2017 Blue Sky Trail Marathon Race Recap

Blue-Trail-MarathonWith its grassroots beginnings, the Blue Sky Trail Marathonh has been a true community undertaking since its inception in 2008. Considering this, it was wonderful to see a record crowd from the trail running community turn out to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the event this past weekend.

As usual the weather had a role to play in the proceedings, this year delivering ideally cool temperatures intermixed with strong and blustery winds. While the final eight miles running into the northwesterly headwind proved tough, the temperatures allowed for generally fast times and ultimately we saw 275 runners hit the finish line from a total of 285 starters.

Both the men’s and women’s winners seemed to get their pacing spot on this year. Chris Mocko for the men waited patiently in second for much of the race before taking the lead in the closing five or six miles of the race, passing early race leader Seth DeMoor ChrisMocko-BlueSky17between the Indian Summer aid stations, closing a four-minute gap in as many miles from the 18 mile Hunter turnaround. Mocko would go onto finish in 3:14:33, less than a minute shy of Steve Folkerts’ long-standing record from 2009. Former pro-triathlete, Kyle Leto finished second (3:21:26), followed a couple of minutes later by Dustin Moore in third (3:23:42). Showing just how close it was for the places, defending champion Brent Kocis would lead the next three runners across the line, all finishing within a minute of third.

In the women’s race, Abby Mitchell (3:49:32) went AbbyMitchell-Blue Skyone better than her second place finish at this year’s Quad Rock 25 miler by putting on a pacing master class. Leading from pillar to post, Abby grew her lead over second place finisher Julie Olsen-Smith (4:00:46) by three, six and ultimately 11 minutes between the nine mile, 18 mile and finish line timing locations. Like Mocko in the men’s race, Mitchell would finish one minute adrift of the course record set in 2015 by Reese Ruland. Defending champion Jeanne Cooper (4:04:36) rounded out the podium, finishing third in her return to racing after a long injury lay-off.  

The master’s wins went to Ed Delosh (4:02:57) and Sarah Omann (4:18:29). The grandmasters winners were Don Sims (4:16:48) and Cindy Stonesmith (5:17:10). All award winners took home beautiful pottery awards from local artisan Amy Hayman in addition to gift cards from Altitude Running. 

BlueSkyAwards17


Race Photos:


In addition to keeping track of our fastest finishers, we also like to keep track of our oldest and youngest-ever finishers, and we had new records on the younger side of the spread this year. Noah Kieser of Longmont finished in an impressive 4:58:34 at just 16 years of age. Tying for youngest female finisher ever was 18 year old Jordyn Milbrath also of Longmont, CO, finishing the course in 6:08:31. 

NoahKeiser-BlueSky2017

Noah Keiser. Youngest Finisher Ever.

And this year we saw a record 13 runners complete the Gnar Slam, including our first four female finishers. The Gnar Slam is a recognition of those runner that complete all four Gnar Runners trail races in a calendar year:

Aaron Youngberg came away top in the points standings on the men’s side, while Kristen Kovatch took top honors on the women’s side. A hearty congratulations to all our Gnar Slam finishers.

GnarSlamChamps2017

GnarSlamClass2017And of course, our races would simply not be the same without the magnificent support of our volunteers. From Towers to the Hunter turnaround, the Blue Sky volunteers were out there on course keeping runners motivated, fed, and hydrated. As always, race participants were glowing in their praise of the volunteers, whether they were parking cars in the morning, marshaling runners at the turns, or filling bottles at the aid stations.

The Hunter Turn Team exchanging notes to make sure all runners are accounted for.

The Hunter Turn Team exchanging notes to make sure all runners are accounted for.

We also couldn’t put on our trail races without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. Thank you Salomon RunningColorado in MotionDrymax SocksAltitude RunningJustin Liddle DMDCountryside Animal Hospital, and the Fort Collins Running Club for your incredible race support.

And also to our fantastic product sponsors: VFuelNew Belgium BrewingGreat Harvest Bread Co.Squirrel’s Nut ButterMary’s Mountain Cookies, and Boulder Organic!

