Running Series returns with annual Spring Creek race
If you go
What: Spring Creek Trail Run
When: 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: The race starts and ends at the Spring Creek Reservoir, located .4 miles from the dirt parking lot at Second Street and Amethyst Street near the high school
How to register: Visit runningseries.com. There is a 100-runner cap for the featured 9-mile race with no limit for the 5-kilometer race.
Steamboat Springs — As the story goes, before Rabbit Ears Pass was a viable option for travelers, the only way a stagecoach could reach Steamboat Springs from the north or east was via a trail over Buffalo Mountain. This trail, which is hidden beneath vegetation for most of the season, comes out of the shadows once a year for the annual Spring Creek Memorial trail run.
“It’s a really cool piece of history. That trail, which is an overgrown, not really used single-track at this point, we clear every year,” said Steamboat Springs Running Series co-director Cara Marrs. “That was actually the original stage route into Steamboat when there was no Rabbit Ears. You went over Buff Pass, and I don’t know how people got down it in a wagon, but they did. It’s steep.”
Entering its 21st year, the Spring Creek Memorial trail run is the sixth race of the year in the summer Running Series and one of the most unique. A non-profit organization that uses its races to raise money for other non-profits, the Running Series uses the Spring Creek Memorial run as a fundraiser for itself.
This year’s race takes place Saturday, beginning with the featured nine-mile trail run, at 8 a.m. An optional five-kilometer run/walk starts at 8:30 a.m., with both races starting and ending at the Spring Creek Reservoir, located less than half a mile from the dirt parking area near Steamboat Springs High School.
“This is the one race that is a benefit only for the Running Series. So it really helps us, as we are a non-profit ourselves and we give away so much money to local non-profits,” Marrs said. “Even if you were going to come out and do one race, this would be the one. I think this is sort of the classic race. It was definitely one of the first ones I did when I moved here almost 20 years ago.”
The race is also special as it’s the only local event that runs on the popular Spring Creek Trail. The 5K is an out-and-back on the main trail, while the nine-mile race runs a “lollipop” course, much of which runs on private or Forest Service land.
This year’s course is much the same as previous years, but Marrs said they were forced to add about a half mile to the course in order to detour around a section owned by the city that they want to keep wild.
“It will be a little bit longer. I don’t know if it’s going to make it necessarily any slower, because that other section was kind of rough, and you had to hike up it anyway,” Marrs said. “There are a few miles in this race where it’s really steep, and you might be jumping over some downed trees. It’s kind of rough. And, of course, because of all the rain we had this year, the ferns are over my head.”
Registration for the races ends at 8 p.m. Thursday, with the nine-mile race having a cap of 100 runners. As of Wednesday afternoon, Marrs said around 130 had pre-registered, with 75 to 80 of them being for the nine-mile race.
There is no limit to the 5K race, which allows well-behaved dogs on a leash.
“I think it’s better for the environment and the experience of the race to have that capped at 100,” Marrs said. “That’s really just to maintain the integrity of that race and make it not too crowded. When the race ventures off from the main Spring Creek Trail onto the whole section that’s private property, it’s very overgrown.”
Marrs said the Running Series is offering a $100 award for anyone, male or female, who breaks the course record. The current men’s record is held by Greg Rendl, set in 2011, with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 10 seconds. The current women’s record is held by Christine Knight, set in 2007, with a time of 1:15:21.
Bib pick up will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Twisted Trails in downtown Steamboat. They will accept registration at that time, as well, if spaces are available. To secure a spot before then, visit runningseries.com.
The race serves as a memorial for Patty Brenner Hagberg, who was struck and killed by a truck near the start of the Spring Creek Trail in 1991.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Things are normally pretty quiet around the base area of Steamboat Resort this time of year, but a lot has happened since the ski area closed following the 2020-21 season.