Mud can’t deter Sopris Runoff
It takes a bit more than a little rain and mud runoff to break the stride of the Mount Sopris Runoff.On Sunday evening, a four-mile-long mudslide was reported on West Sopris Creek Road – which is part of the Mount Sopris Runoff course. The slide reportedly made the road impassable for motorists, but not runners.”Somebody just rode the road (on a bicycle Tuesday) and said it was fine,” Runoff organizer Bruce Gabow said. “It’s not fine for cars, but more than fine for runners.”So Mother Nature will have to do more if she wants to thwart the 27th running of the event that has become an integral part of the Carbondale Mountain Fair.Saturday’s 16.5-mile running race starts at the 7-Eleven in Basalt, then ascends roughly 1,500 feet up West Sopris Creek Road. The downhill – about 1,800 feet worth – starts when West Sopris hooks up with Prince Creek Road, which takes runners into Carbondale. The race finishes at Sopris Park, steps away from the Mountain Fair festivities.And, of course, Mount Sopris towers above the runners throughout the run.At 27, the Sopris Runoff is one of the oldest races in the Roaring Fork Valley, and Gabow has been the race coordinator for all of them. It’s a low-key affair, and Gabow prefers it that way. He doesn’t advertise. He doesn’t chase sponsors.Not that he’s against the idea of upping the promotional efforts, but the typical turnout of 60-70 runners per year suits him just fine.”Commercializing it would probably be good someday, but right now I’m not really looking at that,” Gabow said. “I’ll wait until someone else takes over.”When someone else does take over may also be when Gabow laces up the sneakers again for the race. He ran it a few times in the race’s early years, but found that organizing the race, running the race, then working a booth at Mountain Fair was too much for a single day.”I was much younger,” recalled Gabow. “I’d like to (run it again),” he added. “I’d like to get a ribbon. I finished seventh and didn’t even get a ribbon – I think I was fourth in my class. Now that I’m well into the 50s class, I’m pretty sure that I’d get a ribbon if I did it.”Despite it being a relatively subdued event as far as promoting itself, the Runoff does draw some exceptional athletes. Runners from around the country are enticed by the chance to run in the shadow of Sopris, and typically aren’t disappointed by the views or the course.”I get runners from all over the country, and lots of these racers are serious enough that they run almost a race a week,” Gabow said. “Many say it’s the most beautiful course they have run.”While it’s only 16.5 miles, “most people who run it say it’s as hard as a marathon because of the up and down,” he added.Silt’s Bernie Boettcher won the winged-shoe traveling trophy last year, his third time winning the event. But he won’t be back to defend his title this year due a conflict with another race.”I’d love to do that race but the timing just didn’t work out for me,” said Boettcher, who posted a winning time of 1 hour, 46 minutes, 23 seconds last year. The race begins promptly at 8 a.m. at the Basalt 7-Eleven.
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