Running Series registration, including Steamboat Marathon and Run Rabbit Run, opens Jan. 1 |

Running Series registration, including Steamboat Marathon and Run Rabbit Run, opens Jan. 1

— Last year saw major changes to the Steamboat Springs Running Series events thanks to the addition of several long trail races. The coming year will be more about fine-tuning the schedule.

There won't be any new races or new distances for the Running Series. Instead, the most notable change involves new dates for existing races, and officials already are suggesting interested runners — particularly those hoping to take part in the Run Rabbit Run ultramarathon's 50-mile division — be ready to sign up when registration opens at midnight Jan. 1.

"That 50 will probably fill up fast, but I don't really know how fast," said Paul Sachs, one of the race directors. "We do a big wait list, and that works well because a lot of people change their minds about signing up for something that long, but the only way to be sure to get a spot is to sign up early."

The most significant change to this year's schedule is for the Howelsen Hill 8-Miler. All the races leading up to that event take place on roads, and the Howelsen race long has been the first chance for local racers to compete on trails.

This year, it still retains that designation, but it will take place a few weeks earlier. The race will move from its traditional second-week of July date to June 22, marking it as the first run after the June 2 Steamboat Marathon.

"It will get trail racing started earlier and get people excited about that," series Director Cara Marrs said. "For years, people have been asking us if we can get a trail race into June, so now we have one."

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The 8-Miler isn't the only race getting a scheduling adjustment.

The Hayden Cog Run will be one week earlier on May 11. The Continental Divide Trail Run, a 15-mile race, will be bumped up one day to Aug. 24, with the change moving the race from a Sunday to a Saturday.

The Spirit Challenge is the first race in Steamboat on May 18, the Steamboat Sprint still is July 4, the Mountain Madness half-marathon still is on the following Saturday, July 6. The Spring Creek Memorial is set for July 20, the 50-kilometer Mount Werner Classic is Aug. 3, the Steamboat Stinger trail marathon is Aug. 18, the 10K at 10,000 Feet is Sept. 1, and the Emerald Mountain Trail Run wraps up the season Sept. 21.

Marrs said participation for the series stayed even last year after several consecutive years of growth. A lot of that she blamed on the calendar. Some of the races fell on busy weekends, like the Spring Creek Memorial trail run, which was one of four major outdoors events that Saturday in 2012. Other events saw a dip in participation because they weren't as close to busy, like July 4.

The 2013 schedule offers some reprieves in those areas. There's only one other event likely to be scheduled with the Spring Creek race, for instance.

"We have this great community going on with our races," Marrs said. "We've had runners from Canada, Australia and other places that were looking to vacation in Colorado, then picked Steamboat because they saw we were having a race. Now those runners have been back two or three years in a row."

The Run Rabbit Run event will be Sept. 13 and 14, and as it has the past several years, the 50-miler is expected to sell out. The 100-mile race, meanwhile, again should be a big draw for the top racers in the country.

Sachs said he expects the Tarahumara Indians from Mexico to make a return trip after both runners failed to finish in 2012. Other top runners also are expected, with those who sign up for elite division chasing a purse that last year reached about $40,000.

"The Tarahumara are pretty much committed. They want to try it again," Sachs said. "We've gotten great feedback from the really top runners, and they all have it on their radar screen. Some people sat it out last year, waiting to see how it would go. We did have a few glitches, but we have figured out how to handle those. The course will be marked better, the people will know where they are going, and we have a better sense of how long it takes to run it. Last year, it was harder than people expected."

Marrs added that the series still is looking for sponsors. Those who are interested are asked to email

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email