Duncan, a golden retriever, leads the way for Steamboat Springs resident Linda Casner near the end of last year’s 10-kilometer race at the Mountain Madness Steamboat Springs Running Series event. Registration in some of the races this year is expected to be capped.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Duncan, a golden retriever, leads the way for Steamboat Springs resident Linda Casner near the end of last year’s 10-kilometer race at the Mountain Madness Steamboat Springs Running Series event. Registration in some of the races this year is expected to be capped.

Steamboat Running Series bracing for expansion

Event registration caps, points changes mark summer

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Running Series schedule

■ May 15: Spirit Challenge 5- and 10-kilometer races

■ June 6: Steamboat Marathon Full and half marathons and 10-kilometer race

■ June 12: Hayden Cog Run 8.4-mile run and 5- and 10-kilometer runs

■ June 27: Craig Duathlon 10-kilometers of running, 30 of cycling

■ July 4: Steamboat Sprint  400-yard dash

■ July 10: Howelsen Hill 8-Miler 8- and 4-mile races

■ July 24: Spring Creek Memorial 9-mile and 5-kilometer races

■ Aug. 7: Mount Werner Classic 12-mile and 5-kilometer races

■ Aug. 22: Continental Divide Trail Run 16-mile run

■ Sept. 5: 10K at 10,000 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races

■ Sept. 11: Emerald Mountain Trail Run 7-mile race

■ Sept. 18: Run, Rabbit Run 50-mile ultramarathon

— For much of the existence of the Steamboat Springs Running Series, participation has been a last minute — at least last week — decision for racers. All races outside the massive Steamboat Marathon have been decidedly local affairs with friendly and familiar faces and fruit and food for every finisher.

Times may be changing, however, as anyone who showed up to a race last year is well aware. Summer 2009 saw a massive swelling of the running series ranks, pushing the circuit to unknown participation levels.

Summer 2010, meanwhile, will have a few new quirks of its own. Some of the races will be capped and those hoping to participate will need to sign up early — soon, even.

“We really want locals to register early because we’re going to fill up,” series director Cara Marrs said. “It’s amazing. Last year, we were able to achieve numbers we never had before. We would be really happy if we could sustain that, but we’re hoping for more growth.”

The 2010 summer series kicks off May 15 with the Spirit Challenge in Strawberry Park. The schedule this year remains the same as last year’s with one addition. The Craig Duathlon will challenge competitors with a 30-kilometer bicycle section sandwiched between two 5-kilometer runs. That race is June 27.

Only races on Forest Service ground will be subject to entry caps, and organizers only expect the Aug. 7 Mount Werner Classic, the Aug. 22 Continental Divide Trail Run and the Sept. 18 Run, Rabbit Run 50-miler to fill up.

Last year’s series attracted so many racers that race directors often were left scrambling even to come up with enough numbers for everyone in the crowd.

The series organizing committee is bracing for a similar rush this summer. The series introduced an online registration system last year, again available at www.runningseries.com. It’s already up and running for the new season and has allowed a window into what may be coming this summer.

“It’s been a compilation of enthusiasm, media hype and our website,” series board member Lisa Barbour said about the series’s popularity.

There already are people registered for each event. The Mount Werner Classic and Continental Divide Trail Run have 20 racers each, about 15 percent of capacity.

The Run, Rabbit Run 50-mile ultramarathon will be capped at 150 racers. It already has 60 signed up.

“We didn’t used to even have anyone at all registered yet,” Marrs added.

Marrs said an evaluation of last year’s entries showed a third of runners were locals, a third from somewhere in the state and another third from out of state.

She expects more of the same.

“Denver, Lakewood, Golden, Denver ... Maine,” Marrs said, reading off a list of already-registered racers. “We have so many registered already, and that’s not counting many of the locals who do these races all the time.”

The changes for summer 2010 won’t be limited to number caps and a new race. The season-long Running Series points system has been overhauled. Previously, points were awarded on two scales, one based on a runner’s overall finish in a race and one on that runner’s finish in his or her age group. A maximum of 20 points could be earned in any race at any event, meaning the winners of both the 5- and 10-kilometer races at the Spirit Challenge were awarded full points.

This summer, only one race at each event will count toward the overall point standings.

“We sent out a survey after last season and the point system was one thing a lot of people mentioned,” she said. “We think this will help. There are a lot of longer races that will count, but there will be shorter races, as well, so we think at the end, it will be the best overall runner that wins.”

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