2015 Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon Recap


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.

Aaron-Black-Squirrel-Half- Winner

Men’s winner, Aaron Anderson

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.


Amanda Lee for the Win

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.

Having-Fun-At-Black-SquirrelPrizes for overall and age group winners Squirrel-Girlsincluded 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.


Ruth gets a squirrel and kisses from her husband, Justin.

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 RunningColorado Physical Therapy Specialists, Cornerstone Home Lending, Altitude Running, Smartwool, Sierra trading PostFort Collins Running ClubJustin Liddle DMDCountryside Vet, Great Harvest, Whole Foods, VFuel, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, and Boulder Beer.


Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, Altra


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.


Never Summer 100km Wrap

Congratulations to everyone who came out and enjoyed the inaugural running of the Never Summer 100km. An amazing 147 of the 197 runners that started the race (75%) crossed the finish line. Of those, 13 were inducted into the Sunset Club, finishing as they did without the aid of a headlamp. But no matter how far along the course you got, or indeed at what time you finished, we hope you enjoyed your experience in the beautiful mountains of Northern Colorado.

Never Summer 100K Diamond Crags Richthofen

The view from the high point of the course looking back at South Diamond, the Nokhu Crags, and Richthofen.  -Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography.

This being the first running of the event, standards were set in all divisions. Leading from pillar to post in the men’s race was local favorite and Quad Rock course record holder, Ryan Burch. We were predicting an overall win time of between 12 and 13 hours. Ryan produced, posting the only sub-13 hour finish of the day, crossing the line in 12:42:49. He was pushed for much of the early going by eventual second and third place finishers, Bryan Williams (13:26) and Nick Pedatella (13:38).

The women’s race was won by peak-bagger extraordinaire, Alyson Kirk. Fittingly, Alyson took control of the race heading up the steepest climb of the day on North Diamond Peak. The mark to beat for next year in the women’s race will be 16:01:04. Leadville resident and mountain-lover, Dana Kracaw, showed her comfort with the terrain and altitude by finishing a strong second, just 20 minutes behind Alyson (16:21), while Jessica Hamel rounded out the podium spots with a well executed sub-17 hour performance (16:50).

Never Summer 100K Alyson Kirk

Alyson makes her way down to the Medicine Bow Ridge after topping out first for the ladies. -Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography.

The master’s marks were set by Bryan Williams (13:26) and Shannon Meredith (17:36), who finished an impressive second and fourth overall in the men’s and women’s races.

In recognition of the challenge that the course presents to all runners, we also awarded a Final Finisher award for the runner that showed the most dogged persistence to be out there the longest. This year, the award went to Lynn Hall who finished with the dawning of a new day in 23:49:14, just three minutes behind Alex May who beat the buzzer after a heartbreaking 90 second miss at the 2014 running of the Western States 100 (30:01:30).

Full results with aid station splits are online here.

Never Summer 100K Lynn Hall

Lynn was still smiling after crossing the finish line as our final finisher. -Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography.

The volunteer support that we received for the event was – quite frankly – outstanding, and testimony to the special place these less-visited (but by no means, inferior) Colorado mountains hold in the hearts of the Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming outdoors community. Thanks to each and every one of you. And a special thank you to:

  • The Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club and their team of ham radio operators that went above and beyond in ensuring that we had radio contact from every aid station on course, in addition to between medical and parks staff.
  • The Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol for offering up a team of skilled volunteers with first responder training and intimate knowledge of the mountains.
  • State Forest State Park (SFSP) and their incredible staff of park rangers. We have received nothing but enthusiasm from SFSP in the two years of planning leading up to this event, and their welcome and professionalism on race weekend was second to none.
  • The Fort Collins Trail Runners. Though completely informal in affiliation, this group of trail running enthusiasts has been the backbone of the Gnar Runners operation from its inception. A continued Thank You to you all.
  • Poudre Valley Hospital’s team of medical professionals for going above and beyond in coordinating our emergency medical plans.

Just one of the many examples of our volunteers going the extra mile to support our runners…. Scott Slusher hiked his drum up North Diamond to give runners some encouragement on the steepest climb on the course. After this, he volunteered at the Canadian aid station until 1 am. -Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography.

