Greg Sarin runs toward the finish line in the 2011 Mount Werner Classic in Steamboat Springs. The event will return, but in name only. What were 12- and 5-mile races will be replaced by a 50-kilometer trail race.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Greg Sarin runs toward the finish line in the 2011 Mount Werner Classic in Steamboat Springs. The event will return, but in name only. What were 12- and 5-mile races will be replaced by a 50-kilometer trail race.

Steamboat Springs Running Series bulks up in 2012

Longer trail races added to summer circuit

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Running Series schedule

May 12: Spirit Challenge, 5- and 10-kilometer runs on road

May 19: Hayden Cog Run, 8-mile, 10K and 5K on road

June 3: Steamboat Marathon Full and half marathons and 10K on road

July 1: Mountain Madness, half marathon and 10K on road

July 4: Steamboat Sprint, 400-yard dash

July 14: Howelsen Hill 8-miler, 8- and 4-mile on trail

July 21: Spring Creek Memorial, 9-mile and 5K on trail

Aug. 4: Mount Werner Classic, 50K on trail

Aug. 12: Steamboat Stinger, full and half marathon on trail

Aug. 19: Continental Divide Trail Run, 16 miles on trail

Sept. 2: 10K at 10,000 Feet, 10K and 5K on trail

Sept. 15 and 16: Run, Rabbit Run Ultra Marathon, 100- and 50-mile on trail

Sept. 22: Emerald Mountain Trail Run, 12K on trail

— More than two months remain before the first event of the Steamboat Springs Running Series. But if potential contestants are wise, they’d get to training because anyone planning on being a regular on the summer circuit is going to need all the help he or she can get.

The 2012 series will include many of the old highlights, but when the schedule was officially set and registration opened recently, a few new monster challenges stood staring Steamboat’s runners right in the face. In addition to the previously announced 100-mile race addition to the Run, Rabbit Run Steamboat ultra-marathon, there’s a 50-kilometer trail race on and above Mount Werner and a 25-mile trail marathon on Emerald Mountain.

“People are wanting those longer distances,” Running Series director Cara Marrs said Sunday. “There’s a call out there, not just in town, for more longer trail races. I couldn’t imagine anyone being able to run all the races in the series this year, but now we have something for everyone. There are 5-kilometer races and 10Ks and 50ks and 7-mile runs and 8-mile runs and marathons and half marathons. We’re really excited.”

The 50K race will be the Mount Werner Classic on Aug. 4. That event is, at least for one year, switching from the 5- and 12-mile format it has had recently and instead challenging a field — which will be capped at about 100 runners — with more than 30 miles. The course will run from the base of Steamboat Ski Area, up and over Mount Werner, to Long Lake and back, about 15 miles each way.

The trail marathon, meanwhile, will be a part of the Steamboat Stinger, set for Aug. 12. That event still will include a 50-mile mountain bike race like last year. This year, though, there will be a 25-mile running trail race on the same course the next day. A half-marathon also will be available.

“That’s basically a tour of all of Emerald. You’ll see about every inch of that mountain,” Marrs said. “Some of these longer races will make people want to come back here. They’ll be able to see a gigantic portion of the forest during their five- or six-hour run.”

The series starts with the May 12 Spirit Challenge 5- and 10-kilometer runs. The Hayden Cog Run is next, jumping from June, where it’s been in recent summers, to May 19, making its 8-mile, 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races ideal tuneups for the Steamboat Marathon weekend, which follows June 3.

Even with the added distances, the series won’t be without options for those sickened by the thought of running double digit anything. The July 14 Howelsen Hill 8-mile and 4-mile races return. There’s a 5K with the July 21 Spring Creek Memorial race and the 10K at 10,000 Feet has a 5K version as well and will be Sept. 2. A 12K run on Emerald Mountain, meanwhile, will bring the series to a close Sept. 22. This year, every event, including the Run, Rabbit Run race, will have an option to gain season-long series points.

“There are all kinds of different races that will count for points this year,” Marrs said. “It really will be the best runner who finishes at the top.”

Several of the events are likely to fill up long before their starting gun sounds. The 9-mile version of the Spring Creek Memorial run, the Aug. 19 Continental Divide and the Mount Werner Classic all have caps and have filled up in recent years. The 50-mile version of the Run, Rabbit Run event, meanwhile, is already almost at capacity. Only about 30 spots remain.

For more information or to register for a race, visit www.runningseries.com.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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