Steamboat Marathon makes small changes with loosening pandemic protocols

Barb Hendricks beams as she picks up her 80's themed t-shirt ahead of running the 10K on Sunday. Packet pickup runs 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. at Ski Haus on Saturday and the race begins Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

There’s something magical about standing on a starting line with hundreds of people all looking to accomplish the same semi-psychotic goal: run 26.2 miles. There’s adrenaline and respect and intimidation and butterflies and community and last-second snacking and hydrating.

With loosened pandemic protocols in Routt County, participants in the 2021 Steamboat Marathon will be able to experience that magic. Runners will no longer have to take part in staggered starts and will all depart Hahns Peak Village at the same time.

“Being able to all start together really is a good thing,” said race director Paul Sachs. “We could have pulled off the staggered start, it’d be a different kind of event.”

The 10-kilometer race will also continue in person, with no large changes.

Additionally, buses are now allowed to have 75% capacity, which will speed up the process of getting every marathon participant up north, but riders will still have to wear their masks on the ride up to North Routt.

There won’t be many other changes, though. Race officials still have to be held to the plan they submitted, so even though protocols are loosened there can’t be any major changes made.

“We’re still subject to the plan that was approved,” Sachs said. “So, that’s the way we plan to operate.”

The finish line won’t feature a huge crowd and will still be a grab-and-go situation for finishers grabbing food, medals and more. As per the approved plan, a band will play near the finish but won’t be the centerpiece for a gathering on the courthouse lawn.

Two months ago, Steamboat Marathon decided the half-marathon would move to a ‘virtual’ format in which participants have a weeklong window to complete the distance on their own. That window began on Monday and continues through Sunday. So far, 13 people have reported their times on the virtual event page.

“From what I’ve heard, anecdotally from people who have done it, it seems to be going well,” Sachs said. “People are receptive to it, it’s become a little bit more of the norm. People are doing it and it seems to be going great. I wish we could have done the half, but it was definitely the right call. Even withthings loosening up, we couldn’t have pulled it off with capacity on buses.”

Since the thousand runners doing the half won’t be filling up Routt County Road 129, the road will not be closed. Still, the city is asking people to avoid traveling on RCR129 if possible.

There will be closures downtown, though. From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., one westbound lane of Lincoln Avenue and street parking will be closed from Fifth to 11th streets. Additionally, Sixth and Eighth streets between Lincoln and Oak Street will be closed. There may be a rolling closure on Fifth Street from Lincoln to Oak between 6 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.

Packet pickup runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. outside Ski Haus, 1457 Pine Grove Ave., where people can check-in and grab their periwinkle shirt to honor the ’80s theme.

There will also be a welcome run at Old Town Hot Springs at 9 a.m. on Saturday led by Narisa Wild. It’ll be a slow and low run to keep the legs loose ahead of race day.

“It’s awesome, it’s pretty amazing,” Sachs said. “Who would have thought we’d be in this position a month ago.”

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