2 Running Series races set for holiday weekend

Steamboat Sprint is Saturday, Mountain Madness on Sunday

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What: Steamboat Sprint and Mountain Madness races. Saturday's Steamboat Sprint is a 400-yard dash. The Mountain Madness on Sunday includes a 1-kilomter children's race, a 10-kilometer race and a 13.1-mile half marathon.

Where: The Steamboat Sprint starts on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs. The Mountain Madness begins at the Howelsen Ice Arena.

When: Steamboat Sprints starts at 9:40 a.m. Saturday. Mountain Madness is at 8 a.m. Sunday

Cost: Racers can register for $25 on the day of the race or for $20 in advance. Registration is available at the Ski Haus until noon today, and online at www.runningseries...>

— Organizers of the Steamboat Springs Running Series hope to get a running start this weekend at attracting more young competitors with a Saturday-Sunday Running Series doubleheader.

Saturday's Steamboat Sprint is open to all ages and, in the past, regularly has launched runners as young as 5 years old.

Sunday's Mountain Madness event, meanwhile, will include a 1-kilometer race for young children.

"We just wanted to get all these kids that do the mountain bike series to come out and try running," Mountain Madness race director Scott Blair said.

Both the 10-kilometer and half marathon races launch at 8 a.m. Sunday from the Howelsen Ice Arena. Once the long distance crew has cleared out, the children will get a chance to make one loop of the arena, a course that will be about 2/3 of a mile.

Hula hoops with a special patriotic design will await the fastest boy and fastest girl.

"If they play soccer or do some of the other outdoors sports, running is already a part of what they do," Blair said. "This one is a little different, but it's a sport kids can enjoy, as well."

Whether children opt to run the 1k or the 10k - about six miles - they'll get a big break from the regular $20 registration price for series events. They only have to pay their age, so a 7-year old can register for $7.

There will be no shortage of chances for adults to stretch their legs this weekend, either.

The Steamboat Sprint, set for 9:40 a.m. on Lincoln Ave., not only gives racers the opportunity to dash 400 meters down Steamboat's main street, but the chance to do so in front of a packed house. The race comes in the minutes leading up to the city's annual Fourth of July Parade.

"It's always a lot of fun," series organizer Cara Marrs said. "We get all sorts of people for that race, from 5 years old to 70 years old. It's really popular."

The Mountain Madness, meanwhile, offers a relatively flat course for the 10k. Racers will head out on River Road, dip into the Dakota Ridge development for half a mile, then come back along the road toward the ice arena to finish.

A greater challenge awaits in the 13.1-mile half marathon. Racers will continue on and up through the Dakota Ridge development, exit and roll a little further down River Road before turning around and returning to the start/finish line.

"We have a pretty good climb going through Dakota Ridge," Blair said. "Other than that, we have a pretty fast course. River Road is fast, and it's scenic, running right by the river. Still, Dakota Ridge is a worthy climb, and it will make for some pretty tired legs. It will be tough trying to generate any leg speed after that."

Marrs said registration for Sunday's race has been strong with more than 70 racers taking advantage of the new online registration available at www.runningseries.com.

"We are really excited, but looking at those that have preregistered, it looks like we are attracting a lot of runners from out of town," she said. "Hopefully the locals will come out, too."

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