Running Series starts with Saturday race

23rd annual Spirit Challenge to benefit the Legacy Education Foundation

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— Even the best running series start with a single step. For the Steamboat Springs Running Series, named the state's best in 2007 by Colorado Runner Magazine, that first step will come at 10 a.m. Saturday at Steamboat Springs Middle School.

The 14-event 2008 series starts with the 23rd annual Spirit Challenge, a collection of races and events that focus on raising money to benefit area children.

The two long runs, 10- and five-kilometer races, start at 10 a.m. A Walk-a-Thon featuring schoolchildren from Routt County also starts at 10 a.m., but the participants will stick to the middle school's track.

The longer races will depart from the middle school but will take different routes. The 5K runners will make a loop, switching between trails and roads before ending near the start line. The 10K course goes up from the middle school, through Strawberry Park, before turning around and following the same path back to the school.

Race director Katie Knezevich, preparing for her third year coordinating the Spirit Challenge's longer races, said she's expecting a good turnout.

"We are planning on having 60 people running, which would be a good turnout," she said. "We always hope to have a bigger turnout each year since this is the first race of the season."

Again this year, all race participants will be working for a cause. All money raised at the event will benefit the Legacy Education Foundation, which funds and promotes place-based education projects.

"The Legacy Foundation does great things with the money as far as supporting place-based education for the entire county," Knezevich said. "They offer grants for different projects and promote community involvement."

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