Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Marathon nearly full
The 26th annual Steamboat Springs marathon, half marathon and 10K - 7:30 a.m. June 3 - are filling up.
Matt Windt, special events director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said the half marathon has reached its capacity, and the full marathon is approaching capacity.
Windt said the combination of shuttle transportation for the runners and a paved country road down the Elk River Valley are the reasons behind the caps.
The full, 26.2 miles, is limited to 500, and the half, 13.1 miles, can accommodate 1,000.
"We run down Elk River road, and it is too small and narrow for 1,500 people," Windt said of the marathon.
The 10K (6.1-mile) has unlimited openings for runners and walkers.
The marathon was selected by Runner's World magazine as one of the "10 most scenic marathons of the year" in 1996, and also touted as "the best marathon of the year for 2006" by Colorado Runner magazine.
The highly acclaimed event begins at Hahns Peak Village at an elevation of 8,128 feet above sea level and finishes at the courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs at an elevation of 6,728 feet. All finishers will receive medals for the 26.2-mile race.
Runners took advantage of warm weekend temperatures to go for that first outdoor run of the year. They'll need the early start if they're planning to compete in the variety of events Steamboat has to offer this year.
"The national and regional exposure is turning Steamboat into a mountain trail-running Mecca for the Rocky Mountain region," said Steamboat Springs Running Series director John Chapman.
The exposure Chapman is referring to has much to do with the expansion of his 14-event series - one that saw a growth from 2,378 runners in 2005 to a record 3,757 last year. This year, Chapman is gunning for 4,500 and may very well see it with the increased visibility of a few races.
Last week, Colorado Runner Magazine selected the July 28 Spring Creek Memorial, a challenging 9-mile trail run, as one of the state's top 15 races to include in its 2007 Colorado Runner Racing Series.
"We try to switch it up and showcase different races around the state in terms of both distances and terrain," Colorado Runner Magazine publisher and events director Derek Griffiths said.
Griffiths thinks the magazine mention will generate increased participation in the race. The magazine series races and their division winners are featured in the publication and awards are given for runners who participate in all of its events. Griffiths said the only other Steamboat race that has been part of the series was the 2005 Steamboat Marathon.
The other notable addition will be the USA Track & Field 10K Trail Championships. A USATF committee picked Steamboat as the host site for 2007 and 2008. The high-profile June 30 event serves as a selection race for the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team that will represent the country at the World Mountain Running Trophy in Saillon, Switzerland.
The national championship is not just a proving ground for the runners. Chapman will have to travel to Switzerland if he hopes to convince World Mountain Running Association Congress that Steamboat can host the 2009 World Trail Championships.
"(Hosting) the U.S. Championships is important because the council and the congress want to make sure you've hosted an event of that caliber before and can meet the course standards," said Nancy Hobbs, who serves on the WMRA Council and said she approached Chapman with the suggestion of Steamboat's prime viability as a site.
Hobbs said Austria is the only other country that has submitted a declaration of interest in what will be the 25th anniversary of the championships. Although Steamboat has distinct advantages, such as centralized lodging and nearby airports compared to the 2006 site, Bursa, Turkey, much hinges on Chapman's ability to rally support and sponsorship dollars for an event Hobbs said can cost $200,000 at a minimum.
"It's unbelievable," Hobbs said of the worlds, which draw runners from 30 countries and has been held in the United States only once (Girdwood, Alaska in 2003). "It's the highest echelon of our sport."
Before Steamboaters eye the top prize, they can enjoy the growing support for their local, grassroots races.
For an updated 2007 Running Series calendar, visit www.runningseries.com. The Running Series has a slew of new product sponsors, including GoLite, for more give-aways than in years past. In addition, the volunteer Running Series committee agreed to reduce young adult participation cost at events, making it $1 this season for each year of a runner's age (up to 16). Adult registration will remain the same ($20 per event, $25 on race-day).