Mother Nature looks cooperative for 2015 Continental Divide Trail Run | SteamboatToday.com

Mother Nature looks cooperative for 2015 Continental Divide Trail Run

Austin Colbert

— Last year's Continental Divide Trail Run didn't happen. The morning of the brutal Steamboat Springs Running Series race last August, abnormally cold and wet weather decimated the trail conditions high in the mountains and put an end to the race before anyone could get their laces tied.

But with the weather looking cooperative for Saturday, the 2015 version looks to be full steam ahead.

"It was just about full on Tuesday night," said Todd Givnish, who is directing this year's race alongside Alex Pashley. "Weather is looking good. We just rode the course on our mountain bikes, and it is beautiful up there."

The 15-mile race, which starts at 8 a.m. Saturday near the Fish Creek Falls parking lot, takes runners up Fish Creek Falls Trail to the first aid station at Long Lake, a distance of 5.9 miles and an elevation gain of more than 2,000 feet. From there, runners wind their way along Mountain View Trail, reaching a course high point of 10,420 feet. A second aid station is 12.4 miles in at the top of Storm Peak, 10,360 feet above sea level.

"It's just a beautiful piece of trail. Alex and I just finished marking the course, and we didn't see anybody out there once we got above the second falls," Givnish said. "The trail is in great shape. The flowers are still holding strong up at higher elevation."

The home stretch of the race takes runners down Storm Peak Challenge, by Four Points and to the finish at the top of the gondola, an elevation of 9,061 feet. According to the course description, athletes will climb a total of 4,800 feet, most coming in the first six miles, with 3,200 feet of descent.

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"The elevation gain and the technical aspect of the Fish Creek Falls Trail does not make this a good race for beginners. There is going to be a mix of hiking and running for most people to get up above the second falls," Givnish said. "Just to finish it off, there is a 300-foot uphill at the very end to the finish line. People will be happy to be done."

Givnish, in his first year as a race director, said the Continental Divide Trail Run is a popular one for people who plan to compete in September's Run Rabbit Run 100-mile and 50-mile ultras, with both races including some of the same trails used in Saturday's race.

"It's a good chance for them to go experience a portion of the course," Givnish said.

Registration for Saturday's trail run ended Thursday night, but Givnish said he thinks there might be a few spots remaining for those who want to sign up during Friday's packet pick-up, which takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. at Twisted Trails, located on Lincoln Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets.

Athletes can park at the Knoll Parking Lot on Mt. Werner Circle, where a shuttle will transport them to the start near Fish Creek Falls. The finish line and awards ceremony are located at the top of the gondola, which racers can use to return to the base of the mountain after the event.

"It's kind of business as usual," Givnish said. "We will look into maybe making some changes for next year after we get one under our belt."

For more on the race, visit runningseries.com.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @austin_colbert