Spirit Challenge is an event for the whole family

Lisa Schlichtman

— The Steamboat Running Series will present its second race of the season Saturday, and it’s an event that is sure to appeal to the whole family.

The 2015 Spirit Challenge features 10K and 5K course options beginning at 9 a.m. at the Steamboat Springs Middle School. The 5K route takes runners on a scenic rolling loop with portions of the run taking place on pavement, as well as a stretch on Butcherknife Trail. The 10K is a rolling out-and-back through Strawberry Park.

“It’s pretty flat all the way out and back, except for a couple of small challenging hills,” said race director Pam Wooster.

In order to make the run a more family-oriented event, a kids’ 800-meter fun run — two laps around the middle school track — was added to the race line-up.

“We’re trying to offer a family-oriented event,” Wooster said.

According to Wooster, the Spirit Challenge, as only the second race in the 13-event series, provides runners with a chance to warm up after a long winter.

“There’s a challenge there for sure, no matter what a runner’s level is,” Wooster added. “It’s also a good race to run before the Steamboat Marathon in a couple of weeks.”

As of Thursday evening, about 65 to 70 runners had pre-registered for the event. Wooster is expecting well over 100 runners on race day.

Packet pick-up will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Twisted Trails running store on Lincoln Avenue. Runners will be able to register there and also on the morning of the race. The entry fee is $30. There is also a no-frills option for $20 that does not include a race T-shirt.

The Spirit Challenge serves as a fundraiser for the Yampa Valley Autism Program.

“This event is a beautiful and fun way to honor the incredible impact from all of the special needs service providers in our community,” YVAP Executive Director Lisa Lorenz said.

Proceeds from the race will be donated to YVAP in the name of Jenna Gruben Morrill, who lost her life in a tragic car crash in 2010.

“She was such a beautiful person and a speech pathologist who dedicated her life to improving the lives of her special needs students, especially those with autism,” Lorenz said. “Her important work and vision continues through the Spirit Challenge. Our kids, families and staff are so grateful for her dedication and deeply thank her friends and family.”

For more information on the 2015 Spirit Challenge and the remaining 11 running events, visit

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman

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