STRS to open sixth year at Baker’s Tank
SUMMIT COUNTY – It’s no accident that the Nike Summit Trail Running Series opens with the Baker’s Tank loop and closes at Carter Park.”Baker’s Tank is definitely the easiest of the six races,” explained series director Stacey Todd of the season opener, which is set for June 6. “The Carter Park race, also known as the Nightmare on Baldy, is longer and pretty much straight up and down.”Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, STRS races tend to increase in difficulty as the season, and the fitness level of participants, progresses. The system seems logical since even the most experienced runners often dread Day 1 to some extent.Local Steve Marshall, last year’s series champion in the 30-39 men’s long course division, runs five days a week and said he considers himself “never too far out of shape.” Still, the third-year competitor will likely bring some trepidation to Baker’s Tank.”I always feel like I’m not ready for the first race,” Marshall said. “There’s usually some suffering involved and it’s definitely a wake-up call.”That said, Marshall went on to acknowledge the inviting nature of the series, both for the camaraderie it produces and for the beginner runners it welcomes.”The (SMC) mountain biking series requires kind of a minimum level of bike handling skills and fitness,” said the local engineer, who is active in both local series. “The trail running short courses don’t require you to run too far – anyone can get out there.”
Most beginners start out on the short course, which ranges in distance from 5K to 8K depending on the venue. Long courses range from 10K to 16K.Speaking of beginners, Todd said the fastest growing demographic in the STRS, now in its sixth year, is 18-and-under runners, who compete for free.”When we first started the series, we only had a few kids,” Todd said. “Now there’s like 25. … It’s become sort of a training group for the Summit High School cross country team, so we’re getting a lot more middle school runners.”For those 18 and over, each race costs $15 with pre-registration (in person at the Breckenridge Recreation Center or Great Adventure sports and online at http://www.active.com or http://www.greatadventuresports.com) and $20 on the day of the race. There is also a season pass available for $75 and the deadline for purchasing it has been extended to June 6.Those wishing to contest for overall series titles in their respective age groups must compete in at least five races. Such a commitment can be difficult considering Summit’s often unpredictable weather.Last year, for example, four races were accompanied by rain, prompting one event, Little French Gulch, to be postponed.”It made a huge difference,” Todd said. “When it’s really rainy, only the diehards will come out.”
Participant registration fluctuated significantly in ’06, according to Todd, who said some races drew as few as 90 competitors, while others featured as many as 150.Regardless of its registration numbers, many, including Marshall, consider the STRS a rarity among running competitions, even in colorful Colorado.”I lived down on the Front Range for 10 years,” Marshall said. “In that time, I might have run in two or three trail races. I knew the trails and they weren’t really that interesting. Up here, they’re awesome.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.Summit Trail Running Series
June 6 – Baker’s Tank LoopJune 27 – FlumesJuly 11 – Breck Ski Area Peak 8July 25 – Horseshoe GulchAug. 8 – Little French GulchAug. 22 – Carter Park
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