Steamboat Springs When Artie Weber leaves Long Lake late Friday night to tackle 13.7 miles of rough Jeep road in complete darkness, he will be running for his students.
After the South Routt Elementary School physical eduation teacher arrives at Dry Lake, another teacher will be waiting to carry on the run.
Weber is one of several teachers in the South Routt School District ready to tackle the grueling Run Rabbit Run ultramarathon and collectively run 100 miles starting Friday morning to raise money for South Routt’s newly established endowment fund.
Soroco parent Russ Garrity, who is coordinating the school district’s involvement in the race, said he mulled over many other ways to raise money for the young fund. Elaborate dinners. Conventional fundraisers. Going door to door.
But Garrity said Steamboat Springs’ rigorous foot race was a little more fun and a little more flashy.
“Everyone seems really excited to do this,” Garrity said Sunday.
The running teachers are jokingly referred to as the “sufferers” on a spreadsheet outlining who will run which leg of the trip. But the race isn’t an obligation or a chore for the teachers and volunteers.
“If they would let me run the race tomorrow, I would,” Garrity said. “I’m ready for it.”
The race also is generating buzz at all of the schools in South Routt.
Peggy Barnes, who teaches at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa, said students are earning paper rabbits for good behavior. When they get enough of them posted around the cafeteria, the school earns a root beer float party.
“They’re getting excited to see their teachers in the race,” Barnes said. “It also teaches them it’s good to be active.”
In recent weeks, teachers have been stepping up their training routines. They’ve practiced jogging on the four miles of remote trails that run through Garrity’s backyard in Oak Creek.
They each will run between five and 14 miles during the race the teachers are hoping to complete in 28 hours.
Garrity said Julie Hoff, the first South Routt runner, will climb up Mount Werner and cross the Mountain View trail on the way to Long Lake. The next runner will tackle the Fish Creek Falls trail into downtown Steamboat Springs.
Another will pick up the race and continue around Emerald Mountain.
After that, the jaunt continues through downtown Steamboat again, up Fish Creek Falls and over to Buffalo Pass Road.
Finally, on the home stretch, runners will take the Spring Creek Trail to Divide Lake, and then make their way back to Steamboat Ski Area for the finish.
Garrity said the school district’s involvement in the race already has netted between $4,000 and $5,000 in donations to the endowment fund.
Since the fund was launched last year, officials said they have raised more than $35,000 for schools in South Routt.
Superintendent Scott Mader hopes the race ultimately brings more exposure to the fundraising effort.
“I think this is going to turn out to be a big promotion for our endowment,” he said. “The South Routt community is behind this. They know this is going to a great cause, and this (endowment) will be here forever.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com