If you go
What: Mount Werner Classic 12- and 5-mile trail run races
When: 12-mile race starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, 5-mile at 8:30 a.m.
Where: The races start at the base of the gondola at the Steamboat Ski Area and finish at the top of the gondola.
Steamboat Springs Emily Conjura admitted that she simply doesn’t get it.
There are few who love running Steamboat’s trail more, few who have hit more Steamboat Springs Running Series events in the past couple of years and few who have dedicated as much time to ensuring the success of the series.
Still, when she realized that Saturday’s event, the Mount Werner Classic that features 5- and 12-mile races, had hit its 125-runner limit, well, she just didn’t understand.
“Honestly, this race is really hard,” she said Thursday, recalling her last run down the long trail that left her exhausted and still looking up at a long climb. “I’ve been doing this race on and off for 10 years, and I’ve never had this many people. … Someone called today and asked since the race is full if they could get on the wait list. We’ve never had anything like that before. It’s awesome.”
Saturday’s races start at 8 a.m. with the 12-mile race and 8:30 for the 5-mile version.
A runner cap has been in place for years because the event is on U.S. Forest Service ground. It never has been hit before; however, and on Thursday, event organizers found themselves closing down registration early for the first time.
Those who do tackle the trails have major hurdles in front of them.
Both races start at the base of the gondola and then cut sharply upward along the Valley View trail. The short course ends at the top of the gondola, but the long version climbs even higher. All told, it rises more than 3,400 feet, from the base of the gondola to the top of Storm Peak before descending back down to the finish line at the top of the gondola.
“It’s probably one of the hardest races we have in the whole series,” series director Cara Marrs said. “And just because the short one is shorter doesn’t mean it’s easy, either.”
Conjura, who will serve as race director for the event, said Saturday’s race would be a zero-waste event. Aid stations will be set up along the course with water, but competitors must bring their own water bottles or drinking devices because cups won’t be available.
She also hopes to continue to support the Soles 4 Souls program and is asking runners to bring any old road or trail running shoes they might have at home. The shoes will then be donated.
The next Running Series race will be the Aug. 22 Continental Divide Trail Run. It too is nearly full; only two spots remained as of Thursday afternoon.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail email@example.com