September is a great time of year to race on the trails here on the Front Range, and we were treated to another picture perfect morning for the 4th running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. With the sun popping up over the horizon, just under 300 runners set off on the 13.3 mile tour of Lory State Park’s outer border trails.
From the gun, it was pre-race favorites Stephen Pretak and Amanda Lee who set the early pace in the men’s and women’s races. Both would hold on for the victories in their respective races, and for the fourth straight year the men’s course record would be lowered. Pretak’s time of 1:29:05 is the race’s first finish under 1:30 and a minute quicker than Aaron Anderson’s winning time from 2015. Amanda Lee notched her second straight Black Squirrel win with a 1:48:56 finishing time. Her time ranks as the second fastest ever behind Melissa Dock’s 2014 winning time of 1:45:06.
Cookie Mike on his way to the master’s win.
Second and third in the men’s race were Horsecow Lonac (1:35:13) and Erik Nau (1:37:21), while in the women’s race Michelle Gailey from Sydney Australia finished three minutes adrift from Lee in second, followed by Fort Collins local Molly Soasey in third (1:58:17).
After winning and setting course records in the master’s division of both the Quad Rock 50 mile and Never Summer 100km races, Elijah Flenner was the odds-on favorite for the Black Squirrel master’s title. Pushed the whole way, Elijah was overtaken in the valley by Lory local Mike Neal – owner and operator of race supporter Mary’s Mountain Cookies Old Town. Cookie Mike would go on to register the master’s win in a time of 1:38:37, followed a minute and a half later by Elijah. Ed Delosh rounded out the men’s master’s podium.
In the female master’s division, it was Catherine Thomas from Fort Collins who took home the honors in a time of 2:02:00. She was followed by Amy Walsh (2:11:43) and Tonya Barber (2:14:08).
The open divisions (non-podium, under 40) were won by Rob Raguet-Schofield (1:39:10) and Rachel Dean. In the grandmaster’s division, Tony Dragan from Fort Collins set a commanding new divisional course record with an impressive 1:46:53, while Cathy Zitti posted an equally impressive finishing time of 2:10:57 for the over 50 competition, just a couple minutes off Theresa Rudel’s divisional mark from 2014.
Our youngest finisher this year was Opfer Camden (2:35), a 13-year-old from Fort Collins. On the other end of the age spread, we had two impressive septuagenarian finishes from 72-year-old Phil Nissen (3:11, LeHigh Acres, FL) and 73-year-old Jammie McMillin (3:49:44, Colorado Springs).
Prizes for overall and age group winners included Salomon running shoes and packs, Julbo sunglasses and Drymax socks. And, of course, the coveted Black Squirrel awards lovingly crafted in the Gnar Runners Gnarts and Crafts Department.
Of course, these races don’t happen without the help of an army of volunteers, and as always our volunteers shone bright and provided a wonderful race experience for all participants. So, once again, a huge thank you to all our fantastic volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you.
Animal House Volunteers Working the BBQ
We also couldn’t do what we do without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. Thank you to our top tier sponsors: Salomon Running, Altitude Running, Colorado in Motion, Drymax Socks, and Justin Liddle DMD.
For more images from the day, please visit Erin Bibeau Photography. Digital images are available for download starting at 99 cents and print options are available too.
We look forward to seeing you again on September 9th, 2017. Or, if you want more Gnar-filled trail racing fun this year, then check out the ninth running of the Blue Sky Marathon on October 2nd. This local favorite will be our last event of the year.
Black Squirrel Finish
Top tier support from:
Contributing support from:
Generous product support from:
VFuel, New Belgium, Fort Collins Food Co-Operative, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Julbo, Trader Joe’s, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, Eldorado Natural Spring Water, Kristel Liddle, LMT, and the Great Harvest Bread Company.