And to our amazing sponsors, thank you!

Presented by:

Altra Zero DropTop tier support from:

Contributing support from:

Generous product support from: VFuel, Whole Foods Fort Collins, Black Diamond, Boulder Beer, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, and the Great Harvest Bread Company,

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.

Thank you all!

We look forward to seeing you again in 2016 at the same place and approximately the same time. 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.

Be GNARful out there!


Quad Rock 2015 Post Race Wrap

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.

Sunrise in Soldier Canyon at Lory State Park

Sensational colors over the cove at Soldier Canyon: Milan Klanjsek

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.

Quad Rock 25 Mike Aish

Mike Aish on his way to a new course record in the Quad Rock 25 mile race.

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.

Reese Ruland Course Record in the Quad Rock 25

Reese approaching the finish with a new CR. Photo: Joe Grant

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.

Ryan Burch Quad Rock 50 Win

Ryan on his way to his second QR50 win.

Mike Hinterberg 3rd Place Quad Rock 50

Mike Hinterberg taking things in stride on his way to an impressive third.

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.

Kerrie Bruxvoort Quad Rock 50 Win

Kerrie icing down at the 25 mile turn

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.

Quad Rock 50 Horsetooth Aid Station

Katie Robinson rallying her troops at the Horsetooth aid station before her first customers arrived.

Towers aid station volunteers cool off 2nd place 50-miler, Frank Pipp.

Towers aid station volunteers cool off 2nd place 50-miler, Frank Pipp. -Photo by Eric Lee.

Complete results with aid station splits have been posted online here.

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 DMDColorado 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.

Quad Rock 50 2nd Place Finisher Frank Pipp


Quad Rock 2015, Take 2, Final Instructions

With just a few days to go until the (rescheduled) fourth running of the Quad Rock 25/50 Trail Races, some final thoughts and instructions:

Weather: The forecast for Sunday is looking warm, with a high in the low 80s and clear skies. Please plan your race-day hydration needs accordingly.

An optional packet pick up will be held at Altitude Running on Saturday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Altitude is located at 150 East Harmony Road just north of the Harmony/College intersection on the south side of town. If you can, we ask that you come by Saturday to pick up your race gear to help smooth race day parking and sign in. Those of you that can’t pick up packets and shirts Saturday afternoon can do so with your bibs on race morning.

Bib numbers will be distributed race morning beginning at 4:00 a.m until 5:15 a.m.Please keep bib numbers visible during the race and the pull tag at the bottom intact. We will be pulling 50 miler bib tags at the 25 mile turn and at the finish.

The race will begin at 5:30a.m. sharp, so we recommend you give yourself plenty of time to park (up to a half mile away from check-in), get your bib, and do whatever it is you do to get ready to run 25/50 miles. There are park toilets at the Timber parking lot (first one to fill on right as you come in), at the top of the Soldier Canyon parking lot, and at the bottom of the Soldier Canyon lot near the start. If you park near one of these locations, please use those facilities if you can. 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. Lory Park will be open for parking at 4am. Carpools of two or more will be given priority parking close to the start at the Soldier Canyon trailhead. All others will be directed to the Timber trailhead parking area and 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 (http://gnarrunners.com/quad-rock-50/parking-and-directions/). If the park roads are muddy, PLEASE watch your speed to reduce impact.

Horsetooth and start/finish drop bags must be dropped off by 5:15 a.m. There will be a short pre-race briefing five minutes before the start. Bib numbers will be assigned on the Ultrasignup entrant list by Friday if you want to pre-label your drop bag with name and race number. Horsetooth drop bags will be returned to the start/finish area by 5:00 pm. 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 (http://gnarrunners.com/quad-rock-50/aid-stations/).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.”

Boulder Beer will be providing Singletrack Ale and Buffalo Gold lager for the post-race BBQ. 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 brew will be available for $10 (cash). First beer is free for everyone, we then ask that you make a cash donation for additional beers. All proceeds will be donated to the Animal House Rescue along with race sponsorship funds from Countryside Animal Hospital.

