The bike race came first, in 2011, but that’s not the only reason the running race — a full trail marathon — has always seemed like the event after the event at Steamboat Stinger.
For many of the race organizers, mountain biking was always the first passion, and putting on a mountain bike race was where they were most comfortable.
Putting on a running race took some learning, but, as the Stinger bike race heads into its seventh year and the running race into its sixth, those lessons have been learned, and the word has spread.
The bicycle race, 50 miles on Emerald Mountain trails starting at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, has traditionally sold out quickly, and again this year, is filled to the brim.
For the first time, the running event, with races of both 26.2 and 13.1 miles and starting at 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. respectively on Sunday, has filled as well.
“Most of us came in with a biking background, so we had to learn how to make it a premier event for runners, too,” said Nate Bird, course director for both races. “We had to learn runners’ needs.”
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That took some time. The first year the running race was conducted organizers simply re-stocked the on-course aid stations they’d used the day before — three stations on course and one essentially at the finish.
That infrastructure didn’t work nearly as well for an athlete on foot as it had for one on two wheels.
“Our biggest issue was the number of aid stations and the distance between them,” Bird said. “Obviously it takes a lot longer to cover that ground running than it does on a bike. We unintentionally punished some of our runners that first year.”
In the years since, the aid stations have…
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