Top runners in Continental Divide Trail Run come from varying degrees of experience |

Top runners in Continental Divide Trail Run come from varying degrees of experience

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When trying to estimate when the 50-kilometer race runners will finish Steamboat Springs’ annual Continental Divide Race, most will use Golden resident Courtney Daulwater as a measuring stick.

In 2016, Daulwater finished third overall, first in the female division with a time of five hours, three minutes and 29 seconds. In 2017, Daulwater finished in the same spot, but cut her time down to 4:37:17.

So, when planning what time to be at the top of the mountain to take her picture, just know she’s getting faster every year.

On Saturday, Daulwater became the first overall finisher in the 50K trail race with a time of 4:36:59.

“I feel really lucky to come up here the last couple of years and enjoy the race,” Daulwater said. “I mean, look around.”

Daulwater doesn’t have a lot to say about running. She started as a cross country runner in high school, made her way to marathons after college and fell into the trail running scene after that. There’s nothing specifically special about her training regime — just that she runs, a lot.

However, with an elevation change of about 6,000 feet and a large bulk of the race above 10,000 feet, the Front Range runner suggests to “suck on some oxygen” before taking it on.

“It’s just cool how far you can go with your feet and the places you can get up there,” Daulwater said. “I think everyone should come try this race. They have a 16-mile race and a 50K right here in Steamboat’s own backyard.”

Coming in a few minutes behind was Cooper Rudin, an aspiring ultra runner living in Boulder.

Rudin’s friends joined him on the final 100 meters, cheering and clapping as they guided him towards the finish.

“I’ve never run anything longer than 17 miles, never raced longer than a 10K before,” Rudin said. “Trail running has kind of always been the dream, so I started with a 50K and Steamboat seemed like the right spot.”

Rudin didn’t think he needed the road race experience of a half- or full marathon to take on the 50K in the mountains. He trained on the trails around Boulder, while also climbing Bear Mountain. Then, he spent two nights in Steamboat before partaking in the race.

“I think ultra running is a little bit cooler,” Rudin said. “Running in the mountains, I don’t think you need marathon experience. I just kind of went for it.”

Rudin started his training as soon as he arrived in Boulder. The New Jersey native longed to be in the mountains with his friends, so he packed up his truck, moved to the mountains and started training for the race in mid-May.

Rudin said his biggest challenge on the trail was staying hydrated. He only brought one water bottle and felt like his hamstrings and calves were paying the price between the third and fourth aid stations.

That’s something to keep in mind for his next racing goal.

“I think I’ll run a 50-miler. Not sure which one, just kind of amp up the mileage and play it by ear.” Rudin said.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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