Running Series, director wrap up summer on Emerald
September 21, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Trail running isn't a seasonal thing, at least not in Steamboat Springs, where the routes on Emerald Mountain get stomped down into icy paths even when the snow piles high. So even though Saturday's Emerald Mountain Trail Run was the end of the Steamboat Springs Running Series, it wasn't the end of the season.
It did, however, mark the end of an era in Steamboat running: Running Series Director Cara Marrs, who oversaw great growth in the series, stepped down after the race.
"It's been a lot of work," she said, "but I love it."
Saturday’s proved a perfect race to symbolize Marrs' final hurrah. She helped start the Emerald Mountain race soon after stepping into the director role in 2009, hoping to add a finale event to the already successful series. It wasn't to be necessarily the toughest or most spectacular race, but a good time among the running community after the tourism tide had ebbed.
That's what she got Saturday as 72 turned out for the event to cruise a 12-kilometer trail up and down Emerald Mountain on a crisp and beautiful late summer morning. The event drew many of the regular racers. Both 2013 summer series champions, Harry Niedl and Heather Gollnick, showed and raced well with Niedl finishing second on the men's side and Gollnick winning among the women.
There also were new faces, some attempting their first trail run.
Fitting, said those who've seen the series progress under Marrs.
"Cara got me to do my first trail run four years ago," said Pam Wooster, a finisher in Saturday's race. "I fell in love with it. She inspired me and gave me the confidence, and I really appreciate that."
Gollnick finished in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 54 seconds. Anne Mudgett was second in 1:08:20, and Kelly Metcalf was third in 1:09:54.
Eddie Rogers won on the men's side in 53:05. Niedl was second in 53:54, and Dan Berteletti was third at 54:03.
"It was great," Gollnick said. "It was so beautiful you wanted to stop and look around, but you couldn't.
"This was the fourth race I've won, and it was great. This series is so different than anything I've ever done.
For Marrs, Saturday marked the end of four years helping guide the series, first as a co-director for one season then as the point person all alone for three. In that time, the series expanded in nearly every way possible. Each individual race in the series grew, some doubling and a few even tripling in participation from 2008, when the largest race had exactly 100 finishers, to 2013, when the largest race had 302 and all but one had more than 87.
The only race that didn't grow in size, the Mount Werner Classic, expanded from 5- and 12-mile runs to a 50-mile trail marathon, and that even had only one less finisher in 2013 than it did in 2008, 70 to 69.
Also consider the ties established with events like the Steamboat Stinger trail marathon and Run Rabbit Run trail ultramarathon as well as new races like the Emerald Mountain Trail Run, and it's clear: The series has taken off in Marrs' tenure.
"It's a cool thing. We just have been bringing in so many people," she said. "People also come in from out of town. We're bringing in a lot of tourists into town, and that really makes me happy."
Marrs will stay on the series' board of directors and still will manage sponsorships for the event. Tyler Jacobs, online development manager for the Steamboat Today, will step in as the series' director next year, getting a strong hand from Marrs.
"I'm happy to still be a part of it, but I have to set aside being the point person," said Marrs, whose son, Max, turns 2 later this month.
Jacobs has been running races in the series since he moved to town in 2004 but only began to help in the volunteer effort this year.
"I just hope to see the series continue to grow, bringing in even more out-of-town people for some of the bigger races," Jacobs said. "And we want to continue to get local people out, making the events so they want to run these, too, and not get intimidated by the big mountains."