The e-mail began: "The Routt County discount for the marathon is a privilege, not a right, and I'm sorry - rules are rules."
Two days earlier I had finished my 20-mile training run that began at Steamboat Lake. My body was still in working order and I was ready to register for the marathon.
The Steamboat Marathon is open to local residents at a discount, but it's hard to track down this "privilege." The marathon Web site does not mention a Routt County discount, and the application does not ask about local residency. The discount is almost a secret. I called the marathon registration phone number on May 9 and had to leave a voice mail.
The next day, I had a message requesting that I register in person, with an ID, at the chamber. I call to find out if there might be another option, since I am already in their database and I have plans to leave town for a week.
Voice mail again. I decide to forgo a message and stop by after work. I call to get the Chamber business hours, listen to all the prompts, then hit zero for an operator - it goes to voice mail. I hang up and try again, picking a third extension - it goes to voice mail. I scour the Web site for business hours. No luck. If the information exists, it's buried.
I decide to print out and fax the registration, as I've done each of the past three years. I hand write what I remember to be the Routt County discount. That evening I leave town for a weeklong trip.
The next day I receive a terse e-mail from the Chamber, stating that the only way to get the discount is to register in person with ID. I e-mail back explaining that I'm out of town through May 15. I've run the Steamboat Marathon eight times in the last 18 years. "Could you look at my previous registrations to see that I'm a local?"
The Routt County discount for the marathon is a privilege, not a right and I'm sorry - rules are rules. Every other Routt County registration was completed in the Visitor Center and an ID was checked. Many of them have run multiple times in the past twenty years as well. I thought my message was clear - come to the Visitor Center to receive the discount.
I'll complete your registration for you this year, but for 2008 you will need to come down to the Visitor Center."
I don't think the Routt County discount is a privilege; I think it's a ghost of marathons past. I called a handful of Steamboat runners who signed up for this year's marathon; each had registered online without receiving a Routt County discount. I've since searched for a reference to the discount and the "register in person" rule. Maybe it's in a brochure or print ad : or maybe not. It certainly isn't on the official Steamboat Marathon Web site.
I'm passing on this year's marathon. I'm going to play a round of golf at Haymaker instead. I'll make a reservation by phone with a live attendant. Incidentally, I purchased a season pass for Haymaker. It was easy. No ID required. I was in their database from last season.