Steamboat Springs high school runners complete Hahns Peak Hill Climb
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Most people will slowly amble up the final stretch of the hike up Hahns Peak, as the scree field threatens the balance of all who cross it. Members of the Steamboat Springs High School cross country team bounded over the loose rock, baffling anyone who witnessed their agility.
“I am blown away by how Steamboat athletes can navigate that downhill off that scree,” said Steamboat cross country and track coach Lisa Renee Tumminello. “I kind of walk it cautiously thinking about how much it might hurt if you fall. Some of them are just like mountain goats. They just grew up doing the trails, so they are pretty agile.”
For rising senior Sidney Barbier, the secret is all in the arms.
“You just have to keep balanced. Lisa Renee always tells us, ‘use your arms,’ and you always have to look silly,” Barbier said. “When you’re running down super fast, you throw your arms out everywhere to keep your balance, but it’s a super helpful way to stay upright.”
For years, Sailors distance runners have participated in the Hahns Peak Hill Climb, a race put on by the Steamboat Running Series that served as a fundraiser for the cross country team. This year, the race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the go-ahead to train in groups, the cross country team decided to challenge themselves anyway on Saturday, July 11.
The runners arrived on their own, some driving to the typical trailhead, others a few miles down the road, increasing the already difficult run to 8 miles round trip.
Soon-to-be-junior Sam Campbell wasn’t sure she was going to be able to run at Hahns Peak, but at 11:30 p.m. the night before, she found out her previous engagement was not happening. So, with no mental preparation, she got up early the next morning and ran up the steep slope.
“I basically didn’t (mentally prepare),” she said. “I got home and went to bed super fast and laid out all my clothes because I had to get up super early. There wasn’t a ton of mental preparation. … I definitely think it helps eliminate stress when you just kind of jump in there.”
For Campbell, being together with her team made up for falling on the dry, gravely road on the way back down the hill.
Many of the Sailors are constantly competitive and pushing themselves hard, but a lot of those runners approached the hill climb as a more fun run and a time to catch up with their friends and teammates.
“The best part was when we all got to the top, and the last person, we cheered them up to the top at that lookout,” Barbier said. “We took a team picture at the top. That was, for me, the best part of the whole run. Then getting back at the end, and we all had snacks and water.”
Campbell loved the feeling of having her teammates cheer her on as she pushed up the toughest part of the trail. That feeling of support has been missing from athletes’ lives since March.
Barbier even enjoyed the warmup routine in the parking lot. Usually, it’s a simple part of any practice, but since it had been so long since she had completed it with her teammates, even the socially distanced warmup felt special.
Tumminello said each year, she brings her team on destination trail runs to expose them to new places and adventures.
“I think we’re constantly reminded that our athletes live in Steamboat for a reason. We want to remind them of the beauty and the challenges that are right here in our valley,” she said. “There were a handful of athletes that had never been up Hahns Peak before. Part of our goal as a team is to introduce destination trail runs that they may not experience otherwise.”
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