Racing for a good cause |

Racing for a good cause

— The Spirit Challenge Steamboat Springs Running Series race Saturday proved a sentimental event for many in attendance.

The race was a fundraiser for the Yampa Valley Autism Program, and funds were donated in the name of Jenna Gruben Morrill, an avid Steamboat runner who died in a car crash in 2010.

“We’re so appreciative,” said LuEtta Loeber, who has been active in the Austism Program through the years. “Every fundraiser is important. We have so many kids we’re helping.”

The Autism Program helps 60 local families who have children with autism. Their services include therapy, education and a vocational work program.

The Spirit Challenge included 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer races that began at Steamboat Springs Middle School, as well as a fun run for the kids. About 120 people people participated in the second race of the summer series.

Beaver Creek resident Brad Zoller finished first for the men in the 5-kilometer race with a time of 18:45.

He said he and his wife look for any excuse to come to Steamboat.

“That was a beautiful course,” Zoller said. “It has some good hills.”

Heather Gollnick won the race for the women with a time of 21:43.

In the 10-kilometer race, Steamboat’s Gabriel Small came out on top with a time of 38:42. Small has won the Steamboat Marathon back-to-back years.

Wyatt Mortenson, 13, kept up with Small through the first part of the run, until he realized he was pushing himself a little too hard.

“This is going to be difficult,” Mortenson said he thought at the time.

He ended up finishing fifth.

Pearson Alspach won for the women with a time of 44:16.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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