Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
I felt positively embarrassed Friday as I interviewed Steamboat Marathon race director Paul Sachs for a couple of stories that have printed in the past few days.
Midway through, for some reason, I started telling him about how long of a day marathon day is for me, the guy who bears the brunt of the responsibility for the newspaper’s coverage of the massive event.
Yeah, I’m sure the guy who’s been slaving away working on the marathon for more than a decade is about to feel sympathy for the guy who spends one week writing about the race and one day — albeit a long day — entirely focused on the race.
I love the Steamboat Marathon, and I’ve never pinned on a bib or run a single step in the race.
As annual events go, there aren’t many better to write about and photograph than the annual summer race in Steamboat Springs. It definitely makes for one long day, from a crack-of-dawn race north of town to find a place to photograph the masses to hours and hours spent sorting through all the photographs I end up with.
But there’s something fun about it all, and that something screams out anytime I talk to anyone who has participated or is planning to participate in the race.
No single athletic event draws more people to Steamboat than the marathon, and I’m not sure any event draws happier people to town. Sure, everyone’s happy on the day Steamboat Ski Area opens, and they express that with whoops and shouts. Their smiles are buried under layers, however, and nothing resonates louder on marathon day than the brilliant smiles of the endless stream of runners heading toward downtown Steamboat Springs.
The marathon, more than any other event, is filled with athletes who wave at the camera as they run by. I’ve thrown away more photos of people making peace signs or funny faces at the camera than I could ever count. Last year, though, I changed my tune and included a lot of them in a gallery on the paper’s website. I can’t help but smile along with the waves of runners who, for some reason, seem to think the best way to get into the paper is to stop running midway through a 13- or 26-mile race and coordinate their funny looks or wild arm gestures they’re going to flash me.
That overwhelming joy — in the middle of a run so long the thought makes some of us sick — is irrepressible.
The marathon is long. It’s a long run for those participating. It’s a long day for those volunteering. It’s a long month for those organizing. It’s long for the guy covering the race, too.
I love every second of it, however, maybe even almost as much as the runners seem to.
To the hundreds and hundreds setting out today, good luck. I’d say, “Have fun,” but I know you will.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com