Spring Creek race will offer challenges to runners

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Running Series points

Standings, through five races:

Women

1. Deborah Freeman, 67

2. Mary Schuette, 45

3. Diane Carter, 40

4. Lisa Adams, 39

4. Jenna Gruben, 39

Men

1. Todd Trapp, 77

2. Tom Nelson, 56

3. Allen Belshaw, 48

4. Derek Leidigh, 40

5. Mark Dewine, 39

If you go

What: 17th annual Spring Creek Memorial Run

When: 8 a.m. Saturday

Where: The nine- and three-mile races start at Spring Creek Reservoir, just northeast of the Spring Creek trailhead, which is at Amethyst and Maple Streets.

Cost: $20 for advance registration, $25 for race-day registration. Competitors can register online at www.active.com, at the Steamboat Springs Visitors Center or at Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza. Race day registration starts at 7 a.m.

— Preparing for her first stint as an individual race coordinator, Steamboat Springs Running Series director Shannon Carlin was hoping to avoid any major problems and get through Saturday's Spring Creek Memorial run without an overwhelming amount of stress.

That hope dissipated earlier in the week, when she went to the Spring Creek trail to mark off the nine- and three-mile courses for the 17th annual race.

"Parts of the course were so overgrown, there were ferns higher than my head," Carlin said. "It was like the Amazon in there. It would have taken a week of cutting and some machinery, and the runners still might have wanted a refund if we'd run that course."

In the end, it took a few extra days, some additional miles of hiking and plenty of plotting, but eventually Carlin marked off a new route in the same area. She said the new route will retain the Memorial's distinctiveness but won't leave competitors cut up and bleeding from mile-long fights with thick underbrush.

The new trail cuts out along Spring Creek before climbing to the top of Buffalo Pass and toward Dry Lake. It's a "lollipop loop," Carlin said. It should offer competitors both thrills and a test.

"It's different, but still a good challenge," she said. "It's still not a traditional run, not an out-and-back. The trails are more defined, and part of it is singletrack. The climbing will be pretty comparable to the old trail, but it might be a little less steep this year."

The Spring Creek Memorial started in 1992, after Patty Brenner Hagberg was fatally hit by a truck on the trail a year earlier. The race is now one of the mainstays of the running series, popular for it's off-road aspects.

Carlin is expecting another big crowd for the event, possibly as many as 100 runners showing up for the 8 a.m. nine-mile start and the 8:30 three-mile out-and-back race Saturday.

"I was nervous a while ago, but I've been too busy. I don't have time to be nervous now," she said. "I am anxious. I hope all the volunteers show up and the weather cooperates. Trying to mark the course on the first attempt was a good adventure, but it was a good learning experience, too."

The race marks the halfway point in the 15-event running series and will be the sixth race in which season-long points can be accrued.

There's little competition at the top of both the men's and women's standings, but there's still plenty of room for racers to climb into the running - so to speak - and plenty of time for leaders to fall off.

Deborah Freeman has earned points in each race so far and has 67 overall, 22 ahead of her nearest competitor.

Todd Trapp missed the season-opening Spirit Run, but has won three of the past four races outright and was one of the top finishers in the fourth race, as well. He has 77 points, 21 more than Tom Nelson.

- To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253

or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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