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There are plenty of steep climbs for runners at the Valles Caldera, but the Run the Caldera has seen a pretty good climb in popularity itself.
For the second straight year, the Run for the Caldera will set a new record for participation. The races are set for Saturday at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
The Run for the Caldera is now in its sixth year. In 2011, race coordinators are boasting nearly 800 participants in this year’s three races.
The event will feature the regular 26.2-mile marathon, a half-marathon and a 10K race.
The races will start at the Banco Bonito staging area, right off NM 4 on the caldera. Marathon runners will head on a path through Redondo Meadows and start an ascent toward the 10,800-foot Redondito.
The marathon reaches peak altitude near Redondito, hitting the 10,000-foot mark approximately 10 miles into the race.
In all, there is 2,100 feet worth of elevation change throughout the long race.
In 2010, 72 runners braved the 26.2-mile course. Loren Wohletz was the top finisher in the 2010 marathon, finishing in a time of 3 hours, 24 minutes, more than four minutes ahead of Marc Esposito.
Maryann Kos was the top finishing female. She completed the race in 4:18:15, the only woman to finish in under 4-1/2 hours.
Roy Collins (1:43:42) and Cara Howell (1:57:33) were the top finishers in last year’s half marathon, while Tom Witherell (40:13) and Susan Hanson (50:21) won the 10K race.
The marathon will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, with the half-marathon to start an hour later and the 10K an hour after that.