Whole Foods Fort Collins will be providing a tasty quinoa salad to supplement the beer and BBQ fare. They are also offering a chance to win $100 in free food:http://woobox.com/9tk4uw

Presenting sponsor Altra Running will be on hand after the race demo’ing their trail running line up. Check out your race bib for an Altitude Running offer on Altra Running shoes. Also check out the back of your bib for an offer from the Hunter Team at Cornerstone Home Lending. During the awards and raffle, we’ll be giving away some great stuff from other race sponsors including Smartwool and Ultimate Direction.

Course markings will be pink ribbons, hung every 1/4 mile or so, with a run of three ribbons leading up to and beyond each turn. Flour markings or red pin flags will supplement at key intersections.

In-race updates will be via the Gnar Twitter feed, and race results will be posted the evening of the race on the Quad Rock Ultrasignup page.

Activities for family and friends:

Trails are open to everyone to enjoy all day; however, crewing outside of designated areas 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. There will be a one km kids race (half (closed) road, half trail) beginning at 1:30.

Crew access info is available here (http://gnarrunners.com/quad-rock-50/course-description/).

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

On behalf of Pete, myself (Nick), all of our race sponsors, and our outstanding team of volunteers, we look forward to seeing you all on Sunday.


Gnar Runners Event Management


Twitter @gnar_runners


2015 Quad Rock Course and Race Updates

Dear Runners – barring sustained torrential rains between now and Saturday (in which case, the parks have reserved the right to cancel the event), we have been given the go-ahead from both park authorities to proceed with the race as planned. Given the amount of moisture we’ve received over the last three or four days, and with more in the forecast, we have had to make a number of changes to the course route in order to avoid causing undue damage to particularly sensitive trails, most notably the lower lying trails in the valley.

Here is the updated map. Click the image to download a printable PDF.

Quad Rock 2015 Re-Route

For those familiar with the trails, here are the particulars:

– From the Arthurs TH, we will be routing up the Mill Creek Link, connecting with Loggers in Horsetooth and dropping on Sawmill to Stout to rejoin the course for the usual Stout-Towers-Spring Creek section.
– At the Spring Creek 3-way junction, we will head right on the Soderberg service road to get to the Horsetooth aid station, rather than the regular route on the Falls trail.
– From there the route will remain the same to the top of Howard in Lory. At the top of the Howard climb (last one for 25 milers), runners will head left on Lory’s Westridge two-track trail taking the long way to Timber.
– The route will descend on Timber to Well Gulch, where runners will head right down the beautiful Well Gulch drainage to rejoin the park road into the finish.
– 50 milers will run the exact same route in reverse for their second loop.
– Aid station mileages remain exactly the same, with the exception that the final leg between Arthurs and the Finish will be approximately a half mile shorter.
– The route as described above is approximately 24.5 miles, with an additional 300 to 400 feet of climbing and descending versus the standard route.

The trails we are using have been chosen for the particular reason that they drain exceptionally well or are wide enough so as to not be in danger of excessive abuse. With that said, we do make the simple request that you absolutely avoid the temptation to run to the side, or outside of trails where there is heavy mud. Your feet are going to be wet on Saturday: embrace it, run through the mud and puddles, stay on the trail. The park managers have been exceptionally accommodating to allow us to continue as planned, so please do them this simple favor.

Other notes:

  • It’s going to be wet, plan kit accordingly. Bring dry, warm clothes to change into after you finish.
  • Please drive SLOWLY on the Lory service road when entering the park in the morning and leaving in the afternoon. Please, please, please look to carpool if you can.
  • There will be no water drop between Arthurs aid station and the finish, so please plan accordingly.
  • There will be no kids race this year.
  • A copy of the previous race communication, which came through incomplete for some, is available on the Gnar Gnews section of the website. This communication will also be posted there.
  • Elevation Tat will be providing free temporary tattoos of the elevation profile for pick up at Altitude Running with the rest of your packet on Friday afternoon. Bibs will still be distributed race morning. These are being provided courtesy of Presenting Sponsor, Altra Running.

As trying as these last couple of days have been for Pete, me and our partners at Larimer County Department of Natural Resources (Horsetooth Mountain Park) and Lory State Park, we’re still super excited for a fun day on Saturday. We look forward to seeing you.

Nick Clark & Pete Stevenson