Massive 50-miler draws some of the best

Record field for race

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If you go

What: Run, Rabbit Run Steamboat 50 ultra marathon

When: The race starts at 6 a.m. Saturday. The top finishers should come in at about 2:30 p.m., with racers trickling in throughout the evening. The race will be capped at 15 hours

Where: Start and finish lines are at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. The trail goes up Mount Werner and toward Rabbit Ears Peak

Other information: The race's finish is set to coincide with the OktoberWest festivities at the base of the ski area.

Numerous events are planned for the afternoon as racers finish. See page 23 in today's newspaper for a full OktoberWest schedule of events.

— Walter Magill's participation in Saturday's Run, Rabbit Run, Steamboat's 50-mile trail marathon, originally was supposed to be a part of his campaign to retain his City Council seat.

When no one rose to contest him in the city's District 3, however, the "Walter will go the distance" slogan lost something.

"It was going to be a part of the political campaign," Magill said. "Some good friends have been pushing people toward it, telling people it's not that hard. I was encouraged by their experiences."

Few participate more in Steamboat's summer races and activities than Magill. He organizes the annual Howelsen Hill 8-miler and participates in most of the other Steamboat Running Series races.

He's a regular on his mountain bike in the summer's Town Challenge series, as well.

But a 50-mile race is something entirely different.

"I'm probably a little under-trained," he confessed Thursday. "I think if you just keep going that will cure itself.

"Sunday could be painful."

Whether his goal of 5 miles per hour for a 10-hour time is achievable remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, though. Magill won't be alone on the daunting trail.

Racers will start at 6 a.m. - with an option to begin as early as 5 a.m. - from the base of Steamboat Ski Area and head straight up, reaching the top of Mount Werner after more than 3,000 feet of climbing and more than six miles of running.

And that's only the beginning. The race includes a total of 9,000 feet of climbing as it winds from Mount Werner to Rabbit Ears Peak, then back along the same trail to the finish near the base area's gondola building.

Nearly 140 racers, hailing from 19 states and three countries, will join Magill. All the funds from the event will benefit the Steve Maloney Memorial Fund and Partners of Routt County.

"This is one of the top three or four toughest 50-milers in the West," race co-director Fred Abramowitz said. "It's a pretty challenging course. We even instituted an early start at 5 a.m. because want to get as many people as we can to finish this thing."

Both of last year's winners will be back, including Steamboat's own Jenna Gruben. Both of the masters champions also will return, and the field also will include some of the most acclaimed ultra marathon runners in the nation.

Breckenridge's Helen Cospolich will be the favorite among the women after stacking up victories around the region, including at last year's Leadville Trail 100 ultra.

Magill said he wouldn't start off with any visions of a record time or a podium finish.

He'll try to maintain his reasonable pace, power-walk the steep sections and make up time on the downhills.

And, he said, hopefully avoid any regret in the middle of the longest race he's ever run.

"I've gone a couple long runs, 20 miles, but I haven't done anything over that," he said, lamenting a busy summer schedule. "I will just try to continue to run. It should be fun."

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