Steamboat Springs Ken Brenner thinks the recent attention given to Saturday morning's Spring Creek Memorial Run is "long overdue."
Brenner founded the race in 1992 after a tragic truck collision on the lower section of the Spring Creek Trail resulted in the death of his sister, Patty Brenner Hagberg.
In the early years of the race, the course was an up-and-back 5K, where, Brenner joked, "the U.S. Nordic Combined team was half the field" and participants "had to splash through every stream crossing."
Now in its 16th year, the run has grown a bit in distance. The 9-mile looped course takes runners up primitive trails to the 8,272-foot Dry Lake Campground near Buffalo Pass for a fast descent back down the Spring Creek multi-use trail, which now has bridges to keep runners from most of the splashing.
"This is a real mountain trail run with singletrack covered in ferns up to your shoulders where you're leaping logs and crossing streams 15 times," Brenner said.
The course has also grown in popularity. In March, Colorado Runner Magazine selected the trail run as one of the state's top 15 races. Colorado Runner Magazine publisher and events director Derek Griffiths said the inclusion should result in increased participation, as division winners are featured in the publication and awards given to runners who participate in all of its events. The only other Steamboat race that has been part of the series was the 2005 Steamboat Marathon.
Steamboat Springs Running Series and race director John Chapman expects a record number of participants who may be surprised by the initial 1,100-foot gain in elevation.
"I'm kind of looking forward to some of the Front Range roadies getting a taste of a real Steamboat Springs trail run," Chapman said. "I suspect that we're going to have some very surprised runners when they hit the turnoff for the 'elevator shaft,' and again when they come upon the first fallen tree they'll have to climb over."
For folks shying away from the full 9-mile race, which starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, the event will also feature a 3-mile run/walk starting at 8:30 a.m. and a 1-mile fun run starting at 9 a.m. All races start from the Spring Creek Reservoir, where on-site registration ($25) begins at 7 a.m. Trail access is at East Maple Street and Amethyst Drive.
Pre-registration ($20) runs until noon today at the Central Park Plaza Christy Sports. Visit www.runningseries.com for full details and a course map.
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