The 34th annual Narrow Gauge Races will be happening again on the ever-eventful Memorial Day weekend.
The oldest continuously run race in Colorado once again will offer the 10-mile and 5K options starting at 8 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., respectively., on May 29.
The new twist this year is the change of the race start and finish, which will take place at Animas Surgical Hospital in the Rivergate complex off of Colorado Highway 3.
As this years title sponsor, Animas Surgical Hospital and the entire Rivergate business community really stepped up to the plate to make this race a success and have guaranteed once again that a sizable donation will go toward the Marc Witkes Fort Lewis College Cross Country Scholarship.
Although the race will begin and end at Animas Surgical Hospital, the bulk of the course is similar to past years.
The early miles will pass through the south-side neighborhood heading downtown and onto the Animas River Trail at the Ninth Street bridge.
The biggest change will take place behind Durango High School where runners will cross the footbridge and continue on to 29th Street. There they will turn east up to Riverview Drive and drop onto Florida Road at Aspen Drive then head up to North College Drive.
Once on top of the rim, runners will continue straight down Goeglein Gulch Road back to Colorado Highway 3 and Animas Surgical Hospital.
Joe Theine, in his third year as race director, collaborated closely with Dave Rakita and Wendy Bittner.
We wanted to reach outside of our community to bring in some of the Rivergate vendors who support health care in this community, Theine said.
By drawing attention to the physical space through staging the race from Rivergate, we could garner more attention and sponsorship while still retaining the traditional parts of the race route.
Bittner, in charge of clinical operations at Animas Surgical Hospital, approached Theine about finding a space that would have more tie-in with the hospital, a nicer location for music and vendors and post-race festivities.
Bittner said Rakita was instrumental in planning the route.
It was important that we keep the integrity of the old race as far as the historic part, Bittner said.
Dave rode the course numerous times to come up with a good redesign that still included downtown, the railroad tracks and the climb up to the college.
This years 10-mile race will reward the top three men and women with cash awards of $300, $20 and $100, respectively.
All other age-group winners will receive recognition as well in both the 10-mile and the 5K distances.
Runners and their families can relax along the Animas River during the post-race awards party and enjoy music, food and drink.
This year will marks the 34th running of the Narrow Gauge, and Rakita plans to run for the 34th time. When asked about his most memorable race, Rakita recalls the year, he thinks it was 1992, when all the frontrunners mistakenly followed the KIQX lead vehicle, missing the turn at 24th Street. They all had to scamper to get back on course.
A new race course, great technical race shirts, prize money and a relaxing after-race party should make this years event memorable. Come on out and be a part of history here in Durango. Registration information is available at the Durango Motorless Transit website at http://www.go-dmt.org.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at email@example.com.