We were treated to another beautiful late summer day for the third running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. The field of 315 runners enjoyed overcast early morning conditions, which transitioned to intermittent sunshine for the bulk of the field in the second half of the race and the post-race festivities.
We saw both the overall and masters records go down in the men’s field, with Fort Collins’ Aaron Anderson (1:30:02) leading the charge in the men’s race and Boulder’s Brad Seng setting the new mark in the master’s division (1:36:08). In the overall standings, Aaron was pushed the whole way by Stephen Pretak (1:31:55) from Fort Collins, and Nathan Hornok (1:33:57) from West Jordan, UT.
In the women’s race, Boulder’s Amanda Lee was the first across the line in a time of 1:49:37. She was followed by local favorite Sarah Omann (1:55:23) who repeated her second place finish from last year, after passing Ruth Waller-Liddle in the final few miles of the race. The half marathon distance represented a big step up in distance for Ruth, a former NCAA D1 800 meter star. Our fastest master (although competing as a grandmaster) in the women’s race was Theresa Rudel (2:09:32).
It was great to see a couple of pre-teens competing this year as our youngest finishers ever. Devin Muzzy (12) from Colorado Springs won the battle of the youngsters, finishing in an impressive 2:20:28, beating out Bode Hogan (11) from Broomfield who finished in an equally impressive 2:33:11, becoming our youngest ever finisher. Our youngest female finisher was Claire Hayhow (16) from Laporte who posted a 2:29:11. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we had two impressive septuagenarian finishes from John Hagin (2:42:23, Fort Collins) and Jammie McMillin (3:53:25, Colorado Springs).
The open divisions (39 & under) were won by Eric Smith (1:34:48) and Laura Harger (2:00:31). In the grandmasters race, we had wins for Ben Kuster (1:56:10) and Theresa Rudel (2:09:32), who was defending her grandmaster’s division win from 2014.
Prizes for overall and age group winners included Altra running shoes, gift certificates to Altitude Running, Ultimate Direction gear and Timex GPS watches. And, of course, the coveted Black Squirrel awards lovingly crafted in the Gnar Runners Gnarts and Crafts Department.
As race directors, Pete and I are always thankful for the wonderful trail running community we have here in Fort Collins. Pulling together a volunteer crew is an essential part of putting on a successful race 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 wonderful volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you.
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. So thank you Altra Running, Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists, Cornerstone Home Lending, Altitude Running, Smartwool, Sierra trading Post, Fort Collins Running Club, Justin Liddle DMD, Countryside Vet, Great Harvest, Whole Foods, VFuel, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, and Boulder Beer.
We hope to see you again in 2016. Or, if you want more Gnar-filled trail racing fun this year, then check out the eighth running of the Blue Sky Marathon on October 4th. This local favorite will be our last event of the year.