2009 Running Series kicks off Saturday | SteamboatToday.com

2009 Running Series kicks off Saturday

Spirit Challenge starts summer racing season in Steamboat Springs

— Trail runs make up the bulk and heart of the Steamboat Springs Running Series, but they don’t get under way until midsummer. The series’ best-known events, like the Steamboat Marathon, all are more than a month away.

But take it from 2008 Running Series season points champion Deb Freeman: Everything starts this weekend.

“My advice is to simply get out and run,” she said. “The running series rewards folks that get out and attend the races. Last year, I was the case in point for that.”

The 2009 Running Series kicks off with the Spirit Run at 10 a.m. Saturday at Steamboat Springs Middle School. The event, the first of 12 series races this season, offers competitors a chance to get a fast start in the season-long points tally.

Points are awarded based on a racer’s finish overall and in his or her age and gender classification. The Spirit Challenge is one of 10 events for which season points are awarded. Neither the Steamboat Marathon on June 7 nor the Steamboat Sprint on July 4 award season points.

Hitting every point-awarding race was a big part of Freeman’s championship strategy last year when she captured the women’s division title.

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She dominated her age group and was a regular, not just when the weather was nice during the summer, but at every race on the calendar.

“My strategy is to show up for every race and put one foot in front of the other,” she said. “I hope to have as good of a season as I had last year, but really that means feeling good and finishing all the races.”

Still, Running Series coordinator Cara Marrs said points are only part of the race’s draw.

She said the first event of the year offers competitors an early spring chance to stretch their legs and can prove to be an important tune-up for a summer of running.

“It’s a good thing for people to do if they’re planning on running in the Steamboat Marathon,” Marrs said. “It’s a great race, and definitely one of the rites of spring.”

This year’s Spirit Challenge, the 24th edition of the event, will feature 5- and 10-kilometer races, both of which will stick to the roads in the Strawberry Park area.

This race will again raise money for the Legacy Education Foundation, which funds and promotes place-based education projects. It won’t, however, feature a children’s Walk-a-Thon, as it has in the past.

Interested racers can register until noon Friday at Ski Haus, or online at http://www.runningseries.com for $20. Registration also will be available on the day of the event for $25.

“I have been getting inquiries from all over. I think we’ll have a good turnout,” Marrs said. “We’re really excited to get started.”

If you go

What: 24th annual Spirit Challenge

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs Middle School, 5100 Amethyst Drive

Other: The first Steamboat Springs Running Series event of the season will feature 5- and 10-kilometer road races in the Strawberry Park area. Racers can register for $25 on the day of the race or for $20 in advance. Registration is available at Ski Haus until noon Friday, and online at http://www.runningseries…

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