Lory State Park offers some of the best trail running on Colorado’s Northern Front Range, so it was once again our great honor to be able to host a tour of the perimeter trails at the fifth running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. And, with a beautiful sunrise popping up over the eastern shores of Horsetooth Reservoir, a record 330 runners set off on the 13.1 mile tour of Lory State Park on Saturday morning.
In the men’s race, defending champion Stephen Pretak had a good group of runners to work with as he entered the Timber climb, one mile into the race, but by the time he popped out onto the Arthurs Trail at the bottom of the Howard descent some 7 miles later, he was all alone off the front. Pretak would go on to hold his position and notch a second consecutive race win in 1:35:48. In a close battle for second, Pretak was followed home by an exuberant Peter Goble (1:39:23) with Craig Depperschmidt less than 30 seconds back in third (1:39:51).
Two-time winner, Amanda Lee, was a late drop from the women’s field, leaving the race for top honors wide open. Local road running favorite Abby Depperschimdt took to the trails for her first go at the Black Squirrel Half and never looked back, winning the race in a time of 1:52:47. Abby finished a convincing seven minutes ahead of Sarah Omann (2:00:37) who notched her third second-place finish in as many attempts. Rounding out the women’s podium was Loveland’s Stephanie Forrest-Swedenborg in a time of 2:03:00.
Abby Depperscmidt (photo: Danielle Clark); Stephen Pretak (Bryan Bibeau)
The race for the 40+ honors was a battle, as you might expect from our crowd of wily veteran race tacticians. The top three master’s runners in the male division went 8th, 10th and 12th respectively with a good amount of in-race position shifting according to the post-race banter. Ultimately it would be Colorado Spring’s Bryan Beiner bringing home the master’s title in a time of 1:44:33. He was followed into the finish by Mike Neal (1:45:42) and Dan Clark (1:46:21) who, incidentally, went one and two in the master’s race at April’s Horsetooth Half Marathon (where Clark bettered Neal by just six seconds).
In the female 40+ division, we had a repeat winner in the form of Fort Collins’ Catherine Thomas Broom who, on a much warmer day, finished six minutes faster than in 2016 (2:04:57). Rounding out the women’s 40+ division was Steamboat Spring’s Kristi Foster (2:09:53) and Bellvue’s very own Sarah Melby (2:16:24), both of whom we should mention have been enthusiastic volunteers at our races for many years.
Bryan Beiner, Catherine Thomas Broome, Kristi Foster
Our youngest finisher this year was Omaha’s (and CSU’s) Malik Abdessalam at a very mature 18 years of age. On the other end of the age spread, we had two impressive 68 year-old finishes from Mary Gilbert (another stalwart race volunteer) and Steve Joyce.
Prizes for overall and age group winners included Salomon running shoes and packs, Altitude gift certificates and Drymax running 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. The Liberty Middle School XC Team was out at our Arthur’s aid stations, the CSU Food & Nutrution Club served up our post race pancake breakfast, and as always, the Fort Collins Trail Runners community came out in force. 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.
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.
If you enjoyed Black Squirrel and are considering a step up in distance, why not join us on October 21 for the tenth running of the Blue Trail Sky Marathon. This local favorite will be our last event of the year.
Top tier support from: