Steamboat Springs For locals, the Run, Rabbit Run Steamboat 50-mile ultramarathon has been a different kind of race in its five years of existence, encouraging locals to push beyond their means while drawing a few big-time endurance racers to Steamboat Springs.
If organizers’ plans for the event are realized, the ultramarathon will be a different kind of race for the entire ultra-running industry.
Race officials say the 2012 version of Run, Rabbit Run will be pushed to 100 miles, a revolutionary change for Steamboat Springs. And it will include a potentially massive prize pool, a revolution for ultramarathons in general.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be really huge and an incredible event,” said Paul Sachs, one of the race coordinators.
The race is set to start Sept. 14 and finish Sept. 15. The 50-mile course will stay the same, sending runners up Mount Werner, along the Continental Divide trail to the base of Rabbit Ears Peak and back. The 100-mile course, meanwhile, will be radically different, leading the athletes up Mount Werner, in a loop around Buffalo Pass, down and into Steamboat Springs, up the Spring Creek Trail back to Buffalo Pass, down again to a long loop on Emerald Mountain and finally back to Steamboat Ski Area for another trip up and then down Mount Werner to a finish line at the base.
That’s eye-popping for all but the most elite runners in the world. Eye-popping even for them is the $12,000 prize purse that’s already been assembled, one which directors hope to grow to $50,000 or even $100,000 by race day and for future events.
“Most of the guys that do this, they do it for the fun of it,” said Fred Abramowitz, another of the race’s chief organizers. “If we can get the prize for the winner up to $10,000 or $12,000, for some of these guys who are going to these races and camping because they can’t afford hotel rooms, it’s going to change their whole attitude.
“Right now, shoe company sponsors are getting away with giving them a pair of shoes every now and then and using them for advertising. These guys will run their eyeballs out for that kind of money. This will be a game-changer for the sport.”
It could be a game-changer for Steamboat, too, Abramowitz said, citing September’s generally low tourist traffic and the chance that the town and the race could be on the verge of transforming the entire landscape of the ultrarunning industry.
“This is going to garner press attention, no doubt about that. It’s going to draw attention to Steamboat and the beauty of Steamboat, and it will bring a lot of business,” he said. “A 100-mile runner isn’t like a 50-mile runner. The average athlete has to stay three nights, and brings a crew, a family and pacers. So there will be a three- or four-day period during some of the poorest months in Steamboat when hopefully we can have a couple thousand people in town for this thing.”
The event already has attracted some of the biggest names in ultrarunning, but registration remains open. The 50-mile race costs $110. The 100-mile race costs $275. Visit www.runrabbitrunsteamboat.com for more information, or www.ultrasignup.com to register.