RIDGWAY/OURAY – More than 400 runners lined up to tackle the Mt. Sneffles Half-Marathon and Marathon last Saturday, a race benefiting the region’s largest supporter of education, the Mt. Sneffles Education Foundation.
Mt. Sneffles Education Foundation president John Ferguson said the event was a major success, with participation jumping from 257 in 2010 to almost double that this year. “We marketed the event pretty aggressively, which we haven’t done before – and it paid off,” Ferguson said of the event, which brought runners a number of different states and different countries, from as far away as Australia and the Czech Republic. They raced from Ouray to Ridgway on a 13.1-mile course that winds through the city of Ouray and then goes north on County Road 17 to County Road 23 along the Uncompahgre River Valley and into the town of Ridgway.
“It was encouraging to see so many people come from so many places,” he continued, noting that this was the first year for the full Marathon, which brought runners to Ridgway then back to Ouray for just over 26 miles round-trip. With 40 participants in the full marathon, Ferguson says that while it was a small showing, race organizers were still thrilled with the number of participants. “It was small at 41 runners, but we didn’t know if we were even going to get 10,” he noted.
It was also the first year the event offered a "Walker" category, which enabled those who signed up to walk the Half Marathon option, which started in Ouray at 6:30 a.m., and opened the field even wider.
The event saw a wide array of participants, from never-evers to the most veteran of veterans. As Ferguson reported, there were runners at last Saturday’s event who have hundreds of Marathons under their belts; it was the 272nd marathon for one Colorado Springs man, the 185th for one woman from Australia, and was astonishingly the 772nd marathon run by a Guinness Book of World Records-holder (who holds the record for the most marathons run in one year, at 106 total).
“In general, we were very pleased with the race,” Ferguson said, noting that while the organization hasn’t tallied the final numbers, he estimates the group raised between $16,000-$17,000 for the Mt. Sneffles Education Foundation, which last year provided $53,000 towards education projects in Ouray and Ridgway including sponsoring field trips to Denver, Washington D.C., and Catalina Island.
The Mt. Sneffles race is the second-largest fundraiser for the nonprofit group, which also hosts an auction in October, and a Trivia Bowl in February. “We’re trying to take the race to a new level, getting it to the level of the Imogene Pass Run,” he said.
A full listing of results, and more information about the Mt. Sneffles Education Foundation, can be found at and www.mtsneffles.org.