Spring Creek race 1 of Running Series' most popular

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What: Steamboat Springs Running Series Spring Creek Memorial race

When: 9-miler starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, 5K starts at 8:30 a.m.

Where: The race begins at Spring Creek Reservoir up the Spring Creek Trail in Steamboat Springs. There is no parking available near the starting line, so organizers encourage people to show up early and hike or ride their bikes from the trailhead, at Amethyst Drive and Maple Street.

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

— It took a handful of dedicated workers five hours of hacking and hiking in the hot July sun, but Cara Marrs said it was worth it.

Thanks to the efforts of those volunteers, the Spring Creek Memorial returns to its traditional trail Saturday as the Steamboat Springs Running Series offers its seventh event of the season.

The day's races will include a 5-kilomter up-and-back on the Spring Creek Trail, starting at 8:30 a.m. The 9-mile race starts at 8 a.m. and features a loop trail that will take runners across some of the most difficult and interesting terrain of any Running Series event.

"It won't be a usual race. It will be an adventure," said Marrs, who is directing the race along with Lisa Barbour. "The 9-mile race goes up an old stagecoach route. It's pretty cool."

Both races start at Spring Creek Reservoir and head up the trail. The longer race splits off, however, cutting across private land along what may have been one of the first stagecoach routes into Steamboat Springs from the north.

Racers eventually will reach Buffalo Pass Road and, after a mile, reunite with Spring Creek Trail and head back toward the reservoir.

The private section of the trail was too overgrown last year, so organizers routed runners differently. It took a lot of hacking, but the section is ready.

This year's course reflects the most traditional setup as the race kicks off its 18th year.

"It was supposedly the old way to get to Steamboat. Now, it's all wildflowers and aspens and a very faint singletrack," Marrs said. "It's pretty challenging. It goes about one mile on the regular Spring Creek Trail, which is easy, then shoots up - straight up - for a few miles. A lot of people will just have to fast-hike that section."

Once racers reach Buffalo Pass Road, things will get easy quickly. Most of the rest of the trail is downhill.

The 5K isn't without it challenges. Marrs said the race is often one of the most popular in the summer series.

"That's a great race, too, but it's not that easy. It has a lot of ups and downs," she said. "A lot of people always come out and hike and walk the 5K, then we have food from Freshies, raffle prizes and prizes for the winners waiting."

The day's history isn't about a shadowy 19th century trade route, however.

The race was created in honor of Patty Brenner Hagberg and is meant to emphasize the importance of multi-purpose use trails. Hagberg was killed in 1991 when she was struck by a truck on Spring Creek Trail.

"It's a memorial to remind everyone to keep in mind how you really need to share the road and watch out for cyclists and runners," Marrs said.

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