Ultra marathon expected to grow this year

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Past Event

Run Rabbit Run Steamboat 50 Ultra Marathon

  • Saturday, September 13, 2008, 6 a.m.
  • Steamboat Ski Area, Mount Werner Road, Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free

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— Betsy Kalmeyer and Fred Abramowitz didn't know what to expect from their first attempt to bring the burgeoning sport of ultra marathon to Steamboat Springs.

That 90 runners registered for last year's inaugural Run Rabbit Run Steamboat 50 Ultra Marathon was a surprise. That the number of competitors is expected to grow for this year's event - set to start at 6 a.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Ski Area - might even be more shocking, Abramowitz said.

"This year, we had to limit the number of entries," he said. "Ultra running is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, but last year when we did it, we were unknown, trying to do the best we could.

"This year, we have plenty of people because of the word of mouth and because I think we just did a good job last year."

The second annual Run Rabbit Run 50-miler will start bright and early Saturday morning near the gondola building at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

A treacherous and obviously long course awaits as many as 110 runners. They'll have to scale Mount Werner, then cut across the county along the continental divide to the top of Rabbit Ears Peak before turning around.

All told, those who finish the race will have both climbed and descended 9,000 feet in elevation.

"The course is challenging but was great last year," Kalmeyer said, who again is directing this year's race with Abramowitz. "They go up the ski area and have a great view of town, see the alpine lakes and lots of wildlife. They'll get to see a pretty course with the leaves just starting to change and get a different view of Rabbit Ears they can't get driving down the highway."

Both agreed it was the area's trademark views that led to the surge in registrations. Racers from eight states and one Canadian province are signed up for the grueling trail.

Abramowitz said the real sign of the race's success isn't just in how widely flung its racers will be, however. It's in how many will be making a second trip to compete. A quarter of last year's field is returning.

"That's unusual," he said. "One of the reasons people do these races is to get to see the beautiful countryside and terrain, so the tendency is to travel around and hit different races. That we're getting so many back is extraordinary."

The money raised from the race will be split between the Steve Maloney Memorial Fund and Partners in Routt County.

Spectators wary of the 6 a.m. start might have a better chance catching runners at the finish. Last year's winner, Zeke Tiernan, of Aspen, conquered the course in 8 hours, 5 minutes, potentially putting this year's top racers back at the bottom of Mount Werner after 2 p.m.

- To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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