Locals challenge themselves with Run Rabbit Run this weekend
The famous 50- and 100-mile race, Run Rabbit Run, is back this weekend after taking a year off due to the pandemic. The race begins Friday and wraps up Saturday, taking a dedicated niche of runners around Steamboat Springs and the surrounding mountains.
The race has the largest prize purse of all 100-mile races in the world, so it attracts the most talented distance racers in the country and around the world. There are also many locals who take advantage of having the renowned race right in their backyard, and one has a solid chance of winning it.
Devon Olson, 33, has had a very successful 2021. In February, he won the Rocky Raccoon 100-mile race in Texas. In May, he finished third in the Quest for the Crest 50K in North Carolina, and in June, he took second in the San Juan Solstice 50-mile race. He also recently won the Spring Creek Memorial Trail Run and the Emerald Mountain Epic trail marathon.
He’s hoping to carry all that momentum into Run Rabbit Run this weekend and come out on top of a stacked field of athletes.
“It’s been the biggest training block I’ve ever had, ever,” Olson said. “It was a really good build up. I had a coach this training block who I’ve had in the past, and that was super helpful. I had a lot of races that were used as training races for this race that started back in May.”
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Olson plans to go out strong, but if one or two runners jump out to an early lead, he won’t push his boundaries to keep up with them. There’s no point in worrying about where he stands 20 miles into a 100-mile race.
“I can’t really toe the line of a race without being competitive; otherwise I’d just go for a long run,” he said.
Cara Marrs, another local athlete, is running the 100-mile route for the first time since 2018. She was hoping to run it last year as a way to celebrate her 50th birthday, but the race was canceled.
Marrs isn’t sure why, but she loves ultras and works hard to prioritize her training so she can continue to do what she loves.
“I have a really busy life, and it’s nice to have something that’s kind of mine and something for me to look forward to,” she said. “If you’re out doing a race for 30 or 35 hours, no one’s emailing you, asking anything of you. Your only responsibility is to eat, drink and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a pretty amazing thing doing those types of events. You surprise yourself with what you can do and what you can push through.”
Marrs’ training doesn’t consist of high mileage runs. She doesn’t have the time. But she still gets out and racks up miles and elevation while participating in events throughout the year to stay fit.
Between her full-time job as a dietitian and nutritionist, her husband, Dave, her 9-year-old son Max and her 4-year-old rescue golden retrievers Miles and Sawyer, Marrs is busy.
The Run Rabbit Run 100- and 50-mile ultra marathons will begin Friday from the base of Steamboat Resort and continue through Saturday afternoon and evening. Runners will be using trails on the Resort, Mountain View Trail, the Continental Divide Trail between Long Lake and Dumont Lake, the Rabbit Ears Peak Trail, Fish Creek Falls Trail, Buffalo Pass area trails, Spring Creek Trail and Emerald Mountain trails.
Full course details can be found at RunRabbitRunSteamboat.com.
She recently ran the Never Summer 100K, a race she said feels like 100 miles rather than 62. She said she clings to that finish as motivation and confidence in her ability to finish Run Rabbit Run.
She doesn’t use Strava, and she doesn’t publicize her training runs for others to see. For Marrs, running is something that’s just for her. As long as she still loves doing it, she’ll keep finding time for it.
“I’m a better person for my clients and my son and my husband and everybody if I get outside and get some outdoor time,” she said. “It’s just important to me, and I love it. It keeps me seeing what’s possible.”
Andrea Wilhelm will be running the 50-mile race, which begins Saturday morning. The timing works out so all runners will be finishing around the same time. Wilhelm, who works for Commercial Property Group in Steamboat, will be taking her third crack at the 50-mile course. She finished her second attempt, although she took a wrong turn, which she hopes to not do this year.
“I wake up and go by how my body feels,” she said. “I’ve just been trying to get long runs in on the weekend, about 15 to 20 miles.”
Her goal for Run Rabbit Run is similar: find a pace that feels good. Of course, “feels good” is relative. For Wilhelm, it’s about hydrating and taking in enough electrolytes so she’s not suffering from cramping or nausea or vomiting.
If all goes well, and she maintains a similar pace to her previous Run Rabbit Run, Wilhelm should be just off the podium for 50-mile female competitors.
“I’d love to finish in the top five,” she said. “Finishing time is more important than placement for me. It’s supposed to be something we choose to do and enjoy doing.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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