Steamboat Springs Shawn Scholl came huffing through the final stretch of Saturday morning's Spring Creek Memorial race, having completed the grueling nine-mile trail run only to get tripped up at the finish.
Scholl's 6-year-old son, Tyler, grabbed at his father's exhausted legs as he crossed the line, nearly causing him to lose his footing.
"Dad, I got second place!" Tyler Scholl exclaimed of his finish in the shorter, three-mile run.
"That's great," replied a breathless Shawn Scholl, ushering his son from the finish.
It was big day for the family from Kremmling, with a Scholl earning a podium finish atop each of the gender divisions of both the short- and the full-length course fields, which totaled more than 100 participants.
The full, nine-mile course went up the Spring Creek Trail for a mile of gradual climbing before heading up the "elevator shaft," a 1,100-foot, 1.5-mile primitive trail climb through thick undergrowth and over fallen logs. After the 4.5-mile climb to the 8,272-foot Dry Lake Campground near the Buffalo Pass summit, the runners rejoined the Spring Creek Trail for a cruise back to the finish.
Scholl searched for apt metaphors to describe the steep run up through the ferns, ranging from it feeling "like (Detroit Lions running back) Billy Sims crashing through the branches," to feeling like "the guys in The Last of the Mohicans, running through the woods."
Boulder runner Campbell Ilfrey had one similar conclusion.
"It was a real trail run," he said.
Ilfrey, 33, gained an early lead on the uphill section.
"Off the start, I went off at my own pace as fast as I could - I come up here to run in as many races as I can, so I know to watch out for guys like" fifth-place finisher Andy Picking, Ilfrey said.
Training for the August 18 Pikes Peak Ascent, Ilfrey put enough early distance on the lead group of runners to hang on for a win in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 44 seconds. Scholl finished in second with a time of 1:10:03, and Travis Mattern was third in 1:10:15 as the top local finisher.
Second-place overall female finisher Lori Huggard said the fun downhill over 12 bridges was a nice reward for the "green and lush," uphill ascent. Huggard finished in 1:20:54, behind female winner Christine Knight, a 39-year-old Craig resident who took her third Running Series victory in 1:15:21. Stephanie Scholl took third in 1:24:48.
In the three-mile race, Larry Handing took top honors in 24:19, followed by Tyler Scholl and Terrance Allsworth. On the women's side, Tabor Scholl, 10, took first in 30:18, Stephanie Courson took second and Peggy Jacobs took third.
Before his family accepted the bounty of prizes at the brief awards ceremony at the Spring Creek Reservoir following the race, Scholl - who organizes and designs the trails for Kremmling's six-race Center of the Universe Running Series - thought back on the allure of the off-road climb: "You just forget about everything as you're weaving up through the trees," he said.
Steamboat's next Running Series event is Saturday's Mt. Werner Classic. Saturday also is the finishing day of the two-day Wild West Relay (sponsored by the Running Series) that starts in Ft. Collins and ends in Steamboat. Visit www.runningseries.com for more details or www.runkremmling.com for more information on Kremmling's series.