Steamboat Marathon is canceled for the first time in its history due to COVID-19 |

Steamboat Marathon is canceled for the first time in its history due to COVID-19

Shelby Reardon
Steamboat Pilot & Today
From left, Carrie Jansen, Natalie Baker and Rebecca Carlson celebrate finishing the Steamboat half-marathon in 2019. The 2020 event is cancelled due to COVID-19.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For the first time in its 39-year history, the Steamboat Marathon is canceled.

Since its inception in 1981, the race has gone on regardless of weather, politics or wars. The spread of coronavirus is the first thing that has halted the event, which includes a full marathon, half marathon and a 10-kilometer race.

It was originally scheduled for Sunday, June 7.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber announced the 2021 race will take place on June 6.

“There’s never been even a reason or a thought to cancel before,” said Paul Sachs, race director of 20 years. “We’ve delayed the start of the half once because a bus got stuck, but only by 15 or 20 minutes.”

Postponement was an early option, but choosing a date would have been a difficult process. Not only is the Steamboat event schedule packed, but so is the regional distance running schedule. Choosing a date with little to no overlapping events would have been a challenge.

There also is the fact that no one is sure when large events like the Steamboat Marathon will be allowed to happen again.

“It just became really apparent that all those races that were rescheduling into the fall really shortened our window for when we would have a date that would work for a lot of runners,” said Laura Soard, marketing director for the Chamber. “It’s uncertain when we would find another date that would work for our runners.”

Soard said the Chamber is waiving deferment fees, allowing every person registered for the 2020 race to defer to 2021. Every registered runner will receive an invite to defer via email on Wednesday. Like many major races, the Steamboat Marathon does not offer registrants their money back, for a few reasons.

“The reason we’re sticking with that this year is because it’s a year-round process to plan for the race and us being a not-for-profit organization, we really work hard to work with local organizations, local contractors and vendors. We’ve already had to pay for a lot of the work that’s been done for this event,” Soard said. “In order to continue to do this race, we stick with our no refund policy, so we can financially be able to hold this race in the future.”

About 1,100 people had signed up for one of the three races, most for the half marathon. Only about 10% of those were from Steamboat, while the rest were going to travel from elsewhere.

The marathon has long been considered the start of the summer tourist season, which might look very different this year due to widespread closures and cancellations due to COVID-19.

Even without the 39th annual Steamboat Marathon, the chamber is celebrating the 40th anniversary in 2021, hoping to come up with ways to mark the marathon’s milestone. With extra time to plan, Soard is hoping it can be a special event.

“We want to take some things back to what conditions were like in 1981, and some of the fun elements we can put into a celebration like live music, awards, maybe special medals and T-shirts and really remember what the race was when it first began,” Soard explained.

The Mountain Madness half marathon and 10k, which is part of the Steamboat Running Series, is still scheduled for Sunday, July 5, but could eventually be postponed or canceled.

The running series has already canceled the Luck of the Irish 7K as well as the Hayden Cog Run, scheduled for May 2. The next race on the docket, the Spirit Challenge Run for Autism, is still scheduled for May 23. Running Series co-director Lucas Crespin said he and co-director Katie Black will wait as long as possible before canceling additional races.