Trail championships coming to Steamboat |

Trail championships coming to Steamboat

Luke Graham

— For the next two summers, Steamboat Springs will play host to a national championship for the country’s premier trail runners.

Paul Kirsch, championships chairperson for USA Track & Field’s Mountain/Ultra/Trail Council, said that a council committee awarded Steamboat the 10K Trail Championships for 2007 and 2008 at a meeting Saturday in Indianapolis.

Kirsch said the decision was based in large part on the commitment expressed in the proposal presented by 2006 Steamboat Springs Running Series director John Chapman.

“We were impressed with (Chapman’s) commitment to putting on a quality race by supplying prize money, his experience as a race director and the backing of the community with all the letters of support he had,” Kirsch said, noting the role of SmartWool as the race’s primary sponsor.

The 2007 race will be a qualifying race for the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. The top two men and the top woman will earn automatic berths to the 2007 U.S. team.

Kirsch noted the U.S. teams’ top finishes at the 2006 World Mountain Running Trophy races in Bursa, Turkey – one that the U.S. women won and the men took fifth.

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“Great success comes from great qualifying races,” Kirsch said, pointing to Steamboat’s course as great training grounds for the 2007 trophy race in Ovrannaz, Switzerland.

The event puts Steamboat on the World Mountain Running Association map as a potential host site for the 2009 world championship event.

The 10K Trial Championships will be held at 9 a.m., June 30, 2007 and June 28, 2008. Pending approval, Chapman plans to put the course at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Chapman reassured locals that not all participants in the race will be sponsored semi-professionals vying for a spot on the U.S. team. Anyone will be able to sign up for the elite division and the 10K will be open to amateur runners as part of the 2007 Steamboat Springs Running Series. Chapman estimated the event could draw 300 to 400 people.

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