Steamboat Springs runner Harry Niedl charges toward the finish line of the grueling Continental Divide Trail Run Steamboat Springs Running Series race last month. Niedl is in position to win the men's season-long points championship.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs runner Harry Niedl charges toward the finish line of the grueling Continental Divide Trail Run Steamboat Springs Running Series race last month. Niedl is in position to win the men's season-long points championship.

Women's season-long running race to be decided Saturday

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Steamboat Running Series

The 2009 Steamboat Running Series is almost at the finish line for the season. Cara Marrs talks to Steamboat Today's Harper Louden about this year's successful series.

The 2009 Steamboat Running Series is almost at the finish line for the season. Cara Marrs talks to Steamboat Today's Harper Louden about this year's successful series.

Season-long points

Men

1. Harry Niedl 119 points

2. Tom Nelson 87 points

3. Allen Belshaw 77 points

4. Darrell Bruder 75 points

5. Andy Picking 72 points

Women

1. Lisa Adams 92 points

2. Hannah Williams 92 points

3. Deb Freeman 85 points

4. Mary Schuette 75 points

5. Tabor Scholl 60 points

If you go

What: Emerald Mountain Trail Run, about 7.5 miles

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Where: The race starts at the base of Howelsen Hill, near the stables at the bottom of the Alpine Slide

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...>

— Steamboat Springs Running Series co-coordinator Cara Marrs emphasized that Saturday's season-ending race on Emerald Mountain is a trail run.

That means, like all trail runs, the actual distance is up for debate, and anyone figuring on stopping at the advertised length of seven miles will be needing to find a way down from the mountain.

"It might be closer to 7.5 miles," Marrs said. "Trail races are rarely the distance you think they're going to be."

The never-more-popular summer running series brings its season-long points race to an end with a new race. The Emerald Mountain Trail Run, kicking off at 9 a.m. from the stables on the east end of the base of Howelsen Hill on Saturday morning, brings the series' finale back to Steamboat after it wrapped up last year with a race in Kremmling.

That means all the drama of several very close races will play out in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The men's overall points race shouldn't induce a ton of excitement. Harry Niedl set out at the start of the season convinced a steady approach - finishing well in all the races instead of at the very top of a few - could pay off.

It has. He's high atop the leaderboard with 119 points, untouchable by series regulars Tom Nelson, in second with 87, and Allen Belshaw, in third at 77.

The women's race, on the other hand, will be a nail biter.

Four local runners are within striking distance of the overall lead, and the top two, Lisa Adams and Hannah Williams are deadlocked with 92 points.

Deb Freeman, third with 85, and Mary Schuette, fourth with 75, also could score enough points to win.

For Adams, though, the chance to get out on the trail won't be about knocking off her closest competitors.

It hasn't been about that all season.

"Exactly one year ago, I blew out my knee playing soccer. For me, this year's running series has been about the joy of moving again," she said. "After being laid up, it feels good to be walking, running and moving on the trails again."

Adams was sidelined for six months with tears in her anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. She missed the entire ski season and was only able to start running again early in the spring.

Even during the summer, she said she struggled to get out and run, picking up as many miles as she could chasing her two young sons, 5-year-old Kellen and 3-year-old Braden.

"Luckily, I had a great physical therapist and a good surgeon, and I'm feeling good," she said. "For me, that's what it's about. It feels so good to be moving again."

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