Fraser River Trail the venue for Saturday’s Run for Independence |

Fraser River Trail the venue for Saturday’s Run for Independence

Jancie Hughes
Special to Sky-Hi Daily News

Competitors will leave the starting gate in the 14th annual Run for Independence at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Beginning at Winter Park Resort, they will wend their way down the scenic Fraser River Trail, through the town of Winter Park and across the meadow to the finish line in front of the Ski Broker in Fraser.

The 5-mile course is paved, mostly flat or downhill, with an elevation loss of 650 feet, offering time along the river, in the forest and great vistas of the Fraser River Valley.

Runners, walkers, wheelchair racers, stroller pushers and dog walkers of all ages are invited to compete. This has always been a fun event, supported by local runners and walkers as well as by competitors from the Front Range and as far away as Florida.

It’s not too late to register for this Saturday event. Pick up an entry form at the Chamber of Commerce or online at, call 800-903-7275 or on race day go to the Winter Park Base Village from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Prior to the day of the race entry fees are: 18-and-under $20, adults $25 and family $55. Day-of-race fees are $25, $30 and $60. The entry fee includes a race T-shirt, goody bag, post-race party and prize drawing entry.

The race starts at 9 a.m., with the post-race party from 9:30-11:30 a.m., the prize drawing begins at 10:30 a.m. and awards in each age category at 10:45 a.m. at the Ski Broker in Fraser. Shuttle buses will transport participants back to the start area at Winter Park Resort.

The race hasn’t always had the same name. In 1994, the first year for a July 4 running event in the Fraser Valley, it was called the Fraser River Trail Five Mile Run. Initiated by the Chamber of Commerce’s Catherine Ross, it celebrated the opening of the brand new Fraser River Trail.

In 1995 it became the Run for Independence and included a 10K event, and in 2002 Rendezvous joined as the title sponsor and it is now known as the Rendezvous Run for Independence. It was in 1995 that proceeds from the event first funded scholarships for children with kidney disease to attend Snow Mountain Ranch-YMCA summer camp and the Vacation Kidney Center of the Rockies.

The Scott Hughes Endowment Fund, the recipient of race proceeds, was founded by locals Kent and Jancie Hughes, whose son Scott succumbed to kidney disease at the age of 24 in 1994. Never allowing himself to be defined by the chronic illness he contracted at age 14, Scott skied for his high school, graduated from the University of Oregon, and came to Colorado and the Fraser Valley because of the Vacation Kidney Center where he received dialysis.

He believed that children who attended camp could prove to themselves and their families that they can accomplish all that the children without kidney disease can do. And so the Run for Independence supports that opportunity for young children.

Camp Chief Ouray has incorporated pediatric kidney patients into its program since 1975. Children from ages 8 to 16 sign up for one or two week summer sessions and are involved in all camp activities, sharing cabin life, arts and crafts, and camp sports with children who do not deal with chronic disease, all near the kidney center where their treatments are performed and their medical needs are met.

Thus the word “independence” in the title. We celebrate not only the nation’s independence but also promote independence for children on dialysis or post kidney transplant, granting independence from the confines of kidney disease for them and their families. Without scholarships this wonderful experience would not be possible for most families whose young children contend with kidney dialysis or the medications after a kidney transplant.

The Vacation Kidney Center, on the grounds of Snow Mountain Ranch-YMCA, is a unique high altitude dialysis facility that provides an opportunity for children and adults with kidney disease to vacation in the mountains yet have access to nearby medical treatment.

The Scott Hughes Endowment Fund, the recipient of the proceeds from the Run for Independence, is administered by the Children’s Hospital Foundation which benefits the Children’s Hospital Kidney Center.

Over the years the running event has enjoyed generous support from local people and businesses, including Mountain Timber Furnishings, Highland Lumber, Christy Sports, Grand Mountain Bank, Amaze’n Mazes, Ski Broker and the Fraser River Valley Lions Club. Rendezvous became the title sponsor in 2002.

If you enter the race, your registration supports the children; and if you do not, you have probably volunteered your time at registration, on the course as a marshal, or at the finish line cutting watermelon and preparing for the hungry and thirsty competitors to arrive. Generous donors give prizes for the drawing at the post-race party, in which every race entrant’s number is included. Karen Vance annually donates one of her framed and signed prints, an especially coveted prize. Rocky Mountain Roastery coffee, rodeo tickets and a Hiking Grand County book are among the items popular with drawing hopefuls.

The chamber staff is talented at putting on events and deserves kudos for making this one run so smoothly.

Of course, there was the year when the train stopped at the crossing where the 10K competitors headed west up the mountain, thus delaying many runners. Even the Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA can’t make a train move. Frustrated over the lost times, the 10K is a thing of the past, and all now participate in the five mile run/walk. Three years ago Greg Englund crossed the finish line in an amazing 27:15.3. Five miles in under 28 minutes.

One year our brother-in-law from Oregon walked in the Run for Independence. Having stopped along the way for an ice cream cone, he later declared that he finished first in his weight class.

Who can pass up a chance to spend part of the long Fourth of July weekend in this beautiful valley while helping children? And our cause should touch the hearts of all.

Children who must spend three or four hours three times each week in the company of their dialysis machines are granted scholarships to a camp where they can join kids without medical problems in all the camp activities, yet slip away to the Vacation Kidney Center for their medical needs ” a newly found and special independence which allows them not to be defined by their kidneys. And they discover the beauty of our Grand County.

Have fun competing in the Rendezvous Run for Independence, knowing that your entry fee will be giving independence to children who appreciate your help.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User