Late-summer run to boost early winter skiing |

Late-summer run to boost early winter skiing

Avalon Thunstrom, front, and Courtney Thunstrom run in 2012's 10K at 10,000 Feet race on Rabbit Ears Pass. The race returns Sunday.

— It's with an eye toward fall that Dave Miller is trying to bolster participation in one of the final running events of the summer.

The 10K at 10,000 Feet race returns Sunday. The Steamboat Springs Running Series event that is headlined by a 10-kilometer run atop Rabbit Ears Pass is entering its third season of life as a fundraiser for the Steamboat Nordic Council.

The proceeds from the race will go toward the upkeep of Bruce's Trail, on the opposite side of the pass from the race and a feature of a different season.

"This is the only way we make money to groom Bruce's Trail," said Miller, who is on the council and serving as the race director Sunday.

Bruce's is one of the somewhat-hidden gems of Routt County. The 5-kilometer trail on the west side of the pass is prepared early for cross-country skiing. It's always the first spot in the county for groomed skiing, and it's often one of the first spots in the whole region, drawing athletes and enthusiasts from across the state for a ski in October or November.

It's only open a few months every year. They stop caring for the trail as soon as trails at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center start to open up, when snow is more prevalent in the Yampa River Valley. But it's still an expensive run for volunteers keeping the trail in shape.

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There's a snow machine left on-site to allow for the grooming, and the maintenance and fuel costs can run between $60 and $100 per grooming. They've groomed the trail as many as 42 times in one season.

The trail's location and an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service prevents charging any type of fee for its use.

Fortunately for race organizers, they have a popular race with which to draw in a crowd.

The 10K at 10,000 Feet starts at 10 a.m. Sunday off the Dumont Lake turnoff from U.S. Highway 40. There's a 5-kilometer version as well as the namesake 10K. Online registration remains open at until 5 p.m. Friday. The shorter race costs $25, and the longer one is $30.

Registration also will be available from noon to 6 p.m. for an additional $5 at Ski Haus in Steamboat Springs.

The 10K is a large loop that runs near Rabbit Ears Peak, then around back past Dumont Lake and to the finish line. The race was voted the best 10-kilometer race in the state by Colorado Runner magazine in 2010, and Miller's hopeful for another big crowd this weekend.

"It's one of the biggest races in the Running Series," he said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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