Eight-year-old McKensey Bishop, right, runs with Amanda Walker, 7, during the children's portion of Saturday's Spirit Challenge.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Eight-year-old McKensey Bishop, right, runs with Amanda Walker, 7, during the children's portion of Saturday's Spirit Challenge.

Running Series shows Spirit

Chilly weather turns to sunny skies for Saturday benefit

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— With his classmates down the hill and circling the track at Steamboat Springs Middle School on Saturday morning, 8-year-old Carson Russell barreled down the finish line of a 5-kilometer run.

Carson, a third-grader, decided to bypass the Walk-a-Thon of the 23rd annual Spirit Challenge for the more difficult 5-kilometer portion of the event.

Plus, with the way Carson ran in a previous Walk-a-Thon, those who donated to him might have had to get a second mortgage.

"The actual trail part was pretty muddy," said Carson, who finished the 5K race in an astonishing 33 minutes, 46 seconds, bettering his time from last year by almost four minutes. "Otherwise, it was really good. Plus, I just beat my record and I don't really like running laps. I like running trails."

Carson was one of many people, young and old, who took to the track and trails as part of this year's Spirit Challenge.

The race featured 10- and 5-kilometer races and a Walk-a-Thon for children from kindergarten to sixth grade.

All proceeds from the Walk-a-Thon, and a portion of the proceeds from the longer run, benefit the Legacy Education Foundation. The Foundation gives grants to teachers in Routt County public schools for projects that either promote student involvement in community leadership or support the community overall.

"It's different every year, but we usually raise about $8,000," said Marcia Martin, president of the Legacy Education Foundation. "This year, we had over 130 kids register, and we probably have over 100 running" Saturday.

Although Martin worries every year about the weather - and who wouldn't after May opened with a snowstorm - she said Saturday's blue skies and warm temperatures made the race successful.

The only hitch may have been for the parents who likely had to do double duty on laundry after the event.

With the sun out and the snow melting, the quarter-mile track became a mud pit.

"We just ran right into the puddles," said fourth-grader Ellese Lupori, who, along with classmate Natalie Bohlmann, finished 30 laps in 90 minutes and raised close to $400. "It's closer to the side of the grass, and that would make it faster."

While Ellese's pink shorts and shirt turned a nice shade of brown, runners in the 10- and 5-kilometer runs stayed a little cleaner.

Derek Leidigh won the men's 5-kilometer in 19:37. Chris Adams finished second at 23:49, and Joel Rae came in third at 24:34. On the women's side, Lisa Adams took the top spot with a time of 24:42. Rebecca Williams came in second with a time of 28:28, and Deborah Freeman finished third in 29:28.

In the 10-kilometer race, Bernie Boettcher finished first with a time of 36:47. Allen Belshaw finished second at 40:33, and Jack Burger finished third at 45:06. Darby Dale-Burger finished first in the women's 10-kilometer race with a time of 45:26. Mary Schutte followed in second with a time of 49:00, and Kristin Wilson came in third at 49:10.

"It was great," said Dale-Burger, who admits she has a little ongoing competition with her son, Jack, at races. "We have a big thing going, but I don't have a chance. First, he went by me in a 5K when he was about 10, then a 10K when he was 12 and last year he killed me in the Steamboat Half (marathon). I guess I still have a marathon."

The Steamboat Running Series continues June 1 with the Steamboat Marathon.

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