Closing weekend snowshoe races to benefit STARS

Roundup, Stampede to bookend Saturday’s Cardboard Classic

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If you go

What: Second annual STARS Snowshoe Stampede and inaugural Snowshoe Roundup

When: Snowshoe Roundup at 8:30 a.m. Saturday; Snowshoe Stampede at 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Meet at the base of Steamboat Ski Area

Cost: Registration is $25; proceeds benefit Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports

Call: Tarsha Ebbern at 819-1996 or visit www.runningseries.com to register

— Closing weekend festivities at Steamboat Ski Area will have a little something extra this year, and organizers hope it’s enough to help the town’s Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports program increase its funding in a rough economy.

The Snowshoe Roundup is a 2.4-mile, first-of-its-kind snowshoe race that will kick off the ski area’s end-of-the-year party.

The race starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday from the base of the ski area. The Snowshoe Stampede, a very short and wild dash also at the base of the ski area, will follow later in the morning for the second consecutive year.

“We decided to do something a little different,” STARS administrative assistant Tarsha Ebbern said. “We have Alpine events and Nordic events, but never any snowshoe events. A lot of people around town do it, so we decided it would be fun.”

The Roundup course will take runners away from the gondola building and up toward the base of the Thunderhead Express chairlift, along the gentle incline of the Right-O-Way trail, up toward Rough Rider Basin, down Beeline and Giggle Gulch and back toward the base, again along Right-O-Way.

After brainstorming the idea, Ebbern sought out the leadership of the Steamboat Springs Running Series for help in putting on the race. Rather than just offer a hand, however, the series decided to just add the event to its already exploding lineup of races.

Just a summer occurrence in the past, the series opened the door to fall, winter and spring events this year, first with a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, then with the 5-mile Pentathlon Tuneup last month.

A snowshoe race seemed to fit perfectly.

“I think it will be a really fun event,” Running Series co-director Lisa Barbour said. “I hope to see all the regulars and then some. There are a lot of snowshoers in town, so I am hoping they all come out.”

The Roundup will lead into the 11 a.m. 30th annual Cardboard Classic event at the base of the ski area. The Snowshoe Stampede will follow.

The Stampede is back for its second year and will send contestants sprinting about 50 yards up the same course the cardboard creations will come down. Competitors will have to hop a berm and then hurl themselves back down 50 yards to the starting line.

“It’s pretty funny,” Ebbern said.

It might be funny, but it certainly won’t be easy.

The Roundup course includes gentle but persistent inclines, and running with snowshoes can be an entirely new experience.

“You have to use a wide stance,” Barbour said. “There is not any really steep parts, and you can go downhill really fast on snowshoes, but you just have to keep your legs apart a little bit to keep the shoes from hitting your ankles.”

There will be only one fee for both events — $25 that can get runners entered into one or both. Those interested can find more information or register at www.runningseries.com. Registration also will be possible the morning of the event.

The money raised will be used by STARS to purchase a new sit-ski for use in its adaptive sports programs.

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