Larry Handing loaned me a pair of shoes. That hill gets longer every year," said Magill, who will direct the Howelsen Hill 8 Miler on July 15, another event in the 2006 Steamboat Springs Running Series.
Many of Saturday's runners participate in multiple Running Series events and used the Cog climb to train and improve their speed in distance running events.
Michael Eiland, second-place finisher in the 10K with a time of 45:15, said he was practicing for the half-marathon, which will be part of the Running Series' next event, the 2006 Steamboat Marathon on June 4. Eiland finished behind Sarah Walker, who won the 10K with a time of 43:56.
Hadley Graham, riding her road bike from Steamboat and then running the 10K course she described as "hot and hilly," also used the race to prepare for upcoming events.
"Six of us rode out for the race. It's good training. All of us but one are training for the Steamboat Triathlon in August," Graham said.
The 5K run/walk rounded out the day's events with the broadest range of participant ages. Kirk Everston won the men's division in 21:46, and Laura Zirkle won the women's division in 23:37.
"A lot of the kids in the 5K are Hayden locals, so you get the small town atmosphere here. ...With everything else going on this weekend -- graduations, the Maybell bike ride, state track -- I'm stoked, I think it was a good race this year with the turnout," said J.D. Paul, race director and Hayden Parks and Recreation supervisor.
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