Sponsors-BlueSky17

The Blue Sky Trail Marathon marks the end of the 2017 season for us at Gnar Runners, but we’re already looking forward to 2018 with excitement. If you enjoyed Blue Sky, consider running the Horsetooth Half Marathon in April, the 25 or 50 mile Quad Rock races in May, the Never Summer 100km in July, the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in September, and of course the Blue Sky Marathon in October.

Thank you all again for a wonderful season, and see you in 2018!

See you in 2018!

See you in 2018!

Rob Broomfield - Gnar Slammer

Rob Broomfield – Gnar Slammer

A fifth finish for Katie Oglesby.

A fifth finish for Katie Oglesby.

Gnar Slam finisher Diane Bergstedt

Gnar Slammer Diane Bergstedt

ShannonSmith-BlueSky17

Shannon Smith having fun

Top Tier Sponsors
Salomon Drymax Socks Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy
Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD ProsthodontistRace SupportCountryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club
Share

2017 Black Squirrel Pre-Race Information

Black Squirrel Trail Half MarathonAll information relevant to the 5th running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon is available on the race website. Here are a few final details and reminders.

The current weather forecast is showing a race-day high in the high 80s. Please make sure you have adequate carrying capacity for your hydration needs between aid stations. Water cups will not be provided at the aid stations.

The three race aid stations will be stocked with water and V-Fuel sports drink. The Arthur’s aid station – visited twice – will also carry snacks and fruit.

Packet pickup will be available on Friday afternoon from 4pm to 7pm at Altitude Running located at 150 E Harmony Rd., Fort Collins, CO 80525 (northeast corner of College and Harmony). We will be distributing bib numbers, race Tshirts, Squirrels Nut Butter samples, Justin Liddle DMD toothbrushes, and will have additional Gnar Runners and Black Squirrel merchandise for sale. 

Packet pickup will also be available on race morning from 5:15am to 6:30am.

The race will start promptly at 7:00am. There will be a short pre-race briefing at 6:50am.

Late arrivals will need to walk up to a mile to the start from the overflow parking at the Eltuck Picnic area, so we recommend getting to Lory State Park no later than 6:00am if you need to check in on race morning.

Parking at the Soldier Canyon start/finish area (limited to 50-60 cars) is reserved for carpools of two or more runners. All other cars will be directed to park on the Lodgepole loop road or at the Timber trailhead lot. If you can, please arrange a carpool with friends – or try the Fort Collins Trail Runner Facebook page

Parking passes will be handed out at the park entrance when you arrive.

Bibs must be visible from the front. Please do not remove your pull tag.

Dogs are welcome on leash with family and friends at the start/finish area, but we ask that you not run with your dog during the race.

Please pocket any trash and dispose of it at aid stations or at the start/finish.

Black Squirrel Trail Half BBQTrails are open to the public. Watch for bikers and yield to horses and hikers.

We will have a free 1 mile kids race/run beginning at 10:30 from the start/finish area.

After you finish, stick around for our post race party and Great Harvest pancake breakfast. Vegan and gluten free options will be available thanks to the Fort Collins Food Co-Op. We’ll also have lots of other goodies from Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Trader Joe’s, and Fat Tire beer from New Belgium Brewing.

Additional post-race food and beer for family and friends can be purchased for a $10 cash donation to our post-race beneficiary, the CSU Food & Nutrition Club, if not already purchased with registration.

Home Fried Boogaloo will be serving up funk flavored with Jazz, Soul, R&B, Boogaloo, and Go Go.

Salomon Running will be demoing shoes for runners to try out after the race, and we’ll be giving away a pair of Salomon shoes to our top male and female finishers.

In addition to finisher awards and T-shirts, we will also be giving out unique overall and age group awards to the top three (male and female) in the following categories: overall, under 40, masters (40 – 49), and grandmasters (50+). We’ll also have some other sponsor gear and goodies to raffle off during and after the awards.

Massage and PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Colorado in Motion, Erin Mader, and Blue Phoenix Massage.

Thank you to our very generous top sponsors: Salomon Running, Colorado in Motion, Justin Liddle DMD, Drymax SocksAltitude Running, Countryside Animal Hospital, and the Fort Collins Running Club for their support in helping make this event possible.

