Steamboat Springs' Andy Picking makes his way from Hahn's Peak, pictured in the background, toward downtown Steamboat during the 2006 Steamboat Springs Marathon, when he finished second. Picking finished ninth last year.

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Steamboat Springs' Andy Picking makes his way from Hahn's Peak, pictured in the background, toward downtown Steamboat during the 2006 Steamboat Springs Marathon, when he finished second. Picking finished ninth last year.

Mountain marathon

Racers descend on Steamboat this weekend

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Pilot & Today staff

Steamboat Marathon course map

Marathon road closures

The westbound lane of Lincoln Avenue will be closed from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday between Fifth and 11th streets, with each of those streets closed between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street.

On Routt County Road 129 from Cullens Corner to the start of the half marathon, there will be one-way traffic controlled by a pilot car leading traffic on the southbound side of the road.

Northbound traffic on C.R. 129 will be diverted to the left lane just past the entrance to Elk River Estates and proceed north to Cullens Corner, where traffic controllers will be in place.

Southbound traffic on C.R. 129 will be diverted at Cullens Corner onto C.R. 44 then back onto C.R. 129 just north of the airport.

— There's nothing false about the views as racers tackle Sunday's 26.2-mile Steamboat Marathon that starts at Hahn's Peak Village and winds down the Elk River Valley (Routt County Road 129) to the Routt County Courthouse lawn.

But as runners drop 1,400 feet in elevation - mostly in the first half of the race - the race's deception takes hold.

"You've got to remember you're at altitude, especially if you not from around here, which a lot of our entrants aren't," race director Paul Sachs said. "You don't want to be deceived by the idea the course is all downhill. It is early on, but the rest of the course is rolling. Then there's the extreme temperature differential. At the start, temperatures will be in the high 30s or the low 40s. At the finish, they'll probably be in the 70s."

Although the tough layout of the course can cause problems for some runners, it's also why the Steamboat Marathon is one of the top marathons in the region.

In 2006, Colorado Runner Magazine named it Marathon of the Year. This year, Sachs said the race will be close to filling the 500 marathon slots as well as having more than 1,200 runners for the half-marathon.

"This is the best marathon in the universe," said Andy Picking, who has run the race since 2001 and finished last year in 3 hours, 7 minutes. "Paul Sachs does an awesome job. Everybody from Steamboat comes out, and it's one of the most beautiful courses. I'll run it until I can't run it anymore."

Picking should be one of the top locals in the race. Last year he finished ninth, and the year before he finished second.

Still, Picking should see some top competition return in the race's 27th year.

Seven-time winner Jason Saitta from Parker returns, as do last year's other top finishers, Justin Mock and Todd Trapp.

Mock is fresh off a win at the Post-News Colorado Colfax Marathon in May.

Last year, Saitta finished in 2:38:08, with Mock at 2:45:27 and Trapp at 2:46:27.

"It's not the fact that I have to keep up with them," said Trapp, who competed in his first marathon last year. "I want to run faster than I did last year. It's my second marathon, so hopefully I learned some things, and I should be able to run faster."

On the women's side, last year's top local finisher was Angie Mangiardi, who finished in 3:38:42.

Jill Roberts, a former Steamboat resident, was the top women's finisher in 3:29:51.

Check-in/bib pickup for the half and full marathons as well as the 10K is from noon to 5 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza. All three races begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, with an awards ceremony to follow at 12:30 p.m. at the finish area.

The Honey Stinger Fun Run (half-mile paved course for children 5 and older) starts at 11:45 a.m. at the courthouse. Free registration is at the courthouse at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Transportation to the marathon and half marathon starting areas will be available for participants only. Buses will leave from the parking lot at the corner of Eighth and Oak streets and at the Gondola Transit Center on Mount Werner Circle.

Buses for the marathon board from the Gondola Transit Center from 5:45 to 6 a.m. and from downtown from 6 to 6:15 a.m.

Half marathon buses board from the Gondola Transit Center from 6 to 6:15 a.m. and from downtown from 6:15 to 6:30 a.m.

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