Runners have more choices than ever, but longtime director thinks Steamboat Marathon still has plenty to offer
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As a runner, Paul Sachs knows first hand that the times have changed, and these days the running community has more choices than ever when it comes to registering for running events. But he is hoping that when runners start to work out their summer schedules, they don’t forget about what the Steamboat Marathon and half marathon have to offer.
“Nothing has changed with the events,” Sachs said of the Steamboat Marathon. “What has changed is that there are a ton more races and there are ton of different kinds of athletic events to choose from.”
Sachs, the longtime director of the Steamboat Marathon, said in today’s world, runners can find a variety of events on the calendar including trail runs and ultra-endurance races that can be enticing.
He said those choices are a big reason the numbers for this year’s Steamboat Marathon and half marathon, which will take place June 3, are down. He also thinks that is why the numbers have been so hard to predict the past several years. Last year, the event saw increased numbers with the half marathon filling for the first time in several years.
This year, the early registration numbers are down in both the marathon and half marathon. Sachs is optimistic that those numbers will climb as the event draws closer.
“Back 15 or 20 years ago, it was the Bolder, Boulder on Memorial Day and then the Steamboat Marathon a week later,” Sachs said. “Those were the biggest things going.”
But these days, runners have a lot of events to pick from.
“It’s not doom and gloom. We are down from what we had last year,” Sachs said. “There may be a few less runners, but we are still planning on putting on the same great event.”
Sachs said the 10-kilometer race numbers are about the same as last year, and because that race takes place in an around town, there is no cap on the total number of runners allowed to take part in that event.
Last year, the half marathon registration was filled by the end of April with more than 1,000 runners signed up to take part in the 13.1 mile race along the scenic Elk River.
“We were beyond full, and I had to turn more than a few people away,” Sachs said.
This year, only about half of the available spots have been taken at this point, but Sachs said he expects the number of runners will continue to grow in the coming weeks. Still, he isn’t sure if it will reach 2017 levels.
Similarly, the numbers for the full marathon are also down. Last year more than 300 runners took part in the 26.2 mile Steamboat Marathon, which begins at Hahn’s Peak and make it’s way back to Steamboat along Elk River Road. Sachs said that race is capped at 500 runners but hasn’t had that many runners in recent memory.
“In general, across the country, road race events are down 20 to 25 percent in terms of people participating,” Sachs said. “It’s largely because there are a plethora of other events. I put on Run Rabbit Run every year, and it’s a totally different event. We didn’t have ultra marathon events 20-some years ago. I think there is a little less interest in running on roads as opposed to trails these days.”
Sachs pointed out that the Steamboat Marathon offers a challenging, naturally beautiful course that makes this event unique in the running world.
Registration is open, and runners can sign up for all three events at steamboatmarathon.com. Cost to enter the marathon is $95, the half marathon is $85 and the 10K race is $45 through April. In May the cost to register is $100 for the marathon, $90 for the half and $50 for the 10K race.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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