Thank you also to all our wonderful product supporters. Please consider supporting these businesses who support the race.

If you have questions that are not answered here or on the website, then please email us at racedirector@gnarrunners.com. We will do our level best to respond in a timely manner.

We sincerely look forward to seeing you all on Saturday morning!

Pete Stevenson & Nick Clark


Top Tier Sponsors

Salomon Drymax Socks Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy
Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist

Race Support

Countryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club

Share

Quad Rock 2017 Pre-Race Information

With a week to go until the 6th running of the Quad Rock 50 & 25 Mile Trail Races, here are some final thoughts and instructions:

Weather: The current forecast is looking pretty good, with mid-week moisture giving way to clearer skies for the weekend. Race day looks like it could be on the hot side, so come prepared for that, but as we’ve learned from previous years, anything can happen. It’s spring time in the Rockies. Should there be any weather-related last minute changes, details will be emailed to participants, published on our blog, and posted on Facebook.

Course Conditions: The trails are currently in great shape, the park is green and the creeks are flowing. We have a slight re-route this year due to an eagle-nesting closure on the Spring Creek trail. The reroute around the closure on the Herrington & Stout trails will add a mile to the section between the Towers and Horsetooth aid stations. To compensate, we are taking a mile out of the course in the opening section of the race from the start to Towers. Mileage will be almost exactly the same and there will be a net loss of 200 of vertical gain per lap. Time-wise the course may be a touch quicker, but the re-route adds a mile of technical singletrack and removes a mile of dirt road so it’s pretty much a wash. 

Pre-race packet pick up will be held at Altitude Running on Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at 150 East Harmony Road just north and east of the Harmony/College intersection on the south side of town. Race partner Salomon Running will be offering a gift with the purchase of any pair of Salomon shoes at packet pickup. There is also an Altitude Running coupon on the back of your race bib that is good for 15% off any Salomon or Drymax Socks products bought at the store.

We are chip timing the race this year so bibs will be handed out at Friday packet pickup. If you can, we ask that you come by Friday to pick up your bib and race gear to help smooth race day check in. Those of you that can’t pick up your bib and packet Friday afternoon can do so in the morning from 4:00 – 5:15 for 50 milers and from 6:00 – 7:45 for 25 milers.

The 50 mile race will begin at 5:30 a.m. and the 25 mile race will begin at 8:00am. The official race start will be on gun time. You will be directed over a timing mat shortly after the start to be officially recorded as a starter and confirmed on course.

If you wish to switch from the 50 mile race to the official 25 mile race start at 8am, please notify us by the end of packet pickup on Friday.

50 mile starters who drop out at 25 miles will receive a finish time and finisher award but will not be eligible for overall or age group awards.

Bib numbers must be worn on the front and visible at all times. Do not remove, fold, or damage the attached chip tag on the back of your bib. 

We will be at full capacity on Saturday, so we recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to park (up to a mile away from check-in), get your bib, and get ready to run. If you can carpool, please do. Not only is it one less vehicle on the road but it helps reduce stress on Lory State Park’s limited parking infrastructure, and it gets you priority parking near the start.

There are park toilets at the Timber parking lot, at the top of the Soldier Canyon parking lot, at the bottom of the Soldier Canyon lot near the start, and at the South Eltuck trailhead at the far end of the spur road which overflow cars will be parked on. We will also have port-a-johns near the start/finish (always the longest line).

Parking passes will be distributed by parking volunteers at the entrance to the park in the morning. Make sure your pass is visible on your dash. Vehicles without a park pass may be ticketed.

Lory State Park will be open for parking at 4am. Carpools of two or more participants for both races will be given priority parking close to the start at the Soldier Canyon trailhead. All others will be directed first to the Timber trailhead parking area and then down the main park road to loop left back towards the start on the Lodgepole Loop. Parking on Lodgepole will be on the right (east) side of the road. The earlier you get there, the closer to the start you’ll be parked. Directions and parking details are here.

