Steamboat Springs Running Series picks up honors

2 local races tabbed among state’s best by readers of Colorado Runner magazine

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2010 Colorado Runner magazine awards

Race of the year: Cherry Creek Sneak 5-kilometer/5-mile race, Denver

Marathon: Pikes Peak Marathon, Manitou Springs

Half marathon: Heart and Sole Half Marathon, Boulder

10K: 10K at 10,000 Feet, Steamboat Springs

5K: Cottonwood Classic, Thornton

Ultra: Run Rabbit Run 50-miler, Steamboat Springs

Non-ultra trail race: Leadville Trail Marathon, Leadville

Most scenic race: Vail Half Marathon, Vail

Best series: Winter Distance Series, Littleton

Best post-race party: Stadium Stampede, Denver

Best weekend getaway: Canyonlands Half Marathon, Moab, Utah

— Runners flocked to the Steam­­boat Springs Running Series all summer as they never have before, large fields of competitors from all corners of the state and country breaking attendance records for some races that have been run every year for nearly three decades.

More than 1,300 runners took part in the 2010 13-race series, organizers reported Wed­­nesday, and those runners voiced their approval in a survey conducted by Colorado Run­­ner magazine.

The Steamboat series’ 10K at 10,000 Feet was voted the state’s best at that distance, and the Run Rabbit Run 50-mile trail ultra-marathon was voted the state’s best ultra.

“It’s awesome,” series director Cara Marrs said. “It’s great to have any of our races honored like that because there are a lot of amazing races in the state.”

The 2010 series saw a continuation of a trend that has swollen the ranks of runners each year. The 2009 series was big, but even that was surpassed in summer, thanks in large part to out-of-town runners.

Marrs said 55 percent of the summer’s entries were from outside Routt or Moffat counties.

That percentage might even grow next year, thanks to the recognition.

“It helps our readers learn about the races outside the Den­ver area,” Colorado Runner publisher Derek Griffiths said about the survey. “The majority of people in the state live in Denver or on the Front Range, so it’s nice for races elsewhere or some of the smaller races to be recognized.”

The Colorado Runner survey was distributed to enthusiasts across the state. About 400 responded, voting in 11 categories.

Races aren’t allowed to win in back-to-back years. Still, the 10K at 10,000, a race atop Rabbit Ears Pass directed by Kremmling runners and Steam­boat regulars Shawn and Steph Scholl, beat out plenty of competition, including the famed Bolder Boulder.

“It’s quite an honor because there’s only half a billion 10Ks in the state,” Steph Scholl said with a laugh. “Oftentimes for people from the Front Range, it’s their first experience ever being on a trail up on Rabbit Ears. That’s why they love it. They’re not at a ski area or on a trail where everyone else is. It’s just beautiful.

“We’re excited other people share our vision and excitement for that run. Now, I wish I could race it.”

The race had a record 200 entries this year.

Run Rabbit Run, meanwhile, had enjoyed its most successful year even before the newest recognition. The race hit its 150-runner cap more than six weeks before the start, thanks in part to its addition to the Montrail Ultra Cup race series.

It attracted some of the best ultra runners in the country and drew rave reviews.

“This is one of the ‘good ones,’” acclaimed ultra runner and 2010 champ Geoff Roes wrote in a post-race report on his blog, Fumbling Towards Endurance. “This race does a perfect job of being totally organized, without being too organized. Many races just feel like a race, and the entire experience there boils down to the time that you are running the course. Run Rabbit Run is not one of these races. The course is very challenging and very enjoyable, but the entire event has a ‘soul’ and a ‘spirit’ to it that makes the seven hours of running the course just one small part of a very nourishing weekend.”

Marrs said it took a group effort to make the 4-year-old Run Rabbit Run stand out in a crowded field of prestigious races in Colorado.

Matt Morrill and Fred Abra­mowitz directed the race.

“Our races are absolutely successful only because of our volunteers and sponsors,” Marrs said. “If we didn’t have all these great people volunteering to direct these races or come and help, or sponsors donating prizes, we wouldn’t have a series.”

Marrs said she’s close to finalizing a schedule for the 2011 series. A four-race winter series, meanwhile, continues on Thanksgiving Day with a five-mile Turkey Trot.

For more information, visit www.runningseries.com.

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