Steamboat Marathon to attract 2,000 runners |

Steamboat Marathon to attract 2,000 runners

The Steamboat Marathon returns Sunday for it’s 29th running. A full 26.2-mile marathon, a 13.1-mile half marathon and a 10-kilometer race start at 7:30 a.m. and finish in front of the courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The Steamboat Marathon returns Sunday for it's 29th running. A full 26.2-mile marathon, a 13.1-mile half marathon and a 10-kilometer race start at 7:30 a.m. and finish in front of the courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Joel Reichenberger

Whether it be by rigorous cross-country skiing or brisk-morning jogging, lunch-hour duck-outs or carefully paced consideration, they've been training, and the moment for many a Yampa Valley runner is finally near.

The 29th annual Steamboat Marathon, the massive event encompassing three races, starts at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

The 26.2-mile marathon will start from Hahn's Peak Village in the mountains north of Steamboat Springs. The 13.1-mile half marathon will start at Moon Hill, halfway back to town, and the 10-kilometer race will start on Fifth Street.

"For me, and for a lot of people, this is a tradition," said Steamboat Springs Running Series Director Cara Marrs, lacing up for her 13th half-marathon. "It's a tradition to sign up in January, and it makes a good little goal to make sure you're ready for this one. Now it's become a total habit to make sure I'm ready to roll."

The marathon has long been one of Steamboat's most popular sporting events, and that will again be true this year. The half-marathon is full as usual — it's almost always the first race to fill up, and this year will have about 1,250 runners. The full marathon also will be full, however, this year with about 450 runners. Organizers expect another 500 or 600 for the uncapped 10-kilometer race, meaning well over 2,000 pairs of shoes are likely to shuffle across the downtown Steamboat Springs finish line.

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"It will be a nice summer weekend in Steamboat, and a lot of people will make a weekend out of it," race director Paul Sachs said. "People get to run a marathon on an incredibly beautiful course, and it looks like it should be a beautiful day."

As familiar as the event has become to some, there will be differences this year. The most glaring will be the absence of champion Jason Saitta, who has dominated the race for the past decade.

After winning last year's full marathon, Saitta had strung together five in a row and won nine of the previous 10. He moved out of the state last summer, however, and despite early spring plans to try to defend his title, work commitments will keep him from returning to his stomping ground.

"We will have someone new," Sachs said with a hint of melancholy. "I have no idea who is fast, but it will definitely have to be someone new."

Other changes in this year's race include the addition of timing chips for each competitor.

One thing that won't change is the finish line. The ongoing road construction in downtown Steamboat Springs led to much hand wringing among marathon planners, and the availability of the race's traditional finishing spot at the courthouse was up in the air as late as Thursday.

Sachs said all has come together at the last minute, however, and all the race's runners will dash down Lincoln Avenue, the heart of Steamboat Springs, to finish their race.

"We had a lot of different potential finish line scenarios ready, but we are really pleased," Sachs said. "There will be a whole lot of traffic in town, but it all will be fine."

Road closures

■ Fifth through 11th streets will be closed between Oak Street and Lincoln Avenue, but two-way traffic will flow on Lincoln despite the downtown road construction and lanes set aside for runners.

■ On Routt County Road 129 from Cullens Corner to the start of the half-marathon, there will be one-way traffic controlled by a pilot car leading traffic on the southbound side of the road.

■ Northbound traffic on C.R. 129 will be diverted to the left lane just past the entrance to Elk River Estates and proceed north to Cullens Corner where traffic controllers will be in place.

■ Southbound traffic on C.R. 129 will be diverted at Cullens Corner onto C.R. 44 and then back onto C.R. 129 just north of the airport.

Race day schedule

5:45 to 6 a.m. Marathon buses board at Gondola Transit Center on Mount Werner Circle.

6 to 6:15 a.m. Marathon buses board downtown at Eighth and Oak streets while half-marathon buses load at Gondola Transit Center.

6:15 to 6:30 a.m. Half-marathon buses load at Eighth and Oak streets.

7:30 a.m. Races start.

11:45 a.m. Honey Stinger Fun Run, a half-mile event for children 5 and older starting at the old Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.

1 p.m. All race courses close.

Lodging barometer

Visitors to Steamboat are expected to take up 32 percent of 17,325 available pillows this weekend, down from the 47 percent that were filled during last year's marathon weekend, according to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's lodging barometer.

The number is also down from the 51 percent of available lodging that was spoken for last weekend during the Memorial Day holiday.