The fourth running of the Quad Rock trail races will be one to remember. We schedule the event in early May for a number of different reasons, one being to avoid excessive heat. The flip side of that weather coin is that May is an unpredictable month. We dodged bullets the first three years, but took a direct hit this year with torrential downpours and a flooded course, forcing a race postponement. That excessive heat we try to avoid in May? Yeah, it was delivered for our June reschedule date.
Nonetheless, the race started out under perfect, nay, idilic conditions. The sunrise through the morning clouds was sensational, there was a light breeze and temperatures were reasonable. For the lead 25 mile runners this meant fast times. But by the time the new 25 mile course records had been set, the clouds had parted and the sun had taken control. For the rest of the day the course and runners would bake.
Congratulations to all our finishers for getting round on what is always a challenging course, but an extra nod of the head to those 50 milers who found the fortitude to get out there and complete a second lap, and also to our slower 25 mile runners who endured through the heat. Our 50 mile finisher rate was just 45%, easily our lowest to date.
In the 25 mile race, Mike Aish took full advantage of the reasonable early conditions and after a controlled first 10 miles surged to an impressive new course record of 3:17:29. Mike has an incredible running pedigree, including a couple of Olympic appearances, but his sights have been set on winning the Leadville 100 since retiring from the professional running scene a few years ago. He has come close the last couple of years, and he’ll try again this August. We wish him the best of luck. He’s clearly in great shape and you couldn’t find a more deserving guy.
Rounding out the men’s 25 mile podium was former CU Buff runner Seth Demoor (3:43:14) and last year’s second place finisher, Will Porter (3:43:27). Our master’s winner, Elijah Flenner (3:52:26), who lives less than 100 meters from the Horsetooth aid station, showed off his course knowledge with a strong run for sixth overall.
The women’s race was dominated by local runner Reese Ruland who shattered the course record and became the first lady to run the course in under four hours (3:58:07), good for 8th overall. Ginna Ellis (4:20:17) and Sarah Omann (4:30:34) rounded out the women’s podium.
As previously noted, the 50 mile field was somewhat decimated by the reschedule and heat. However, course record holder and veteran ultrarunner, Ryan Burch, wasn’t phased. He took advantage of the cooler early temperatures, making it to the turn in 3:42 (beating all but Mike Aish) and then hunkered down for the second-loop grind, finishing and winning in 8:17:49. Frank Pipp battled hard against the heat and cramps for his second place finish (8:38:16). He was followed in third by now-four-time-QR50 finisher, Mike Hinterberg (9:14:09). This was Mike’s slowest finish to date, yet his highest overall placement. And that’s why we race ’em. Scott Klopfenstein took home the master’s win with his 11:20:15 finish.
As in the men’s race, we had our first repeat winner in the women’s 50 mile race. Kerrie Bruxvoort is a veteran 50 mile racer and she showed that by running a smart and controlled race, staying on top of the heat with deliberate aid station stops and running a steady pace all day. Kerrie would finish sixth overall (10:11:18), almost 50 minutes slower than her 2013 win, and she looked comfortable doing it. Jeanne Cooper also ran a strong and controlled race for her second place finish (10:27:44), trailing Kerrie by a small margin all day but never quite being able to close the gap. Sandra Carpenter also appeared to take the heat in stride, looking as good as any finisher we saw all day in finishing third (11:41:38). Karen Smidt holds the QR50 master’s record and she showed her experience in taking home the master’s win (11:59:03), which was good for fourth overall woman.
Right behind Karen was our youngest 50 mile finisher (12:01:06), Solange Majewska, a CSU veterinary student from Singapore impressively running her first ever ultra. Almost exactly two hours after Solange, we welcomed home our last 50 mile finisher of the day, Catherine Dillon (14:01:35) from right here in Fort Collins. We received a nice email from Catherine after the race, which I think sums the day up nicely:
The volunteers were amazing and took such good care of all of the runners. They really played a large part in making the race the wonderful experience that it was. The race was an adventure I will never forget from rattlesnakes to supportive volunteers to an amazing sunrise and sunset. Coming in last felt like I won race.
We have always had exceptional community support from our volunteers, but this weekend they really showed off what a great trail running community we have here on the Front Range. Just about every runner that crossed that finish line praised the amazing support from our volunteers and cited them as one of the main reasons they were able to get the job done. We can’t thank our volunteers enough, but …. well …. THANK YOU. You were (and continue to be) the biggest source of compliments we get at all our races.
And of course a big thank you to our very generous sponsors. Altra Running have stepped up this year to take on the Presenting Sponsor role for our 2015 race series and their support has been invaluable. Cornerstone Home Lending (Hunter Team) has supported the race from the outset and we continue to be indebted to Jim and his team. We had an Altra offer from our specialty run sponsor, Altitude Running, on the race bibs so check that out if you’re in the market for a pair of Altra running shoes. We also received amazing support this year from Steamboat Springs based Smartwool.
We’re also heavily indebted to our community sponsors, all of whom are linchpins in the local running community: Countryside Vet (Dr. Cat Speights), Justin Liddle DMD, Colorado Physical Therapist Specialists, and the Fort Collins Running Club.
On-course nutrition was provided by VFuel, while post-race nutrition was offered up by Whole Foods Fort Collins, Mary’s Mountain Cookies (Old Town), Boulder Beer and Great Harvest Bread Co. And working hard all day long under the recovery tent was masseuse and ultrarunning star Kristel Liddle. And of course, we say a very special thank you to our hosts, Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park who maintain some of the best trails on all of the Front Range.
Thank you all.
We look forward to seeing you again in 2016 – our tentative race date will be on Saturday, May 14th (pending permit approval). Or even better, we’d love to see you later in the summer at one of our shorter events. On September 5 we will be hosting the third running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in Lory State Park, followed October 4 by the eighth running of the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins original and only Trail Marathon.