Horsetooth drop bags (mile 10.3 and 39.5) must be dropped off by 5:00 a.m. before the 50 mile race start. 25 Mile runners may drop off a Horsetooth drop bag at Friday packet pickup. Finish drop bags may be left any time before each race start. 

Bib numbers will be assigned on the Ultrasignup entrant list by Wednesday if you want to pre-label your drop bag with name and race number. Horsetooth drop bags will be returned to the start/finish at about 5:00pm after the aid station team returns to the finish. It is a 20 minute drive from Lory to Horsetooth if you need to pick up your drop bag before then.

Aid station fare is detailed here. VFuel gel will be served from bulk containers, so we recommend that you carry a 5oz flask (or similar) if you want to use aid station gels. We will also have dixie cups at the aid stations for gel ‘shooters.’

This year at the post-race BBQ we will have beer from New Belgium Brewing (Fat Tire Amber Ale) and a refreshing raspberry weiss from Intersect Brewing. Runners will receive a meal ticket with their finisher mug. For those bringing family/friends who didn’t order extra meals when registering, food and a beer will be available for a $10 donation to our race beneficiary (cash/check). First beer is free for everyone, we then ask that you make a cash donation for additional beers. Our BBQ will be well stocked with burgers, brats, Amy’s vegan burgers, vegan quinoa salad from the Fort Collins Food Co-OpMary’s Mountain Cookies, Trader Joe’s fruit, Great Harvest buns, Eldorado Vitamin Water, Morning Fresh Dairy Chocolate Milk, and lots of other goodies. All BBQ proceeds will be donated to the Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center.

Salomon Running will be on hand after the race demo’ing their trail running line up. Check out the back of your race bib for an Altitude Running offer on Salomon shoes and also Drymax socks. Also check out your bib for an offer from our physical therapy partners, Colorado in Motion. During the awards and raffle, we’ll be giving away some great stuff from those sponsors and other race sponsors.

Course markings will be pink ribbons, hung every 1/4 mile or so, with additional marking at all junctions.  Flour markings and/or pink pin flags will supplement at key intersections.

Limited in-race updates will be via the Gnar Twitter feed, and we will be attempting to publish updates to OpenSplitTime.org; however, this is our first year trying to update the race with live splits, and data connections can be fickle at Lory, so please have patience if this doesn’t work out quite as planned.

Activities for family and friends:

Trails are open to everyone to enjoy all day; however, crewing outside of designated aid stations is not allowed. There is a BMX bike park right by the start/finish area, so feel free to bring a bike for the kids (or yourself). Trails are also open to bikes. The reservoir is just a short walk down from the start/finish area and there is a small cove ideal for paddling or submerging battered legs. The Healthy Smile, Dirty Feet One Mile Kids Race (half (closed) road, half trail) – sponsored by long-time race supporter Justin Liddle DMD – will begin at 2:00 from the race start.

Crew access info is available here.

And, finally, if you have questions that can’t be answered here or on the race website, feel free to drop us a line and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

We look forward to seeing you all on Saturday.

Cheers!

Pete & Nick
racedirector@gnarrunners.com
Gnar Runners Event Management
Facebook
Twitter


Top Tier Sponsors

Salomon Drymax Socks Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy
Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist

Race Support

Countryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club

Share

Elise McKnight Gnar Slammer

Elise McKnight is a nurse from Fort Collins, CO. She finished her first 50 miler this winter in Antelope Canyon and plans to take on the Gnar Slam this summer.

The Never Summer 100k will be Elise’s longest run ever, and we’re excited to follow along as she attempts to become our first ever female Slammer. Check out which race she fears the most and the one she’s most looking forward to.

Share

David Boyd Gnar Slammer

David Boyd is a nurse and avid runner from Fort Collins, CO. To date, the longest he has raced is 50 kilometers. Last weekend, he kicked off his 2017 season with an impressive sixth place finish at the Salida Marathon. Next up is the Quad Rock 50 and the start of the 2017 Gnar Slam.

We’ll be following Dave all summer as he works his way through the series. Can he put pressure on Elijah Flenner’s record from 2016? We’re looking forward to finding out!

Share